Posted On: May 4th, 2018 | Posted By: miketrial

A recent article by a friend of mine in the April 2018 issue of the Missouri Historical Review called “Chronicles of Discontent, Tribunes for Change” brought the late 1960’s vividly back to my mind. I was a senior at the University of Missouri in 1969, and a reader of the local underground press. The Missouri Historical Review article explores the influence those publications had on the politics and protests of those turbulent days.

And that influence was far greater than you might expect.  Publications such as Columbia Free Press and the Free Press Underground were the grass-roots voice of cultural change, and regardless of how heated their rhetoric became at times, they remained both credible and highly influential on those of us who were 22 year old University students at the time.

My 2011 book Black and Gold is my remembrance of those days of change.  In it, a character I named Carol Bianchi, who worked at the Columbia Free Press, was actually a composite of a number of people I knew who were passionately committed to free speech and positive social change. I admired them a great deal, and remember them fondly.

Black and Gold

In September 1968 Mark Exner is beginning his senior year at the University of Missouri. It is a tumultuous time, the psychedelic counter culture, the war in Vietnam, women’s lib, civil rights, campus unrest.

Mark likes pushing the limits of excitement with LSD, skydiving, free love, but he is also a small town kid, who respects the midwestern values he has grown up with. Now, for the first time in his life, he is in love. In love with Jennifer, the beautiful literature major he met the previous year and who will change his life forever.

Mark and Jennifer, and their friends Dave, Jeff, Carol, and Allison live and love their lives to the fullest, far from Haight-Ashbury, but embracing all the counterculture has to offer with a purity born of their Midwestern roots.

Black and Gold is a loving, moving, and thought-provoking, look back at what it was like to be a college student in a small town in the Midwest in 1969 – the end of that most famous decade, the 1960’s.