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Interview with Rennie Davis

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Davis, Rennie ; McKiernan, Stephen


Rennie Davis (1940-2021) was a spiritual lecturer and an activist. Davis was an American anti-Vietnam war protest leader of the 1960s. He was one of the Chicago Seven defendants. He appeared on several shows, including Larry King Live and Barbara Walters, and provided business advice for Fortune 500 companies. Davis was an alumnus of Oberlin College.




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McKiernan Interviews
Interview with: Rennie Davis
Interviewed by: Stephen McKiernan
Transcriber: Carrie Blabac-Myers
Date of interview: 10 October 2009

(Start of Interview)

RD: That is probably worse than what happened to [inaudible] finding, you know, Christianity as a religion that did not really make any sense at all, so Tom kind of went through, what in the world? I mean, it was just, you know, I was viewed by myself too. I was a self-image, but other people too, just so stable in my politics and my consistency, what I believed and what I would do, you could count on me you know, and it was nice to have. Then all of a sudden you could not count on me anymore and I thought, oh what happened?

SM: How did you used to be for the record questions? I answered? How did you become who you became?

RD: In the (19)60s?

SM: In other words, experience? Yeah, when we when and when students on college campuses saw you and Tom. You know, a lot of us knew about Tom because of the Free Speech Movement and, and the poor Iran statement, and we were reading about that young man from Michigan. But where did you come from? How did you get? How did you get the 1968? Chicago? I mean?

RD: Well, my dad was the Chief of Staff of Truman's Council of Economic Advisers, and was a, had left University teaching when Roosevelt came in, you know, and but basically saw himself as supporting a government trying to do recovery with stimulation. And so he was pro Liberal government, you know, Liberal Democrat, I would say that it risen to the highest level of his profession. And I grew up in an environment, a climate, I mean, he lost a job when Eisenhower was elected president.

SM: Definitely a democrat.

RD: He had purchased this 500-acre farm about seventy miles west of Washington and decided because he had himself grown up on a farm in Sao Paulo, Ohio that he was, you know, from his perspective, black balled and Washington, he could not get a job, you know, in his profession, at least for a while. So he decided to make a go of it on the farm. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to us, you know. At first we were kicking and screaming, but so we all moved out to the farm and it looked like we were farmers. I mean, you know, the nearest neighbor was almost a half a mile away, it was a very isolated place, but beautiful place, but, and I went to, you know, a local high school and I guess I found myself about a year ahead of everybody, academically, just coming from the Washington School to a rural country Virginia School. But right away, started making good grades for me, you know? And then I got active in activities in the in the school too. I was president the student body, I was editor in chief of the school newspaper. I became kind of um, I won the state championship in 4H, poultry judging. I won the eastern United States poultry judging contest. Then I had a stolen from me in Chicago. That was my view, but it was not really. So I had the farming thing and I was, I suppose you could say I was high school activism and I was doing a lot of things in high school.

Unnamed speaker: You were telling me about a rally that you did in high school, didn’t you?

RD: Valley?

Unnamed speaker: A rally did not you do a rally in high school or something like a demonstration?

RD: Well, we had a dance thing that we moved off, you know, we rented a place I had a band, I played the piano, and we had a nightclub type of thing, you know, but there were not any chaperones. We were just doing it on our own, you know, and it was became a big controversial thing with the principle of the school. I would not call it too political but anyway, during this period, I asked my dad, you know, I had a worldview and thinking about issues I sort of you know, I was I went to an all-white high school. You know, I did not really fully glock segregation when I was in high school. I had a very high-grade point average, which, you know, I fortunately, got me into a decent undergraduate school, I went to Oberlin College in Ohio. And I, in the first year was terror of trying to catch up with everybody and then by the second year, I became roommate with a guy named Paul Potter, who was, who knew Tom. Tom was at the University of Michigan, we were at Oberlin. And it was it was very interesting. I mean, you were in January 1960, you really could not tell that it was not still the 1950s. There was no signs of anything really. It was my first intuitive moment, I would say, you know, I knew in January 1960, something immense and huge was about to happen. And I could not really say what it was other than it felt like the entire generation was going to come together and really make a difference in the world, you know, but there was there was zero, so I mean, there was nothing going on. I mean, before Kennedy was elected. Well, yeah, this would be maybe with Kennedy. Kennedy, what would have been a January 20, 1960. So the election was happening. I mean, you could say also the, you know, I mean, I watched the Stevenson campaign with Eisenhower. And we were drawn to the elegance of Stephenson, and his family and so on. But there was no civil rights movement. I mean, there were there were things let you know about now, historically, but not in the media. But it was just it was just entertaining. There was just like a vibration or something. I do not know that is probably not the right word, it was a knowingness that, that I was a part of something that was huge, you know. And I knew that really before the, right there at the end of (19)59, very early (19)60. And then, for me, the thing that launched everything was February 4, 1960. When four students that A&T college, you know, sat down in Greensboro. And you know, we watched this thing through the media. Now, Life magazine came out with this picture book story and it was mostly it was just shocking, you know, I mean, I mean, I grew up in an all-white school. And yet, for me, the idea that blacks had no justice, they could not have a hamburger, you know, there were two whites and negro toilets. And they, you know, it was just like, I did not know where I was, I mean, I did not get it, you know, before, but now I could see, you know. So it was a little bit of my father's values about justice, fair play and equality and you know, those kind of principles. Yet, you know, beating reality that was like, shocking and like oh, my God, you know. So, it was by February, early March, and by February, I would say we were full tilt 100 percent into a movement that really technically did not even exist, but talented kids, it was like, wow, here we go, you know? And from that day forward, I would say it was pretty much nonstop, twenty-four seven for thirteen years, was the only thing that was really our focus. Tom showed up. Well, I wound up organizing a political convention in Oberlin College, where students nominated a mock convention, you know, you nominate a presidential candidate. I was the campaign manager for Hubert Humphrey, who at that moment was considered kind of a liberal.

SM: Yeah. That must have been a great experience.

RD: Yeah, and then Tom showed up, you know, one spring day at school and basically, oh, and we from there we formed the political party called the Progressive Student League. And these are all unheard of concepts. Yeah. I mean, they were just seemed like we were ingrained with this or something it was weird, because nothing was telling us to do any of this was sort of natural. You know? So we so we ran up a slate of candidates for student government. I was the chairman of the party; I did not run as a candidate, but our slate swept the whole thing. So, we controlled every single seat on Student Government [laughter] Like all at one time. Now I was really powerful.

SM: You were empowered.

RD: I was empowered, yeah.

SM: Tom talks about them, you know, when he came to our campus, that our students were having a hard time. [inaudible] When you hear, when do you think the (19)60s and the (19)70s began? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of that period?

RD: Well, that was what I was just sharing. I would say the sense of the (19)60s started around December 1959 and January (19)60. There were some events like Kennedy running for president. But quite honestly, what I said was not apparent. And what it was, was a sense of a generation, young people generation, who was going to make the world a better place? Really make a difference. And there really was not any objective, tangible evidence that I can, you know, that I noticed anyway, for that, it was just an internal sense. Then the external event for me was the February fourth sit in.

SM: Okay.

RD: So that launched me into a full time into a campaign to you know, the (19)60s movement.

SM: That would be, that was my next question here. Is there one specific event that shaped your life when you were young? What was that event?

RD: Well, that was the event that triggered everything, yeah.

SM: When did you sense that, not only within your group, but within the boomer generation and again, when we define the boomer generation now, because there have been books written about, they kind of define those individuals born between 1946 and 1964. And we know that a lot of people that were leaders in the anti-war, movement, civil rights, and a lot of these other movements were older than that. But when did you start sensing that the boomer generation, this post-war generation was-

RD: January 1960.

SM: That very same period.

RD: That is what I am talking about. That sense that there was a new generation that was going to change the world was internally sensed. Then the external launch was February 4th but they, you could say, well, that the SDS has not really got started, or there was not that much activity going on. But the mood shifted, the climate changed. I mean, the media was driving the sit-ins, and, you know, that was all happening, but to say that by - we organized this mock political convention, and it had the quality of the movement already, you know, occurring. And then then we formed the political party and it caught on. I mean it was, unheard of you know, probably, I do not know if any university ever really did that. I mean, maybe they did, but, you know, to us for the (19)50s. I mean, that was just, you know, I mean, we were you ran for student government over, you know, the right that visit women's dorms or things, you know, I mean, it was social issues locally. I mean, we were on it, we ran on our campaign of recognizing China as a government! Okay, that was one of our platform, plans, you know, civil rights for black people. It was all political. That was in the fall that was in the spring of well, I guess that would be (19)60. January (19)60? Yeah. Spring of (19)60. Then Tom Hayden shows up and basically is promoting a student organization nationwide. And he has already formed a political party in Michigan at the University of Michigan. It is almost identical, in concept of what we have just done at Oberlin, and we never talked about it, there was no communication about it. We just like, obvious to do this. And it had never been obvious before, you know. And so we were all excited. Yeah, let us go National and get things going and we were sending, you know, we were sending money, and support to students that were then forming themselves in, in the south. And so SDS emerged, Students for a Democratic Society and simultaneously at the same time, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee emerged. All of this, you know, in the spring of (19)60 and SDS was now a support system and a fan club for SNCC. You know, then basically, from there, we were starting to recognize that there was a national, I guess, you could say, leadership group sort of forming and we came together to produce a kind of a Tom Payne common sense pamphlet for the present time. And that became known as the Fourth Huron Statement. I mean Tom did, you know, a very elegant first draft, but a lot of people were involved in the writing of that, you know, quite a few. It was a group of people that, you know, emerged, Todd Giblin and,

SM: I did interview Todd.

