Re: Pro-democracy movement; Cambodian play "Black Dawn"

Julia Stein (
Wed, 19 Jun 1996 15:42:07 -0400

>Martin writes:
>When you claim that the "60s was really just an extension of this democracy
>movement," you not only connect to a fictitious entity, but you are rather
>loose with the underlying facts. The sixties, insofar as this relates to a
>widespread youth movement, didn't begin until after the voter registration
>drives in the South. The rest of your examples, insofar as they relate to
>the sixties, regard efforts to increase personal freedom, which is not
>necessarily the same thing as "democracy." In a democracy, people can
>choose to restrict the personal freedoms of others, or themselves for that
>matter; the two words do not mean the same thing.

Dear Martin,
Well, we agree that there were voter registration drives for blacks in the
South, but I think you play loose with underlying facts when you
disconnect the "widesread youth movement" from the black civil rights

My other expamples were free speech fights and underground newspapers--both
of which you call "personal expression."
First, free speech fights.
I was at UC Berkeley in fall, 1964. I took part in the The Free Speech
Movement (F.S.M.) which I referred to in my earlier post. F.S.M. was a
response to Mississippi Summer in which 3 civil rights workers were killed
the Summer of '64. In the early fall, 64, civil rights groups put up
tables on campus at UC Berkeley which were raising money and recruiting
students for the Bay Area and the Southern civil rights movement. The UC
Berkeley administration tried to ban those tables as a part of decade-long
infringment on students' free speech rights. This history was documented
and handed out as pamphlets at the time. All fall, Martin, there were
endless debates on civil liberties issues (I mean endless) that led to the
F.S.M. sit-in Dec.4, 1964, in which I took part in. 800 people did not go
to jail for "personal expression." We went to jail to get our civil
liberties, to have tables up on campus to support the black civil rights
movement in the South and the Bay Area. The success of the free speech
fight (we won!) at UC Berkeley stimulated widening of free speech at other
colleges and other free speech fights. That's the history.

By the way, anyone interested in the Bay Area civil rights movement should,
I think, interview people as well as read books about it. People are still
alive. Mario Savio is still around as are a lot of other people. Savio was
the head of the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee at UC Berkeley,
a important civil rights group.

Second,underground newspapers.
My colleague and former publisher Lionel Rolfe was a journalist for the LA
Free Press. Actually, Lionel took part in the discussions in the early
1960s at the Fifth Estate coffeehouse on Sunset Boulevard which stimulated
Art Kunkin to start the Free Press. Lionel said a group of politicos
including himself (he was a young left-wing journalist), Kunkin (he had
worked for the Militant, the Trotskyite newspaper), Art Landis (historian
of the Spanish Civil War), and Gene Vier (copyeditor for an LA newspaper),
discussed that Los Angeles needed an opposition newspaper. These
discussions as well as other factors stimulated Kunkin to start the LA
Free Press in the Fifth Estate coffeehouse.

Also, Max Scheer who started the Berkeley Barb was a man of the left and
similarly started the Barb to get out political opposition viewpoints.

Martin, you can read LA Free Press at the UCLA Library and you can read
Berkeley Barbs in the UC Berkeley library. I suggest you do so. Both have
many, many political stories as they were political newspapers started by
political people. Lionel says that "all the key people at the Free Press
were political. And the alternative newspapers now are very different. They
are consumerist and have personal expression."

I'll deal with the American Revolution in a separate post.

Finally, there's a moving play on in Los Angeles called "Black Dawn" by
Jean Colonomos which about personal odssey of Cambodian refugee women
suffering from war trauma blindness and the therapy they received. "Black
Dawn" is based on extensive research and writing of two women psychologists
who worked with the Cambodian women. It's at the Ivar Theater in Hollywood,
1605 N. Ivar, Hollywood, CA and will play June 23 and June 30. I saw "Black
Dawn" June 16 as a benefit performance for the United Cambodian Community,
a refugee assistance program, in Long Beach, CA. United Cambodian Community
has projects such as ESL programs, after-school youth programs, a Mental
Health Program, and Arts of Apasara, "a home for the continuation of
Cambodian crafts, weaving, dance, music and culture that, like the artists
themselves, struggle to survive."

Bye, Julie