1968

Mayor Daly’s police attacked anti-war protestors outside the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago. That pretty much gave the election to Richard Nixon, it was not what Mayor Daly, or the protestors had in mind.

Those watching television coverage of the convention would have witnessed Daly yelling, “You fuckin Jew”, as Senator Abraham Ribicoff addressed the convention.

Walter Cronkite, the grandfather of truth at CBS, interviewed Daley as a form of apology after condemning him and his city for the police riot and the mugging of CBS reporter Dan Rather on the convention floor.

Columbia University students occupied the law library and Mark Rudd, their Students for a Democratic Society leader, grabbed the microphone from the Columbia University president during a Martin Luther Jr. memorial ceremony and denounced the University for their plan to build a gymnasium on public park land that African-American youth used for recreation.

*****

Ten days before the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and on Gandhi’s birthday, Mexican soldiers machine-gunned eight hundred students in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco Square.

Two weeks later Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the Olympic victory stand and raised their black-gloved fists. They were kicked off the team and sent home.

There was no code of conduct for champion behavior. Smith and Carlos told the whole world that things weren’t right in the promised land and the lords of decorum punished them. It was much as Soviet athletes would have been punished had they made gestures indicating that all was not well back home. Winners could not celebrate, move their bodies in joyful dances, jump up and down, or anything but stand like a robot.

With professional athletes now competing in the Olympics it is hard to imagine athletes like Michael Jordon being sent home for misconduct on the victory stand. Many Olympic athletes now have more money and power than the lords of decorum.

*****

In a massive 1968 military crackdown, Russia and four other Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia and put an end to the “Prague Spring” movement for democracy. And in China the Cultural Revolution was doing its destruction.

In 1968: Indonesians slaughtered three hundred thousand overseas Chinese[1]; Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were murdered; student demonstrations almost overthrew the French government; Huey Newton, a founder of the Black Panther Party, was tried for the murder of an Oakland, California, police officer.

*****

In late 1968, the Black Student Union and other student groups in the Third World Liberation Front did some research and documented what they could already see. The minority enrolment at San Francisco State College had been going down steadily for the past several years. It was becoming an all-white, middle class college. On November 6, 1968, they called a student strike that lasted five months.

The students demanded equal access to public higher education, more senior faculty of color and a new curriculum that would embrace the history and culture of all people, including ethnic minorities. As a result, the College of Ethnic Studies was instituted in 1969 and hundreds of other higher education institutions across the country followed SF State’s lead.

At one time, there were more than two thousand students and supporters in a marching picket line surrounding the small campus.

Governor Ronald Reagan appointed S. I. Hayakawa as the new president with orders to stop the demonstrations in whatever way necessary. The new president declared martial law and two hundred students were arrested. Several were seriously injured by four-foot wooden clubs, shaped like curved Samurai swords, coming down on their heads from the incensed mounted police. The police seemed to take the demonstration personally. They were defending America against an internal enemy.

Many San Francisco cops hated the dress, long hair, disdain for authority, and social mores of the demonstrators. They especially hated the ones who chanted over and over to a hand clapped cadence, “It is time!” Clap, Clap. “To off the pigs!”

The cops could only stare with fuming disgust at what they saw as impudent, repulsive, un-American brats swaying to the beat of killing cops. When the police were finally allowed to attack, they hurt some people and it wasn’t just the ones yelling the hateful slogans. To the cops and to the new college president, those picketing had no rights.

The Cossacks, with their swords held high and swinging low, chased the peasants. There were permanent head injuries that day, both physical and spiritual. These were mostly white kids being beaten by mostly white horsemen.

After the chase, one cop threw up and another

hyperventilated. Their bodies and emotions weren’t nearly as tough as they tried to appear.       Without the black boots and uniforms many were beer-gutted with skinny legs.

Some cops liked the demonstrations. They got off on hurting people, and they liked the overtime pay.

I watched the demonstrations with Randy Kehler, a friend, who organized for the War Resisters League, whom I had met at Committee of Returned Volunteer meetings and demonstrations. We went in the College of Business to take a leak—exactly the wrong building. Tactical squad riot police headquarters was in the College of Business, of course it was.

Four tactical squad members followed us into the restroom. The first two cops jammed Randy and me against the wall and demanded identification. The other two searched the stalls and wastebaskets.