RD: Yeah, yeah, I mean, there is a lot of people that, you know, contributed, Al Heber, myself, to the writing of that, you know, then that sort of caught on like wildfire on the campus, the Fourth Huron statement, and then we were looking for what are our next steps, and we felt like the next steps for us was to organize in communities, black communities, with a focus on voting rights, and also poor white communities with a focus on economic issues. And so, I became the director of something called the Economic Research and Action Project or ERAP in, let us see, I think we, we formalized that in the fall of (19)63 at a meeting in New York. Bob Dylan actually came to that meeting, sat in the back, you know, he was, and, you know, we were all thrilled with Bob Dylan you know! I mean, the immediate, he was similar, you know, he was just out of nowhere comes this voice that seems to be expressing something that we all, you know, aligned with, it was just like, it was all happening naturally. Without, I mean, there was a lot of work and organizing. But the thing that I do not think has ever been talked about, from anything I have ever read, was how self-organizing, it occurred. How the mood of young people just changed kind of overnight, in a flash and there was suddenly a base, where, you know, everywhere you went, there were people, you know, it is like two societies emerging, you know, a new nation just appearing overnight with I mean, yeah, it was organized to death and that made all the difference, ultimately, but what never really been understood or explained or talked about from, from what I have seen out there, maybe it has been, I just do not read everything, but just how this thing appeared kind of out of nowhere, you know, if you wanted to believe that human beings exist, after they die, or come in, you know, with a plan, not that you need to do that but just to be hypothetical for a minute, it was almost as if an entire generation chose to come in and do something. It was. It was just, it was weird, almost, you know. It was not, it was as, as if something had been pre-planned, you know, they all show up to be in this huge experiment of love and democracy and, you know, personal experimentation and breaking from society. Or it was it was just like a new culture, suddenly appeared overnight. And there were clearly two cultures, there was cultures of the fifties that still continued right into the (19)60s that was, you know, normal Americans, adults, you know. And then there was young people. And so, you know, you could, I did this many times I mean, I would just get a whim to go, I mean, I might be living here in Washington and decide to go to San Francisco. And so, you know, I would, you know, have a coat, I mean usually an army fatigue and put a toothbrush in my pocket, and probably nothing more, you know, and then just walk out onto the street, right in front of my house, and you did not have to be a main thoroughfare or anything. I would just stick out my thumb and the chance, I mean, within five minutes, there would be this painted van coming along, you know.

SM: I remember that.

RD: I mean, this was happening very quickly, you know. It is just like, suddenly we were everywhere. And it seemed like everywhere you turn around there was, you know, like minded people. I do not know how to describe them, free spirits, um, certainly doing some experimentation with pot. Yeah, you know, dressing you know, you know, not in a conventional way. I mean, not too careful. I mean, colorful and long hair. I mean the whole culture started to appear, you know, and appeared very quickly is what I am saying, you know. So we went into, from there, we went into community organizing and then I finally we worked with Bob Moses at a time later, Bob Harris, you know, and his project in Mississippi. And then, you know, we had a similar projects 150 students in ERAP that went into ten communities in the north. That was launched in 1965. The summer of (19)64 - (19)65 which is how it all started.

SM: How do you respond to in 1994, when Newt Gingrich came to power, he loved to make comments about the boomer generation and George Willis continued to do so with a lot of his writing and other political commentators, that the, the reason for the breakdown of American society goes back to that boomer generation: the reason why we had the divorce rate, the reason why we do not trust leaders, the reason why we have divisions between black and white, those who voted for the troops and against the troops, it was all for and against, for and against, and it created an environment that we have today where nobody talks to each other. They do not trust anybody. And Newt Gingrich and George Will, are two of the people that have written a lot on this. And actually, you know, Newt is a boomer, a lot of people think he is from Georgia, he is from Pennsylvania, born in Pennsylvania, until the age of twelve and of course, Ronald Reagan, when he became president, he made also comments: "We are back", you know, "We are back". You know, "America is back, love America", it was really a condemnation putting blame on that generation or those people that were linked to that generation, how do you respond to that? To those commentators?

RD: I think evolution, is, I can appreciate that. That point of view. I really can. But on the other side, would be on the other side. You know, taking the kind of shots at, I think maybe the better sociological study on this question with Paul Ray. With just doing a massive, one of the large probably the largest survey that has ever been done, recent, sort of recently about this society is Paul Ray's work where you know, it is, it is statistically scientific and try to actually measure the values of the whole society. And so, he finds that the smallest segment is the is the group that that Newt is talking about, that he describes this traditionalist, small town, rural, local, America first right or wrong, homespun values, you know, you, you trust the people you know, you do not trust, big government, Washington, farming roots, you know, agricultural roots, that sort of thing. And I forget the percentages, I mean, you can look those up. But then there was the rationalist which basically tended to include the modern big city, financially oriented. Rationalist meant that there really was not a guiding set of principles the way traditionalists had, they were more, doing what is practical. They were, you know, cosmopolitan and smart and, you know, they would, you know, they could create derivatives in a nanosecond, you know, or whatever was coming up, you know, that that kind of idea. They were not necessarily Democratic or Republican, but probably more democrats in general. They were not really that political, they were more practical, you know, pragmatist, that sort of idea, you know. And they were the dominant result in the study. But then there was this third group. That was actually this was the new emerging group, because the rationalists and the traditionalists had defined this country, historically, all through every generation. Now, suddenly, there was this new group that had this set of values that had reached critical mass. And they clearly had their roots in the (19)60s. They were oriented to environmentalism; they were curious about world events. They could take a position and study the point of view of another country about this country. And it was not America, right or wrong, it was like, they could see an international perspective. They tended to you know, favor participatory democracy kind of idea. And there was also within them, although they favored women, they favored blacks, they had all those kinds of things, but there was also within them a, an interest in spirituality, and not religion. But something else, you know, that never got clearly defined but it was more open ended, you know, seeking the truth, you know, answering the question, who am I, you know? Sitting quietly in nature, and just musing with yourself a little bit. Some of the things that happened after the drug explosion, when people went into nature and just tried to find themselves a little bit, and, you know, just be beautiful, and you know, love life, and that sort of thing, you know, kind of weird thing. I mean, if you are a farmer, where I grew up, you know, go and sit on a rock, and just adore of the sunset, I mean, he kind of do, but not really, you know, you work up until it is time to go to sleep, and then you get up and you work some more. And then you die, you know? It is a little more like that, where this idea of leisure time and introspection and finding out who I am, you got, a wa-wa things that I am putting into the rubric of spirituality. This was discovered by Paul Ray too, you know, that this was one of the components of this group, you know. And that this group was redefining the political landscape of this country. Now, all groups want to blame each other for you know, their misery and their problems. And that until human being changed their awareness stage and realize a little more about how the world really works, you know, that is going to be a natural thing. So people, people think that, you know, the republicans are doing it to me, I would say, though, that, that we live in the moment right now, where this basic, you could call it a fissure or separation is now intensifying, and peaking potentially, to the potential ending of the human species. Whether the human race will actually survive or kill itself off. This, the seeds of that question are planted right now in what we were seeing when you just turn on the television watching a talk show. I mean, all conflict is intensifying, all blame is intensified. I am not talking about which side to be on I am just talking about side-taking itself. Okay. So side-taking itself is intensifying, no one can hear anybody. And, you know, I mean, you can be Keith Oberlin or you can be Glenn Beck. You know, the point is that I am trying to make is that neither one can hear each other. They are both demonizing the other side, no one sees human beings anymore. They just see hatred for the opposition and blame everything that is wrong with, on the other side. We are actually moving now into a moment of the first what I would call the first stage of hysteria, the same kind of hysteria that is always been behind all wars. Okay. So war has officially ben the historic byproduct of this kind of hysteria. And what I just said, I do not see, I do not see in the right or the left, any understanding of this, okay. Everybody was so immersed in their position that the idea that you are attacking humanity itself, that it is not about which side you are on, it is about side kicking itself. Okay. It is reaching a level where this leads to war. Okay, civil war or international war? But that is where it ultimately goes. And then nobody say that everybody, you know, buttons down.

SM: Very good. Paul Ray. How do you spell that last name?

RD: R. A. Y.

SM: Has he written a book?

RD: Yeah, he wrote, he calls this third group Cultural Creative. It would be good for you to look at it because a lot of good, you know, statistical information about the very subject that we are talking about here. I think it is the best study so far really.

SM: If you look at the boomer generation, now, the seventy to seventy-five million, what would be some of the strengths of that group and what will be some of their weaknesses? As someone who not only worked with many of them, and inspired many of them, and I am sure you got frustrated with many of them, and as you look at them when you were younger, and when they were younger, and how you look at them now is there; now, first group has now reached I think sixty-two or sixty-three? Social Security, I think is the first group now right now, the sixty-two-year-olds.

RD: Uh huh.

SM: What do you see as their strengths and weaknesses, if you were to describe them as a group?

