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Interview with Dr. Tim Spofford

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McKiernan Interviews
Interview with: Tim Spofford
Interviewed by: Stephen McKiernan
Transcriber: Lynn Bijou
Date of interview: 27 January 2022
(Start of Interview)

SM: 00:03
All right.

TS: 00:08
All right, let us roll.

SM: 00:09
All right, Tim, I, as I do with everybody that I interview, the very first questions that always kind of around the same and that is, please describe your early years where you grew up. Your parent's background, your early experiences in elementary and high school before you went off to college, your background.

TS: 00:28
Sure. I was born in Bennington, Vermont, a small city, mill city. My parents were working class. They had factory jobs before they married. My father had one after he married. And he, when I was three, moved to Troy, New York, another mill city, mid-size on the Hudson River, not far from the capital, Albany. And, they stayed there a brief time. And he-he was working in a steel factory. Allegheny Ludlum Corporation and Watervliet to another city nearby. And, a number of Black people started moving on to our block. And it was probably, it was probably I say a number. I think my mother said loads, but I was probably one family and they moved out. My parents were extremely poor and uneducated, did not have, did not finish high school, even. And-and they fled across the river to an all-white town Cohoes, New York, c-o-h-o-e-s, New York. And that is about 11 miles north of Albany, the capital. And-and that is where I grew up. And-and they were poor to start with, and they got poor, my father was an alcoholic, child abuser, and a gambler and not a good combination to raise seven children.

SM: 02:24

TS: 02:24
I was the oldest. I was the oldest. And while his pay was not bad, by the standard of the day, the fact that he had seven children and all these bad habits, made us one of the poorest families in the city. What is quite germane is that, as young as maybe five, I started hearing stories that I heard throughout my childhood, from playmates, school friends. I remember walking to school one day and-and some friends that was walking, the walk was about a mile. So, we, we talked a lot. Anyway, they said that Black people moved into our city once and we were hustled out in the middle of the night. I heard that story. And I do not think it was just an urban legend. There were no Black people in our city and there were Black people in virtually all the other smaller and midsize cities around us. We were a city of about 26,000 back then. And so, I was looking at a book one day, "Sundown Towns," by a guy, I think it is Loewen, l-o-e-w-e-n. And he writes about, basically ethnic cleansing. And towns, towns where Black people were either purged from the city, burned out, lynched out, shot out, whatever. And-and in towns where, where there were signs up at the boundaries, saying in no uncertain terms, Black people and they did not often use the word Black, they used a less, a more expressive term. That you need to be out of here by sundown. And anyway, I believe his name is Loewen and, l-o-e-w-e-n, I think, he had a website and sure enough, my town was listed. There was a memory of a resident from the (19)40s or (19)50s, who recall police escorting a Black woman to a bus to get her out of town.

SM: 05:02

TS: 05:03
So, I mean that is my parents were, you know, your garden variety racist. They were from New England and small town, city, Bennington whereby the way, abolitionist, Frederick Douglas ran his newspaper I believe, or worked with, worked on "The Liberator," I cannot remember which, which of the abolitionist's papers were printed in that city. And you know, I mean, New England has a proud abolitionist tradition. But it also has a proud racist tradition as well. And my parents shared in that they were also anti-Semites. Not, you know, not, I think garden variety, none of the most virulent, overt type, but just, you know, real racist and they were not afraid of using the N word.

SM: 06:01

TS: 06:01
And so, I-I was a pretty conservative kid, I went to a Catholic high school, which kind of softened the more hard-edge racism that I encountered even from teachers in public school, because of the church's firm belief in charity, and so on. So-so then I went to Plattsburgh State College, State University, State University campus, in the Canadian border, and-and I read probably two books that really began to change my complete political orientation. And, one was the Kerner Commission report in 1967, which I read for one course. And then the, J. William Fulbright's "Arrogance of Power," about Vietnam, those were the two burning issues of the (19)60s. And I started college in (19)67. So those were the two burning issues. And early on, I read those two books like my sophomore year, and I began a pretty rapid change, becoming quite a bit more liberal. And then in (19)70, with the Kent State killings, it really disturbed my very little teacher's college community, which also had big air force base, a SAC, Air Force base with B-52 bombers, and a city of maybe 30-35 thousand, something like that. But it really unsettled that there was a power outage, it might have been sabotage and all the kids emptied the dorms. And we congregated and went into the street, and marched through the city, and went down to a big monument overlooking the Lake Champlain and-and then we marched to the federal building. It was a big, concrete, federal building, kind of a grand, neo classical building, and we took control of that, and I might say, we, I was there but I cannot take credit as any kind of leader. But, and we stopped the, processing of draft records. And there was a ceremony, we had a lot of turmoil, you know, student strike, I mean these things were real common. I wrote about these kinds of things in Lynch street. So, we had a student strike and four crosses, white crosses went up on the lawn, beside the pond in the commons of my college campus. And those represented the white students. And then, the 10 days later, there was a killing at Jackson State College in Mississippi. And there had been, oh, a, a, an attempt to burn the ROTC building there. As part of, you know, all the nationwide unrest after the Cambodia incursion and the killings at Kent State. So, there was something like that at Jackson State too, a protest in the daytime that was peaceful and, but there was always unrest on that campus, especially in spring because white people, racists, often would come through, straining through the campus on, on this major artery. They had come in their cars, and they would shout racial slurs out the windows and-and then the kids would throw rocks at them. And so there have been a number of shootings, which were related to this conflict over a period of years in the spring, and one was in (19)63, James Meritus, a famous, integrationist that you interviewed, he helped organize a number of protests along Lynch Street. That is the name of the street. And there were shootings that year. And then, then there was shootings along Lynch Street again, in 1967. I believe yeah, it was (19)67, I am pretty sure it was-(19)67. And then in (19)70, and then in (19)70, but what happened in (19)70 really overshadowed anything that happened in the prior years. There were a couple of kids wounded, but no one was killed, well, yeah, actually. Yeah, there was a non-student who was killed in (19)67, Benjamin Brown, and all of this activity happened on Lynch Street. And then, and then in (19)70, about 70 officers, roughly half from the State Police, roughly half from-from the city police. And they all came in armed, and state policemen had, they had some machine guns and rifles, and the police all had their pistols. And someone in the crowd of students did not, well, there was a crowd of students in front of a, a women's dormitory and they did not like the fact these police were coming out on their campus on Lynch Street. And so, one of them threw a bottle, and it was bladdered in the street near the police. And they all, not all of them, but many of them opened fire. And there were-

SM: 09:03
Wow. Oh god.

TS: 10:18
-literally hundreds of rounds, literally, hundreds of rounds poured into the dormitories, in front of them, behind them, into a Roberts dining hall, trees, they hit trees. I mean, bullets hit the ground all over the place. I mean, it was a mess. And they wounded, I believe it was 12 students. And they killed two and four girls were hospitalized for hysteria. I mean, you can imagine-

SM: 12:56
Oh, yes.

TS: 12:57
-something, something that horrendous, that many bullets, hundreds, and the shooting went on for 38 seconds. That is how long, it was, you know. And I think Kent was something like eight seconds.

SM: 13:05

TS: 13:14
Thirteen seconds, okay, that is the title of Joe Esther's book, "Thirteen Seconds." And this went on for almost 40 seconds. I mean, just think about some machine guns firing that long. In any case, I was horrified by this and-and one day, two black crosses showed up alongside the four white ones on my campus. And there was a little quiet ceremony, but there was no big turmoil, the likes of which occurred after Kent. And there was, 1-3 or 4 days of media hankering, hand wringing about Jackson State, but it was really pretty quickly forgotten. And I thought, jeez, you know, somebody's got to write a book about that-that is, cannot be forgotten. And so, it took me quite a few years, I got some training in journalism. And I got a master's in English, and I started a doctoral program in English; English slash Journalism at the State University at Albany and I have been teaching high school and including in my teaching a fair amount of Black literature. And-and then, when I got into the doctoral program I got into, Doctor of Arts and English it allowed a, it required actually a second field of study. I mean, mine journalism and an I went about getting myself some coaching from some very good teachers in nonfiction writing, journalism, long form journalism. And-and that was the, I asked that my dissertation be a, a book, a documentary narrative, reconstructing what happened at Jackson State and got permission, that would be in effect my thesis and but, I spent way more time, and way more money [laughter], and way more travel than almost anybody I knew at, at the university who went out for a Ph.D. And because I wanted a book out of this, I wanted this to count, I did not want it just to be on microfilm, or in a file cabinet somewhere I-I wanted it to be published and a lot of people recognize what happened. And so, I spent almost a year living in Jackson, Mississippi, and traveling throughout Mississippi and traveling in, to Washington, because a lot of the records, the documents were there, I bought all kinds of copies of documents, FBI, the FBI files. There was a, as you know, Presidential Commission that Nixon ordered to look into student, pardon me, to look into student unrest from-from those times, sorry, I apologize for my asthma.

SM: 16:57
You are okay.

TS: 16:59
And so it spend a good time, a good deal of time in Washington, and I could still see all the burn marks, the scorch marks on the buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue, right near the White House, and from buildings scarred by the Martin Luther King assassination era riots in 1968.

SM: 17:28

TS: 17:29
Those did not go away. Until I would say, it was probably the early (19)90s, late (19)80s.

