Fond Forum memories and congrats to Jerry Rappaport

Jerry Rappaport 1946 at the Forum

Credit: Harvard Law School Jerome “Jerry” Rappaport addressing the Harvard Law School Forum in 1946

Julia Hanna’s article about the new Law School Rappaport Forum (“Coming Full Circle”) awakened some nice memories. In my last semester, 1954, I was president of the then “Harvard Law School Forum.” We presented, I think, about four forums each semester, in the same format described in her article: two speakers taking opposite sides of a specific question, with a moderator, usually from the university faculty. As mentioned, we were able to attract prominent speakers. Among those during my tenure, I recall former Vice President Henry Wallace, the columnist Dorothy Thompson and, yes, James Michael Curley. In fact, I remember that 1953 nondebate wherein Curley, to my recollection, simply recounted amusing anecdotes about municipal government. The Forum also gave me an opportunity to personally meet Dean Griswold, when he called me to his office to down-dress me over what he thought was an inappropriate Forum topic. So congratulations to Jerry Rappaport for reviving this important structure. Would it not be a better way for presidential candidates to debate, instead of the current practice of stock, time-limited answers to anticipated questions?