RD: I look at strengths and weaknesses, through the eyes of evolution. What furthers the growth of humanity? What allows humanity to come out of a very immature stage of awareness into a more mature stage of awareness, not, not as a judgment, but just as a trend, you know, where, and so from that point of view, humanity at an immature stage of awareness, has some of these qualities. They are very closed. Okay, their bodies are closed, their, their thoughts are closed, they are very, they have identities that protect whatever their belief system is. It is a little bit my way or highway kind of thing. And for humanity to mature, humanity needs to open and open is tied also to respect. When you disrespect, especially life, you close. You make judgments, you close, you do not really, you are not aware, you do not really see nuances or subtleties. So, from an evolutionary point of view of how the human race might survive, grow, and one day evolve into the magnificence that it actually could be, I am looking for human beings that can listen, human beings that can be rather than just be so caught up in their thoughts that they cannot really hear anything. The human being that is open, respectful of life, you know, recognizes that nature is living, not just an inanimate object, so you know that the only thing that is on this planet is human, and nothing else is really that important, really. So from that point of view, these guys have evolution. I would say that the boomer generation was on the whole, hopeful. The drug part of it is sort of good news and bad news in a way. I mean, the, what the, what the drugs did was to essentially remove inhibitors between the brain and the mind. You know, we all have inhibitors. We have inhibitors about sex, we have inhibitors about pretty much everything really, you know. So, you remove some of those inhibitors and if you are in a kind of a beautiful setting, you know, you might see your future, you might see a big picture, you know, you might get a little glimpse of how just beautiful you really are, you know. You might see yourself, as not just the human body, just things like that. So, the LSD, the peyote, though, you know, the hallucinogenic drug part of this, you know, caused many people do have an altering perspective on things, you know, that, you know, I am not defending drugs, I am just saying this was not a bad, you know, that did come out of this. Now, Newt Gingrich would be all upset that this happened, but it was expansive on the whole, there was also though a, the roots of, of humanity itself, were there too. And so, if you looked at the, say, the drug experience, you really could see, there were two levels. You know, there was the- what today would be the rave party experience, you know, just, you know party, you have no respect for anybody's space, while you are on this journey is there is no such thing as a sacred journey, you know. You know, you do not care about the clutter in the room as you do your trip. And, and out of that, inevitably really would have come bad trips, you know, you could actually scar your mind you, I mean, you see some things that you have repressed that, you know were sort of dark and upsetting, you know. Then there were those that, you know, went into nature and, you know, really cared about their environment and saw it as a sacred thing, and would set their intentions for what they hope would come out of. And you know, would actually have a pretty beautiful, expanded experience from it, you know, so within the drug experience, you had both groups going on within the boomer broad, broadly speaking. And you saw the same thing, too. I mean, there was a period in the (19)60s, where you really could just jump in a car, as a woman, travel across the country and feel really safe. I mean, you know, hitchhiking be safe, you know, you were not going to be raped, attacked, or anything you were really love, you know, happening, you know, for a little period of time, you know. You know, then you had, you know, the call the dark side, whatever were things that sort of, you know people turned on each other, you know, it was not safe anymore. And you know, and so, we kind of lost that innocence, you know. But there was a little moment of innocence in the cultural part of this equation, not so much the anti-war movement part, but in the cultural part. There was an innocence and that from an evolutionary, human evolutionary point of view, that is precious. That is very precious, you know, and so that was there. So within the strengths and the weaknesses, we brought as a group, our own strengths and weaknesses of humanity. And you know, the dark side came up, that repression came up, the hateful things came up, but also the innocence and the beauty and trust and the respect for life. And so there were there both things were present no different than the people themselves. Now, you know, when the whole thing closed, and everybody moved on, you know, then people when you know started or you know, money became important again, and having a household and, you know, family and children, you were going to pay rent now, and you know, it was not such a free carefree world anymore. The, sense is, though, that people were nevertheless affected by whatever it was, you know, there was an underlying beat river, to the whole thing. And it may be that that deep river appears again, you know, in another time, maybe this time, but not so much from the sixty-year-old but from younger people. It was, it was a life changing event. That would be really hard to find in this country's history any parallel.

SM: Good that brings me right into my next question and that is when I was on college campus there was this feeling of oneness even if you did not know a lot of the people there was a feeling. You hit it right on the point there about this innocence. Because I can remember specifically, because I did a lot of hitchhiking. Hitchhiked to Boston. Hitchhiked with my friends. I never was worried about it ever. And I remember some of the girls on the college campuses at that time were hitchhiking too then something happened in 1970-(19)71 school year, then all of a sudden, if the girls, the women are going into Binghamton you need if you have accompaniment, (19)71, (19)72, (19)73 things started change then. But the question that I want to ask is, there was this feeling that we were the most unique generation in American history. A lot of boomers felt they were very unique, because they wanted to change the world, they bring peace, that all kind of this utopia kind of feeling. And just you are thoughts on, on that. Just this feeling. And some a lot of boomers still feel it as sixty-year-olds despite all the criticisms, just your thoughts on whether they were the most unique or?

RD: Well, I would like to not turn it into self-aggrandizement for the generation you know, but you if you can kind of get out of self-importance about it because you happen to be one or something, I would say that I do not, the only generation that either remotely comes close would be the founding fathers. There you had a more of a leadership group, maybe similar to some of the people that were around SDS, and so on, that really carried an incredible legacy from kind of a controlling institutional world, whether it was a monarchy or a church institution. But all over the news, force and torture and so forth, to maintain a power base. Life was not safe, life was not really, you did not feel excited, you did not feel open, you watched your back, you know, your womb. And then coming into Europe comes so called enlightenment philosophers, John Locke, Descartes, you know, different, different writers who, you know, kind of set the stage. And the stage is all read by these founding fathers who follow what they were called. They, they envision, a- you know, a government that is really a new concept in the world, you know, it is it is very similar to SDS. It is not called participatory democracy. But it is democracy, you know, and it is, and it checks and balances over the excesses of egos of human beings. There is a lot of wisdom, you know, being expressed. And there is a country that, you know, has always been fine with Great Britain, that for a variety of reasons shifts and, gets motivated and inspired by philosophical visions. Especially the reading of Common Sense of Tom Payne. So suddenly, you have got a popular base that is buying very visionary concepts for that time you know. Well, when you look at all the other generations, Roosevelt, certainly, you know, had a had a gift for words and holding people together, not unlike Obama now, although Obama has his critics, Roosevelt did too, but it just was not the same. It is hard to see a group of people, creating a new vision, like a new humanity, a new vision of humanity with a mass base behind it that is trying to act and live and walk its talk as best it can and except for the founding time of the country, which is even there, it is a little bit of a stretch, I mean, you got certain elements to it. This, the (19)60s generation just is pretty unique. You know. From a point of view of personal growth, from the point of view of social change, from the point of view of freedom from stereotypes, moving away from racism, moving away from women oppression, you know, equality of all people, the very themes that the founding fathers are trying to say. I would say the (19)60s, grasped the vision, and had a mass constituency, attempting to do it.

SM: Hold on a second, make sure I turn this tape. Okay, its going.

RD: Ok, for a lot of people, and by a lot I mean, millions of people, it was the defining event of their life. It defined who they were as a person and it might spill in today into being a democrat rather than a republican or something but that kind of misses the point. It was more like founding father time, you know. Big, big thinking, big philosophy, inspiring humanity to its greatest potential. Freedom as an individual, not buying into authority concepts anymore. You know, society be damned! We are forming a new society! You know, we are democrat! We are a democratic society, you know, kind of thing. You had a mass base, that divided into two elements. One was sort of the political side, the other was the cultural side although they overlapped a lot. And taken together, they made for a time and a people that, you know, can have no parallels in American history.

SM: Very well put very well put. I wish I knew it Newt was here.

RD: I do not know; we might not be able to have our conversation then.

SM: I want to I am going to read this part here. Do you feel that boomers are still having problems with healing from the divisions that tore the nation apart in their youth? Divisions between black and white divisions between those who support authority and those who criticize. Division between those who supported the troops and those who did not. How has the wall, the Vietnam Memorial wall play in healing the divisions? Not just for veterans but beyond the veterans and their families. And do you feel that the boomer generation will go to its grave like senator Edmund Muskie said to our students, when we met with him before he passed away, that they will be like the Civil War generation not truly healing? Am I wrong in thinking this or has forty years made the statement "time heals all wounds" truthful? Just your thoughts about, have we healed as a nation since all the divisions back in the (19)60s, early (19)70s?

