166-UniversityLife Lyrics

When I was a student at university I got to live through a very important bit of American history. I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley during the 1960s.

At that point America was engaged in the Vietnam war, which had already become very unpopular. Military recruiters, people from the army, and the navy and the airforce, were allowed to set up tables on the university campus in order to recruit students to fight in the war. Needless to say, many of the students did not want to go to war.

Other students also wanted to set up tables on the campus to recruit students to other causes, like fighting against the war in Vietnam, or against racism. However, the university would not permit them to do that.

Finally, one student decided to take matters into his own hands. He set up a table to recruit students for what was called Campus CORE - Congress On Racial Equality. The police came and arrested him, and threw him into a police car. However, before they could pull the car away, so many students surrounded the car that they were not able to pull it out without hurting someone. They sat in the car for something like 19 hours before they were finally able to disperse all the students and take this gentleman away and arrest him.

Afterwards, when he became famous and went on lots of speaking tours, he said that very few people asked him questions about what his motivations were for setting up the table, or what his thoughts were, or what his political goals were. All they were interested in was how he managed to go to the bathroom during those 19 hours that he was locked up in the police car.

Up to that point university students had really felt that they were powerless to have an impact on the opinion of the government. However, after that incident, the universities and the governments were forced to take notice of the opinions of the students.

I don't know whether American students at university today understand how much they owe to their parents who fought these battles for them in the 60s, or whether they still think of them as old fogies

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