William Jennings Bryan, known as "The Great Commoner," is one of the most controversial lawyers to hail from Nebraska.' While he may be best-known as a failed three-time Democratic nominee for U.S. President and the legal defender of creationism at the Scopes Monkey Trial, fundamental aspects of Bryan's life have been overlooked. In a new biography, A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan, Professor Michael Kazin re-evaluates Bryan's legacy and charges us to consider the profound impact Bryan had upon the political, economic and legal reality of the United States. The book has been the subject of controversy. Some have called it a "revisionist portrait of Bryan (1860-1925), whom scholars have long dismissed as a rabid white supremacist, bullying fundamentalist and braying pacifist/ isolationist;" while others have suggested it is a "powerful, timely reevaluation" that suggests "Bryan's faith-based liberalism reshaped the Democratic Party and made the New Deal possible."

The symposium was convened at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Law College to consider Kazin's provocative thesis and to evaluate Bryan's modern legacy on politics, economics, history, and law.