SM: 17:38

TS: 17:39
That was still had the marks of a, of a riot, what I call a riot quarter. And it was very disturbing. I mean, to see that go on that long. And there were all these other cities, Detroit, Newark, that really never sprang back, that really never recovered to the degree that one would hope. Those cities were really-really harmed. [crosstalk] And-and it just was heartbreaking, you know. And so, after I did that-that book, which was published by Kent State Press, I-I was a working journalist by that time, teaching college journalism and high school English and journalism no longer interested me and I was working at a newspaper covering education, which I absolutely loved. But at the same time, I-I was not happy. I wanted to write another book. And I wanted something more, or less perishable, something more durable to my work, and I picked this up also in Plattsburgh, I took psychology, I was a psychology minor. And one morning in this big lecture hall, my psychology professor mentioned, Kenneth and Mamie Clark and their research with dolls, and how they show that Black children were spurning black dolls in favor of white dolls. Because they were internalizing the resentment, or they were reacting to the low, to the mistreatment of Black people and-and were experiencing low self-esteem as a result. And just about anybody who had written on the subject of self-esteem and being Black had pretty much concurred with the Clarks, back then, concurred with Clark's understanding of what their research showed. And, but after the Black Power movement in (19)68, well actually it started, started in (19)66. But after really gained steam (19)68-(19)69 that-that, that belief has been widely challenged by scholars of all kinds. But in any case, I thought that I would like to write a book someday about this, Kenneth Clark and his wife, because I-I learned that they were very close, that they were very much in love and they worked together, their, all their married years. And-and all this really appealed to me as a second book about civil rights. And, it was not till 1993 that I started working on it part time while, while working as a journalist and-and that is hard to pull off for a particularly small paper where they are always getting you to crank out stuff constantly, as opposed to the New York Times where you write a story maybe once every three weeks. But I did it. And I, you know, I started it. And, but then I-I wanted to move south here to Florida, to work at a better newspaper. And it was very hard for me, very rough job, God it was even harder, the real sweatshop. And so, I-I put off the reporting, but continued the reading. And I did a lot of reading, and a lot of, Kenneth was extremely prolific. And I had hundreds of pounds of his, of his writings. [laughs]

SM: 22:17

TS: 22:18
In interviews with him, I mean, you know, he just wrote tons of stuff, and tons of stuff was written about him. So, there were interviews of him, countless, I mean, he was the Black scholar of his era, the (19)60s and (19)70s. And so, I started, I was doing a lot of that, but eventually I said, I want out of this newspaper business. And I was 58 years old, retired from newspapering and went into this project full time and-and at the same time, a woman I have been needing to talk to at length for in-depth interviews had moved nearby in, in Sarasota area. This was, this was the Clark's daughter. And-and I would interviewed her only once, but she was living, she was on a visit to, to New York, but she was living in, first in Switzerland and then in Hong Kong, [laughs]. I could not very well write the kind of family chronicle, the in-depth biography that I wanted to write about that family, that Black family living in the suburbs. But, but starting out in Harlem, I wanted to write a really intensive biography about the way they lived, the way they thought, the way they, their activist lives, and so on. And the daughter was my key. And they had a son too, and he was very helpful to me. But, he lived in New York and I can interview him no sweat in New York, so I had no problem interviewing him there. But what Kate Clark Harris did for me was, as their daughter, she threw up in her garage door and open and allowed me to, to comb through several huge boxes. And I am not talking about little boxes like you get in an archive, but I am talking about huge boxes, stuffed full of family documents and-and it was a treasure trove. But the Clarks also, and this is why I needed to get out of the newspapering in business. The Clarks also had five hundred boxes, smaller boxes that kind you have in archives, in the Library of Congress, and I needed the time away from work, to read, and study, and copy an awful lot of those. Because as you know, when you are writing something in depth, you need copies in front of you, you cannot just walk down to the library when the library is 1000 miles away from you. And so, I spent nearly a year living in Washington, going through all that. And I interviewed Kate over a period of, you know, probably eight, nine years, long, you know, long interviews, probably, we had about 13, more than a dozen interviews, some shorter than others, but a lot of long interviews. And I finally got a chance to write that. And I spent 13 years researching, and writing, and editing, and finding a publisher, it took a long time. Nobody really gave any, me any encouragement in the publishing industry. Everybody said, "Nah, nah nobody is going to be interested in that." And but, finally, now, I think with Black Lives Matter, and after the Obama administration, I think there was, I think there was a renewed interest and I had three possibilities. One was Simon and Schuster, but ultimately, I went with Source Books. It was going to come out in August, the editing is done except for the proofreading. And-and that is my story.

SM: 26:53
That is a great story. And-and I have the book, "Lynch Street," right in front of me here. I have a first edition copy of it. So-

TS: 27:01
No kidding.

SM: 27:02
-yeah, I have got some markings in it. But I think it is a great book. What I like about, I might repeat some of these things that you just said, but I want to go over them. I was very impressed with when you were doing the research for the Brooklyn Street, the number of trips you took down to Jackson, Mississippi, how you describe the environment from where you were living in upstate New York, or wherever it was, and then going there. And-and it is, it is the history, you go into a little bit about the history of Jackson, Mississippi, because of all the racism and the segregation and all the other things even before Jackson State was a college there. Could you talk a little bit about the history of Jackson, in terms of, because that is also I believe, was the home of Medgar Evers-

TS: 27:08
Thank you. Yes, it was, yes it was.

SM: 27:50
-he was killed there.

TS: 27:56
Yes, he was. And, Jackson was the frontier capital city of a state that had slavery on an industrial scale. Most of it in the Delta region, where all the cotton plantations were. And then, after slavery, there was the, I should add, after Reconstruction, there was this, soon after Reconstruction very soon after it, sooner than other southern states. There was a you know these-these rebellions all across the state. Riots staged by thugs, white thugs, to frighten Black people from the polls. There were shootings, there were killings on election days to keep Blacks away. And so, even though Mississippi had a very-very large Black population, the whites kept a total iron lock on political power. After reconstruction, it was very rapid counter revolution, once those Union troops left, and Jackson was that capital city and-and there were a good number of, of Reconstruction era politicians who were Black, and some of them went to Congress even. John Lloyd Lynch was one of them, and that street in the Black neighborhood, the Lynch Street neighborhood was named for him, I am trying to remember the name of the other fellow who lived in Jackson. First name was Jim and I cannot remember his last name. He was a Mississippi legend, Black legislator too, of prominence and he was buried on Lynch Street, and a Black cemetery there that still has this extraordinary Reconstruction era, 19th century monuments to them once they-

SM: 30:34

TS: 30:35
-died. It is quite a, it is quite a sight on Lynch Street. But in any case, Lynch Street was the Black neighborhood, there was another one, which was a pretty lively business district, [inaudible] street. And many of the Black people in the city, the poor Black people lived in little rickety shotgun houses, three rooms open, you know, and they were called "shotguns," there is lots of theories when they were called shotgun. These are extremely narrow little, basically shacks. And I was just shocked by the level of poverty- in Jackson, I mean, you know, a capital city not, not just the Delta, it was up in the Delta too, the most abject kind of poverty, just unbelievable. The squalor, the smell of the-these decaying structures, which I imagine were probably built during slavery days. It is something that a northerner never-never set eyes on, and I-I was just appalled at the poverty. And, but in any case, Lynch Street had those kinds of houses in the side streets, off Lynch, and a lot of, on Lynch Street there were a lot of fairly rickety, whitewashed, wooden homes on piers that were pretty poor, but others were more dignified. There were middle class people that lived on the street it, it was not really completely a slum, there were some slummy sections. But it was, the heart of the political Black community. The Masonic Temple was there. And that was, you know, a fraternal group, that was Black. And-and there were major funerals, held there. Martin Luther King spoke there on occasion. And-and that was like, almost the beating heart of that street and Medgar Evers, and a number of white activists in the early (19)60s, or mid (19)60s, or early (19)63, the (19)64, the integration, protests, a lot of those emanated out of that building, the Masonic temple and Medgar Evers spoke there all the time. And-and he had these like, t-shirts promoting integration, and civil rights, and he would hand them out there, he would speak and-and Black preachers would speak with him. And, there were a lot of civil rights rallies right there on Lynch Street. And in (19)64, during Freedom Summer, a lot of the, white as well as Black students from the north, and the South, a lot of them Mississippians, a lot of Black, I mean, they were living in the homes of, of Black adults on that street. And they were working in the civil rights movement during Freedom Summer-

SM: 31:21
Right. Wow.

TS: 34:17
- there, they are fighting for voting rights and so on. This-this issue that we are living through today, voting rights is hardly new. And it just tears my heart out to see what we are going through right now.

SM: 34:31

TS: 34:32
Because, you know, I lived to see, you know, I remember a time I could see a time when Black people had trouble voting, and I saw the places where they struggled to win the vote. And, poor Medgar Evers was gunned down right in that city, and his funeral was held in the Sonic temple and all the great civil rights leaders all over the country flew into Jackson for his funeral in that Masonic Temple on Lynch Street. And then when the two students who were gunned down, killed in Jackson, Jackson State University, Jackson State College at the time, when they were killed Edmund, Edwin or Edmund, I forgotten, Edmund, I think it is Edmund Muskie's chartered jet and flew congressmen and senators and-and civil rights activists from Washington down to, down to Jackson, and they showed up at the, at the Masonic temple for the funeral of Philip Gibbs when he was buried there. And when he was buried in the in the city, and I am trying to remember, I think the memorial service was also. But excuse me, the funeral was held in Ripley, that is where Philip was born. There I believe there was the funeral for Jimmy Green, James Green. That is- it, that was held in the Masonic temple. I wrote "Lynch Street," 25 years ago so I am, I am reflecting back. So anyway, so-

SM: 34:33

TS: 34:38
-I do not know, how does that, does that answer your question? [crosstalk] Town was rich, rich in slave history, in the politics of the slavocracy, a city rich in civil rights history. And I was very-very excited about being there and doing that research. I loved it.

