thumbnail of 
     Raw Footage of a Lecture by Professor Howard Zinn on "The New Student
    Radicalism" (Part 1)
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
There will be the usual student forum in the New York room immediately following the lecture. It will be led this evening by Virginia Burson. Youth With a cause without a purpose. It's the title of a review by age Raskin in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review section of three recently published anthologies of Berkeley on the American Council on Education in describing the purpose and plan of its recent annual meeting devoted to the student in higher education. They did and I quote the generation of post-war Americans reaching adulthood in the mid 60s has confronted higher education with a moment of truth in its perception of undergraduate students. We're in our own valley. A look at the poor college calendar for the next two weeks reveals in addition to our lecture tonight such titles as old American values and the new utopia. More reality on the college
campus and the new student left. Everywhere there is interest concern and an attempt to analyze today's students in thought action and to understand to what extent and how and why he differs from his predecessor of a generation ago. In search for understanding and for constructive answers. We turn tonight to a man who rich in first hand experience is courageously articulate and in his own words is committed to the idea that education means changing people. The professors in did his undergraduate work at New York University and received his doctorate from Columbia. Is currently teaching government at Boston University. From 1957 to 1963. He was chairman of the department of history at Spelman College an institution to
which we at Mount Holyoke have always felt very close in spirit because its president from 1927 to 1953 was Miss Florence read a Mount Holyoke graduate out of his experience at Spelman. Professors in the southern mystique and several of the other publications dealing with the civil rights issue. In 1958 he won the beverage products for his biography of Fiorello LaGuardia. He is a prolific writer and has contributed to numerous journals and scholarly magazines among them the Massachusetts review. In the summer 1964 issue of which appeared his article on Negro civil rights and the colleges. On Holyoke is honored to have professors in here. He will speak on the topic. The new student radicalism. Professor Howard Dean. Thank
you. Thank you Mr. Little. I used to teach at a small women's college. For a long. Time. And so I feel at home. Now. I teach at a large university of indeterminate sex. I want to begin by. Trying to define what it is we are talking about. When we talk about the new student radicalism. Because everybody has his own radical. Or radicals and it's easy to get into an argument about them and what they stand for by referring to different sets. It's hard to define the young people I know best whether the
those in the civil rights movement and more. Specifically the people in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Are known. Not so fun actually as Nick and more recently the. College students have been involved in some of the teaching news. And what I want to do first just to set whatever tone there will be to this. Is to. Read to you a few excerpts. From things that have come my way over the past few years. Letters from students to me or to others reports from field secretaries in Mississippi or Alabama to the headquarters of
Nick in Atlanta. Tape recorded interview that I made in the shower or elsewhere just to give an idea of some of the thinking of the speed of what we are calling the new student radicals. I suppose that tonight in that little get together we had before during and after a dinner with a number of Mt. Holyoke students I should have had a tape recorder there to catch the spirit of the radicalism that was asserted. I don't know how surprised you are in that discussion. But here is. A young fellow. The name Cordell Reagan whom I first met in Albany Georgia and 1961. When I
first met him he was in that position in which he usually was and all the other times that I met him and that is he was in jail. And. I remember yelling up to him in the Doherty County courthouse he was on the second floor and he had to stand on the sink in order to reach the windows so they could be heard to tell me he wanted some reading material. There. Is plenty of time to read. It at some meeting that we were at he was talking to a group and he said something like this. I think like this means it's an exact quote. This well says Our parents have been telling us I don't want you to come up like I come up. I want you to come up with a better world. Maybe some of your parents or two of you. But I question this because it's not hard to interpret what our parents mean by a better world you know go to school and get a good
education. And what do you do with this. You get a degree you move out into some little community housing projects. You marry five kids two cars and you don't care what's happening in the community. I think when we talk about growing up in a better world a new world living changing the world to a different place. So next time your mother tells you not come. Going to come up the hard way tell her what you're going to do about it. The white student from California 19 years old. Thing. Is writing a letter to. The next. I spent half my life going through the files of snake It's amazing how these very very active kids half the time in jail found time to write reports back to Headquarters in Atlanta. It's a relatively she was writing and explaining why he wanted to join Lee the civil rights will so the relatively short time ago I began to awake after at least an 18 year sleep. I've said no to almost all of my past one influencing factor has been my
