July Fourth T. Willard Hunter Speakers’ Corner schedule
Using London’s Hyde Park Corner as his inspiration, Reverend T. Willard Hunter began the Claremont Independence Day Speakers’ Corner in 1977 to showcase the constitutional right of free speech.
As a result, a variety of topics ranging from politics and religion to current events and history have graced the podium for the past three decades.
In the 1970s, Rev. Hunter saw Claremont historian, the late Judy Wright, speak at a local event. Although the two had never met, he was so impressed by her public speaking he reportedly passed her a note after her address and—in the direct, yet jovial, manner he was well known for—asked simply, “I’d like you to speak at my funeral.” Their friendship continued for decades and, in 2009, Ms. Wright delivered his eulogy.
“Claremont didn’t just establish a speakers’ corner, we acquired an orator. And we inherited an orator in costume,” Ms. Wright said. “Mr. Hunter, unlike some of the rest of us, didn’t just show up at Memorial Park in shorts and a shirt. Wherever he was speaking, he arrived in period dress. When I think of Mr. Hunter, I think of him as Lincolnesque.”
Perhaps best known was Rev. Hunter’s 34-hour speech at Independence Hall in 1982—a speech he again delivered in London in 1984. Ms. Wright noted, “He often recited from memory—The Gettysburg Address, [the children’s book] Casey at the Bat, Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and The Declaration of Independence.”
Former mayor Karen Rosenthal continues the tradition by coordinating the Speakers’ Corner each year.
Ms. Rosenthal paid tribute to Rev. Hunter at Claremont’s 2009 Fourth of July celebration.
“Willard was our social conscience, our mentor and our friend,” Ms. Rosenthal said. “We were very proud to have had him with us for so many Independence Days. He was truly a Claremont treasure.”
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Rev. Hunter spent his early career involved with Moral Re-Armament, a political movement that encouraged deference to honesty, unselfishness and love. He and his wife Mary Louise Hunter, who died November 23, 2010, came to Claremont in 1959 after Rev. Hunter became the coordinator of development at the then Claremont Graduate School. Mr. Hunter, who lived his final years at Pilgrim Place, died at age 93 on June 29, 2009.
July 4, 2014 T. Willard?Hunter Speakers’ Corner Roster (subject to change)
10:50 a.m. Opening by Karen Rosenthal
11 a.m. Mayor Joe Lyons: Sitting in the Shade of a Tree
11:10 a.m. Colin Tudor: Declaration of Independence
11:20 a.m. Sam Pedroza: Claremont’s Historic Future
11:40 a.m. Larry Schroeder: City of Trees
11:50 a.m. Michael J. Keenan:?Dump Common Core and Boot Gates
12 noon Susan Allen Almanac: Turn Our Thoughts to Art of Peace
12:10 p.m. Betty Crocker: Declaration of Water Independence
12:20 p.m. Miles Bennett: 1903—Theodore Roosevelt Speech
12:30 p.m. Carolyn Gonzales:? America—Our History, Our Future
12:40 p.m. Andy Lee Roth and Terry Grill: Declaring Interdependence
12:50 p.m. Merrill Ring: Are We a Democracy or an Oligarchy?
1 p.m. Peter Weinberger:?Anyone Can Be a Publisher
1:10 p.m. Freeman Allen: Sustainable Claremont & Cool California
1:20 p.m. John Maguire:?Holding it Together
1:30 p.m. Dennis Berger:?Be Free in Claremont
1:40 p.m. Ellen Taylor:?LWV Told the City to Buy it 75 Years Ago
2:10 p.m. David Nemer: Common Core and Political Drama
2:20 p.m. Glenn Cajar
2:50 p.m. Catherine Henley-Erickson: 4th of July Poems
3 p.m. Closing