Ever find yourself swamped with work and craving some BC history? The next time you need a break from a long afternoon of studying or writing a paper, venture to the second floor of O’Neill Library. There you’ll find an exhibit on the life of Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill Jr., the man who inspired the name of our library. So what’s the significance? Following a difficult working-class childhood during the Great Depression, O’Neill was a graduate of the class of 1936 here at Boston College. Even more importantly, he was the only man to serve five consecutive terms as Speaker of the House.
On top of the importance of being the second-longest running Speaker, O’Neill was an outspoken liberal Democrat known to be extremely dedicated to improving the lives of the working class. His viewpoint was that all politics were “for the people” and “local.” He served as a strong representational voice for that class and, as a result, had an infamous, even feuding relationship with Ronald Reagan over issues such as foreign policy, civil rights and social security. Another of his claims to fame involved altering public perception of the Vietnam War through a defiance of Lyndon Johnson.
The fact that he worked his way up from a working-class childhood to nearing a presidency is inspiration enough to document and honor his life. Tod O’Connor, a former staff member of O’Neill, wants to do just this by creating a documentary titled Mr. Speaker. Inspired by O’Neill’s character and courage, O’Connor plans to share O’Neill’s story based on the New York Times bestseller Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century by John A. Farrel.
The documentary will cover O’Neill’s working-class childhood, the beginning of his political life and the key points of his career. Some topics to be expected are his early failures and the lessons resulting from them, his position in the Massachusetts State House and gaining John F. Kennedy’s seat in the House of Representatives. Another cool fact about this project is that the creators plan to film on location in Boston, Washington, D.C. and Ireland. The documentary will include interviews from family, politicians and anyone willing to share a memory.
O’Connor has gained a commitment to the documentary from award-winning writer, producer and director Dimitri Logothetis. For the documentary to be produced, however, the Mr. Speaker team needs to raise $44,000 by September 11. Visit the documentary’s Kickstarter site to learn more and donate to help the team raise the necessary funds in order to produce the documentary.
Feature image via Flickr.