I was a Dormie and 'Independent' trying to wrest control of student affairs, politics and government away from the Greeks in l965. That was the time of the big draft call ups, and in the course of events I attended the first sit-ins and teach-ins at San Jose State that year and the next. But things were pretty orderly and quiet. Civil Rights was the big issue in my definition of the 'movement' at that time. l967 the campus split down the middle in a student government election over 'hip' and straight' and the campus was never the same again. I'ld say that year or the next was when I got 'involved'.
The early impact of the anti-war movement at State was mostly as a curiosity. Teachings, harassment of military recruiting officers, reported in the Press. Lots of talk in Dorm Bull sessions about whether we should bomb North Viet Nam.People in Mens dorms - they were segregated - dropping out of sight never to be heard from again each month as l965-l966 progressed.
The Greek system (InterFraternity Council - IFC) dominated campus politics from l960 - l966 in a one party politics under the banner of S.P.U.R. (which stood for something or other. Antimosity ran pretty high as early as l965 when the Greeks sabotaged the Independents Political Rally headed by student body candidate Roy Gene Lokey and Civil Rights activist from the Old South. Later as race and color lines were drawn and Harry Edwards had mobilized the Black Boycott of Mexico City, from a base at State minority demonstrations led to strong feelings. Once in a march accross campus the local community Paper - the Mercury News printed banner headlines on the front page:"Roving Blacks Terrorize Campus " Pattenly no such thing had happened and only Fraternity row was "terrrorized".
In l968, I campaigned for Robert Kennedy in California under the rubric "Students for Kennedy". He died. King was dead. Chicago was just plain nuts. and then Tommie Smith, San Jose State student athlete stood on the victory stand in the Mexico City Olympics. Clenched fist and all. We were 'committed.'
I worked the next two years in student government from the 'inside' of the South Bay Movement; first as Assistant to the student body president; then as Treasurer of the student body under James Edwards, brother of brain child Black Boycott organizer Harry Edwards. You should read up on Edwards and the Black Boycott, SNCC and the Black Panthers to get some feel for the 'movement' as San Jose State in those two years. Kent State put and end to dissent, gagging protest on the West Coast as Berkeley's PeopleŐs Park never did (circa l969).
After Kent State, a year where I was assaulted twice by students I thought were on my side, but weren't, I went 'underground' and remained in hiding ... nothing fancy, but it was pretty easy to drop out of sight when the police arrested you every time you set foot on campus (as was my own case).I didn't surface until the Presidential election of l976, so I pretty much don't have much to say about the 70's - Watergate, Vietnam Vets Against the War; or anything else for that matter.
I think it was an important rite of passage for our generation to come to terms with
Vietnam. In many cases, it marked our first incursions into adulthood. I think an
important aspect of the anthology is to indicate how each of us personally came to terms
with a war that some of us claimed was grossly immoral, while others considered its
support to be an expression of patriotism. I would like to learn more of your "existential
journey" as you came to terms with Vietnam, or joined the antiwar movement.
"Joined" the antiwar movement... I think that is a very strange term. We didn't have to
enlist or enroll or anything. If the antiwar movement wasn't "joined" as an established
entity, one merely "became" a part of it as it evolved. How did it happen for you?
"Joined" the antiwar movement... I think that is a very strange term. We didn't have to enlist or enroll or anything. If the antiwar movement wasn't "joined" as an established entity, one merely "became" a part of it as it evolved. How did it happen for you?
From my viewpoint and experience people entered the 'movement' by degrees, I certainly did. I didn't consider myself an 'activist' until much later in the 70's and long after I already behaved like I was a target.
I generally link my 'activist' days now with the dawn of the Kennedy campaign in l968.
Kennnedy was just a lot of work. I was the Coordinator at Cal State Hayward for Southern Alameda County Students for Kennedy. I had just got off one campaign, for student body President for Richard Miner and found myself once again doing the thankless tasks behind the scenes to organize a grass roots movement. My roomate was the front man and spokesperson of the organization. He had heard of my escapade at San Jose and contacted me, I did not at first approach him. I only visited the Northern California Headquarters once, in San Francisco where a former San Jose State student leader from the mid sixties was on the staff as a co-ordinator(one Dick Wolf) The Assissination was devastating. I was with my brother in San Jose the night of the election, and witnessed the televised report. All I could do was sit in the corner an cry. The student movement dissolved overnight people in Hayward were speechless. We moved to an era beyond hope beyond even will.
