Tag Archives: Sixties

On Display: The 1968 San Francisco State Student Strike

18 Dec

San Francisco State University (then San Francisco State College) was uniquely situated to address racial inequities during the 1960s. In the early 1960s, several SF State students traveled to the South to participate in the Freedom Rides in order to desegregate interstate travel. And in October 1962, a wooden Speaker’s Platform was built on campus which became the first college-sanctioned free speech platform in the nation. Tensions grew on campus through the mid-1960s as a coalition of student groups protested the releasing of student information to the Selective Service Office and anti-black animus that resulted in the beating of black students on campus. Students felt the campus administrators were racist and ignoring inequalities readily apparent on campus. Using the free speech platform, students developed an innovative Third World curriculum through an ambitious experimental college as they developed networks for civic engagement in underrepresented neighborhoods beginning in 1966. In 1968, the suspension of an English Instructor (and Black Panther Minister of Education) George Mason Murray set off the longest college strike in American history. After changes in the school’s president, activism from students and faculty, and the ultimate closure of the campus and numerous campus demonstrations, the coalition of the Third World Liberation Front and the Black Students Union, supported by the Students for a Democratic Society, issued demands seeking a resolution to the strike. The result was the creation of one of the nation’s first Black studies curriculum and Black Studies Departments, as well as the School of Ethnic Studies.

It is not surprising that the longest college strike in American history would unfold at SF State throughout 1968 as students from different ethnic backgrounds came together to fight for educational self-determination and curriculum relevant to their lives.

So begins Meredith Eliassen’s post at the Organization of American Historian’s Process blog about a new online archives collection. You may read the entire post, with links, here.

The Religious World Changed in 1968, but Not in the Ways We Think

6 Aug
Media and academics in the late 1960s stressed the trends they did because they approved of them. They wanted a progressive, secular-leaning, ecumenical future, and wrote as if it was inevitable.

Media and academics in the late 1960s stressed the trends they did because they approved of them. They wanted a progressive, secular-leaning, ecumenical future, and wrote as if it was inevitable.

In recent months I have been lecturing and teaching quite a bit on key anniversaries – on the centennial of the end of First World War, but also on that other tumultuous year, 1968.

The religious aspects of 1968 are not quite as legendary as other events and trends of that year, but they are extraordinarily significant.

Re-examining them today, what is perhaps most striking is the gulf that separates contemporary perceptions of key trends from later views. What we see at the time is very different from what later generations will recognize as the truly important developments.

So begins a brief essay at Australian Broadcasting Religion & Ethics by historian Philip Jenkins. You may read the entire fascinating piece here.

From tear gas to tweets: how protesting has changed since the tumultuous summer of 1968

28 Jul

Hours of interviews with former and current activists showed us that while the blueprints for battle have changed, the issues many people are fighting for have not. In 1968, the goal was to raise public awareness about the struggle of marginalized communities. Activists then used music, art, and writing as well as protests to bring that struggle forward. In 2018, the dream is not just recognition but representation. Activists today are using the ballot box in a bid to address inequality from positions of power. They also have technology to magnify their impact online, in the streets, and in political discourse.

So observes Jessica Mendoza at the Christian Science Monitor on how activist protesting has and has not changed since 1968. You may read the entire story here.

George McGovern and the Religious Left

19 Jul

Historian David Swartz here interviews historian Mark Lempke on Lempke’s new book on George McGovern and Progressive Christianity: George McGovern and the Religious Left

Review of Stephen Siff, “Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience”

17 Jun

Journalist Stephen Siff has a new book out on journalism’s coverage of “acid” through the Sixties. Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed provides a fascinating review of Siff’s book here: Review of Stephen Siff, “Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience” | InsideHigherEd.

Death of a Founder of the Jesus Movement

14 Oct

The Rev. Church Smith has died. For someone of whom many have not heard, his historical significance is nevertheless large. Here’s the NY Times obituary:

Chuck Smith, Minister Who Preached to Flower Children, Dies at 86 – NYTimes.com.

The Challenges of Remembering: March on Washington & Birmingham Bombing

19 Sep

Historian Edward J. Blum highlights the tensions in remembering–commemoration–fifty years after the March on Washington and the Birmingham Bombing:

How do we balance King’s dream with McNair’s nightmare [father of one of the four girls killed in the bombing] in our supposedly post-racial and now-digital age? We still live in a country of freedom dreams and violent nightmares.

Indeed. Commemorations single out one or more things from the past–but the past is intertwined, not only with the present, but with itself. Commemorations can sometimes lose sight of the complexity and paradoxes for the sake of single-minded focus.

For myself, I’m uneasy with commemorations, in general. Perhaps it is an occupational quirk that goes with being a historian. I’m too aware of the complexities of the past. Yet it also has to do with my convictions about human nature and experience–which necessarily inform a study of the past.

Commemorations are understandable, even necessary, things. They are an important collective way of acknowledging the past, even beginning to come to terms with it and, at times, moving on. This, however, is when things are at their best. Often, commemorations are less than this “best.” Perhaps the bigger they are in scope, the more difficult it is to commemorate well, since with greater scope there is also a larger number of people to try to engage in the commemoration. It is much easier to commemorate the March on Washington than the Birmingham Bombing, which actually came so soon after the March. Our human limits and self-regard bend all things, including commemorations.

Read Blum’s reflections in full here.

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