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November 21, 2008

Social Protest in 1968, Panel on

Talk about being a part of history, albeit in a relatively low-key, retiring role---I could identify with most of the personal anecdotes told by the various panel members at the Social Protest in 1968 discussion held at the Gallery of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library on November 13, 2008. We moved to a house in a new development in Ann Arbor in 1966, and one of my first clear memories of my neighbors was when I went door to door to petition against the Vietnam War, and they more or less literally slammed their respective doors in my face. Talk about neighborliness! However, I should have known better, I suppose, because even then it was all about "protecting the troops" and thus being fearful about speaking out against the war, whether one was in favor of it or not. I remember Sheriff Harvey and his brutal men first beating the students bloody and throwing them in jail afterwards. The narrative by Dean Emeritus Harold Johnson about then- UM President Robben Fleming putting his body between the Sheriff and the students, was poignant even after all these years. I remember feeling so close to the students, the only ones courageous enough to take a stand (well, my neighbors took a stand, too, I suppose, but one that I could not admire in the least). One week, the Today Show came to the Diag to televise from campus in an attempt to convey the atmosphere at UM, so I arrived to watch early in the morning and stayed as long as I could. Another memory was evoked by the mention of Mark's Coffee shop in the alley off Maynard Street, the first in town, a friendly and interesting if somewhat messy and dirty location that did not even offer very good coffee, but it set the precedent for our current coffee shop culture. Also, I loved the tales that Cynthia Diane Stephens told about BAM and other student protest movements. I recall that in our library classes BAM made little or no impression; we did not close down in support, which was disappointing. And despite Daniel Zwerdling's comment about the importance of protests about all the minor causes that took up space in the pages of "The Michigan Daily," the really BIG cause, to my mind, was the WAR!

Posted by schnitzr at November 21, 2008 06:59 AM

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