What kind of background did you come from?
I was an -Eagle Scout_ and full member of a Scouting fraternity in the years l964-67.
A Scouting Fraternity... that hardly sounds like the stereotyped activist -- the stoned "hippie communist."
I did not, though it was around first start smoking 'grass' at State but up at super straight Cal-State Hayward. I became a frequent user in l969 under Miner, but quit with the advent of the Edwards campaign and never due to the parting of the waves, came in contact with grass again. ...I think . Though I'm sure it was still on campus in circles I was no longer privy to late into the 70's.
I suppose you studied Thoreau and civil disobedience in high school. Did your studies influence your thinking in any way? I remember reading a lot of existentialist writers at the time -- people like Sartre and Kafka. Writers who portrayed a mad, upside-down society, where the only antidote for madness was for people to take control of the world and society and establish their own values of good and evil.
On Philosphy, I've had Instructors try to tell me the era was neolistic. I doubt that. I too remember much about Existentialism and read quite a lot of extra - outside - reading, for a student. Yes, Sarte and Camus were reviewed, as was -- later after Kent state and the attacks -- Martin Buber and the life of Gandhi. I spent two weeks in the summer of l970 on Joan Baez's Ranch, The Institute for Study of Non-Violence, and only there came in contact with Throeau. F. Fanon was also popular in those dark days after the Masacre in Ohio, but I was more interested in putting my world, shattered as it was back together, rather than continue to pull it apart.
I met Ms. Baez in May of l970 on campus speaking on behalf of her husband for the Resistance. She invited a group of us after the presentation up to her ranch in Palo Alto where she maintained an Institute on Non-Violence under the guidance of Ira Sandperil. I traveled there that summer from a retreat in Yosemite, and spent two weeks studying radical community alternatives on "The Land" and commune Joan maintained on some property a half mile up Page Mill road from her own house. Mid way through the stay, she cancelled a trip to France,and invited the seminar on the "land" down to her house for steak dinner. She had a film of David before his arrest and told stories around the campfire. I was seriously concerned about her safety (a la Kent State ) and spoke with her briefly. The meeting was causual and neighborly, me being from the next province down from Stanford, that being San Jose State. I returned in l973 on the weekend of the Viet Nam truce, but broke and retiring I remained in the background.
Which major public gatherings did you attend during the Vietnam era?
I only attended actual major events rallies, if you will, in l969. Those included a) a rally at the Presidio in San Francisco, b) a March on Sacramento in response to the brutality at Berkeley in People's Park, participation as a witness to the protest on campus in the Viet Nam Day Mobilization (Oct. l5th), the March to the Polo Gounds in San Francisco of an est. l/2 million demonstrators (all peaceful- I think timed with the outpouring in Washington DC), e) the Altamont Rock Concert, advertised as the Woodstock of the West and a bit of a let down. -- the violense widely reported must have occured late, because we left early and rather disappointed.
The march on Sacramento was a festive occasion with students (l0,000) waving peace signs to onlookers and Richard Miner speaking for indictment of Sheriff Frank Madigan. The San Jose State student body officers and office staff had co-ordinated the march on the State Colllege trunk line, over the weekend contacting every college in Northern California. It was highly orchestrated and organized. A very peaceful protest, ...considering what was going on in Berkeley at that very moment.
Major events prior to that include the campaign in California for Robert Kennedy in the Spring and Hubert Humphrey in the fall - after a much touted visit to San Jose State (see Theodre White's Making of a President l968). Prior to that I was in Army ROTC and would not compromise my obligations with conflict of interest. Though I campaigned heavily in spring l967 against the Greek House's conservative and Independent's Moderate candidate, you may deduct from that my own support was Liberal though the Radicals had their own separate fourth ticket and the aliance of l969 was two years in the making.