I fumbled my driver’s license and it fell to the floor.

“You dropped your card.” The cop had a nasty curl to his lips.

He didn’t move back. I slid down and picked up the card with about six inches between me and the surly cop. One slight wrong move and I was going to get hurt. Randy had some granola in a bag, one cop looked inside the bag and then emptied it into the trash can.

Many SF State strike alumni rose to prominence in the fields of social justice, law, public health, education and public service. They include: actor and activist Danny Glover, who was a member of the Black Student Union; and Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay, who worked on the strike as a member of the Philippine American College Endeavor (PACE) and was a Third World Liberation Front spokesperson; Alumnus and statesman Willie Brown, who has served as speaker of the California General Assembly and Mayor of San Francisco, during the strike he was a young lawyer and legislator who worked to free striking students who were jailed; former U.S. Congressman, Oakland Mayor and alumnus Ron Dellums also worked to free striking students from jail.

*****

The 1968 TET offensive began the end of the American war as it is called over there. No one squealed on thousands of Viet Cong and North Vietnam Army troops moving toward every regional capital. There were no informants as arms were smuggled into Saigon by the coffin-full. Tens of thousands of people had to have known what was about to happen and no one told the boss. It should have been a sign to McNamara and Johnson that everyone in Vietnam was either on the side of the Viet Cong or the Viet Cong had anyone who wasn’t an ally too scared to tattle. Either way, the Viet Cong was in charge.

McNamara was evidence that education is not always synonymous with intelligence, character and compassion. Johnson proved that genius politicians are not geniuses on every issue.

With the My Lai killings, the battle of Khe San and the TET Offensive making the 1968 headlines, Lyndon Johnson concluded that he was overthrown by the Vietnam War and announced he would not run for a second term.

*****

A 1968 jury in West Virginia acquitted former Governor Barron of bribery. The governor, affectionately known as “Wally,” later pled guilty to bribing the head juror in that bribery trial.

And much worse for West Virginia in 1968, seventy-eight miners died in a coal dust explosion at Consolidation Coal Company’s Farmington Mine.

West Virginians watched in disbelief as Tony Boyle, president of the in United Mine Workers of America, stood at a television microphone as smoke was still coming out of the mine and said of Consolidation Coal Company, “This happens to be one of the better companies, as far as cooperation with our union and safety is concerned.” Years later, Boyle died in prison after being convicted of paying for the murder of his union rival, “Jock” Yablonski

November 3, 1968, a day before the election for Governor of West Virginia, Republican candidate Arch Moore’s helicopter crashed while landing at the Hamlin football field. The pilot was apparently attempting to avoid power lines when the helicopter hit a flag pole and spiraled tail first, 30 feet to the ground, landing atop a car.

Every TV station in West Virginia reported the crash with pictures of the crash scene and Moore being wheeled from the ambulance as did the front pages of newspapers the next day—-election day. Democratic candidate James Sprouse had led in the polls but the crash is credited with swinging the election to Arch Moore.

Moore went on to distinguish himself by being elected governor three times and going to prison for election fraud.

 

 

 

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Small World

An excerpt from my work in progress memoir, Morgantown to San Francisco

After the Peace Corps, when I was just getting started at WVU as Foreign Student Advisor, I learned that John Maxwell was teaching history. We had met as freshmen at WVU in 1954. I went to see him. We talked all night and finished off a fifth of bourbon.

While I was telling John about Africa, he suddenly said, “About the time you were in Africa, I had a buddy who went to Africa. When he got discharged from our Army Intelligence unit in Germany, I took him down to Gibraltar and saw him off on a hitchhiking trip. His goal was to hitchhike around the perimeter of Africa.”

When I was in the Peace Corps in Nigeria, my wife and I went to the Cameroon. While there, we met an American hitchhiker. He had been discharged from an Army intelligence unit in Germany and a friend drove him to Gibraltar where he began hitchhiking around the perimeter of Africa.

[1] The only country named for shrimp.

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Paul, Ralph and Joe

An excerpt from my next book,  Morgantown to San Francisco:

I was not prepared for college level work. The first semester was brutal, I managed to squeeze by with a 2.0 average. Without my genius room-mate Paul Davis, I would not have made it. He could do our math homework in half the time it took me. We were disciplined. Every evening we locked our door and studied for two hours and then took a short break to shoot the bull with our dormitory mates. Paul was the first of two room-mates who, after graduating from WVU, went to MIT.

