Ayers/Obama Update: A response from Nell Minow

I received an email this morning from Nell Minow, the daughter of Newton Minow and sister of Harvard Law professor Martha Minow, regarding my reply/blog (below) to the New York Times story on Obama’s political rise on the South Side of Chicago. 

Martha Minow was a professor of Senator Obama’s when he was a student at Harvard Law School and Newton Minow is Senior Counsel to and was a partner at Sidley Austin, the prominent Chicago law firm where Senator Obama worked as a summer associate in 1989.

The Times story appears to be an attempt to offer a competing explanation to the one I have offered to answer the question: Who “Sent” Obama

The email from Ms. Minow fills in a small part of the picture regarding the Obama/Ayers relationship that I explored in detail in my earlier blog Who “Sent” Obama?
Ms. Minow’s email (in relevant part):

“My father, Newton Minow, was introduced to Barack Obama by my sister, Martha Minow, who was his law professor and suggested that my dad’s firm hire him. On the basis of that recommendation, Obama came to work for my father at Sidley Austin, which is where he met his wife, Michelle, who also worked at Sidley. My family knew, supported, and befriended Obama long before he met Ayers….”

My reply this morning (in relevant part):

Ms. Minow,

Thank you for these additional facts….

And, of course, although you have filled in part of the story – something that even the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have not yet done – the remaining question is the timing and depth of the relationship between Bill Ayers and Senator Obama. For example, can you or your father explain why someone even of Obama’s potential be named Chairman of the Board of the $50 million Annenberg Challenge in the middle of an intense political battle over education reform in Chicago?….


Steve Diamond

As it turns out, while Ms. Minow contends that her family met Obama before Obama met Ayers and that her sister was responsible for that introduction, she has not been able to provide me with any substantiation of that contention.  If Obama had met the Ayers family when both Obama and the Ayers (Tom, Bill and John) were active in school reform efforts in Chicago in the late 1980s, then Ms. Minow’s contention would be inaccurate.  That Ayers and Obama would have met then, in the 1980s, makes some sense to me because it would help explain why Bill Ayers would have wanted Obama to become Board Chair of the school reform program called the “Chicago Annenberg Challenge” in 1994 or 1995.