[sixties-l] SF State Bombings, Radical Campus Chaplains, and Claremont Colleg es Activism

From: Tenney, Matthew (Matthew.Tenney.01@mckenna.edu)
Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 02:57:32 EDT

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    Dear Sixties Aficionados, Scholars, and Relentless Activists:

    I'm a student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and I
    recently completed my senior thesis on white student radicalism at the
    Claremont Colleges between 1966 and 1970. Although I've already submitted
    the thesis, I intend to significantly expand my paper and deposit the
    narrative history in the College Archives. Before I continue with my
    project, however, I was hoping that some members of this list might shed
    some light on a few questions I have:

    1. What ever happened to Timothy Peebles? Peebles was the San Francisco
    State Black Student Union (BSU) member who accidentally blew himself up on
    March 5, 1969, while planting a bomb in the SF State Creative Arts Building.
    Claremont had bombings at Pomona and Scripps Colleges (two of the
    undergraduate schools that comprise the Claremont Colleges) in late February
    of that year, and investigators linked the devices to an earlier explosion
    at Southwestern College in Los Angeles. After the SF State explosion,
    Peebles became the main suspect in the Claremont bombings, although charges
    were never filed (the Claremont bombings occurred right before the Pomona
    College faculty was set to vote on the Claremont BSU's plan for an
    autonomous Black Studies Center).

    2. Are there any dissertations, papers, articles, or monographs that
    explore how campus clergy fostered and channeled student dissent at colleges
    and universities and the extent of their involvement in radical activism?
    The Claremont chaplains led marches and rallies, established a draft
    counseling center, and delivered radical sermons during chapel services.
    Claremont Colleges Chaplain James Joseph, who later served as President
    Clinton's ambassador to South Africa, once delivered a sermon endorsing the
    Black Manifesto penned by James Forman. Essentially, the Claremont clergy
    turned the campus religious activities center into the physical and
    spiritual hub of white radical activism on campus.

    Doug Rossinow's book (The Politics of Authenticity) explores how the
    University of Texas-Austin YM/YWCA and the Christian-Faith-and-Life
    Community fostered liberal dissent in the early Sixties. However, once he
    starts discussing the latter New Left (1966-1970), the religious aspect
    disappears from his narrative. Ken Heineman's Campus Wars occasionally
    makes reference to clergy activism at the four public colleges he profiled
    (Michigan State, SUNY-Buffalo, Kent State, and Penn State). Are there any
    historiographical materials that specifically examine the activist role
    played by campus clergy?

    3. Are there any dissertations, papers, articles, or monographs that
    explore campus radicalism at small, private liberal arts colleges? I would
    like to compare Claremont activism to the radical activities at comparable

    4. Do you know any former Claremont activists who are willing to share
    their experiences? The student and community newspapers mention the same
    five or so names in every article on student dissent. (FYI, one of those
    names is Jim Miller, a former Pomona student and radical anarchist who
    attended the 1969 SDS convention supporting Murray Bookchin's anarchist
    platform. Miller later wrote Democracy Is in the Streets, which led the
    Sixties historiographical avalanche of 1987 and prompted Tom Hayden to
    complete his memoirs.) I would like to interview some of the activists who
    weren't media darlings to get their opinion on the Movement leaders in
    Claremont. Yes Claremont is a relatively small place, but I figure some
    subscribers to this list might work with or otherwise know Claremont
    Colleges alumni. Perhaps your "six degrees of separation" might produce a
    few valuable leads. By the way, if anybody on this list knows the present
    whereabouts of one Jim Kulk, I'd greatly appreciate your assistance in
    tracking him down. Kulk was a Claremont Graduate School student and leader
    of the SDS chapter there. I've inquired around Claremont, but nobody knows
    what happened to him after he left in 1970 without completing his Ph.D.

    5. (The easiest question to answer!) I'm curious: what is former National
    SDS leader Greg Calvert up to these days? I know he went back to school
    some years ago and obtained a Ph.D. from the UC Santa Cruz History of
    Conciousness program. Is he teaching anywhere?

    Thank you for your assistance -- I certainly appreciate whatever tidbits of
    information you might provide. Thank you, too, for continuing the
    discussion and debate over the many facets of this fascinating era.

    Best regards,
    Matthew Tenney

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