Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers Meet for First Time

Northwestern black student group invites Wright to speak and Ayers to attend.

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The Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, two men whose reputations had dogged the Obama campaign this year, met for the first time this weekend at a "State of the Black Union" event at Northwestern University , where Wright was the keynote speaker, the Daily Northwestern reports.

The event was hosted by the black student group For Members Only, which invited Wright to speak after Northwestern rescinded an honorary doctorate the university planned to give the Trinity United Church of Christ pastor. The group also invited Ayers—the Weather Underground founder—to attend because it was "only fitting," considering the pair's treatment by the media.

Ayers said he felt a "huge connection" to Wright and criticized the Northwestern administration for disinviting the pastor from commencement. "What possible reason could they have except pressure by alumni, pressure by others?" Ayers said. "It's freedom of speech, freedom of thought. Without that, academics is dead."

He added, "Both Reverend Wright and I were brought up as cartoon characters in this campaign because of disinformation and dishonest news. . . . I did not suffer as much as he did, but we both got out of it with a certain amount of dignity."