G: I think like always, you see stuff on television, you read about stuff in the papers and it increases interest. Their consciousness was raised because they always heard about it going on at other places. Martin Luther King, Jr. came here and spoke in ’63. That stirred a lot of people into at least paying a lot of attention.
I think a lot of people in the public sort of conflated these two (Civil Rights and the student movement) and lumped the long-haired hippies who were upset about Vietnam in with these black kids who were upset about the economic situation. They felt like they were being left behind, which they were. So there was a reaction locally, you know ‘we’ve got to crack down on all of this stuff; this is really serious.’ This was followed by a fairly oppressive time for two or three years where any sort of demonstration was put down. People were just afraid it would get out of hand.
It's hard to put yourself back in those times. But you see, there was a draft. The students would be drafted if they didn't have good grades. And here is a professor who gets a not-so-good term paper, and if he does what he is supposed to do, that's to give it an 'F,' the student might be drafted and might not come back. This puts the professor in a terrible spot. The students of course weren't motivated to study because they didn't know if they were going to be here at the end of the semester or not. It was a terrible feeling. All this is imposed upon us from the outside. If it had been some university officer that did it this way, they could have corrected it. But they couldn't do anything about it. And this went on and on. This was a long-time thing.
And then integration was coming in at that time. And the two got kind of confused. It was just a difficult period. There was a kind of hippie movement. You can't imagine. I was able to observe this because I was here. Until 1960, the students, who were mostly men, wore coat and tie all the time. Even at football games. They were proud of being gentlemen. About the time we went co-ed, this began to fall apart. I don't think the causation is there, I think this began to fall apart before the coeducation came in.
All through this period we continued to put out the SALLY HEMMINGS, to discuss issues with as many people as would listen, to leaflet and to talk with media people. But we were not on the Strike Committee, or at least not at its head. In fact I cannot even remember who was on the committee except for Bruce "Bruce WHO?" Wine.
The spontaneity and ad hoc nature of so much of what went on confused the University administration. They had been prepared perhaps, to deal with the Gardners and the Longs of the student body, the traditional agitators who had nettled then for years and whose liberal chants were music to the ears of conservatives needing reassurance that they were on the correct ("right") conservative path. But the kaleidoscopic leadership of Bruce "Bruce WHO?" Wine and Company was a little too much for them to keep up with. So some blamed the whole thing on outside agitators and some students for political reasons may have from time to time assured them that such was the case. It was not.
We were not far into the strike when the students assembled on the Lawn and sent Ogle, Tom Collier and myself to represent them at a national congress of striking students which was held at Yale University. We arrived by car and quickly found what I had earlier discovered at Cornell, masses of tired, frustrated, nearly burnt out and discouraged students. I saw at a meeting of the delegates that no one was reporting on developments in the South, so we three from UVA agreed that I should volunteer to speak to the delegates and I convinced the ad hoc leadership to let me do so. The presence of a delegate from a major southern university reporting on a strike at his institution and on strikes at other institutions throughout the South revived their spirits, electrified them. It gave them something different from the usual litany and, most important, a sense that things were catching on and there was new vitality in the movement.