The Buckley Legacy Project is designed to make William F. Buckley Jr.’s writings on crucial, relevant topics accessible to NRI supporters, our friends and allies within the conservative movement, and, importantly, a new generation of citizens and intellectual leaders.
As part of an archival project, NRI will amass Buckley’s writings in specific subject areas focused on editorial priorities and produce two to four booklets each year. The material, also sorted by historical anniversary and topic, will be promoted via social media. In this way, Buckley’s legacy will impact an even greater range of American citizens.
Firing Line’s Golden Anniversary Celebration
Dallas | New York | Washington
In April 1966, William F. Buckley Jr. took his conservative message beyond the pages of National Review magazine, and directly to the American public, through Firing Line. This iconic television program was at the vanguard of the new media of his time, as Buckley challenged liberal opponents in spirited debate over their disparate ideological principles. Through Firing Line, Bill Buckley influenced the millions of Americans who tuned in weekly for intelligent discussion—of key events, of core principles, and of leading policy makers—between powerful voices on the Left and Right. The Hoover Institution Library & Archives, which houses an extensive array of documents, transcripts, photographs, and film footage in its Firing Line collection, works to make Buckley’s episodes broadly accessible, digitally and in public settings.
As part of NRI’s mission to preserve and promote the legacy of WFB Jr., in 2015 it launched The Buckley Legacy Project, designed to make Buckley’s work on crucial, relevant topics accessible to our supporters, friends, an allies within the conservative movement.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Buckley’s Emmy Award-winning program—the longest-running public-affairs show in television history with a single host—NRI partnered with the Hoover Institution Library & Archives to host a series of events this spring in Dallas, New York City, and Washington, D.C. True to Buckley’s legacy, the format for these events was centered on civilized debate and a discussion of topics such as immigration, the current state of political discourse, and, of course, the lessons that Bill Buckley can still teach us today. Each program opened with remarks by those who knew and worked with Buckley personally. In Dallas, this was NRI fellow Jonah Goldberg; in New York City, L. Brent Bozell III and Richard Brookhiser; and in Washington, D.C., L. Brent BozellIII, Lee Edwards, and NR’s Ramesh Ponnuru. Each spoke of Buckley’s profound legacy and the tremendous impact of Firing Line, discussing their thoughts on what made Firing Line great, and whether its magic could be replicated today.
In Dallas and New York, the second part was a classic debate in an homage to the Firing Line legacy of discourse and debate. The Dallas event was hosted at the newly constructed Old Parkland Debate Chambers, and featured NR editor Rich Lowry and NR senior editor and NRI fellow Reihan Salam in debate with Linda Chavez and Timothy Kane on immigration policy. In the New York City debate, Lowry and Salam again faced off against Kane, who was joined by Jason Riley. Each team member provided opening remarks, followed by cross-examination by a member of the opposing team. Moderators William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal and Professor Christopher Wolfe, University of Dallas, expertly guided the spirited discussion.
The Washington, D.C. program featured a conversation between Margaret Hoover, Senator James Talent, and Michael Franc, Hoover’s DC-based Director of Programs, on American political discourse and Buckley’s legacy.
The Unmaking of a Mayor
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Encounter Books will republish William F. Buckley Jr.’s book, The Unmaking of a Mayor, about his run for mayor against John Lindsay in 1965. While Buckley did not reach Gracie Mansion, his undeterred focus on his conservative principles had an important impact on the political culture, including encouraging Ronald Reagan to run for governor. In fall 2015 NRI co-hosted a forum with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research to promote the republication of Buckley’s book this fall.
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