RD: Well, you know, healing like everything else is in the eye of the beholder. Do people who are baby boomers taken as an aggregate, walk around with a lot of hurt and scars over the divisions of the country that Newt Gingrich might say were caused by the baby boomers? Do they really have that sense of they really, you know, the divisions were there? You know, something that weighs heavy on them. Do the Traditionalists feel so deeply like Newt was expressing that the country is forever scarred and ruined by the (19)60s Boomer world? And so they can never go to the grave feeling they never healed the country back to the Reagan vision or something like that. Well, I, I think that if I you know, I do not know you maybe probably know that better than I do, really. But I would say for my main point is that I do not think the baby boomers have a lot of hurt and things to heal in themselves relative to this question. I really do not. I think that they may be disappointed that they did not achieve their agenda. They may wish they could go further. They may look to Obama as the current modern expression of what this is all led to. But they may be frustrated by, you know, the prejudice and the separation and the traditionalist value thinking but I do not think they are going to the grave hurt. I mean, Vietnam veterans coming back maybe pain our pain, many of them. There may be elements like that there might be somebody that had a bad trip that has psyche scars that, but I think those are the minority. I mean, I do not think those is defined the whole baby boomer world, you know. I think the baby boomers are kind of healthy on the whole, you know, relative this question. If, if there had to be an evaluation between the traditionalist and the baby boomers, it might be that the traditionalist is more hurting about this than the baby boomers. But I do not know that that is so deep, either. I mean, I think that they reject what is happening in the modern world, if you want to call baby boomers the modern world. They do not buy into it. But I do not think that they are hurt by it. I think what you have is two cultures, you know that and then in a certain way, Newt is on to something, you know, what you have got is a country that has really divided into segments, you know, two different cultures. The (19)60s certainly example of it had the stick, you know, the normal culture, and then you had the weirdos the (19)60s, hippies, yippies. You, you know, and but if you were a hippie, you did not, you were not upset about it. I mean, this was your life. I mean, this was great. This is far out. And this was American flag and apple pie and America right or wrong. That was fine, too. They were two different worlds. And they were not really exchanging ideas, interfacing with each other. They did not see each other as all human beings, it was very rare to see, in this modern time, a true coming together as humanity. The maybe the last time he saw it at all was the night of the millennium. In a very unexpected way, where all of humanity kind of came off without anybody blowing anybody up, killing anybody. Everybody just yeah, big time, you know, that, you know, the Olympics is it occasionally. But still the leading light, I would say in the world relative to seeing something that is, all humanity is participating in a great competitive sport. But it all comes together at the end, and we are all human beings. So, the thing that has been lost by the process that we are in apparently, it is too early to tell the outcome, is our humanity. So, baby boomers do not see humanity in traditionalists. They do not. They do not see humanity when they look at George Bush, they do not see humanity when they see Newt Gingrich, they do not see humanity when they hear Glenn Beck. They do not. And the same is true the other way you know, there is no humanity being felt for Obama. There is no humanity being felt for Rachel Maddow. You know, probably from the whether you call it the right or traditional equivalent, I call it you know, there are two cultures in this country. And the, the biggest group, which is the rationalist, but just make money, let us be smart, savvy, and sophisticated and all mature and grown up, do not really think deeply. You know, they are not really into philosophy, they do not really grasp the big picture. You know, they are more about the short-term gain that and those games get shorter and shorter and shorter. It used to be a quarter focus. Now it is daily, hourly, you know, kind of thing. It is very self-aggrandizement in its orientation. It is not really worried about global warming. Or, you know, the world situation. Or I mean, yeah, a little bit but, but that is still the dominant group. So yeah, Paul Ray was right, you still have these three major groups, the biggest group being the rationalist of the pragmatists in the middle, are almost tuned out to the main events that are going on all around them. And the main bent is basically the right wing and the left wing. Okay, the baby boomer thing, the left and the and the traditionalist and the Republican Party being the right.

SM: How do you deal with another criticism is given to the boomers. And that is that, again, oftentimes, I have read this, ah jeeze, there is seventy-five million people only 15 percent, were ever really involved in any kind of an activism. So that is, you know, for them 85 percent of seventy-five million, that is not, you know, that is not, that means a lot of people did not care, a lot of people were not involved in the generation.

RD: The baby boomers?

SM: The baby boomers.

RD: Uh huh.

SM: But the common I have always said, you need to talk about 15 percent of seventy to seventy-five million, that is a hell of a lot of people.

RD: Yeah.

SM: And secondly, I just like your thoughts, because it seems to me that the subconscious is just as important as the conscience here. And so, we might say that 15 percent were involved in activism, but the other 85 percent had to be affective somewhat because they were part of something. Unless they were closed in a room someplace away from, it really had to affect them in some way.

RD: Yeah.

SM: And, and, and I think, so I liked your thoughts on that. That is another criticism given to the boomers. And secondly, the influence of boomers have had on their kids, and now grandkids in terms of passing on this sense of activism, or lack thereof, just your thoughts on a two part question there.

RD: I agree with what you are saying, you know, 15 percent of a society is a huge number, quite honestly, 2 percent of a society produces critical mass. Critical mass starts to develop this mysterious thing that our science as an "envi" is the Hundredth Monkey Effect. I say our science because they, you know, it was WWII you know, they went on to an island where no human beings have been and monkeys watched, you know, the Americans doing their thing and pretty soon the monkey started washing their hands and peeling the bananas like humans did. And that was, you know, observed scientifically and noted. But then islands that were nearby that had no contact at all, the monkeys started to peel their bananas and wash their hands, as well. And so, there is a transfer of some, some mechanism is occurring, or at least it theorizes by the Hundredth Monkey Effect, that a small group of people reaching a certain critical mass can profoundly affect the entirety of humanity. And, you know, I could give you my own science on that, but that is not necessarily for this purpose, you know. You would have to come tonight for that.

SM: Right.

RD: But, you know, there is a science to it, there really is and so you are on to it, you know.

SM: Right.

RD: A relatively small group of people still reaching critical mass, but changing their awareness changing how they see the world, changing their perception can have a positive or a negative effect, depending on what the change is.

SM: Is not that was the Peace Corps was about?

RD: Well, I guess so, you know, that is the that is the vision of going out and, you know, creating examples and being an example of bringing your enthusiasm into an area where basically is- a little drudgery and hard work and suddenly, you have got creativity and excitement and new and a helping hand carrying some water buckets too. It is certainly the concept. The thing is, though, that what the baby boomers seem unable to see in their expanded awareness, is that the people that are opposed to them. Let me see if I can explain this. A lot of baby boomers today have moved from politics and the (19)60s into more of personal growth. They are still political, they still vote, they still do things. But when it really comes down to what they are doing, they are a little more aligned, many of them okay, to the works of Deepak Chopra, or Wayne Dyer. They would go to a workshop that proposes the concept that you create your own reality. You are not a victim in the world, you can get back your life, you can take the reins of your life and there is, you want a positive attitude. Taking care of your health is an individual responsibility, not a governmental responsibility. You know, let us, let us stop the blame a little bit and work on ourselves. Okay, so I would say there is a progression going on in the baby boomers from the (19)60s into the you saw it at the end of the (19)60s and the early seventies. I mean, John Lennon goes to India, you know, sits with Mahatma, you know, the transcendental meditation guy.

SM: He just died last year.

RD: Yeah. You know, you had you know, a spiritual thing occurring kind of you know, gurus, you know, it was not so much the gurus, it was just looking for a new spirituality and the inner world. Well, that now we are all grown up, and we all have jobs, and we can put on suits. And we can talk a little more so that people can hear us. But if we are doing something, somewhere, as a baby boomer, if you were really to look at it, there is one group of activity that is raising money for health care, supporting the Al Gore campaign in some manner. There is that side, but there is also a huge side in personal growth, personal development, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, I mean, Wayne Dyer, you know make some amazing statements, when you think about it, and he is on NPR, or PBS or whatever, you know, he is a national

SM: Right.

RD: Speaker, you know, saying that, basically, if you want to change the experiences of your life, you have to change yourself. So, in the (19)60s, most people that were activists never thought about Mahatma Gandhi. If you want change the world, you have to change yourself. Okay. But John Lennon when he came into the movement, that is what he thought he did. He was coming into that and what I am trying to say is that there is a deep river underneath the baby boomers that you might want to take note of, okay, which is about, if you want to change the world, you have to change yourself. That is the concept. Now, it turns out, going way into the future, which is, you know, probably, uniquely, something I would do, but I do not know others will really want to do that. I would say that the greatest discovery in the history of the world, which is yet to be made, but it is still it right in front of us. It is not way off either. It is not, it could come from the cultural creatives, but maybe more likely, it is going to come from the field of particle physics, especially this new particle collider outside of Geneva. Okay, so what it is, is that here is the commonsense opinion of everybody on Earth, whether you are a cultural creative, a baby boomer, or a traditionalist okay? Bad things happen for no reason at all. Okay? Things outside myself are real.

SM: Right?

RD: The world outside myself is solid, objective, and independent of myself. This is the everybody okay? I do not care who you are. I mean, everybody operates as if that was the truth or the, the physics let us call it the physics of this world. Well, it turns out that that is not the physics of this world at all, is completely misinformed. The only comparison historically that you could find, I think, is in the sixteenth century. I mean, you got the earth is stable in space, and the sun orbits the Earth. And what I mean, just look out the window, those clouds are slow moving, the idea that the earth is hurtling through space at 67,000 miles an hour around the Sun is absurd. And you know, and then one man Nicholas Copernicus makes the argument that sorry, but everybody on earth is completely misinformed. Well, it is very similar today to the greatest discovery ever is that this world and this can come from a true understanding of the atom, The atom is operating on a mirror principle. It is simply reflecting back to you your own residual self-image. No one is doing anything to you. No one has ever done anything to you. The origin of everything you are experiencing is coming from 60,000 thoughts across your brain every twenty-four hours. That is the origin of everything. Now the baby boomers do not know that. And the traditionalists do not do that, and no human being on earth really understands that. But the baby boomers, especially this underlying river, about personal growth, you know, that sort of thing, are in a direction that is very similar to the field of particle physics. So, who is going to win the Nobel Prize for making the world's greatest discovery could be particle physics, understanding the mystery of the atom, or could be cultural creatives understanding the mystery of their self? Okay, either both basically produce the same discovery that it is all coming from you. Now, this is a devastating concept to every political system on Earth. That is that absolutely is rooted in the blame game. And, and it now makes mincemeat of Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann, there is no, I mean what can you say.

SM: Did you go on TV and talk about this?

RD: No.

SM: Have you been invited?

RD: I do not know, I do not really seek out an invitation to this thing that I am doing right here today is a completely brand-new thing for me, you know, I mean, I am writing a book, is what I am doing, you know, and the book will, is profound for me just completely profound, and many, many subjects are addressed. And that is really my focus right now that would be my legacy. I would like to look, look away in the future and bring it right back to the present. But I do that, I mean, if you were to come tomorrow at the workshop, now, this is not an encouragement to come.

SM: Cannot go I have two winter meetings.