SM: 36:47
I was impressed with your, the number of times you went down there and how you described the-the environment, the trees, the humidity, I mean, everything was just, you know, compared to where you were, I think you, the book is very good, too, because of the fact that, you know, Kent State is well known, Jackson State is well known too, but not like, it evolved as you wrote in your book. I, that speech that Nixon gave on April 30th of 1970, you know, did tear this, the-the universities apart all over America. And you do a great description in your book about all colleges, you know, women's-

TS: 37:28

SM: 37:28
-colleges, Black colleges, you know-

TS: 37:32
Even seminary. [laughs]

SM: 37:33
Yes, seminaries. I mean it, it affected everybody. And the thing here is that it was, it took place in Jackson, Mississippi, that had such a terrible history of its treatment of African Americans. And it was segregation. It was, you can see a lot of people did not probably know a whole lot about Jackson State now, I believe, the coaches, which is a pro football players, now the head coach there at Jackson State. And the question I want to ask here is, again, that speech, if you could put it in your own words, how that speech itself really tore this nation apart. Because Nixon at that particular time, was trying to de-escalate the war. And this was like, I, college campuses, how there was an escalation.

TS: 38:27
Well, we sure did. And we were, we were outraged. And-and what young people today have a great deal of difficulty understanding is one of the reasons why we, (19)60s students were so activist was that our lives were in danger. [chuckles] I mean, this was not some philosophical, some abstract academic debate. Our lives were in danger. If you went to Vietnam, you had a pretty good chance of dying. And if you were working class, and you are from a working-class town, you knew people who went and lost their lives. And so, this was very much a part of everyday life, and to watch television, and see the president come on and saying, you know, remember, all that stuff I said about a, a draft lottery. Remember all that stuff I said about the Vietnamization of the war effort in Vietnam, and how I was going to be bringing the American troops home. Well, forget about that. I am, I am marching into Cambodia, and oh, my God, I mean, it was like, dropping a match on a, a tinderbox. I mean, it was just unbelievable. And I knew at the time because we were, our city had a sack base, and I knew Air Force guys. And I knew that they told me, they told me, I could not believe it. They said, "You know, we have been doing flights over Cambodia. And we were bombing Cambodia," and I said, "What? You are not supposed to be doing that-that is illegal." They said, they were very knowledgeable, they said, "Yeah, we know it is illegal. And, but it is really happening." And this was before, it, that April speech. So, I already knew about it, it was already very concrete to me. But to see the President of the United States, come on, and actually justify it, and announce it. Wow, I mean, I-

SM: 40:49
These-these are your words. This is a quote that you have in your book. It is on page 24. And this is Nixon speech, speaking that night toward the students or the people who were protesting. And I will just briefly be mentioned here, "My fellow Americans, we live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home. We see mindless attacks on all the great institutions, which have been created by free civilizations, in the last five hundred years, even here in the United States, great universities are being systematically destroyed." And that was part of his speech.

TS: 41:25

SM: 41:26
And-and, of course, we all know what him and Nick or Agnew we are doing for a long period of time, calling them bombs. And I think you have said that in your book, too.

TS: 41:36
That-that, that remark, even more than the speech. I mean, the speech was the abstract embodiment of the policy. And we were horrified by that. But when they actually, you know, off the cuff, referred to us, and I cannot remember which one if it was Nixon or Agnew, I certainly knew at the time. I think it was Nixon, when I heard that. I mean, I can tell you that that really drove a wedge between young-young college students and the Republican Party. And-and really, the whole country because most-most parents were pro-war. I mean, this was a working-class nation at the time. People were not all that educated, sophisticated, unaccustomed it was right after WWII, it regarded themselves as, [coughs] excuse me, super patriotic. And-and, you know, our parents were not supportive at all of our anger, and our lashing out at, at this, at this war, and this-this incursion into Cambodia. It drove a wedge through generations, and through classes of people and-and there were students against students in our town, and I am sure of towns all over the country, they were very-very conservative. Very loosely goosey, people on the extreme right, who were running around town, threatening to use guns against students, or to protect their-their drugstore or whatever, we had one guy like that, and there were, there were just jockeys who lost their jobs over this. I mean, they would, there were people who were making comments on radio, and television that lost their jobs. You know, professors that got in trouble for their role on the campuses. It was just an incredible, turbulent time.

SM: 44:06
Well Jackson State and Kent State are so united in so many ways, not only because they, the remembrance events that Kent State have always included Jackson State, but, and vice versa. But the one thing that, is personal experience myself, is that on the college campuses in the late (19)60s, I was at Ohio State in the early (19)70s. The divisions between Black students and white students was pretty strong.

TS: 44:30

SM: 44:31
And the fact is that Black students were saying, "Well, we are going to just work on the area of civil rights and protest that way," whereas the white students can do the anti-war stuff. But when this speech was given on April 30th, and the students at Jackson State obviously you know, heard about the four killed at Kent State and then this happened, they were protesting the war as well. And it was, the, it kind of as you state in your book, very important. It united again, the civil rights people with the anti-war people.

TS: 45:06
It, to some degree it really did.

SM: 45:08
It is historic in my view in that reason.

TS: 45:11
Yeah. Well, it was interesting to me that Joe Hester's book, alleges that the first student hurt by the National Guard troops at Kent State was a Black student who was, [inaudible] that is in that book. Black students were upset too, because they knew that they were being drafted disproportionately, and disproportionately sent to Vietnam. They did not have middle class white parents, who were doctors, lawyers, dentists, whatever, judges sitting on draft, local draft boards, deciding who was to be drafted or not. They did not have that clout. But, there were plenty of people who are white like that, and they got a break. And-and also, a lot of Blacks felt that they were being sent to the front lines and dying, and they were dying in disproportionate numbers to whites. These are facts that-that young Black people were very aware of. Again, it was not like this was an abstraction, that this was some academic debate. They knew this. And so, Jackson State had that attack on a ROTC building, there was a small fire. They had a protest, one day outdoors on the commons, that was peaceful, they cared. But, the funny thing to me is, though, that nationally, journalists tend to look through one lens at Kent, and one lens at Jackson. And-and I have never talked to a white journalist on the subject, who agreed that there was anything in common between the two. Almost all of them said that well that-that, that thing at Jackson was that-that was just civil rights. And that thing, that was just, that was just the war, those two issues were joined at the hip.

SM: 47:36

TS: 47:36
I mean, those were the burning issues of the (19)60s. And if you are in the least bit liberal, you were concerned about both of them. And if you were radical, you were more concerned-

SM: 47:49

TS: 47:49
-just a little about both of them. And, there was a lot of common cause struck between Black and white students, there were a lot of panel discussions on the campuses that week or two of turbulence. And a lot of those tables, those roundtables, included students of both colors. And-and they were talking about this together and respectfully. A lot of white students were trying very hard not to take over anything that Black students wanted to do, to dissent. They treated them respectfully and respect was returned. That is, that was my experience from what I saw on television and personally in life, in real life on the campus. And it was, it was interesting, but the media did not get it. What the media saw was, the media felt that well, you know, those white kids, oh, you know, they were kind of like, dope smoking hippies with long hair at Kent State and-and they were wearing their kind of grungy, any worn regalia. And then those kids at, at Jacksonville, you know, they, they were kind of sharp dressers, and they were more concerned about civil rights, and conflict on Lynch Street, and the twain never met. I mean that-that was the attitude that I got.

SM: 49:29
Yeah, they were, they were all wrong. And the fact is your book-

TS: 49:33
They were wrong, they were wrong, yes.

SM: 49:33
-people need to read your book and-and understand what happened there. You had some great interviews in the book as well and one of them was a quote, and this was the 35-year-old Jackson State student talking about the four killed at Kent State. Now I am not going to use some of his words, but this is the quote, "The kids at Kent State had become second class n's," you know, what n's stand for. Oh, I know, yeah, I know exactly who that was, yeah. So, they had to go. Anytime you go against the system, you become a n.

TS: 50:03

SM: 50:04
Regardless of your color. And-and that was a 35-year-old student at Jackson State talking about after the tragedies happening at Kent State.

TS: 50:18
That is right. And you know, I have never forgotten that idea, that concept. And I had seen it a couple other times in my life. But I think it is true. I think it is absolutely true what that, what that young man said, and the thing was that our, our parents, our elders, had lost a lot of, they were disenchanted. They felt that they had created this really great world, this wonderful, technically sophisticated, materially rich, middle class society. And, these kids were turning their backs on it. While we were, I mean, it was there was a real anti-material streak to our generation. And we felt that older people were making compromises with the, over the lives of Black people here in the United States, and over the lives of Asian people in Southeast Asia, to keep their way of life, keep their own white privileged way of life. This was a feeling pretty general among progressive young people. And we were not all progressive, believe me. But so, there was a real wedge between the generations, then.

SM: 51:47
Could you talk a little bit, I want to make sure that the world knows at least, these tapes do not forget are going to be, people are going to listen to these 30 years from now. People yet unborn. Could you talk about the two students who died? I would like the world to know more about Philip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green. I know James was a high school student. And I know that Philip Gibbs was a pre, a pre-law student at Jackson State.