Humphrey never did seem to span the 'generation gap' that seperated youth from adult worlds after Chicago. He came to San Jose to rally youth to the cause, and was taken off guard when Miner, a McCarthy supporter, challenged him to defend his position on Viet Nam. Humphrey was caught by surprise, but his response and the receptiveness of his campaign in the llth hour of the election to students, (we had the run of the place on his visit) turned many to re-evaluate our relation with Democrats. Later in l969 I was with Miner in Sacramento when "Big Daddy" Jess Unrah, speaker of the Assembly running against Reagan for Governor on the Demo ticket, advocated student support in return for [favors - unstated] after he beat Reagan. The word was out Unrah wanted to keep a lid on the campuses and not give Reagan any ammuninion for the Governors race.
What can you say about the political atmosphere on campus during the Vietnam era?
Amongst the leadership was a small family that feuded bitterly. We all knew one another. We associated with one another at campus events and dialogue never broke down between extremes. This in itself marks San Jose State as unusual by my understanding of events. But after the forming and re-forming of alliances over three previously bitter years, one could or certainly shouldn't have taken support at face value. Fifth column and covert activity was well underway when I took office as student body treasurer in Nov. l969. Secondly though it seemed easy to plug the civil rights movement into the anti-war movement it blew the fuse!! Racism proved to have survived the later years of anti-war movement - though they used the same tactics and in some cases strategy. I never should have trusted the Dean of Students the office was obviously meant to defuse an real movement on campus and they proved the 'mine field' when most of my own associates had long ago graduated.
I often crossed the line, as one of the more 'straight' liberal students to confer with the Reactionaries and Greek row in the mid and late sixties. I was considered more open minded and receptive to listen to their concerns than the other left leaders who, once in control, in turn locked out the Right - much as the right had locked them out since l960. In turn I had much intellegience on movement amongst right leadership that was prized by left leaders. The ring leader in the 'show down of l969 was one Marles Aliamo, a Graduate Sociology student, who backed one Jim McMasters as the conservative, 'straight' wing of the campus. McMasters, head of the Business School student council , waged unrelenting warefare on and off campus for 9 months in an effort to re-capture the Executive Offices the Greeks had lost in the battle of l967. (James Edwards won). The right collapased in the aftermath of moblization over Kent State six months later. It didn't seriously figure in campuse discourse for a decade thereafter.
S.D.S. always maintained a seperate base even after Edwards victory. Taking up their cause, did not rally them to our side in great numbers. But it did alienate the moderate middle and was the reason the moderates made one return visit in l970-7l before they too became passe'. Mike Buck (student body President l97l-72 and Dennis King A.S.President l972-73 solidified the coalition built by Edwards and I with a lot of Miner backers support into a semi-permanent institution on campus and a formidable force.
The three faculty advisors who were assigned to the student government when Miner came on board stayed on with Edwards, and saw a transition in the Dean of Students Office with the appointment of a new Dean by interim President Hobert Burns. The old outgoing Dean had led a rah rah campus cult of yes men in student leadership on campus since before l960. You must remember one of the changes between l967 and l969 was the end of women's lock out and approved housing required of all lower division students. En loco Prentise was defacto autocracy in the campus environment presided over by the old Dean at the top.
Kent State united or disolved differences overnight. But the movement by then was fragmented and lack direction and orientation. Disillusioned I and most of the movement people of the Pre-Kent state era disappeared into the shadows. John Merz, student body Vice President became the rallying point for efective organized protest after Kent State. It was said the protest on campus effectively denied him the presidency, and probably rightly so. Even until the eve of Nixon's re-election the campus remained divided, though peaceful resistance dominated campus politics. I was not a party of this phase.
You had to go underground after 1970. What can you tell me about it?
Going underground. This really was not that hard. I disconnected the phone, had my mail sent to my parents address, and stayed in l970 in a few communal 'safe houses'. By l97l few people any longer knew where to find me, and few cared. The detentions I experienced at the hands of the Dean of Students staff and the City Police ended me in locked facilities or 'Ward's in a State Mental Hospital. and only writ of Habeous Corpus got me out. But the preponderance of repeated complaints in l97l and l972 resulted in a conservatorship and stays of up to six to ten months in halfway houses thereafter. I was not actually on my own until the l976 Primary. By that time no one I can recall even gave a damn what became of me.
How did it happen?
I was student body Treasurer, and I was putting together the final target figures for the next fiscal yearŐs budget. I came home late one night in January (l970) and fell into a deep sleep.The next day around noontime, my roommate opened my door and ordered me at gun point to accompany him to the kitchem where he and my other (new) roomate interrogated me over a supposed missing $l00 from his room.