RD: What you will see is, not many people will come, you know, a few people will show up, but it will be the most impactful life changing event that they have ever had. I mean, they will feel like, their whole life has been waiting for this moment, that pretty much you know, if I do anything that is, and people can hang in there, you know, that is usually what it does.

SM: Right.

RD: It is quite a big deal, you know. But anyway, I see the baby boomers as being the seeds for a change of awareness. Ultimately, you know, starting with the (19)60s, going into nature, returning to the world, wanting to make the world a better place, environment, that sort of thing, keeping the spiritual side. And then the work to the extent that, you know, for a lot of people, Wayne Dyer, you know, he paused. It is a- it is not, I am just using them as archetypes. Not that they are the all that important. But inner work. You know, meditation is not weird or funny to a lot of these baby boomers, they may not talk about it. And they definitely think they are the only one who thinks this way. They do not recognize the collective, you know. I mean, they still think they are all by themselves. And it just even though there is 30 percent of the country is now makes up this group. They still think they are- no one thinks like me. But they are, they are the best possibility. Because what I understand is what is about to happen on earth. And what is about to happen on earth is you will never understand it unless you can understand evolution. So evolution is where an awareness change changes, okay? That- It is unheard of. We have no knowledge of it as a human race, okay? Because it is never here is the beginning of human, human there was there was something before human and then it was human. And then humans Marshall long. And now, this is the generation where human’s kind of come to a place where they are either going to evolve or they are not.

SM: Yeah, there is no.

RD: Right or wrong about it. There is just evolution is coming through with you or without you basically, yeah, so the, the baby boomers are, you know, may not make this jump. They may not, you know, because they fund the fundamental jump is partly even contemplated, or even considered by anybody, except those that are doing this inner work. They do not live it, but they understand it. They have been exposed to it; you know. So the awareness is that I mean, here would be the short version. The only power tool that you have as a human being is perception. So, the whole world, reflects your own perception. So how you see others is how you see yourself. How you see yourself is how you experience the world. This is not a philosophy, this is a physics, this is how it works. Okay? Now, it these details, a lot of information will defend that position, but I am able to defend it in detail to a science. Completely, you know, to the point where people will either think I am a great theoretician or run out of the room. But perception, it is all coming from ourselves from inside the world is not objective, real or solid. The world is a psychological construct whose origin is yourself. And the case is made by understanding the atom.

SM: That is going to be in that is going to be in your book.

RD: Yeah.

SM: When is the book supposed to be out? Are you going to go on college campuses? Because I think you need to.

RD: I would like to, you know, if I had good speaker’s bureau, and somebody who can you know, gets what I am a little bit. I think going back on campuses, which would be cool. You know, I am dabbling with that I have been, I kind of dropped out for fifteen years, I have not really talked to anybody you know.

SM: I think it would be really good on college campuses, there is just this whole-

RD: My answer to that, you know, the choice of birth, who chooses the parent? Does the child choose the parents or whose parents choose the child? The answer is the child chooses the parent every time to choose is the death? The Mack truck that runs out of control comes across the divide and is heading right your way. And the truck drivers little drunk to boot, you know? Is that the accident that was completely? Or are you yourself creating this whole experience? Meaning the truck coming right at you okay, or her? Okay? Well, it is, it is very challenging at this stage of awareness to even hear it, you know, because the fact is, is that she created her own timing her own death, her own way of going out. It was probably created before she was born. By herself.

SM: The drunk driver that killed her.

RD: I am sure there was, but I know. So, what I am saying is that the entire world of victim is self-inflicted. No one is doing anything to you. Therefore, everything I did in the (19)60s was a misunderstanding. As soon as you blame anyone for anything in your life, you turn your power over. And this is a huge, this is huge and you know.

SM: This is the change that Tom was asking you about? Right. Tom was?

RD: Yeah. I mean, Tom does not know about this but yeah, I mean, it was. So, you know, I have been on my own journey to kind of come around slowly to a point of view. And I have been the beneficiary of a lot of understanding not unlike Einstein got his information in waking dreams. You know, Einstein did not figure out the speed of light all by himself without any scientific instrumentation any more than Mozart wrote a perfect Sonata at age six. first draft and no changes, you know. He had help, you know. So I have help too you know. And that is fine. You know, I am not trying to be anything with it. You know, I have messenger. So to speak.

SM: I have a couple more questions that I just had some names here. Would you like to have some coffee now?

RD: I do not know. I am pretty good, actually.

SM: Sure, you do not want coffee?

RD: What time are we getting to here, ten to four. I do need a little bit of time to you know, get oriented.

SM: We have got about another twenty minutes.

RD: Okay, that sounds good. Yeah.

SM: I want to ask you, when did the (19)60s end, in your opinion when did the (19)60s end and what was the watershed moment that made it end?

RD: Well, for me, it is more how I would answer it, then some sociological understanding. You know, the big blowout event was the student strike in the spring of 1970 over Cambodia and Kent State right. Then comes Time magazine with the cover story "The Cooling of America" and basically for some people they would say that was the end right there. I mean, you could not get any you could not get SDS. SDS was now down to the hardcore was not like a big mass thing anymore. Nobody came. I wanted to go to Washington to do civil disobedience at that time. And I was the coordinator of the antiwar coalition at that time. And the coalition rejected my proposal, because they just did not see how it was possible and that it would fail. And so I actually went out on my own. Now, when I went on to a campus, everybody was still right there, everyone wanted to know what was happening, and personality showing up brought I mean, you know, the smallest group I had was 10,000 people anywhere I went, you know. Nobody could get twenty-five people in a room, but they would all come and hear me. And so, I realized, so when the- we had the opening day of the demonstration, I have 350,000 people, and one week later getting ready to be arrested 100,000 people. So then at that point when that was over, I thought, okay, this, it is over. You know, I mean, whatever that magic was, it is over. But then I was watching television and on comes John Lennon and Yoko Ono, okay, sitting in a bed in Canada, somewhere and they are clearly I mean, it is a little strange press conference, but I realized they are coming into the movement. And so pretty soon I am you know, I am in John Lennon's apartment, and we are planning to bring a million people to the republican convention. And our first we are going to tour the country. John's going to play. I am going to speak we will all have speakers and entertain, you know, we will have guests, entertainers and now we have gone to Ann Arbor first 25,000 seat venue, the show sells out in forty-five minutes. Stevie Wonder is the unannounced guest entertainer, my guest speakers of the Chicago Seven, you know, and we are High Five, you know this. So suddenly, John Lennon basically, individually breathes life right back into the whole thing again. And then Nixon comes down on Lennon and basically pulls the plug and starts deportation proceedings, and John has pull out. And so, I for me, that is where I was. Now I kept doing things I went to, the republicans changed their convention site to Miami, I went there. But you know, we had like, 10,000 people, we did not have a million people. I did a forty-two-day water fast to try to give a little, you know, oomph to the whole thing, you know, then, when Nixon was inaugurated, we did put 100,000 people on the ellipse or whatever, that the White House area. And then I went to Paris to be a part of the peace talks, or the signing of the Peace Accord. And I would say, I mean, to me when John Lennon left, that was it. We had 100,000 people at Nixon's inauguration. That was a little last fling, you know, and after that for me personally, it was over. I mean, there were subtle stuff going on things but not, you know, whatever it was, it was done.

SM: Just you are, this does not have to be an in-depth response. But all of those movements that happen that the antiwar movement, obviously in the civil rights movement, the women's movement, Chicano gay, and lesbian, environmental movement, they all came about around that time, how important were boomers and all those movements?

RD: Totally important.

SM: Because some people say, criticized the boomers as not being that important in the civil rights movement, because basically, it was already done, by the time they were eighteen years old.

RD: Yeah. Okay. Maybe? Well, it is true, maybe from a definitional point of view, see, I just see it all as one continuous thing. And I am not so fixated on these ages, the fact that people were in high school, when, you know, I was doing, you know, Cambodia stuff. You know, I just saw that whole spectrum as the same thing. You know, the, the civil rights movement had gone on for a long time. But it was the popular base, it was the country and that is now what do we want to call these? I mean, do you want to call the (19)60s generation the boomers? I mean, to me, 1960 up to 1973 is the period that we are talking about here. And for me, it was all one thing you know, now you are trying to do a book on the boomers and maybe the boomers are a more specialized element or component within that spectrum. And that is for you to sort out, you know, but for me, the sense that we are together, the sense that we are changing, the sense that we are experimenting, that we were open, we were, were exploring big picture thinking much like the founding fathers, were, we were about changing ourselves to change the world, we were going to change the world, we are going to make the world a better place. That was a thirteen-year window. That for me was one thing, the group that came in, you know, and did all this did not seem to quite fit the boomer age requirements or something, you know. It was 1960 college students, 1973, which included boomers, adults, you know, all kinds of people all through society, they've been brought along by that whole momentum, that entire constituency, is what turned on and then turned off.

SM: What do you think? You told me your story about with your dad and the farm and so forth in the 1960s but what happened in the 1950s, to these children during their elementary school years and beginning of junior high? They were given everything by their parents. Well, you know, of course, you are talking about, you know, you can talk about economics, that you talked about poor whites, and Appalachia talk about African Americans, the United States, their story, obviously, is quite different. But a lot of white students at that particular time were given a lot by their parents, because they've been through the Depression. Why did these young people who basically had everything rebel against like, I always think of that IBM image of five people of walking out of a house with a hat and going to work and everything. The IBM image.

RD: Yeah, well.

SM: They went to the university, and they, the multiversity.

