Posted On: July 28th, 2019 | Posted By: miketrial
I’m a bit disappointed that the University of Missouri, my undergraduate alma mater, has made no mention of the 50th anniversary of the student unrest of 1969. Other Universities have. Harvard has a retrospective underway, and there is an indie movie in circulation called ‘Underground 68’ which views those days of student protest through the eyes of one of today’s Harvard undergraduates.
I think that sort of retrospective is useful. To look back from time to time to see who we were and how far we’ve come. For many of us the student protests of 1968 and 1969 were life-changing events, even though we may not have realized it at the time.
And I believe protest was justified then, since in those days the University of Missouri administration still felt that its control of the student population should be firm, sometimes excessively firm. You remember dorm hours, dress codes, etc. Freedom of speech was the central issue at first, protests against the war in Vietnam came later.
Talking about freedom of speech vs. firm control…in 1968 several MU students were arrested and given 45 day jail sentences (later commuted to public service) for chalking ‘Gentle Tuesday is coming’ on sidewalks.
The irony of this harsh sentencing was apparently lost on Columbia police and University administrators, but not on the students and faculty.
Soon a ‘chalk-in’ was organized and some 1500 students from MU, Stephens, and Columbia College (then Christian College) marched from the MU campus to the Boone County courthouse where they chalked quotes from the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence on the courthouse steps. No one was arrested.
The ‘chalk-in’ march was particularly notable in that it was led by an MU faculty member and the president of the student association.