Ralph Rippey was my second room-mate after Paul Davis. Ralph was a veteran of four years in the Navy. He was going to school on the G.I. Bill of Rights. Every morning, no matter how cold it was, he reached in the shower, turned the cold full blast and stepped in. Ralph walked at a fast pace, I almost had to run to keep up with him.

Ralph’s father was killed in a railroad accident, causing his mother to have to work as a waitress to support her family. He remembered snow on his bed coming through cracks in the walls. Ralph is one of an amazing group of exceptional people I have met over the years—brilliant, talented, compassionate, dedicated to doing what is right all the time.

I told Joe Nay, my roommate after Ralph Rippey graduated, that Democrats force Republicans to be Christians. Joe’s dad was a wildcat gas-well driller and I figure very conservative in his politics, given that Joe sure was.

Joe came in dirty from a night shift at the bureau of mines and was shunned by the other students in an economics class he was required to take as part of engineering requirements. He was shunned, that is, until his 100 on the first test was passed down his aisle.

A couple of years later I visited Joe in Boston, where he was attending MIT. He had a calculus test coming up the next day. Joe started to look at the book to study. I asked his wife if he had studied before that. She said he hadn’t opened the book. The next day, Joe got ninety percent on his first MIT calculus test.

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Industry and Higher Education

An excerpt my memoir Morgantown to San Francisco:

As Foreign Student Advisor, I was on the Student Affairs Staff. It was announced at one of our   staff meetings that the speaking engagement of Timothy Leary, LSD guru, was cancelled. Miss Boyd explained it was because the university got its funding from the state legislature and they would likely cut that funding if the controversial Leary was not cancelled.

I naively thought that Universities were places where controversial issues could be debated. It was a lesson in who pulls the strings.

I have since learned that the boards that control West Virginia colleges and universities include owners and executives of large corporations. The presidents and officers of West Virginia higher education institutions are often on the boards of directors of large corporations.

The most recent example, reported in the March 16, 2018, edition of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, was the appointment of, Joyce McConnell, WVU provost and vice-president of academic affairs, to the board of directors of Antero Resources, a natural gas company. Amazingly, McConnell also “serves as the chair of the West Virginia Nature Conservancy.”

Another eye-opener is that the West Virginia Nature Conservancy website lists Antero Resources Corporation, Dominion Energy Services, Inc. and Southwestern Energy, as the three members of the Founders’ Circle, reserved for donors of $25,000. Makes me wonder what side the Nature Conservancy is on.

 

[2] Charleston Gazette-Mail, March 16, 2018

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An Act of Conscience

Another excerpt from Morgantown to San Francisco, a memoir I am writing. My fist five books are available at amazon.com. They are: Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories; The Soviet Union and Lincoln County USA; Sarvice Mountain; Cruising the Acropolis; Damn Yankee Buttons.

A few days before, I was watching the demonstrations with Randy Kehler, a friend who organized for the War Resisters League. We went in the College of Business to take a leak—exactly the wrong building. Tactical squad riot police headquarters was in the College of Business, of course it was. Four tactical squad members followed us into the restroom. The first two cops jammed Randy and me against the wall and demanded identification. The other two searched the stalls and wastebaskets.

I fumbled my driver’s license and it fell to the floor.

“You dropped your card.” The cop had a nasty curl to his lips. He didn’t move back. I slid down and picked up the card with about six inches between me and the surly cop. One slight wrong move and I was going to get hurt. Randy had some granola in a bag, one cop looked inside the bag and then emptied it into the trash can.

 In 1969, during the Vietnam War, Kehler returned his draft card to the Selective Service System. He refused to seek exemption as a conscientious objector, because he felt that was simply a form of cooperation with the US government’s actions in Vietnam. After being called for induction and refusing to submit, he was charged with a federal crime. Found guilty at trial, Kehler served twenty-two months of a two-year sentence.

