Sandra Hollin Flowers' moving reminiscence finds remarkable
parallels in one my somewhat older daughter wrote thirty years
after attending the anniversary commemoration of the Free Speech
"And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave
proof to the night that our flag was still there...and in a rage
at our government's disgrace of our flag, (Vietname War period)
people tore the flags down and burned them.
"The FSM was a result of off-campus organizing and the desire
of young people all over the country involved in civil rights and
civil liberties, to organize. It wasn't Freedom of Speech for
anything, it was Freedom of Speech for many things: for wanting
to end hunger, poverty, lack of housing, lack of our poor
education or educational opportunities, and later freedom of
speech against the Viet Nam War. It was the RIGHT TO THINK FOR
ONESELF AND TO ACT ACCORDINGLY!
"I want to thank all the stars of the FSM, the spokespeople,
and the unknowns who sat there that day while Jack Weinberg was
in that [police] car [surrounded by students who wouldn't let it
leave] and vindicated MY RAGE at my McCarthy anti-red witch-hunt
period education during which I was penalized for my
outspokenness...The FSM tried to 'Let Amrica Be America Again'--a
poem by Lanston Hughes, African American poet, that my parents in
their wisdom provided me outside of my public school education to
"I grew up in NYC in the '50s. 'What did you learn in school
today, dear little child of mine?', a line from a Pete Seeger
song: I learned that Negroes supposedly liked slavery, and that a
black young boy whom I liked hung himself by his tie in the boys'
bathroom, that a senator named McCarthy was good for our country
because he was protecting us from 'communists' and that my Dad of
course was a bad guy, because he was one of the folks being
witch-hunted. I learned that it was OK to execute two Jews for
'conspiracy to commit espionage' and that a 12 year old child
(ME) should 'go back to Russia' (where I wasn't born) for
standing up for them. I learned that Paul Robeson, one of
Amrica's greatest African Amricans, shouldn't be allowed to sing
because he was a 'known communist,' and I learned that it was OK
for six kids to live in one room with rats and roaches. My public
school was 85% Black, my junior high school was 80% Black, 15%
Puerto Rican, and 5% white.
"Somehow after I graduated high school in the year 1957 (the
year our government instituted the 'under G-d' in our Pledge of
Allegiance, a violation of our country's separation of church and
state) I couldn't stomach school anymore, and there I found
myself that November of 1964, sitting in Sproul Plaza [the
beginning of FSM] with my five month old son in my arms, weeping
in gratefulness that a lot of white middle class kids who got to
go to the uptown schools and got their books at the beginning of
their semester, while I got mine two months down the road, seemed
to be pretty outraged at our most respect institutions making a
farce of our constitution and beliefs in Freedom of Speech and
Freedom to Assemble, and in fact, Freedom to Learn. I never was a
good student after I graduated high school, I kept dropping out.
My grades weren't good enough to get into the illustrious
university and my anger at anything that was authority or that
told me lies in my class was so strong that even when it wasn't
there I thought it was...
"THANKS AGAIN FSM'ERS!!!
"Yours for a better life for all!"
Emphases in the original. Source is my autobiography, Saying
No To Power, pp. 393-4.
William M. Mandel
Sandra Hollin Flowers wrote:
Interesting material on the 6-s in my website: www.BillMandel.net
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