reading absolute profoundly influenced me what made me make a decision was the present need grower of all. Because of so easily and tragically slip through life. You never really experienced life. Certainly the university is not much different than the giant market place of mediocrity. An extension of a corrupt warped illusion ridden over commercial superficial society which categorizes elite semester packages knowledge whose basic purpose seems to be turning out citizens to be a quote good citizen who's that is dead unconscious automatons in our hysterically consuming society. He seemed a little perturbed. Here's a girl Radcliffe student writing
in the summer of 1964 from Gulfport Mississippi. Their mother and father have learned more about politics here from running my own precinct meetings than I could have from any government professor. First time in my life I'm seeing what it is like to be poor oppressed and hated. And what I see here does not apply only to Gulfport or to Mississippi or even to the south. People were killing in Vietnam of the same people whom we've been killing for years in Mississippi. But we didn't tie the knot in Mississippi and we didn't pull the trigger in Vietnam. That is we personally but we've been standing behind the knock tires and the trigger pullers too long. This summer is only the briefest beginning of this experience. For myself and for the negroes of Mississippi. Here's a Negro at Miles College Birmingham one of the many invisible negro. I know how invisible these colleges are because I taught at one of them. And it's only
in the winter they suddenly sprang international attention there they were on television which is I guess the best way to become visible to the country. You know Miles College in Birmingham is another one of these little colleges which had all sorts of trouble with the mayor of Birmingham. They want to collect money so they could buy books for their library but the mayor wouldn't give them a permit to collect money. They were the sons and daughters of coal miners steel workers farmers ordinary people. In the Ford education outside their own community they wanted to go to Miles College. The president of the student body said. Reacting to what was happening in Birmingham and what the community was doing. Within two miles college he said I thought five years in the armed services of my country slept in foxholes in the modern cold for the freedom of my country and I come back to Birmingham and the freedom for which I fought is
denied because I'm black. The slogan of the city of Birmingham was. It's nice to have you in Birmingham. We all have lost slogans not only in the south. But I'm a student of my own at the Syracuse University. The north where things are free. And immediately got into trouble. He was attending the Maxwell School of citizenship. Syracuse University. He wrote back to me in the fall of 63 talking about the empty moral statements in the meaningless legal anatomists that he was hearing that he was learning about. Somehow and I don't know how much of this happened because he was there but a movement started at Syracuse
University. You've been very active in the student movement in Atlanta and there's a there is a kind of radio to video of troublemaking and somehow he was involved he says. Yesterday we went to cotton for the first session a lot. I stood in the back of the courtroom and watched a tall white haired judge enter. He sat under a sign reading In God We Trust. My immediate reaction was that he was a man educated in the law living in a nice quiet section of town who probably walked never walked through the 15th Ward which is the dismal adjacent swamp next to the university where Negroes live. He like so many others lived in a romance. And there he sat playing God. Here is a. Young negro Fellow named Charles Sure Rod went down to southwest Georgia in 1961 and stayed for a number
of years. Working there. And. One meeting of civil rights workers. He said. After a number of people had gotten up from the federal government to talk about what the government was doing to end poverty in America. He said So these men get up here and quote the statistics and tell you what the federal government is doing about it. People without jobs across the country without who without training for education a man stands up here and says they got millions of dollars available. Actually mad that some of us have to sweep in wait tables and work all night and go to school and they got thousands millions billions of dollars. Are people black and white in the South didn't have opportunity to go to school. Hours that people can't read and write in the south but they got billions of dollars. They find a way to do anything they want to do anything they want to do they find a way to do. Now a lot of.
White folk in the south are literally you know we're catching hell over there in Lee County Georgia. Old man there is giving us a. Problem saying we can't register because of illiteracy and close observation we found out this man himself could not read. We got to find ways to leverage is that moving the government. We may have to demonstrate for jobs you know we may have to bring some bones up from the south and say Johnson feel my bones you know I'm hungry Johnson feel my bone. Here is the Oakley Carmichael a graduate of Howard University. Now somewhere in the recesses of Mississippi. Is I'd like to see the government take over U.S. Steel General Motors all of big corporations I'd like to see more than 100 people control over 60 percent of the industry. I'd like to see all these plantations divided up until everybody was on the plantation. Had this
plot of land because like Mrs. Heyman said Who the hell's land is it anyway. Here is the wife. Southern girl. In the Civil Rights Movement one of the first ones. In the sit in movement. Trying to. She writes poetry. And then the name is Jean Stonebridge. She was trying to define what the movement was about. Just finally it all boils down to human relationships has nothing to do finally with governments. The question of whether we want I shall go on living in isolation. Whether the shall be a we. Do movement is not a cause. It is a collision between this one person and that one person. It is I am going to sit beside you. Love alone is radical. Political statements are not programs we're not.