TS: 52:16
Sure. Philip, in some ways, was the most interesting, he was older and-and had political inclinations, therefore. So that is what made it, made him interesting to me. And the New York Times published a story saying that Philip was non-political, and was not interested in politics, and did not get involved in that kind of stuff. In other words, the suggestion being that he was completely and wholly innocent of any responsibility for the, for the Jackson State killings. Well, I agree with that part. Yeah, he was, he was innocent. But the thing is, he was not so innocent, that he-he did not have strong beliefs, and even actions regarding racism in Mississippi, because he did. He was an activist student, a high school student activist up in Ripley, Mississippi, a town that was once run by William Faulkner's, I think, grandfather or great grandfather, cannot remember right now. But anyway, who was assassinated there in Ripley in a town square. But in any case, Philip was, sat in on, at pools and theaters, cafes. He took part in sit-ins to integrate his town. He was very much an activist. And he, to be honest with you, I was told he really did not like white people. Because, let us just say that he did not come into contact very often with white people who liked him. And so-so he was that kind of kid. He was very political. He was very interested. Not so political that-that in, he was a leader in protests, and organizations like Snick, and things like that, no. But, when he was younger, he took part, as so many children did, in the demonstrations and protests in their towns of Mississippi, and in another small southern towns at that time. So that was Philip, and he happened to be in the wrong place. He was on a date that night. He just dropped off this girl, it was just, pretty much a platonic relationship, friendly relationship. It really was. I looked into it pretty deeply. And there were rumors about it at the time, but he-he was just walking across the lawn in front of Alexandra Hall after dropping her off. And he drops her off. He turns around, he walks a little bit, not very far. He did not get far, and he was gunned down. So, that is really sad. And then, I cannot help but call him Jimmy. Jimmy Greene was still a child. I mean, I cannot remember how old he was, maybe 14. And he was in high school. Jim Hill, that was the name of the high school. It was a segregated high school. Jim Hill was and-and Jim Hill was the other Black lawmaker that I was trying to remember. Jim Hill was a reconstruction era Black lawmaker, and he was buried on Lynch Street, in the Black cemetery there. But he went to Jim Hill and-and not too far from the high school. He went, he worked at a store, a little tiny mom and pop store called the Wag Bag. And- and, you know, he did he did, you know, just sort of manual jobs and he would, he was a car hop, he would, they, white people would drive up on Lynch Street, park at the curb. And Jim, Jimmy would come out and hand them their groceries, they would phone up first. And he would hand them through the car, through the car window. And, you know, and he set up, you know, gathered all the-the coke bottles and stuff that were stored to be recycled and that kind of stuff. I mean that-that is sort of work, sweeping up. Well, he was walking home, he lived in a little tiny rickety shotgun house. He was one of those poor kids that I was referring to earlier, lived on a side street off, off Lynch Street, off Dalton street, I think it was. And, he was just walking home from work, that is all. And he stopped to see what all the excitement was about. He was on Lynch Street behind the officers as they stood with their weapons. Some of them were facing, probably most but I am not sure, a lot of them were facing Alexandra Hall. But some of them were facing, behind them to protect police officers from any, any kind of rock throwing or whatever. But anyway, they were facing behind them, Roberts Dining Hall. And Jimmy was in front of Roberts Dining Hall near the sidewalk. And when the firing started, he probably ran, and he was shot right there. He was killed. And-and Jimmy brought money from his job. I mean, his parents had a lot of children. I do not remember how many they had. They had a very big family. And he was, I believe the oldest, I am pretty sure he was the oldest. And he gave his parents most of his earnings every week. And boy, they needed it. They really needed it. Those, those shotguns were really tiny-tiny places with just three rooms. And I do not know, I think the books tells you how many there were. They were, it was abject poverty. And, after the funeral, Charles Evers the brother of the slain civil rights leader, Medgar Evers. He gave them, he gave the family money to buy a house.

SM: 59:35

TS: 59:36
And I interviewed them in that house. And it was not a shotgun. It was a very-very modest house, that could not have cost all that much but, Charles Evers, I mean this was his money. He did not have a fundraiser or anything for them. He just, he just, you know, in Mississippi real estate was not, Jackson real estate was not all that expensive, anyway, but I mean, really, he bought them a house. And they needed it. They really needed it, very poor. [crosstalk] It is sad story, so very sad story.

SM: 1:00:14
Now, I think you mentioned that there is a memorial to them on campus that students walk by, just like they have at Kent State now. So, the students, many students obviously, probably do not know, current students, unless they know their history but, is that forever there on campus for them?

TS: 1:00:37
Well, there was a, I think so, there was a small monument that looked like a, almost like a gravestone, a good size gravestone, in front of a men's dormitory. And I used to remember the name of the dormitory. I cannot remember it right now. But it might have been Sterling Hall, I am not sure. But anyway, there was a small monument there when I was doing my research in the, in the (19)70s and 1980. But then, the college was terrified that there would be another terrible incident on Lynch Street, because of white people driving through, and Black students are crossing the streets. And, you know, if somebody got hit by a car, or if somebody jeered racial, you know, racial slurs or whatever. The administration was terribly afraid that it would happen all over again, another incident like the three prior ones. And so, in the (19)80s, I believe it was, the state appropriated funds to put up a plaza, a big concrete plaza, to obstruct traffic from both sides, it was sealed off the street. And so, people could not drive through the campus anymore. And in that plaza, there is an inscription on it, and I cannot remember what it says. But it memorializes the loss of, of Green and Gibbs. And-and it, you know it-it honors those who were wounded there as well, if I recall. And it is right in front of Alexandra Hall, where the shooting took place. And the extraordinary thing is that if you, if you are there, well, let me put it this way, before the plaza was built, most students I talked to, and I mean, almost everyone had no idea what the bullet holes and Alexandra Hall from, now, I do not exaggerate. And I wrote a piece for The New York Times about, about the tragedy and-and I had a sentence in there saying that-that they did not remember. And, the copy desk told me that they were not going to accept that. They did not believe it, they did not believe that there were students there who did not know about the killings. Well, when I was doing my research, was in that 10 or 11, year period, after-after the incident occurred. The administration wanted to hush it up. They would not cooperate with me. And when it was an interview, they really would not. The president of the college would not talk to me. He was the president in 1970. He was still in office, and he would not talk to me.

SM: 1:04:02

TS: 1:04:03
That is right. And-and the administration would not cooperate. I felt very fortunate when the library at least would let me go in and look at a, a little memorial collection of photos, and telegrams, and stuff that came out of that incident. And I felt very grateful for that. But they gave me a hard time. And I was shocked when they put that clause in and turn it into a memorial, but I guess they felt safe at that point. Safer because, more than 10 years had passed and without, without another terrible incident. And-and the fact that you know that, I think it helped everybody a lot including me. I felt better about the school and the administration, when they did memorialize what happened there, with this plaza, with the construction of this plaza.

SM: 1:05:10
I have some, just general history questions. You are a historian. And I just want, you do not have to, really long answers here. But this deals with aeration.

TS: 1:05:21
By the way, I apologize if I have been winded, [crosstalk] I got the impression you wanted me to, sort of, free associate. [chuckles] Oh, okay. What-what I will try to do is keep my answers brief for you now, and-

SM: 1:05:29
One thing I do not want, I do not want to have, I have less of me and all of you. That is the most important thing here. But I just want to, hear your views on this as a historian, and so. And this dealing with an issue that-

TS: 1:05:44
-if you want more, just ask for more. [chuckles]

SM: 1:05:46
-Yeah, this is, as a historian, could you describe the racial progress with respect to what our presidents have done since WWII, and I break this down into four eras. The 1946 to 1960 era is Eisenhower and Truman.

TS: 1:06:08
Okay, so you want to take that part first?

SM: 1:06:10
Yep, yep, I am just, there is four of them, I just want to know what you think of Truman and Eisenhower with respect to race relations in America.

TS: 1:06:16
Sure, okay. Harry Truman made the first move to, the first moves to desegregate the armed forces. Harry Truman, in campaigning for reelection in, pretty sure it was (19)48, had a civil rights plank, in the party platform. And he-he although a southerner showed a side of the party that we were not accustomed to seeing, pro civil rights, very surprising. And-and so that was his move forward. And- and he got a lot of grief for it because of Strom Thurmond of South Carolina basically ran against him and the Dixiecrat party, and-and that made it hard for Harry Truman to get reelected. A lot of Democrat, Democratic votes went to, to Strom Thurmond, the southerner, the segregationist, the Democratic Party was a segregationist party. That is important to remember.

SM: 1:07:41

TS: 1:07:41
It is not today, but it was then.

SM: 1:07:43

TS: 1:07:45
Okay, Eisenhower. His big claim to civil rights progressivism can only be that he sent troops to calm the situation at, in Little Rock, Arkansas, at Central High School, when there was a move to send nine Black children to study at Central, Central High School. And the-there was utter chaos. I mean, utter, utter chaos, terrible, terrible. Protests and-and beatings, beating of newspaper reporters, beating of like, photographers and cameramen, and slurs hurled at the children, the nine kids. They were kicked, and spat upon, and pushed down stairs, and oh, it was horrible, the way those nine kids were treated by the all-white, the rest of the student body which was white. And-and so there were troops patrolling the halls, and the grounds, and the street out in front and-and the governor then, Orval Faubus, Faubus was totally irresponsible at the time and stoked that I mean, he was a demagogue. And Eisenhower brought assemblance of rationality and peace to that situation. Assemblance, in part because he was motivated by the embarrassment to the American democracy created by this terrible, terrible thing. In Little Rock, the Soviet press went bananas over it, they loved it. They, they, this was a big propaganda gem for them. And, this was in the middle of the Cold War and we, the country hated communists. And, so this was his contribution. But in general, Eisenhower was pretty hands off on civil rights. He, another contribution he made but not a winning one was he nominated, Earl Warren to be chief justice of the Supreme Court. And Earl Warren had been a guy who had imprisoned or in turn Japanese, in western states during the war, and that was a, you know, a real black eye to him. So, he when, when he became the Chief Justice, however, he turned rather liberal, and went along with Brown versus the Board of Education. I mean, he-he worked very hard to get a unanimous and succeeded in getting a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court, to issue a ruling, striking down state mandated school segregation. And that was, oh, that opened the door to legislation, and court decisions doing the same to, to break down segregation, and in voting, and public accommodations, all through the south and even in northern states. Where there were, there were impediments to voting, even in states like Ohio, and unfortunately, there still are today. And so, that was a, a thing that he could claim to fame in the civil rights area. But he would not claim it-

SM: 1:11:48

TS: 1:11:48
-because he really was ticked afterwards, after that decision was handed down, and really rue the day that he had nominated Earl Warren.