RD: Well in, in the way that what you have been calling the baby boomers created a cushion and popular climate for black people, women and all these political movements to get a get a footing and get things going. The parents of the students, that it created a certain economic security, middle class life, that sort of thing. So that money, was not worried about, you know, money was not something, you grow up, just, you know, you know, you start farming when you are eight years old, and you know, it is day and night day and night. That, that sense of survival was removed. Thank you, Mom and Dad. And, and so it became possible to have a mindset in the, as a student, and particularly in the (19)60s, where you did not worry about it, you know. And you criticized the parents for being you, whatever, you know, put a spin on it. But the fact is, it created a base for. It is very similar to any society that begins to create a little bit of leisure, a little bit of relax. Time for a vacation, you know, an opportunity to go on a sabbatical and a retreat, you know. I think it can go degrade but also it goes creative, into philosophy and reflection and big picture thinking and, you know, positive human things. So, I, I do not see it as a negative at all, I see it as a steppingstone of evolution, I see humanity through the eyes of evolution. And I see that this whole (19)60s period as a precursor to something else that is coming. Call it change of awareness.

SM: One or two more questions that I just had and just quick responses, and we will finish here. This is the issue of trust, because you got into the issue of healing. One of the things I found in the, from the time I first interviewed Eugene McCarthy, just about every interview for Vietnam vets and activists like Tom Hayden is this issue of trust is something or lack thereof, many of the boomers had. Trust of leaders

RD: Of leaders yeah.

SM: And I say this because it is not just Lyndon Johnson in the Gulf of Tonkin. It is Richard Nixon and Watergate. It is as we bring you read and even the time we have learned about John Kennedy and what happened the Diem. We have learned we saw on national television, U2 the lie that Eisenhower. I mean, he lied to the American public on TV in 1959. And I know he went to his grave regretting it. But this ongoing there is no trust in religious leaders, no trust in university presidents, I know in our campus any administrator, no trusted anybody a position of responsibility no matter what they were, the question I am asking you basically is, is this a characteristic that has gotten within this group? And has this been passed on to their kids and their grandkids now? So that we have now three generations with lack of trust. And I can remember a psychology professor and my 101 class in college saying in the very beginning doctor Price at Binghamton he said, if you do not trust in your life, somebody, then you are going to have a pretty miserable life. You have got to be able to trust somebody. Just your thought on this trust businesses, even part of what we have been talking about here today.

RD: I do not think so, you know, I went to Vietnam, I saw Hanoi being bombed every day, I came back and made statements to the press about what I saw, the Pentagon came out and said, I had been brainwashed. And I was in shock, because I realized that this is a government agency, communicating to the public something that I absolutely know, from my own direct experiences is, is a lie. It is not, you know, there is a manipulation going on a public opinion, that I found at that stage of my life to be, you know, shocking, and startling, you know, because I did not think that really existed that way, you know. And so, there were many things like that that occurred in the (19)60s that sort of deepened that. I would say, though, that distrust of big government is also, you know, what you are seeing a lot with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Tea Parties. You know, it is, it is all over the place. The real question is, does a president let us say, if you do not trust the president or the government, that you elected, okay, is, what is the real relationship here? Is the is the trust inside yourself? That basically all that is really happening is you do not really trust yourself therefore, the, the government that represents you, you do not trust that either. It is a mirror principle; it is mirroring back to your own lack of trust. Now, lack of trust, from that perspective, seems to define every single generation of this country. It is hard to find a single generation that had trust, I mean, maybe periods somewhat better, but or, for that matter, the entire human condition of the whole of humanity has been. Here is the belief: bad things happen for no reason at all. If one thing does not get me something else will. And victim is the nature of this world. Bad things happen for no reason at all. And is this really the nature of our world? Well, the answer is, of course, it is the nature of this world, as long as this is our own residual self-image. Because the world reflects back to us whatever we however, we see ourselves as a physics principle. So will humanity at this stage of evolution run off the cliff and kill herself off? Maybe, you know, maybe, and will those contributing to it be the traditionalists are the baby boomer? Both. It is not about which side you are on. It is about side taking itself. It is about the attack of whatever you condemn is what you are going to experience. Let us put it that way. Whatever you fear is what you are going to attract. Let us put it that way. So this does not, this understanding does not presently exists in human awareness. You know, there has been little philosophy, seeds drop from time to time, but I am saying that this is the way it works. Okay. And that this will be discovered. And will the baby boomers be able to get it. Those that are basically doing this reflective work this inner work as personal growth would be the place that I would put my best hope right now, for a group of people being able to heroes. Oh, I will lay this out tonight. And this group will, you know, they will have a few people might have a problem because they came to hear about the (19)60s. But for the most part, even if it is a small group, everybody will be there. What they will appreciate is that I am so thorough, and I have such a commanding understanding of it. And I am so formidable in the details that it is a breath of fresh air. But the big thing is I create my own reality. If you want to change the world, you have to change yourself these themes, okay, are already there. They are very small. They are an underlying river of the group that we are talking about here. And this is really where humanity is going. Okay, one day, there will be no judgement at all of anybody. Humanity is currently in a stage of awareness that I would call the journey of good and evil. I am right, and you are wrong. ok? As opposed to whatever I am experiencing, I am creating myself, I do not like it, I change myself. That is a completely different way of thinking. A million years in the future, everybody will understand what I am talking about.

SM: I think a lot of people fear what is upcoming.

RD: Yeah, and the fear brings it off.

SM: I think, for example, last night on the news, because of the situation in Iran, and nuclear, ok? They are talking about another cold war now. I am saying another fifty years of Cold War [inaudible] Iran out because [inaudible] of course if they do, then who knows what could happen? So, we are really heading into a really.

RD: Absolutely. We are going into hysteria. That leads to war, that is the current direction. What I am trying to say to you, which if you will, really

SM: Testing 123 testing.

RD: This is a very, very-

SM: I have some questions for you to kind of respond, just insert responses and just your feelings. What does the wall mean to you? What does the Vietnam Memorial mean to you? And when you went to the Wall for the first time, what kind of effect would that have on you?

RD: Well, you know, I did not quite get caught up in the emotions, probably of the family that lost their son, or, you know, that that sort of thing. I have just as much regard for the, the, you know, the Vietnamese that lost their lives by maybe 1000 to one over with the Americans, I do not know what the ratio is, but you know, it was a lot, you know, so, you know. It was a tragedy, you know, there was no doubt about it. And to remember the fallen and those that died and sacrificed their lives, you know, seems to be, you know, appropriate. Quite honestly, in my picture, though, it is, I would, I would feel the same way about the wall that I would feel about all the monuments of World War II all the monuments in World War I, all the monuments of everybody that died in inquisitions in the Middle Ages, and all the way back. I mean, we are a warring species. I also know that people choose their own time of death. Okay, and so therefore, I do not get all guilt ridden and blame oriented over any death. Okay. In the history of the universe, no one has died so far. Which is quite a statement, you know, and so, so I do not really quiet, I do not mean to see callous, because I am not, you know, I would like to end the dead zone entirely. I think. Death is a human creation. You know, death is the issue, that humans have created that as a collective. And so what we need to do is to get out of our anti- life strategies in thinking and into a pro-life strategy. And I do not mean the life thing of the portion move right at all, you know, I mean, to the abortion people, I would say that all abortions are chosen by the child, not the mother. I mean, that would be blasphemy, you know, and there is reasons for it, you know, so the, the morality of the thing is just confused. People do not even understand the fundamentals of death and what happens, no one knows what happens when you die. Or the idea that the soldier chooses his own time of death, goes to Vietnam to do it is just wow, you know.

SM: I remember, Elisabeth Kubler Ross is the one that was very popular talking about death.

RD: Yeah.

SM: Then she finally died.

RD: Right. Yeah. That seems to happen everywhere.

SM: Yep.

RD: So, I have a little different thing with it, I guess.

SM: I guess. What does Kent State and Jackson State mean to you?

RD: Well, I mean, it was a trigger point, and it was shocking, you know, American citizens being shot by National Guard troops was amazing and Jackson State was another trigger point. So, I do not know, I do not really have much of a story about it. I mean, I was a part of the Chicago seven, we call for a nationwide student strike in response at Kent State and 90 percent of the universities in this country walked out of school. So I could say I was, I was involved. I remember it. But right now, what I care about is how can humanity survive? You know, so going down memory lane, okay, over a bunch of misunderstandings in the first place, you know, does not really draw me in, you know, I mean, it is, it is all fine. But

SM: What does Watergate mean to you?

RD: [laughs] Well, it is back to that trust issue, I suppose or back to, you know, my coming back from Vietnam being horrified that, you know, the Pentagon would actually issue misstatements about, you know, things that I knew better. It is, it is very easy to keep the blame on Nixon. Okay, and basically, that Nixon was a control freak, who abused his power as a president, and, you know, ruined the legitimacy of the office, by senseless act of burglary, you know, against the opposition party, is one of the great stains on the democratic tradition. I mean, everybody would probably say something along those lines, you know. I would say that Nixon was a reflection of the American people. The things that Nixon was doing, was basically being represented by the aggregate of thoughts inside the country. If you wanted to understand the petty theft, the burglary, the disrespect for other people's personal property, the horrors that you want to push on the Nixon, then just look at yourself, because the American people are the origin of Watergate. Nixon is merely a mirror. Nixon is merely a reason I am not, you know, saying he did not do it. I am not saying anything like that. I am just saying, what is the origin of the things that we get so upset about? Watergate - the origin is ourselves. So, and now, if we could ever understand that, that is a future world. Okay, that is what is going to transform this planet. And it is pretty hard to imagine, but one day, it will happen. Well, I

SM: Have right here because I know your name the year 1968. Yeah, just that whole year, and of course, the Democratic Convention and then, of course, Chicago eight and Chicago seven, could you reflect on what happened in Chicago that year and then the trial? How do you look at it now?