I knew nothing and pleaded for him to put away the revolver. He pointed it at the ceiling and pulled the trigger. I escaped out the side door, and dashed to my girlfrineds apt. a block away where I refused to leave for a full week. That began a series of incidents that led to four years in seculsion.
The Dean of Students never investigated the incident, assault with a deadly weapon, but wrote it off as a bad acid trip - a rumor which became prevalent throughout the campus.
Let me get the facts straight, Tim. In our meeting, you told me that "you were up to your neck in revolution during the year 1969," and "you were a very effective political organizer" during that same year, so effective that the Dean of Students contacted you in the hopes that an "arrangement" could be made between you and him to drop your antiwar efforts. Soon after that, you were attacked at gunpoint over a missing $100. You tried to press charges against your roommate for the assault, but the dean dismissed it as "a bad acid trip," and later used your insistence upon pressing charges as a pretext to have you committed for psychiatric observation. Have I understood you correctly?
Your facts on my coup de grace is basically correct. But bear in mind which Treasurer of the student body I also outranked the student body President James Edwards on the Chancellors Review committee to select a new permanent President to replace Dr. Robert Clark, formally of Oregon. The coup could have been within Edwards circles, from Miner's sour grapes, (We had brought in the largest vote in a student election in state college history in California (before or since) or from the Dean of Students office. I'ls say it was a consensus I had to be removed, and once someone took me on, a line formed to get in last licks for old timeŐs sake, I had run rough shod over protocol on more than one occassion and find even today there are those who would wish me ill for old timeŐs sake. Siding with a Black Civl rights leader to assure a victory for the cause. But there were a lot of hard feelings about the 'solution.'
I was released from 'psychiatric observation' at a private hospital about l0 days after Kent State. San Jose State was still a zoo.I had missed the entire protest and only picked up bits and pieces over the following few weeks. My roomate, the one with the revolver had evicted me for missing a months rent while I was in the hospital and I didnŐt even have a place to stay . I'd been in hiding since mid January. I held a veto over the campus student budget and they handled me with kid gloves until Edwards was out. Edwards, unknown to me, had scheduled a national conference on State as a result of two of my office staff traveling to a conference in February back east. Cambodia broke in the midst of the conference and State was temporarily commandeered to be the flagship of the movement while leaders accross the nation tried to get a grip on the outpouring of protest and despair that followed. My own first knowledge that anything was amiss was walking into a 7/ll store and seeing the Kent State massacre splattered over the covers of Time and Newsweek magizine. No one visited me about the protest while I was 'on ice' in seclusion in the hospital.
You joined ROTC. Can you tell me why you decided to join it? I think your answer will give readers an interesting insight into the culture of the era, and perceptions about ROTC before the Vietnam War.
I joined at l7 to get a commission so I wouldn't get drafted. Strange as that may seem now, I reasoned I had better odds if I were giving to orders on the battle field... though once in there never was any serious discusion of putting me on the front lines. (I'm terribly nearsighted.) But once Vietnam started in l964 or l965, I thought I'ld best not take chances.
Your background also highlights the fact that you were pretty active in campus politics around 1967 when Richard Miner and Roy Gene Lokey asked you to spearhead a campaign to elect Miner as student body president. At the time, your bio indicates that you offended some powerful people (i.e. your instructors of Business and ROTC) by opposing their favorite -- a Greek house candidate.
My second question is a confirmation that an observation is correct. I seem to recall you defeated the Greek house candidate and you were elected along with James Edwards to seats on the faculty Academic Committee. From these statements, I assume you were a very political animal at that time, and you were well-tuned into campus politics. Is this true?
Yes. Both as a On campus resident and dormie and as a student leader I was turned on and tuned in to the pulse of the campus ... though I might not have always read it clearly. There is a vast distance between l967 and politics as usual and l969 when the radicals 'took over' Also, we lost in l967 and won with a rematch in l969.
Now that I understand your political background, I would like to discuss your thesis about the history of San Jose State, 1965-1970.