SM: 1:12:00
The, that was beautiful, the years 1960 to 1975, Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, and Nixon.

TS: 1:12:08
(19)60, (19)75, Kennedy first, pretty lame on civil rights. He, like FDR, before him and Truman, I mean, he was a, he was a Democratic candidate for presidency in a party that is, very much a segregationist party. So, he was hamstrung if he, if he did very much. He might not be elected, if he did a little, he would not get the Black vote. So, he tried to do as little [chuckles] as he could to get some of the Black vote. The Black vote at that time in 1960, was not solid, Democrat. I mean, there were many Black Republicans. They regarded the Republican Party as the party of Lincoln. The party that helped place reconstruction and put reconstruction in place. [coughs] Pardon me. So, there were things that, the Kennedy people did later on, that were more progressive. Robert Kennedy helped a little bit. But Bobby Kennedy tried to discourage the Freedom Rides in (19)61, he really tried very hard to get the Freedom Riders not to take their anti-segregation crusade on buses through the south. Because he thought there would be violence and there was, there was violence. And those young people knew that there might be and, but they were very brave, very courageous. And they wanted the world to see just how vicious white segregationists were in the south, to see that the south was essentially a police state. That is what it was. And by Robert Kennedy, so this is trouble for his brother. It was, it was, and that is what the activists wanted, they wanted trouble. And because they want, they wanted segregation gone. And they wanted to see voting and-and they were right, they were right, but boy, they were courageous. They took big chances.

SM: 1:14:50
Oh, Johnson and Nixon.

TS: 1:14:55
Okay, Johnson, well, Johnson is to me, a heroic figure, in the sense that he, you know, he-he really fought for civil rights legislation. Paradoxically, he used the n word all the time. He was a southerner, he knew it. He knew that he had prejudices. He was very familiar with that. I think he was trying to live it down. I think he felt some guilt about that. But he wanted a historic place in history. And he saw it as gaining, going to bat for civil rights for Black people. He did that. He also knew, I mean, he was very shrewd. He knew that this was going to evacuate an awful lot of southerners from the Democratic Party. And he was correct, because today, they and their progeny are largely in the ranks of the Republican Party. And so, the Republican Party has become a, what I-I, a word that I-I like to use, I like to utter is neo, it is, the Republican Party is now a NEO-segregationist party. And it, it does not stand in the schoolhouse door, and block Black people from going to school or university. But it is, it is shutting the doors, in my view to the voting sites, trying to discourage Black people from voting, and it is an old story. So anyway, Johnson was successful with the Civil Rights Act of (19)64 and (19)65, which opened like public accommodations and voting rights. And-and he did lots of other things, too. That is to the good, to the bad, off the subject of civil rights, the Vietnam War. This was of his making, for the most part, the-he inherited a problem of Vietnam. But he vastly enlarged it, greatly and it is, that is to his detriment. I mean, it is a shameful episode, that more than a million southeast Asians lost their lives in that horrible, really-really racist war.

SM: 1:17:43
Nixon and Ford.

TS: 1:17:47
Nixon was trying to turn the clock back on civil rights, but not so abruptly that he was exposed for doing it. He was trying to, he was no friend of Black activists. Not at all. He-he developed a southern strategy, what-what was called the "southern strategy," to win the democratic votes from the escapees, from the democratic Party who resented the integration legislation that Johnson promoted. And he benefited from that, benefited from those votes as people move from the Democratic Party, as southerners moved from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, and-and he used a lot of what we call today, "dog whistles," a lot of politely demagogic rhetoric. He and his vice president Spiro Agnew, to endear themselves to the southerners at the expense of Black voters. And but, he did not want to do it so abruptly that he would lose those suburban white voters. You know, because that is generally you know, the racist, the n word, the-the race baiting, that is not the style of conservative suburbanites. And he wanted to retain them. And so that explains, I think, part of that southern strategy, that dog whistle strategy.

SM: 1:19:42
Did Gerald, did Gerald Ford do anything during his tenure?

TS: 1:19:47
Well, geez, you know, I-I, oh geez. One other thing. Nixon, big thing. There is much more that I could say but, but I, Nixon is the busing, busing for the purposes of school integration was one of the hottest issues in 1970s. And in late (19)60s, and when George Wallace, a Democrat started winning, started gathering primary votes, in the presidential primaries for the Democratic Party, by opposing busing for purposes of integration, school integration, then Nixon came out and called for legislation to have a moratorium on court orders to achieve integration through school busing. And so, he went right into the column of the, what I would call I would call Nixon, a NEO-segregationist, that is the NEO-segregationist tactic of not using the n word, of not screaming and shouting, "Segregation now, segregation forever” but taking moves to achieve the same, the very same, end. That was Richard Nixon. And Gerald Ford, you know, I think it was just pretty much the same hands off, just let it go. Daniel Moynihan, a conservative Democrat, worked for Nixon and called for benign neglect of Black Americans in social policy, just let it go. We have, we have had an awful lot of turmoil in this country, just-just set it aside, benign neglect. And I think that is pretty much the policy, or the attitude of Gerald Ford. I mean, he was a, he was a conservative, he was not an advocate of, of civil rights.

SM: 1:22:08
The-the next two groups, and then, then this will be the last on these questions on presidents, but it is an act of the (19)60s really, but it is the years 1976 to 2000. And of course, this is the beginning of boomers being presidents, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush the first, and Bill Clinton.

TS: 1:22:29
Okay, Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter had been I-I think, you could say a segregationist in his, in pretty much his orientation, as most, virtually all white southerners were. But he did make progress, growth, there was growth there in Jimmy Carter. And there were even dog whistles in his presidential campaign that were kind of chilling, and I believe there were dog whistles in his gubernatorial campaign as well. To say, hey, look, I am one of the good ol' boys, you do not have to worry too much about me. During his presidential campaign, he-he made a statement that he favored preserving the, quote, "ethnic purity of our neighborhoods," ethnic purity now, what could that mean? Sounds to me like a housing policy that was not going to integrate neighborhoods. That is what it sounds like to me. And he caught a lot of hell for that remark, as he should have. He was not an outstanding advocate of, of civil rights, not really. He did hire Andy Young. The aid to Martin Luther King, Andy Young was a minister like King was, and civil rights activist just as King was, he was King's right-hand man. And he gave him the job of the ambassador to the UN, which was a very, a real plum assignment. And but then because Young met with, on the, on, on the QT with Palestinians. At a time when we did not have relations with the Palestinian, Palestinian authority. Well, felt Carter felt compelled to fire Andy Young, and that really, in other words, when it whenever it came to push, and shove, and if you could lose Democratic southern votes, while you would do what you had to do. And-and that is, that is what Jimmy Carter did. So, he was a tepid, I would call him a tepid, moderate on race. He had other Black appointees in his administration, which was to the good. But was he a, you know, crusader, crusader for civil rights? No, I definitely could not, could not say that.

SM: 1:25:24
Reagan and Bush.

TS: 1:25:28
Reagan was just-just-just terrible, just terrible. Right from the very first day, he announced his presidential campaign in the Shelby County at the Nashoba County Fair in Mississippi. The Nashoba County Fair, was always, I mean historically, the place where rabble rousing, demagogic political candidates showed up to give their speeches. And that was its history. There were some like way in winter. Perhaps the first progressive, Democratic governor of Mississippi. He gave speeches there too, but he did not give the kind of speech that Reagan gave. Reagan went there. And he said that he was for states' rights. And a very clear sign that sort of like ethnic purity, a dog whistle, that, hey, I am one of the good ol' boys. I am on your side, do not worry about me. And Nashoba County besides having that history of political demagoguery at that fair, I have been there. It is a fascinating cultural phenomenon. And that county was where three civil rights workers were executed by local law enforcement officers who are basically working as Klansmen to get rid of civil rights workers, to get rid of people wanted integration. And they killed Michael Schwerner, Ben Cheney, I believe it was Ben Cheney, Ben, I think, Benjamin Cheney and-and Goodman, Andrew Goodman. And Goodman, and Schwerner were white, and Cheney was Black, and they were executed and their bodies were disposed of, in earthen dan, and their car was burned, and tossed into the water, and a, a shameful, one of the most shameful episodes in, in American racial history. And-and so for Reagan to go to that county, in that fair, and to invoke states' rights was just appalling. He did plenty more, he tried to get rid of the liberal and he succeeded largely, to get rid of the liberals in the Civil Rights Commission. And he stocked the commission with, with reliable Black conservatives, he did all kinds of things that-that just made it very difficult for the movement to move forward. And-and set the tone for the (19)80s, which was a period, in the (19)60s, under Johnson, you know, there were all kinds of books about civil rights, all kinds of memoirs and-and polemical books about civil rights and segregation. It was a fruitful time to buy books and read about our Black fellow citizens. That was really common. By the 1980s, man, it is like the whole publishing industry just locked right up. And it was sad, it was sad, although, you know, a wonderful book like Toni Morrison's "The Beloved," toward the end of that decade was published that-that is a great thing. But the whole culture, just Black issues, were just, almost non-existent, just ignored. It was a terrible time.