RD: Like a past life! I would say that, you know, I like the fact that when I go speak, I would get a large turnout, because people sort of thought that I was important to hear or something like that. And I had that pretty much from the get-go in the (19)60s. But then when Chicago started, everything was transformed. I mean, I was on I was doing a press conference, it was carried by all three networks, pretty much every single day from mid-July, through the convention. And then after that, I was indicted. And after that, I was, I was in a presidential size press conference for six months. And so that changed my relationship to the public. You know, when I came to Washington, DC, like we are right now, I would, you know, I could not really sit here like this. I mean, people would come up, you know, like, like a celebrity, like a Hollywood type of thing, you know, what my autograph or have something mean to say! Or, you know, everybody, I was a recognizable figure and that for me personally, that was more how things changed, okay for the trial and Chicago you know. And then May Day too. After that things sort of wore down a little bit and I like that, you know, looking back now it is interesting. You know, it is it is a part of my life, I grew from it and so forth. But I so love where I am now. And, and everything for me has been a steppingstone to right now. And so I feel I finally have maybe something to actually contribute for the first time in my whole life right now. So it is not so much. I look back and you know, get all teary eyed or, you know or nostalgia about how the great days in the past.

SM: I have always wondered how a person like you and Tom Hayden and a lot of the other, a lot of my friends were arrested too in smaller protests but, feelings of being arrested, going to jail, and you ever thought, even when you were young, this is going to have a negative effect on me when I am fifty?

RD: Yeah

SM: Which is what a lot of people are writing about today that the reason why young people are not like, people, the (19)60s or the boomers is that they want, they do not want anything on their record, and it will be on the record, and they will never be hired.

RD: Yeah, right. I can, I can understand how the nature of social consciousness sets in and so forth. It was just a different time. And especially for someone like myself, I mean, a lot of people went to jail, and you know, if some got beaten up and tortured, you know, for their protest against discrimination or racism. It was, was not that way with me. But when I went to jail after the trial, we went to jail for two weeks, basically, until we raised money for appeal got out on bond. I mean, the, that night, there were 30,000 people outside the jail. When I went in, it would be like being Al Capone. Okay. I mean, in a positive way, to me, the inmates saw me as a hero, you know, for standing up to the judge. It was not like it was some oppressive, terrible. I mean, no, I was like, they were the whole prison was a fan club. You know, it was the largest riot in American history. The night I went to jail. I mean, more people rioted okay. I mean, burned down banks. And you know, I am not saying that is a greatest thing. I am just saying, we produced the largest riot in American history. But when we look at it, you felt before and whenever I have gone to jail, it was more, theatrics and support, you know, it was not like, the way everybody else goes to jail. You know, it was not so I cannot really have I do not have any complaints about the times I have gone to jail. You know, it was all kind of cool. Really.

SM: Just real quick thoughts here. Your thoughts on hippies and yippies. Just a, because you knew Abbie, and you knew Jerry, just your thought on the whole yippie group.

RD: Well, there was a cultural phenomena going on, you know, dress, love, trust, you know, probably some pot in there too. You know, it was a cultural thing, young people. And you know, Abby and Jerry were a little bit more like me. They were political but their base was more the culture. And so, what they were trying to do is to politicize the culture a little bit, get them a little more into the issues, but at the same time, give voice and expression to the culture. And so, you know, I am sure in a drug induced night, you know, they came up with youth international party. And then they called it 'yippie' you know.

SM: Jerry Rubin in his book, "Do it." Remember that?

RD: Yeah. Yeah.

SM: He said that. They were they did not know what the name their group, and then somebody was yelling in the background, "yippie" and he was like, there is, the- we will name it the yippies. You know it is interesting. this is just an anecdote. If you knew Abbie. A lot of people make fun of him. And that really upsets me because I remember when he passed away, he committed suicide and it was over in Bucks County now apart from Philadelphia. And I remember they did a bigger article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about him. And he had left the note when he killed himself, and he supposedly had only $2,000 in the bank. And in the note that he left was "no one is listening to me anymore." How sad. Because when you, because I remember when you came on the Phil Donahue show, after he came out of hiding and changed his nose or whatever. He had been working on the Hudson River, saving the Hudson River for years, unbeknownst to the American public. And a lot of people said that worthless son-of-a-gun. You know, he just a, but in reality was a person of substance. I felt-

RD: Yeah.

SM: And it was sad that he killed himself.

RD: Well, I do not know. Sad, I mean, maybe. We create our own experiences out of, out of. So, you know, basically, his ego got inflated in the (19)60s and then when it went down to being a normal person again, his ego could not handle it. So let us check out. I do not have a judgment about it. I do not call it sad, but I do not call it egotistical either. I you know, it just the way he chose to unfold himself. What I would say about Abby that I truly appreciated it was that Abbie taught me the great value of humor. And I saw I mean, we were, he came out and supported me during the May Day demonstrations when no one else did in the coalition. And as a result of his support, it was the two of us that got indicted for that. And we got off, they dropped the charges, but we are facing twenty years in jail. And on the day of the big arrest, you know, I mean, it is the biggest arrest in American history. We were arrested and we were being taken into the Justice Department, by the FBI, a large number of the maybe twenty men, okay, and Abbie was behind me, and I was in front, and we were marching down this empty corridor. And I would say, it was a fearful environment where the, the level of seriousness and hatred for us, okay, although professional, okay, was just, you know, I mean, it was not time to crack jokes, okay. It was, it was more like being in a concentration camp. I mean, it was a pretty serious moment, we are facing twenty years, we have no idea what is going to be dropped or anything like that. It was a very serious moment, I thought. And Abby just started making jokes with the guys that were with him. And, and he was just, it was breathtaking. I mean, in no time at all, he had the entire group of FBI agents, just friendly, laughing. Just, I mean, he just disarmed the whole mood and tenor of the whole thing, you know. And I saw him do that quite a few occasions. And I, I found that part of him to be totally inspiring. I mean, I tried to do better in that department myself, but I could not I could never compete with him. He was the best. He was, he was great. He was funny. He was a funny guy. And he was full of love and life and joy.

SM: "Steal this book"

RD: Yeah, Steal this Book.

SM: A lot of people stole it!

RD: Yeah, I am sure they did!

SM: The Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the Young Americans for Freedom, which were conservative, just your thoughts on those groups. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War kind of took over for SDS because SDS was waning, and they kind of took over the antiwar movement in those early seventies.

RD: I do not know, SDS was more to me, taken over by The Weathermen.

SM: Oh, yeah well, they kind of, violence.

RD: The vets, you know, the vets um, you know, everything kind of sort of went downhill a little bit as the ending occurred, you know. The, I mean, you had the John Kerry event, at the May Day demonstration with veterans to turning in their medals. You know, it was a pretty, you know, in a way, their way, a high minded thing, and bitterness and anger and that sort of thing, you know, as the dominant theme that came a little later, you know. And the Young Americans for Freedom was, you know, the current, I mean, sort of, you know, it was just a right wing group that, you know, were trying to hold on to traditional values. And, you know, use attack, and defend mode, it was a local thing, I do not really have a comment about that just side taking again you know.

SM: I am going to throw names, and then real quick responses and then, that is it. I am going start with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubins.

RD: Well, I told you about Abby, I think Abbie was pretty cool. And, you know, and I know, he checked out and they went that way. You know, I guess, you know, would have been nice if I could have talked to him before that. But I did not so you know, it is what it is. I do not have any judgment about it. You know, Jerry, same thing he checked out, you know. I mean, Jerry went into trying to make some money, you know, and, you know, network marketing. He was kind of cool, but he fought a lot. Very analytical thinking, pretty intense, you know, this is broke, something was wrong.

SM: He was killed jaywalking.

RD: But he just, you know, he was not paying attention to the world that he was in and he- But, you know, it did not mean that he was wrong. It did not mean that he did not choose to die in that way. That is how he chose to leave. So that is fine.

SM: How about Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda?

RD: Well, I went on to a military base, I think it was in North Carolina, we had a coffee shop that I had helped organize to support GI's called SOS, Support our Soldiers. Jane came down and you know, came to the coffee house. She was with Tom at this point. I mean, and Jane said, well, let us go on to the base. And so, we went on to the base, and you know, and in a second, we were surrounded by 20,000 troops. And it was, it gave me an appreciation but I thought it took a lot of courage. You know, I mean, I, I had a lot of courage too but I never expected it from anybody else. Jane Fonda I mean you could have lost your life right there. You know, he was very intense. And so I like Jane, and I thought she stood her ground. And she was, you know, spoke what she believed and, you know, she has moved on like everybody else now. I tip my hat to her for her courage and courage is what stands out for me about Jane Fonda. Tom is a friend, you know, Tom, and I were partners all the way. You know, I, I know I disappointed him when I kind of took a turn on the road went inward. And that even today, and it is not really, you know, understood, you know what happened. And I do not understand it really about it. But I know that I disappointed him. But he was mature. And he has kind of moved on. So, when we see each other now from time to time, you know, he is beautiful, you know, I put on an event at the summit. And, you know, at 1992 I guess it was in Brazil and you know, Tom flew down to be a part of my event. It was really cool.

SM: He has gotten a brand-new book out to you know? "(19)60s Activism" yeah.

RD: So that is what it is called?

SM: He did the book "Reunion" which was very popular in paperback, then he wrote a book on Ireland because he loves the Irish.