Even going to jail is not. Then a white student was the last one I'll read. You may think I'm getting carried away. Yeah you know the last statement made by a white. Student joining the Civil Rights Movement says I've never felt so intense so alive such a sense of well-being which is not to be confused with the illusion of happiness which is equated to having fun. I've chosen to be outside of society after having been very much inside. And tend to fight that society which lied to and smothered me for so long and continues to do so to vast numbers of people. My plan is unstructured in regard to anything but the immediate future. I believe in freedom and must take the job. And must take the chance of action. Well all that is just to give you in a way that I could not possibly give you
advice attempting to summarize some of the flavor. It's not typical snuffle mean it's not the average. It's just the flavor of the thinking of some of these young people. Part of this movement which is called the new student radicalism or whatever. The movement has asserted itself in a number of ways. Civil rights movement obviously also in things like work in the urban slums the students the Democratic Society has been caring and. Also. This whole business of Vietnam and the teachings only protesting the burning of draft cards. And I and a fourth. Area in. The rebellion against administrative bureaucracy.
Or whatever you call them that's too fancy a name for something which sometimes is indefinable but which somehow people feel stifles them on a college campus or on the university campus. These are the things. That the new student radicals are engaged in. Civil rights was undoubtedly the catalyst and this was what did it until those sit ins began in February of 1960 when those four young fellows not knowing what they were doing all they knew what they were doing at the moment but they didn't know what they were starting. But until our time people have talked about the well you know how what they said about the college generation of the 50s. They were silent they were alienated. There were all sorts of things but they weren't creating a great commotion in the world. We just been through a war
and all sorts of problems and people were discussing McCarthyism and they were discussing foreign policy and I was talking about the Cold War. But students of the 50s didn't show any kind of reactive excitement of that. Then came the sit ins and cover of 916 and they spread throughout the south. And since that time all of these other manifestations have taken hold. And you can see the connection. As STDs working in the urban slums has been very much stimulated by the work going on in the Negro rural South. Some of the leaders of us came out of the civil rights movement. Tom Hayden. Beaten up on the street in Mississippi in arrested in Albany Georgia and working in Newark among poor people and talking about economic change helping to drop the program of the ad hoc committee for the
revolution. But somehow has not created any revolutionary activity in this country but it was. An interesting title. But the connection between the civil rights movement. And the Vietnam thing I think has been come clear. The very idea of the teaching. Of. Well I mean just. The etymological way the Seems to me the teach in this book Black way and and in every way is a descendent of the sit in the fray and the Neal in the swimmin and all the other ins outs above us. It seems a healthy substitute for the cookout. Or the rake off.
But there's no doubt that many people in the civil rights movement have moved over to the issue of Vietnam. One of the leaders of the movement in Mississippi Bob Moses has turned most of his attention now to the issue of Vietnam. That's a lot of time on this and this is true a lot of other people. Now. Why was it the civil rights you know. That is that started this law. Why did whatever unrest there was about American foreign policy what are the inner tensions there were among students about the life they faced at the university. Whatever they felt about the fact that people in the country were poor. Why did this. Wait until. It was triggered by Negro students sitting in the lunch counters and going on freedom rides on buses in the south.
Why did that kind of issue set it off. I like to ask big rhetorical questions when I don't know answers. I only only guess. Part of it maybe a small part of it I don't know how to measure this has something to do with what with what's been happening in the world since the end of World War 2 and that by that I mean the rise of African nation. The dwindling of the colonial world and the rise to importance and dignity of people of different races of different color who had been in the back of the global bus for a long long time. And I think this had something to do with. Perhaps. And here I'm only guessing at this. It's one of the reasons it was it. It took something connected with the negro to start things off in this country is
because here. Is the most clear cut issue. Of all of the moral issues that we can find in the United States. This is the clearest This is the most obvious. This doesn't take a tremendous amount of complex argument. You don't need foreign policy experts. You don't need a long historical accounts of the background. But here are some very fundamental human attitude is involved which many many Americans felt without having studied the situation without knowing much about it. And as simple as black and white. That people knew there was something wrong with that. Now it is true they've known for a long time that there was something wrong and somebody had to get them in motion. And the kids in the Negro colleges did it. But once they started it.