SM: 1:29:29
George Bush, the first of his four years.

TS: 1:29:36
Well, you know, more of the same, you know, it is pretty much a question of inertia when you are talking about Ford, Bush, and Bush too, I mean, it is really basically inertia. I mean, that party is pretty much running on the southern strategy, of endearing itself to, to the Neo-segregationists’ whites in the south, and the Neo-segregationists in the north. And-and Bush infamously gave, oh, gee, I am, I am blanking out on his name. Now, one of his, one of his surrogates, and political consultants from South Carolina, I may not be able to dredge the name up just now. He died of brain cancer- -supply the name, if you can supply the name. Anyway, he gave him his head to, to produce these political ads for his presidential campaign. And-and one of them used the-the case of Willie Horton, a Black man who I think, if I am not mistaken, was convicted of, I will just say crimes. It was convicted, and I cannot remember exactly what the charge was. He was convicted, and he went to, I believe, federal prison. And when George Bush senior ran against Michael Dukakis of the governor of Massachusetts, the Bush administration, Bush campaign ran an ad claiming that Dukakis basically supported paroling people like Willie Horton, who committed these vicious crimes. And this ad was so demagogic, it was very effective. It was devastating. And it had the imprimatur of George Bush. It had his okay. And it was produced by a southern Neo-segregationist, who later apologized for it, he was dying of brain cancer. And he, and he actually apologized for, for, for doing what he did, and some of the things he did of a, of a highly insensitive racial nature. And so, enough said about George, George Bush senior.

SM: 1:30:38
Oh, yeah. Yeah, Bill Clinton, because he is the first boomer president.

TS: 1:32:42
I am, on this subject, I am just ashamed to claim him as a boomer president, not only because of what he did with Monica Lewinsky, [laughter] and that whole sexual affair, I-I loathed him for that. I was one of the Democrats at the time, who said "No, this is not something we can, countenance, playing grab ass in the, in the Oval Office with a 21-year-old intern." This is beyond the pale, he needs to, he needs to leave and Mr. Gore needs to step in and take over. But on the issue of race, I am, I am just thoroughly ashamed of Bill Clinton. His first year in office was in foreign policy, just a disaster. screwed up every step he took. Some, we sent some, I believe, a boat with some, I will call them law enforcement officers or troops, limited, limited number to intervene in Haiti too, to assist in Haiti. And then apparently, the story was that there were, there were some, there was some opposition that formulated on the docks, I think in Port au Prince, but maybe some other city in Haiti, and there were weapons shown, maybe a knife or two or whatever. And he-he, he basically, his administration turned that boat around and hightailed it back for the United States. That was an example of, of one foreign policy screw up after another. So, what did he do? One of the Black appointments he made was Clifton R. Wharton Jr., a Black man to run the state department day to day. He was not Warren Christopher, the Secretary of State he was, Warren Christopher's right-hand man and running the store, keeping the store open. And so, Clinton trying to assuage his critics appease his critics, I should say, over his disastrous first year in foreign policy, he fires Clifton Warden, a Black man, one of his most prominent appointments. When he goes to try to, to appoint a new attorney general, he nominates among other people. He nominates Lani, Lani Guinier, a Black woman, a civil rights icon, in her time, very much an activist and-and very accomplished attorney. And, soon as the, she had written a paper, apparently, a law journal article, I believe in favor of racial quotas to achieve integration, and the Republicans started screaming and hollering about Lani Guinier being a quarter queen. Well, did not Bill Clinton backpedal right off and basically dump her nomination and, lightning quick. So, when it came to loyalty to his appointees, especially his Black appointees, Bill Clinton was just no good. I mean, just terrible. And- and also to try to triangulate, to curry favor with that Neo- segregationist white vote. He came out and made remarks about Sister Souljah, I believe a Black pop culture icon, music icon. I know nothing about her, except for she made some statements or had some lyrics that-that some white people, many white people took offense to. And did not Bill Clinton come out with a great big statement putting her down in a very big way. Why the President of the United States would lower himself to make a demagogic attack on a Black popular music figure is beyond me, is beneath the office. And it was a disgrace. And now, on incarceration. He-he was very much in favor of tough legislation, locking, locking away people who were involved in drug cases and other, other small crimes. I mean, this really fueled our huge incarceration rate among minorities that we have in this country today. I think in this, in the (19)90s, early (19)90s maybe, there were something like 1 million people in our prisons. Maybe I am wrong, maybe it was in the (19)80s, we had a million and-and by the end of the (19)90s, and into the 2000s, we had 2 million. There is no other country in the world that comes even remotely close to the-the numbers and proportion of its population in prison. South Africa, the union, the fascist Union of South Africa, gave us some competition for a while. But, we were number one, and we still are, and it is a disgrace.

SM: 1:39:19
The, very well said on those presidents these are the final ones, of course, and you have already made a comment about the, this is 2001 to 2022. George Bush the second, and President Obama, President Trump, and the current President Biden.

TS: 1:39:36
[laughs] Okay, I think we are first at Bush now. Bush Jr. I, 42, I think I already addressed-

SM: 1:39:48

TS: 1:39:49
-with the inertia problem, the continuing use of the southern strategy. I mean, that just did not change. He courted the far right, as president and as a presidential candidate in ways that he did not court the far right, as the governor of Texas. An awful lot of Texans, progressive Texans were shocked to see his behavior in office, in Washington as president, because he did not show signs of that, as the governor of Texas. So, I think we can go put a ditto on his name. Now, the next is-

SM: 1:40:37
President Obama, President Obama.

TS: 1:40:39

SM: 1:40:40
He is still, he is a boomer, but he was only like two or three years old. But yeah.

TS: 1:40:44
Yeah, you know, I admire President Obama for some things. As a wonderful family man, father, as a brilliant man. But he was not a, he was not in the presidency, a figure of consequence on behalf of civil rights, is putting Eric Holder in the Attorney General's office to head that job. That is, that is great. I mean, that was wonderful, a good move. But many Black leaders of the Obama era and since, have really pretty clearly delineated the ways in which he fell short of promoting and supporting civil rights in his, in his administration. And, I can give you a couple of examples. One was again, the lack of loyalty to a, an appointee, I believe, well, no, I am not an appointee, appointee, I think, I do not think she was an appointee. Shirley Sherrod was a, a federal employee who is accused of making racially offensive or insensitive remark, by a right-wing outlet, I believe a website and it ran, the site ran a film clip of her giving a speech. And it made it, it was cropped or edited to make it sound like she was anti-white, bigoted against whites. But if you saw the whole thing she, she was not, she was actually very much the opposite. She worked in the agriculture department. And she was a civil rights activist in Georgia. A very ardent civil rights activist, a really good woman, decent, decent person. And his, he-he had basically his administration fired her, immediately. Almost immediately after that-that irresponsible demagogic report went out. And meanwhile, it took a day or two to see the whole film and it clarified that she was not guilty of anything racist or anti-white whatsoever. On the contrary, she was very much a great help to white farmers. She was a friend of the white farmer. Most farmers in Georgia are white and they liked her. And, but when all that was clarified, and that came out, and corrected, still, the Obama administration did not call her up, invite her back, gave her, and give her-her job back. She lost out. And it is, it is Obama did call her and we do not know what he said to her. Now another one was when Obama made a very good remark about Henry Louis Gates in Boston, Cambridge, being arrested for being in his own house. Black man, the foremost Black scholar of our times, a white cop goes and arrests him on his front porch for being, for trespassing on his own property, and he was not trespassing. [laughter] And Gates rightly got incensed, and so he was, he was charged. And Obama rightly said, "Look, this was really stupid." I think stupid was the word Obama used. And boy, did not a, white neo-segregationists go bananas over that, and give Obama hell. And so, what-what does he do? He has the cop who arrested him, with Gates, show up at the White House grounds for a beer so they can sit down and talk together. You know, I mean, what the cop did was beyond ignorant, I mean it was so ignorant to, to arrest a man in his own home. And-and Henry is the most, possibly one of, one of maybe 5 or 10 best known African Americans in the nation. And he arrests the guy in his own home. Now, if that is not the very definition of stupid, I do not know what is. And then to, and then to just charge this very-very tepid, moderate, middle course between them to have a beer on the grounds of the White House with them both outdoors, where the cameras could see them from a long distance. What a shameful, just a shameful moment. But I admire Obama. He was a good president, for the most part, the ACA was, the, Obamacare was a wonderful thing. He handled a lot of racist abuse with a plumb abuse from the Tea Party, rabble rousers, name callers of all sorts like that guy from I think South Carolina, who said he lied. During his State of the Union speech, the man who screamed out "You lie," to him. I mean, Obama put up with a lot of crap. And he did it, gracefully, with a lawn, and I admire him for that. But I think he-he could have been more progressive on the issue of, of civil rights. He tried too hard not to appear the angry Black man in the presidential office, I realized he was hamstrung, I understand that I understand the problem he had. I understood that to be elected and reelected, you really need, need not, you need to keep even some of those neo- segregationist votes. But still, I think he could have done more. In his last year, he began to speak out more forthrightly in the Trayvon Martin case where Trayvon Martin, a young Black man was slain by a man, a kind of vigilante, who was trying to keep his neighborhood safe. When he said that, you know, if I had, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon that-that was a, that was a wonderful remark. And he took an awful lot of crap for that. But that was, that was a help. That was a good thing. So, Obama is not anti-civil rights. But he is not, you know, he is not an avid in office, pro-Black figure.

SM: 1:48:27
How about Donald Trump?