The Introduction (page 2) of your thesis "Twilight in the Afternoon -- The War at Home" states "... local or regional histories in those years may well be used as an illustration of a larger picture... illustrating as it does minority and class struggle with a backdrop of a larger chaos of events... the campus... was changing... to a socially aware community and which was responding to the crises generated from without, such as racial tension and antiwar agitation, may serve as a paradigm for what was happening on the nation's campuses in the late 1960s." In other words, San Jose State's activites could serve as a microcosm of American campuses of this era. You, being well-tuned to the campus politics back then, could be regarded as an expert on campus politics of the era, and your comments about San Jose State could be generalized in most cases. Does my assumption sound reasonable?
Yes, I would generalize from the thesis and the experience in San Jose State in the sixties. It was not atypical as was Berkeley, but represented typical middle America. I felt for some time after Kent State if it had not been in Ohio it could have been here.
"Twilight in the Afternoon" devotes an entire chapter to Black issues on campus, focusing upon the activities leading up to the 1968 Olympics, where Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos raised their hands in traditional Black Power salutes to protest, as your thesis says on page 14, "to protest Black poverty in racist America..." after receiving their gold and silver medals, respectively. You trace the roots of that gesture of protest through a labyrinthe of tragedies that came in 1968, namely:
The Chicago Democratic Convention. On page 14 of your thesis, you say, "[The] same week [as the Olympics] middle class youths took to the streets of Chicago to protest the ascendancy of Hubert Humphrey to the Democratic nomination. Shattered by war, these young Americans struggled on the streets of Chicago whith Mayor Richard Daley's TAC squads and tear gas, while the convention steamrolled Johnson's handpicked successor to lead the party in November."
The assassination of Martin Luther King, which "dealt a perilous wound to the American soul." Vengeance was in the air like a thick smoke. American cities burst into flames, and Black leaders such as Stokely Charmichael said, "when White America killed Dr. King, she declared war on us... we have to retaliate for the deaths of our leaders."
The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. As Arthur Schlesinger said before his untimely death, "no political leader of of our time [has] so deeply and vigorously concerned himself with the fate of the vulnerable and powerless as Kennedy."
In other words, the two last, best hopes for alleviating the Blacks' misfortunes had been removed by assassins' bullets. The Democratic Convention met and nominated Lyndon Johnson's hand-picked successor instead of _really_ searching for a solution to America's ills. Middle class youths took to the streets in Chicago to protest the madness, and their protests were answered by a "police riot." Therefore, the situation was hopeless. Unless radical measures were taken, nothing was likely to change. The Olympic athletes' gesture of protest was a way to call America's attention to its national madness. Their gesture of protest, harmless though it was, got them banned from further participation in the Olympics. The small gesture of protest and its severe response are a perfect metaphor of what went on in our culture during the year of 1968 -- some of us tried to call our leaders' attention to the madness that was drowning our society, but our warnings were silenced by the force of the authorites who were supposed to protect us -- our police and National Guard. Is this a reasonable summation of Chapter One of your thesis?
"Black Boycott" is not the first chapter. There remain a scattered group of four chapters I must write this winter. "Black Boycoot is Chapter 3 of the series in final form, but it was the first I took on in the sequence of research. Your sumisal and summation is basically correct.
Now I would like to go on to some smaller points. On pages 12 and 13, you say, "Meanwhile, Edwards, who had been shadowed that spring and summer by the FBI, slipped out of sight and into obscurity just before the Olympiad began... having been warned that he could suffer King's and Kennedy's fate if he attempted to travel to Mexico City." How did Edwards know he was being followed? Who warned him about the danger he faced, and under what circumstances was the warning given? I think the passage I quoted above raises an ominous spectre of the activities of our national intelligence-gathering apparatus.
The passage on Edwards (the older - Harry) is from his own writing, I think you raise an interesting question and I don't know if he speaks from hindsight or experience - probably both, I know he's seen his FBI file.
The first three pages of your thesis' second chapter outline the history behind People's Park, which came into being from a parcel of land owned by The Regents of the University of California and was a piece of idle ground before it became People's Park. I would like our discussion to begin on page 3, when you describe the "consecration" of the de facto park:
By Sunday, May 11th, the Park was a formal reality, and was consecrated with a festival celebrated in defiance of onlokking City Police... "No trespassing" signs were posted [by the authorities] and removed [by supporters of People's Park] as fast as they were put up... [on] the morning of Thursday, May 14th, Alameda County Sherriff's deputies moved onto People's Park and a construction crew began erecting a high fence around the park.