Became easier to work on this than other thing I suppose for the United States this is particularly important because this is a nation where issues are not clear cut. That is what we are not. This isn't Brazil. This isn't Mexico and we don't have teeming millions of poor roaming the streets we don't. New York is not Calcutta. Sometimes it looks almost that way. But here this is a wealthy country and this is a prosperous country. And this is a liberal country and this is all of great things that everybody says about this country and yet there are things wrong in the things that are wrong are elusive and complex and subtle and nobody can quite grasp that. And it's not clear it's. About nor Kreuzer talks about totalitarian liberalism. After reading the book one dimensional man to see what he means by that.
Now of course when everybody knows we're not a totalitarian state. Or a liberal state but what does this mean. And liberalism in the United States is a very peculiar phenomena. It has certain very bad blind spots. One of these blind spots has to do with the small minority of the relatively small minority a country compared to other countries which is poor. Now the Blind Spot has always been the negro. But if you could be liberal liberal liberal. But there was the negro in the south and he was still invisible to liberals as well as to anybody else. Another blind spot was in foreign policy because whenever the nation went to war liberals rushed to the banners almost before anybody else and sometimes they were better at it than anybody else. And liberals were always better at explaining the wars than anybody else. This is their their verbal people and they can round
out an argument for going to war in a way that conservatives find it difficult to do. And if you look at the history of American foreign policy you'll see how much of American aggression has been committed by American liberals. Well. Well I should mention another blind spot. Blind the other blind spot is. The the liberal. The tremendous the friend of civil liberties. Communists are involved. You know until people if you think string edges are involved just leave me alone. That's all. Remember McCarthy did not get into trouble until McCarthy began pounding away at not only liberals but conservatives. I mean any of you have to attack a wide spectrum of the population in this matter of civil liberties. Before they will really be overreaction. If you would just put the communists away
then everything's OK. Liberals. This is a liberal country and it's this kind of country and because we're so complex to Marxists in all of their all talk never define this country accurately because they always talk in cliches and stereotypes. They differ. But the Chamber of Commerce also talked in stereotypes. And so how do you define this country nobody has been able to do it is a very very strange place we live in. It takes the most fantastic persuasion to be able to pick here and there and draw the lines and decide what's right and what's wrong. And in this very very complex country. All of these problems. That. Defy simplistic description a problem of the negro stood out very stark and clear. So I think this was the reason why it became the starting point for a whole group of action led people into other things.
I love this girl who went down to Gulfport Mississippi to think about things that she never thought of in her life. She began to think. That. There must be people all over the world. Like the negroes she saw in Mississippi who didn't know where their next meal was coming from. And who lived in fear. But she had lived her whole life and our parents had lived their whole lives and they never knew about the existence of these negroes in Mississippi. And there must be hundreds of millions of people in the world who live that kind of existence and about whom we don't think. This is the kind of jump from one issue to another this taken place since the civil rights movement began. Why students. Asking a whole bunch of questions the answers to which are all guesses.
But it will. Why. While the students because it is the students who are the students who started the sit ins and the students who took up the freedom ride you know after the Freedom Ride got bogged down in Birmingham and the older folk it was the people in their 30s who halted the Freedom Ride temporarily and then the students moved in and took it on through the. Them very wild rough and dangerous country. And if the students from the teachings and. Who are. Pulling pulling the teachers into the teaching. And the students out of Berkeley. Clearly. Why them. You probably can answer this better than I can. I'm just making it. I guess that students of people in
Raw Footage
Raw Footage of a Lecture by Professor Howard Zinn on "The New Student Radicalism" (Part 1)
Contributing Organization
New England Public Radio (Amherst, Massachusetts)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/305-36tx99jd).
Part one of raw footage of a lecture by Professor Howard Zinn on "The New Student Radicalism." He is introduced by an unidentified female speaker. He gives examples of the student radicalism movement, including civil rights and Vietnam.
Asset type
Raw Footage
Event Coverage
Social Issues
No copyright statement in content.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Speaker: Zinn, Howard, 1922-2010
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 200.19 (SCUA)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “ Raw Footage of a Lecture by Professor Howard Zinn on "The New Student Radicalism" (Part 1) ,” 1965-10-20, New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 8, 2020,
MLA: “ Raw Footage of a Lecture by Professor Howard Zinn on "The New Student Radicalism" (Part 1) .” 1965-10-20. New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 8, 2020. <>.
APA: Raw Footage of a Lecture by Professor Howard Zinn on "The New Student Radicalism" (Part 1) . Boston, MA: New England Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from