Good Will Ambassador

"Good Will Ambassador" professor kindly taking fame in stride

by Elizabeth Barker
The Bakersfield Californian staff writer

 

Chuck Wall used to teach his Bakersfield College classes, participate in community activities and live a pretty quiet life - that was before he became the King of Kindness.

 

Wall and his human relations class at BC are largely credited with starting a random acts of kindness campaign that has brought international attention to BC and celebrity status to the quiet professor.

 

A routine assignment asking students to commit a random act of kindness and write a report turned into a bumper stick campaign. After a front-page article in The Californian and subsequent articles distributed around the world by the Associated Press, the requests started pouring in.

 

Now, the phrase, "Today I Will Commit One Random Act of Senseless KINDNESS, Will You?" can be found on 15,000 bumpers worldwide and on countless T-shirts and coffee mugs. Sales of all items go to benefit the Braille Center of Kern County.

 

Along with the requests for merchandise came the requests for interviews. Wall has already appeared on the "Mike Wallace Show," "the Crusaders" and was featured in People magazine. Today, he is in Chicago filming a segment for the Oprah Winfrey Show.

 

"I wasn’t really nervous, but now I’m starting to get a little anxious because everybody else is," Wall said as he packed for his trip Tuesday night.

 

"I don’t mind talking about this to (Oprah) at all because I’m used to being asked questions about it, but I did feel a twinge of fear when I heard that on any given day, 20 million people watch her show."

 

Wall is an old hand at talking about kindness. Since October, he, with the help of others, has answered 2,000 letters, returned about 4,000 telephone calls and has been on 56 radio interviews.

 

"I don’t remember sometimes what my life was like before this, but I do remember that it was a pretty simple life and that the telephone wasn’t always ringing."

 

Still, Wall wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

 

"Every week, I think, ‘Maybe this is it, now it will slow down,’" Wall said. "But every week, there’s another call from Kenya or England or Moscow or Australia."

 

"Nobody who calls ever has anything to say and I don’t think you can say that about many things," Wall said.

 

There has been some dispute over whether Wall’s class assignment was an original idea. To the best of his knowledge, Wall said the statement came to his head while listening to a radio announcer talking about "another act of random violence" in Bakersfield.

 

Since then, many have alluded to Anne Herbert’s book encouraging people to "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty."

 

Wall said he had never heard of Herbert before the bumper sticker and publicity campaigns took off, but that since then he has heard from her publisher, who said her book sales are up.

 

"I think all this shows that this is something this nation and the world really needs," Wall said. "I plan to keep the kindness message going until people don’t want to or don’t need to hear it anymore."

 

The Bakersfield Californian, Tuesday, Feburary 15, 1994

 

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