By noon an unrelated rally... attracted several thousand students to hear speakers denounce the recent... actions at People's Park... Dan Siegal, President-elect of the student body, then stood up and shouted over the microphones, "Let's take back People's Park!"... the crowd... turned down Telegraph Avenue adjacent to the rally, shouting "Free People's Park" only to meet law officers with tear gas... When the mob perceived it could no longer attain its objective... it split into small groups and roamed throughout the south campus area. In doing so, it encountered the [police] TAC squads firing birshot... By mid-afternoon... Sherriff Frank Madigan ordered buckshot substituted for birdshot in efforts to control the crowd.
... Reports were that tear gas was so thick that the ill-trained sherriff's deputies could not tell the difference between innocent bystanders and rioting radicals. By day's end, 110 people had been admitted to hospitals for gunshot wounds in the People's Park riot...
That night, Governor Reagan called out the National Guard. Thus began the seventeen day siege of the city of Berkeley. As a result, the curfew was extended... and people continued to congregate on the streets throughout the evening in defiance of the curfew. The next Tuesday, May 20th, at noon, while students lounged in a quad formed by Sather Gate and the Student Union, troops sealed off the quad and awaited a helicopter belching highly toxic tear gas to drive students and [bystanders] into the police trap, where they were arrested...
Can you tell me any more about the incident?
In 1969, Student body Presient Dick Miner visited Berkely campus just after the PeopleŐs Park riot, and while on the third story of the student union in conference with the new student body President of Cal, a helicopter belching toxic tear gas flew over the quad. National Guards men sealed off Sproul Plaza and Miner and the other student body president escaped arrest by an underground passage way leading to a garage. A San Jose State student was killed the day of the riot, and I was on the March in Sacramento where Dick Miner spoke on the steps of the Capitol to a student audience of l0,000 demanding Sheriff Frank MadiganŐs trial for complicity in murder.
Couple more comments. Miner made a surprise on the spot visit to Dan Siegle (U.C. Student body President) and there was probably no connection to the gas and the visit. Just dumb luck. But I was told to stay out of there myself.
Confrontations, arrests and tear gas continued for fifteen days. On Memorial Day weekend a march was held by some 25,000 to 50,000 people... in a televised protest of the former Berkeley street violence.
Page 7 of your thesis states that Governor Regan adopted a "shoot to kill" policy during the student uprising over People's Park. Can you give me more specifics about what this policy was?
Reagan himself in his younger years as first term governor had a shot to kill mentality. I recall Ron Harbeck relating a story to me of a conference call to the Acting President of San Jose State durning the Kent State Uprisings and [Reagan] ordered Dr. Hobert Burns to open fire on the students. State had had one police confrontation early in the movement in Oct. l967 and resulted in a public outcry on campus. Burns refused Reagan's demand, which probably sealed his fate as to his candidacy for permanent President. These are real poeople living real lives. Real blood was shed. Jobs were lost, leaders blackballed.
Also, Burns didn't hear from Reagan regarding the 'famous' Dow Demostration with tear gas a mob of 5,000 angry students in l967, but when Reagan closed the campuses to thwart the communications lines in l970 over Kent State. The campus remained open , neither students nor faculty willing to leave while grievances remained outstanding.
Nixon came to visit Reagan soon after Peoples Park for a private conference. California was taking a disporportional degree of the heat in the media and Reagan made a reputaion as a red baiter while in his first term.
On page 8, you suggest that People's Park had an ominous impact on college campuses:
Like the escalation in the confrontation at the Democratic National Convention a year before, People's Park represented one more step in the direction of violent response to youthful protest... in facing such opposition, traditional authorities entrenched themselves behind a wall of terrorism and violence to defend their control and power.
Whew... People's Park is a very sobering tale. It reminds me a whole lot of the way events unfolded in Tienamin Square. I remember at the time, how human rights groups around the country clamored for America to condemn China's actions. Was a similar public censure given to Alameda County by our national leaders after People's Park? The Sherriff was exhonorated for instigating the siege. Were any of his deputies tried? One man was killed and 110 were wounded. Was there ANY court action as a result of People's Park?
No, to my knowledge the most that came of it might have been a Grand Jury Investigation -- but I can't even be sure of that NO ONE in law enforcement was repremanded.