TS: 1:48:31
Donald Trump went well beyond the southern strategy. He threw, he threw away the dog whistle. And he just openly embraced bigotry, expressed and stated, I mean, he was just wide open with it. When he announced again, it is interesting how these people announced their candid, candidacy. When Reagan did it, he did it in Neshoba county, embracing states' rights. And when Trump did it, he did it on his golden escalator at Trump Tower. And he called for a, well he-he attacked immigrants from Mexico as being, rapists, thieves, and murderers. "They do not send us their best people," he said, and he then very soon afterward, not long after he was, I believe he was in office and that is when he actually called for a Muslim, a ban on immigration of all Muslims. I mean just-just deplorable demagoguery, the kind of demagoguery, demagoguery we used to expect from southern governors in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Men who used the n word. That is what we, I mean, he was giving us that kind of leadership. And-and what-what was the result? I mean, we have had shootings at synagogues. We have had, you know just-just a terrible four-year period, we had the, backlash from the Black Lives Matter, people with the executions of so many young Black men, usually Black men. And mistreatment of Black people and jeez, you know, talk to a cabbie, even talk to a cabbie today, as I often do, and a cabbie will tell you that the-the abuse that they take, if they are a Muslim, or a Black man. The abuse that they take from white riders in the back, you know they are, they are, this has just become so much a part of our daily lives now. It is intolerable. And it is, you know, I just did not realize, I did not fully appreciate the degree to which good, wholesome, moral leadership mattered to white adults. I thought, in the mass, in the great mass, white adults did not need a babysitter on the subject of race and morality. But Donald Trump proved that they do. They do. Donald Trump did one wonderful thing for us, all of us. He taught us who we are, and America is still a racist nation. And I think he proved it.

SM: 1:52:02
Very-very well said and, of course, our current president, Joe Biden, he has been here one year he got an African American female vice president, your thoughts on him so far?

TS: 1:52:15
Well, Joe, was a tepid moderate in the Senate. He was not a progressive. He was not an advocate of, of school, busing for the purpose of school integration. And as a matter of fact, he was an opponent. And I think that really pretty well delineates where he stood on civil rights pretty much, in his Senate years. Delaware is a border state. Delaware was a rigidly segregated state, it had segregated schools, racially segregated schools. It is pretty clear where he stood as a Democrat, right in the tepid center. And while he did campaign, in Black barber shops and do things like that, and he handled himself with dignity, in friendships, and in his discussions with Black people that he met, nonetheless, he was not going to take any chances, on losing white votes by staunchly, but by being a staunch advocate of civil rights, but he was a thoroughly decent man. And James Clyburn, whom I really-really admire, sensed that he was, Biden was the only white candidate seeking the presidential nomination in, in 2016, who could win it-

SM: 1:54:07

TS: 1:54:07
-and win the president and take the presidency. And so, he backed him. And that won for Biden, the Black vote. But when, in an interesting moment, is, the woman who is now his vice presidential, his vice president, challenged him in a presidential debate, primary presidential debate, campaign debate on the issue of school integration. Biden did backtrack, you know, he more or less stuck with where he had been. That is not for, I think, for the purpose of school integration. And he later made a statement that did not get a lot of attention. But he made the statement that you know, vice president, Ms. Harris, also, you will notice is not campaigning aggressively on integrate, for school integration, which was true, because she too, needed white votes on behalf of the team, to become vice president. And Kamala Harris is really not terribly, terribly progressive herself. And the thing is, she at least kind of faked a progressive stand on school integration with him, and challenged him to try to defeat him in that, in that high-profile moment. But-

SM: 1:55:50
I know.

TS: 1:55:51
-I do not know, I thought that situation really told us a lot about both Harris and him.

SM: 1:55:57
I know that he took a lot of heat for the Anita Hill hearings, so-

TS: 1:56:01

SM: 1:56:02
-yeah, when he was head of the committee.

TS: 1:56:05
Right, well, I guess you could, you could argue that it was racially neutral, because what he did was to, you know, to the benefit of Clarence Thomas, who was also Black. And it was to the detriment of Anita Hill. And he has regretted and apologized for his behavior, and it was inexcusable. And, but that really does show you how conservative the guy was. I mean he was really quiet, Delaware is not a progressive state. I mean, in racial terms it, it was not.

SM: 1:56:45
Some people, thank you for going through this. I think this is one of the most important parts of this interview was your commentary on our presidents because the issue of race today in the news is every day. You go into the Barnes and Noble bookstore, I have never seen so many books on the topic. And-and I think it is really very timely. Some people say the (19)60s was divided into two parts. The first part was 1960 to 1963. And the second one from 1963 to 1973, or (19)75, depending. And I think I know what they are referring to, they are referring to when John Kennedy was assassinated, that was the first half. Your thoughts on that?

TS: 1:57:31
I-I, (19)60 to (19)63, I think there is some wisdom in that I would probably want to push the boundaries a little farther to (19)65. Because the legislation, that was the logical outcome of the early (19)60s, protests for civil rights came, did not come out until (19)64 and (19)65. But you could see that the tenor of the protests were growing more bitter, towards (19)65. There is no question about that, the rise of Malcolm X, for instance. But the (19)60 to (19)63, yeah, I can see some wisdom in that. But for me, I would expand the boundaries of that to (19)65 when the legislation that opened things like theatres, and swimming pools, and motels, and restaurants. I mean, this, really, you could argue that nothing concrete came out of all those protests until that moment in (19)64, when that (19)64 Civil Rights Act passed. And-and also, you know, the voting did not really, the floodgates did not really open until after (19)65, when the (19)65 Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act passed. So that is why I would push those boundaries that far. And then the other era, you said was what?

SM: 1:59:22
It was the 1963 to 1973, or (19)75. You know, we have the new senator here at Binghamton, which is 1960 to (19)75. And that is because symbolically that is when the helicopters fall off the roof in Saigon. So, that gets kind of the end of the Vietnam War. But (19)73 was also the peace conference on Vietnam, which was not really. really that successful cause-

TS: 1:59:47
Oh, so you are talking more broadly. I-I was talking specifically about civil rights, were you?

SM: 1:59:57
-yes, I am talking, when I am talking about the six, the two breakdowns of actually, it was one of the people that I am going to be interviewing down the road, Dr. Josiah Bunting, the third, he said he has always looked at the (19)60s divided into two parts, the period up to (19)63, from (19)60, over the death of John Kennedy. And that period of activism, which is really from (19)63 to (19)73, or (19)75.

TS: 2:00:23
I-I would not go with that part of it. From the point of view of civil rights, I think the, it was pretty much over, the civil rights movement was over by 1968. When Nixon was elected, it really is over. And, you know, you had that horrible, horrendous Detroit riots in (19)67. And then, the riots in (19)68. And, as the-the Martin Luther King, post King's assassination riots, the civil rights organizations were beginning to unravel. Stokely Carmichael's Black power movement, deprived Snick of white participants. And I-I, I think most people agree that the Civil Rights Movement dies with King in (19)68. It is, it is over, it is just over. And Nixon is in charge, and everything begins to reverse in civil rights, as I see it. At that time, so, now with the war, it is different. And-and I-I mean, from my point of view, I, the continuing war, and the continuing kind of hot resistance to the war. To me, that period ends in (19)71. Night you had, the turbulence of May 1970. And that, to me is the climax of the anti-war movement. That for me is the climax. I never saw anything like that, afterward. And it burned itself out, as I see it very fast. One year later, one in the spring, one year later, May (19)71. There was a-a big demonstration in Washington, major demonstration and-and carpet tacks where, the nails were spread on the bridges into Washington. Anywhere activists were trying to bring government to a halt that day. Nixon was basically wielding the city police as a bludgeon to, keep the- [silence]

SM: 2:03:15
Hello-hello, hello? [silence]

TS: 2:03:29
In May of I believe it was May, but maybe it was April, that-that huge Washington anti-war demonstration where activists were trying to close down government for a day. And Nixon brought in the police chief, and thanked him for basically beating up all kinds of war protesters, and that is what happened even innocent people just sitting on their front porches, adults not, not young activists, just sitting on their porch watching what was going on. I mean, police were going up, staircases, and onto porches, and beating the crap out of citizens. It was just unbelievable. And like the next day, Nixon has the-the police chief and to thank him for-for doing it. I think that is anticlimax. But still, I mean, it showed the resistance continuing. But boy after that, I do not know the anti-war movement- -to me, is pretty well shot. And it just, I think Nixon let the air out of that, anti- war movement with a couple of things. One big thing was the draft by having an all-volunteer army that made a lot of young people no longer fearful of dying. So, that removed a, a reason to fight for a lot of them. And, I think the whole tragedy of Kent and Jackson State had a real depressing effect on young people. I mean, the idealism was just, you know, it was just, awful, I mean, [crosstalk] hopes and dreams for a better country, you know.

SM: 2:04:35
Right. At the times in the newspapers when this all happened, when the tragedies happened at Kent State and Jackson State, and of course, they were talking about when the war came to middle America, you knew the war was over. I mean, most of America is now going to, you know, be against the war. And there is some, there is some truth to that-that was in the papers a lot, at the time.

TS: 2:05:48
It went pretty, it went pretty mainstream, but the heartbreaking thing is, that damn war continued. And we were exterminating all these Asian people every damn day with our bombs. You know, I mean, air attacks, week after week, year after year, I mean, even resuming bombing after, at Christmas time, the Christmas bombing of Henry Kissinger. Progressives of my generation today, think of Henry Kissinger as, a little better than a war criminal. But still I see our mainstream news media, genuflect to this-this 90 plus year old man is if he is some sort of sage. I just cannot believe it. That is how conservative the country is.