Daniel Ellsberg‘s exposure to Kehler in August 1969…was a pivotal event in Ellsberg’s decision to copy and release the Pentagon Papers. (It was Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers which led President Nixon to create a group of in-house spies, who undertook the ill-fated Watergate break-in, which led to Nixon’s resignation)

The refusal of Randy, and his wife Betsy Corner, since 1977, to pay taxes for military expenditures resulted in the 1989 Federal seizure, and eventual legal forfeiture, of their house in Colrain, Massachusetts. This was documented in the film An Act of Conscience (1997).[1]

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Kehler

http://nwtrcc.org/war-tax-resistance-resources/speakers-bureau/war-tax-resistance-speakers-bureau-randy-kehler/

8http://www.sfsu.edu/news/2008/fall/8.html:

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Jim Rebb

An excerpt from Morgantown to San Francisco, a book I am working on. And by the way you can get my first five books on amazon.com. They are Imagonna, The Soviet Union and Lincoln County USA, Sarvice Mountain, Cruising the Acropolis, and Damn Yankee Buttons

James Reeb

In my second year as Foreign Student Advisor at West Virginia University, I was dismayed by the televised beatings in Selma and learning of the murders of Unitarian-Universalist member Viola Liuzzo and minister James Reeb. I was disappointed in myself that I had hesitated and not gone to Selma. Al Ulmer, my Peace Corps friend and Florida State University all-American football player, drove Unitarian-Universalist minister, James Reeb, from Atlanta to Selma the day he was murdered. Twenty years after James Reeb’s murder,  Rev. Clark Olsen, who survived that attack, wrote about it in UUAWorld.Com. Here are some excerpts:

Selma was 36 years ago. But 20 years went by before my thoughts began to mature about what happened there—to Jim Reeb, Orloff Miller, and me.

My Selma had been a mixture of anger, fear, sorrow, wonder, and pride. Anger about Jim Reeb’s death, about those who attacked the three of us, and about the Alabama system of justice—including an all-white, all-male jury—that found innocent the three men who had been charged with killing Jim.

Selma was fear, reexperienced fairly often in telling friends or family about the events of that terrible night in Selma: the men coming across the street shouting angry words, carrying a club. Waiting at the clinic while the doctor examined Jim. Fearing Jim’s death as he squeezed my hand more tightly as his head pain increased and before he sank into unconsciousness. Fearing for all of us when our ambulance had a flat tire just after leaving Selma’s city limits on the way to the hospital in Birmingham, and the ambulance radiotelephone wouldn’t work. Especially fearing when a car full of white men pulled up behind us on the country road, then followed us back to town while we drove on the rim of our flat tire, headed for a phone that would bring a replacement ambulance. Fear turned to terror when the car full of men parked next to our waiting ambulance and walked around the ambulance knocking on the windows. I thought that they might bury us in a watery ditch that night, the same kind of ditch where the bodies of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner had recently been found in Mississippi. And fear that Jim would die before we arrived at the Birmingham hospital.

And Selma was sorrow. Sorrow that Jim, “this good man” as President Lyndon B. Johnson called him in his address to Congress, left his family to be in Selma, walked with Orloff and me on that Selma sidewalk in the position, next to the curb, that was most vulnerable to the attackers’ club; that we weren’t able to get help quickly; that he had very little chance, if any, of surviving the blow; and that his wife and children had to deal with this terrible blow to them as well.

Wonder and pride were also part of my Selma mixture. Wonder, or amazement, at the media attention, at the sight, in the hospital, of President Johnson’s gift of yellow roses, and at his dispatch of a presidential aircraft to bring Marie Reeb and Jim’s father to Birmingham before Jim’s body gave out. Amazement that Jim’s martyrdom apparently moved President Johnson to urge Congress to pass the Voting Rights Bill.

In response to Jimmy Lee Jackson’s death, Johnson had received no phone calls; in response to Jim Reeb’s death, the President had gotten 57 calls.

The murder of a young black man had provoked little attention. The murder of a white clergyman had moved the President and Congress to action. Surely that was a stark lesson about the problem of race in America.

 

On March 11, 2011, 46 years after Reeb’s death, the Anniston Star reported that the FBI is investigating the case. The bigot, who wielded the club that killed Jim Reeb, was sentenced to six months in prison.

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An excerpt from Morgantown to San Francisco, a book I am working on:

The day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, a group of African-American students gathered in Woodburn Circle and expressed their feelings to comfort one another. The WVU student government president, led a group of White student leaders and addressed the mourning students. He said something like, “Please tell me what I can do to help.” He didn’t respond when I asked, “Can they join your fraternity?”

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