How would you say they felt about the whole situation?
I was up on Berkeley campus the weekend of Valentines Day in l970. I ran shop at home when the shit went down around the State as things went in the late sixties. On campus the students wanted to lower the flag to half mast in Memory of James rector. The Reactionaries were against it. It was a hot issue and and emergency session of the student council was called to pass a special resolution which I had a hand in drafting. For the moment that took the heat.
Real rebellion didn't take hold till after Edwards (James) election in Nov. l969, closely followed by the Cambodia Invassion. Then the students turned out in mass. The likes I haven't seen again until the heat from the Prop. l87 (Immigrants Rights Initiative) of this past year drove l0,000 students and minorites (mostly hispanic) to the Streets Nov. 4th 1994, but Kent State was really much worse as law enforcement overreacted on almost every front. DonŐt forget that students were also shot at Jackson State - but since it was a Black Kent State, nothing happened.
I can see from your thesis that the early years of the antiwar movement forged a strong comraderie between students, Blacks and the New Left, but you think this caolition started to evaporate after Kent State. Why do you suppose this coalition got started?
The early years were rivalry between Greeks and Indpendents (all non-Greeks). The Greek houses had run the campus political machinery since world war II. and there were several barriers to enter built right in to regulate freedom of speech and assembly by the Greeks on campus here at San Jose State.
Rallies were disrupted. Permits for tabling were denied, Meeting on campus were confounded. Everything orginated out of the campus cafeteria as a result. Assembly there could not be regulated. It became as a result a hot bed of activism. Poetry reading by radical leaders became common place on the cafeteria front lawn on 7th streeet. They became known as 7th street forums. and the campuses first exercise of Free speech. But the symbol of authority was Campus Government which exercised final veto power over these activities. Not that the radicals didn't try ... they were repeatedly rebuffed and thwarted. Tempers flared, sides were taken, lines were drawn.
Prior to Johnson, the issue was mostly 'Student Power' enfranchising the disenfranchised on campus. The fraternity system finally divided aided by activist like Miner and Lokey and that allowed the Independents to drive a radical wedge between factions and gain a stonghold in l968...
You think the movement started to fragment after Kent State. Why do you suppose this happened?
Disillusionment here after Kent State was an accepted given. Nobody seriously discussed taking on Reagan in his second term after re-election in Nov. l970 .. hot on the heels of Kent State Protest. and it was vehement.
Yes we all reached our own threshold of 'burn out or bummed out' Lack o money, as Ben Franklin once said puts an end to many a good intention. I was sitting on the student body bank account, so I knew Edwards would not run out of money. Whether I could 'stay the course' myself became problamatic.
Anti war was just that, against the establishment, and they had lots of allies so long as they could stay organized and non-violent. My own intentional attitude of keeping S.D.S. and the fringe at arms distance was based on just that, they had no program FOR anything, and beyond my own personal efforts on campus there was no reform movement at State.
Last of all, Tim, I wonder if you have any advice from your experiences in the tumultuous sixties. How can we avoid "going through all these things twice," (as Bod Dylan said)?
Breaking away from our format, and speaking tothe present, I am 'about forming a different civilization altogether' (Krishnamurti). My father was a racist - I was not a 'red dyeper baby-. I choose to elevate Edwards (the younger) out of faith in mankind and my believe in God as I understood him.
My father, in the thrities in this quiet little town that lynched two men for kidnapping in l934 and were toasted by then Governor Sunny Jim Rolfe, dated the sister of the Chief of Detectives in San Jose in the sixties 30 years later. My mother went to school with the Chief of Police in the sixties. I went to school with the Chief of Detectives daughter. My fatherŐs personal lawyer was former Mayor of San Jose Al Ruffo, who served on the Chancellors Review Committwee (afforementioned) as a representative of the State Board of Trustees This was a very close family feud. The Chief of Detectives lead the Police TAC squads at the Dow Demonstration. My father and I _never_ agreed on Viet Nam and I always thought he thought I owed it to him to die for my county. _Not_ mind you fight for my country but DIE for it. His pound of flesh as it were. We are to this day bitter rivals and the internecine warfare over control of the City whether by Ruffo and my fathers people or by my Generation from State is still in progress as I write you. The end is still in balance.