SM: 2:06:46
I know it is hard to do this. And you can just, you can just, I got three more questions, and then we will be done. We are a little, but that is you, it has been a great interview. If you were to pick between (19)60 and (19)75, if you were to pick five individuals, male, female, I do not care what it is, that were either positive or negative towards the, this era, who are the five people that you would pick?

TS: 2:07:16
Martin Luther King top, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson. So, that is what, three? Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King, wow. As the five most influential in that period, gosh I, it is not as if I cannot come up with names of that era. But those are the ones that really occur to me. Those are the ones that really-really grabbed me.

SM: 2:07:30
Yep. Right.

TS: 2:08:06
I mean, they there is just such towering figures.

SM: 2:08:10
Yeah, I agree. I agree. I know, some people might say, Bob Dylan because of the music. And that is, that he has been a powerful person in the music world. There is no question about.

TS: 2:08:23
Well, that is popular culture, I was thinking more in terms of, I was thinking more in terms of the political culture of the-

SM: 2:08:32

TS: 2:08:32
-of our society. Martin, I mean, my God, what an extraordinary man, and Nixon for the exact opposite, such an ordinary flawed man. And-and Johnson also in a way for the opposite, such an ordinary flawed man who had great aspirations, and did a wonderful, wonderful thing, and helping to encourage a second reconstruction. You know, that is, that is the, to me, that is his big, he gets a, a plus and a minus. You know what I mean?

SM: 2:09:13

TS: 2:09:14
Nixon is all minus, all minus in my in my field. But we know, by the way, one thing I did not mention to you is that Nixon did decide to go on the Supreme Court case, in 1970, a Supreme Court ruling that forced the southern states, those that mandated segregated schools to stop immediately, before it was all delivered, speed, which was not very, which was all deliberation and no speed. Well, believe it or not, the Nixon administration, his ATW secretary, Fench I believe it was- went along with it. I mean, the administration was, went along with it. And the south integrated in the, by the 1980s, far more than the north ever integrated-

SM: 2:10:07

TS: 2:10:07
-its schools.

SM: 2:10:08
Yep. When you go to the Vietnam Memorial, one of the basic symbols of the (19)60s but, for all time, you know, that war, that unjust war that we all know about, that really is the watershed event along with civil rights, and for the boomer generation. When you visit the wall, and you look at that wall, what do you see? And what feelings are going through your mind, not just because the names are there, what do you see, sensing in your mind? What are you feeling?

TS: 2:10:43
I am just speechless, like most people, speechless and heartbroken. And see, young bodies, dead bodies, corpses. I see a tragic pile, tragic waste, a pile of dead bodies. And I reflect on the uncounted, unnamed over in Asia-

SM: 2:11:16

TS: 2:11:17
-because they lost about a million. No, actually, I think I read it was 2.1 million.

SM: 2:11:25
Actually, you know-

TS: 2:11:26
I think it was, I think I read it just-just like about a week or so ago, 2.1 million Asians.

SM: 2:11:32
-yeah-yeah, I think you are right. And some people said up to 3 million because of the fact, we are not only talking Vietnam, we are talking Laos. [crosstalk]

TS: 2:11:42
Laos, you know, Cambodia, North Vietnam, South Vietnam. Yeah, definitely.

SM: 2:11:49
And another, another thing too. But when you hear people today, say, well the (19)60s have returned with today's protests. I have very funny feelings about this. I do not think it is the same of the (19)60s. At the activism of the (19)60s, we are going to- we are talking 70 percent of the people probably were activists, during that timeframe, and probably the same things happening today. But the bottom line is this, it was a different time, there were different issues.

TS: 2:12:17
You think 67 percent of the young population were activists?

SM: 2:12:22
No, that is I have gotten that from many of the interviews that I have had from-

TS: 2:12:27
I sure do not. I do not, I do not think at all.

SM: 2:12:31
-how many do you think there were percentage wise?

TS: 2:12:33
Oh, much-much, much lower, much lower, you have to realize it is a big country. Well, I just think that when you think about those times, you have to realize the complexity. You there?

SM: 2:12:56
Yeah, I am here.

TS: 2:12:58
The complexity of American society, it is not all private elite universities in the northeast and-and public and-and distinguished public universities. I mean, it is a very diverse country. And I do not think you could say at all, most people were activist, nowhere near it, and I would not, nowhere near 50 percent.

SM: 2:13:27
I-I was mentioning 7 percent.

TS: 2:13:31
Oh, you said seven. I thought you said 70.

SM: 2:13:34
No, I said seven, 7 percent.

TS: 2:13:36
Oh-oh, okay.

SM: 2:13:38
Yeah. And that is, and I have gotten that from a lot of including Tom Hayden and you know, other people. The key thing here is that when people say and I see these protests today, they have been going on for several years. And you know, of the whole, over the issue of race, it seems to be as, we have so many issues in this country, we take two steps forward and two steps backward. But the thing is, I, it is a different it is, I just cannot compare what happened to the (19)60s, and where people say we are back to the (19)60s. I do not, I do not buy it. And I do not know how you feel about it. It is a totally different thing. And today, it is even scarier than what it was back then. That is what, that is what I feel like. Still there? [silence] Oh my goodness, what is going on here?

TS: 2:14:35
But, okay, enough-enough on that, on that subject. Is it like today, is today's Black Lives Matter? Well, in one respect, I think I have more respect for them. And the sincerity and depth of their commitment then for us, the boomers because those, those young people stuck with us and a lot of them were boomers too. There were a lot of boomers, I saw out in the streets.

SM: 2:15:05

TS: 2:15:07
They stuck with it for a year. You know, the whole Kent State, Jackson State furor that flamed out very fast-

SM: 2:15:16

TS: 2:15:17
-I mean, really fast. And an awful lot of it was very histrionic. An awful lot, the news media were new, back then. The broadcast media were new. And I think a lot of people in our generation really and-and some of the activists just a few years before the boomers, like people like Tom [inaudible], I think a lot of folks of his age, really enjoyed, Abbie Hoffman comes to mind, really loved the limelight, really loved to have the cameras on them. Very-very histrionic, very dramatic. And-and I have great doubts about their sincerity. I mean, not some, I mean, you know, some of them like Jerry Rubin went to work on Wall Street as a stockbroker, you know, who is another one. Eldridge Cleaver, he becomes a clothing designer, and he designs clothes with a big pocket for the testicles, to feature them in his- the pants line, and he was run. I mean, I do not want to caricature everybody as shallow, and histrionic. But there was a lot of that stuff in both the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. A lot of crazy ideas, a lot of silly nonsense, a lot of posing. But I get the feeling from these Black lives matter people hold a whole lot of sincerity and with the Wall Street group too, after the, with the Great Recession, protesting down in Wall Street. I think there was a lot of depth and organization, and sincerity there. I do not want to say that, I do not mean to suggest all (19)60s young activists were shallow, and histrionic, but there was an awful lot of that.

SM: 2:17:20

TS: 2:17:21
And I just somehow respect the young people who got so involved with Black Lives Matter. I really, I really do great respect for.

SM: 2:17:31
One presidential candidate that I did not mention was the hippie's candidate, Pegasus and I wanted to [laughs] make sure you make a comment on that.

TS: 2:17:41
I do not know anything about him. Assuming it is a- him, I-I never had the name.

SM: 2:17:47
It is a pig, it is a pig. That was Jerry Reuben in Pegasus.

TS: 2:17:49
Oh, it is a pig [laughs]. Well, I would not okay. I remember that. No, no, I did not know the name. But yeah, do not leave out the pet Paulson candidacy. [laughs]

SM: 2:18:03
Oh, that is how can you do that, my goodness? Yeah. The one final question I have is I have been trying to do this the last couple interviews, I have done the last three or four. And that is, these interviews are going to be eventually heard down the road by people who are not even alive.

TS: 2:18:19
Yeah you said that, you said that.

SM: 2:18:21
10 ,20, 30, 40. If there is anything you want to say to those individuals who have listened to this tape, or have an interest in the (19)60s and the (19)70s, and race relations, if there is anything you would like to say to future generations who are going to hear you, you may not be around anymore, I will not be. But they are going to be here, and they are the future. What would you like to say to them?

TS: 2:18:48
If I can venture to offer some advice is struggle on. Do not give up. As you get older, keep on pushing for a better society. You too, are going to go the way of all flesh into the great beyond. Leave something behind for another generation, justice, social justice, fairness. That is my suggestion, struggle on.

SM: 2:19:22
Very good. Tim, it has been great interview and I am going to turn off, hold on one second. Thank you very much.

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Stephen McKiernan


Dr. Tim Spofford

Biographical Text

Dr. Tim Spofford, a native of Cohoes, NY, is an educator, author, and editor. Spofford's early writing was inspired by the killings at Kent State University and Jackson State University. In his first book, Lynch Street, he describes in detail the killings of Black Students at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Spofford received a Ph.D., in English from the State University of New York at Albany. He has taught writing and journalism in schools and has produced numerous articles that have appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, Columbia Journalism Review, and Mother Jones to name a few. Spofford is the author of two books.





Digital Publisher

Binghamton University Libraries

Digital Format


Material Type


Interview Format


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Rebellions; Riots; Voting rights; North and South; College students; 1960s; Liberalism; Radicals; Republican Party; Race issue; Neo-segregation; Resistance.


Tim Spofford.jpeg

Item Information

About this Collection

Collection Description

Stephen McKiernan's collection of interviews includes more than two hundred interviews with prominent figures of the 1960s, which were collected between the mid-1990s and 2010s. The collection provides narratives of people who were actively involved in or witnessed events in the 1960s, an era which spurred profound cultural and… More

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“Interview with Dr. Tim Spofford,” Digital Collections, accessed March 3, 2024,