RD: Yeah, he does.

SM: Then he has gotten involved with the gangs, talking about the guns in LA.

RD: Is that what his current book is on?

SM: No, no, no, this has nothing to do with the gangs, it is about the whole (19)60s movement, the (19)60s period. Putting it all in a capsule.

RD: He is a good writer, and a great speaker, and I you know, he is a smart guy.

SM: How about Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern.

RD: I like Gene McCarthy. I really did. You know, I was so surprised by what happened you know? I mean, I thought we would bring a half million people to Chicago. But you know, I also thought Linda Johnson was going to be the nominee.

SM: Oh, I know!

RD: Ben Johnson withdraws and then Gene McCarthy comes in second. And I mean, or wins I forget, when did it come in second, or win?

SM: Well, he came in second.

RD: Second, yeah so anyway, you know, it was just like, wow, you know, suddenly, you know, everything was moving back into power to electoral politics, you know, which was not where I was at, at the time. But, you know, I, you know, and then just recently we, in 1996, the Democrats went back to Chicago, and I was a hermit, you know, I was living in the Grand Canyon, and I had not talked to anybody, you know, and I did not talk to an adult for four years. And so, I was really inward, you could say, but I felt to go, and I did and, and, you know, immediately I am on Larry King Live, and there is Gene McCarthy, you know? And, you know, I thought he was a good man. Really. I liked him.

SM: How about McGovern?

RD: Yeah, well, I, you know, I liked him, too. I mean, he had the courage to make the run and the fact that, you know, it was an overwhelming, you know, point of view, different point of view by the country. What it takes to come to that level, I do not care who you are, I mean, you may be number two, but the when the party's nomination and the make a run for president is exhausting. It is exhausting. It takes everything to hold yourself together and articulate yourself over and over again, and, and make it credible. You know, I tip my hat to anybody who, you know, he attempts that and pulls that off. And so, you know, and then he and he stood for, you know, I thought good things. And so, yeah, I have nothing but fond memories for McGovern.

SM: The Kennedys. Certainly, Bobby and John and Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. Could you get an interesting contrast between those four, just thoughts on those four gentlemen?

RD: Well, I thought Kennedy captured the spirit of the, of the of this group that I am talking about, you know? We ourselves may have not seen it that way. You know that. But he did. You know, he was the hope, he was the new generation. He was, you know, America trying to reach for its highest best philosophical side. And, you know, in that way, I think he is similar to Obama, you know, I do I thought for that time and everything. So you know, and he, I really respect the fact that he did so well, in the job that he had while going through so much physical pain. Pain is very tough to handle in any job. And as the President Roosevelt too, I mean, that is, that takes you know, as my admiration really does. Part of the king was a friend, I really thought highly of him. He also had the Mahatma Gandhi view, let us change yourself to change the world. You know, I met him first in Chicago, he had come to do an open housing march in Cicero. And he was very impressed that I was able to bring several thousand poor white people to that marsh. He went out of his way to; he just did not believe it was possible. But it was, you know! He kept hearing that we were coming and it was like, no way. And then when we showed up, and the people were cool, too. I mean, they were really there. Completely. They were not, you know.

SM: His Vietnam speech, too, was just incredible.

RD: Oh, it was incredible yeah, totally incredible. He was just one of those chosen guys. You know, mean, he really was. I never knew Malcolm X truthfully. So I mean, I followed his course and I did become good friends with Bobby Seale and sort of in a certain way, the Black Panther Party, and Malcolm X had a similar track. They were kind of on I guess.

SM: Your thoughts on the black power challenge of people like Dr. King and Byard Rustin and James Armour, Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins. There was a challenge to that group. Black Power all of a sudden, your time is past. Stokely Carmichael. There is a historic picture. We have only got five more minutes I know you are getting tired. But you probably remember that picture Stokely standing next to Martin and Martin was like this. Martin was pretty upset, because his time was passed.

RD: It is tough, you know, when you are when you are basically trying to build a nonviolent movement, and you know, within your own ranks there emerges, pick up guns, and, you know, let us, let us fight back and that sort of thing. You know, it is threatening your fundamental identity. And you try to put a good face on it, because, you know, they are important. They are young people; they are important to the movement. I mean, we had the same thing ourselves when I was trying to hold together a nonviolent coalition and in comes The Weatherman. And you know, and it was similar, you know, it was and these were friends and people I knew, and yet, there was a big disagreement on strategy and tactics. So you know, those are challenging moments and they are for anybody.

SM: I remember Dr. O'Neill from well, I interviewed the professor who wrote "Coming Apart" said he was the adviser to SDS at the University of Michigan. Then he went to Wisconsin, and he said, I did not know what I got myself into.

RD: Its very true.

SM: LBJ and Robert McNamara.

RD: What about it just reactions?

SM: To both Johnson and McNamara, Spiro Agnew, that whole group?

RD: Well, they are not all, to me they are all very different. You know, I think I was pretty judgmental about Lyndon Johnson in the (19)60s. But I do not feel like judgment today. I, you know, I think he was a hard working politician. Who just got over his head with Vietnam, as all Americans did? And, you know, it just more showed the lack of understanding of other cultures. You cannot win in Vietnam. You know, you could make the same argument. You cannot really militarily win in Afghanistan too. I do not know about Afghanistan, but I do know about Vietnam. And, you know, it was, I mean, the French were there fighting for 100 years, and then their military defeated at the Dien Bien Phu know, and when you study that, I mean, West Point studies that battle its brilliant. I mean, it is incredible. I mean, here is this, here is a society that can mobilize 3 million people at one time, you know, just no country can, you know overtake it. And when you understand their culture and how they have been doing this for 3,000, 2,000 years, you know, they defeated the nephew Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century, and people out in the rice paddies tell that story like it was yesterday or something. They just did not understand what they were dealing with.

SM: I think that Obama is going to find out the same thing about Afghanistan.

RD: I mean, that is the concern that people have. I do not know about Afghanistan. But so you know, and then Johnson, you know, withdrew. And, you know, I do not know, I never really, you know, what was interesting to me was McNamara who was so bright and, you know, groomed in the military way of thinking and everything, rises to the level of Secretary of Defense, you know, becomes certainly the architect of how to do it. And then basically has a reflection period and, you know, rewrites history and comes out, you know, criticizes himself with the whole [inaudible]. And I, you know, we were also superficial, in a way in our criticism of our archetypes, you know, for any human being to do that, we would all do well to reflect on doing that ourselves. Okay, that is to really look at yourself, and then let the whole world you know, see 180-degree shift, okay. And where you are, you know, you are basically saying that I was wrong, you know, on a matter involving 1000s and 1000s of lives, you know, it is pretty incredible, really. So I kind of feel inspired by McNamara, truthfully you know. I hated him in the (19)60s. I mean, he was the bad guy. But not now. I say that was pretty-

SM: When I interviewed McCarthy, it was right after "In Retrospect" came out, In Retrospect came out in 1995 and 1996 was when I interviewed McCarthy. In my first interview McCarthy says piece of garbage, and I will not read it. I mean, he was pretty critical of it.

RD: Then Spyro Agnew, I mean, he called me the most dangerous man in the United States on national television and from that point of view, I mean, he kind of made my career, you know, I mean, it was probably the best thing that ever got said about me. I do not really think it was an accurate statement, all things considered, but it certainly helped me with my base.

SM: The two last people are groups, the Barrigan brothers, just your thoughts on the Barrigan Brothers.

RD: They were, they made a real contribution. They brought a certain morality and spiritual religious side onto things. They were very courageous. They went to jail. And I, they were never really close into the coalition. It was interesting. They kind of did their own thing. They were always a part of it, but not quite what I, you know, I was about the coalition, and they were sort of there but really, you know, but I always tip my hat you know, I think well of them.

SM: The last, the last ones are the women leaders, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug of the feminist movement. Because the thing is, when you read, the feminist movement came about because in the antiwar movement, it was run by men. And so women got sick of the men being dominated, dominating those movements, and then created the women's movement. Now, your thoughts on that statement number one, and just your thoughts on their effectiveness and their value?

RD: I think it is sort of the traditional role of a movement, you know, your social change movements tend to identify with a particular constituency, they then look around and see what is suppressing that constituency. They do not really say start off by let us change ourselves to change the world, they said, let us change, man, let us change the races, let us change them, you know. And that is, that is pretty standard and usually, it, it starts by trying to have some coalition building and conciliatory, you know, like, like, Obama would love to do get a bipartisan something going. But, you know, over time, I am more, you know, a more focused approach tends to emerge, you know, and his writer writes, it is like, the difference between King and Stokely Carmichael, that sort of thing. And so, Betty Friedan, kind of gives rise to Gloria Steinem. You know, and then from there it goes even more that way. I do not, I do not have a judgment about anybody's politics. That is right and this is wrong, you know, I do not really do that anymore. I used to but I do not buy it.

SM: You are evolving.

RD: I am evolving! That is it. Yeah.

SM: I think that is a word. I think it is a word we ought to use more too because some of the things you said, I have been in university for 30 years.

RD: Yeah.

SM: And I have seen things.

RD: Yeah

SM: I think you are right on. I think you can really appeal to a lot of the young people today.

RD: Yeah

SM: The spirituality is important.

RD: Yeah, yeah. it would be cool.

SM: Why am I here? What is my purpose and all of those kinds of things?

RD: I am very good at those kinds of questions.

SM: Was there any question I did not ask you that you thought I was going to ask you before we end?

RD: Not really, you know, I had no idea what we are going to do truthfully. I was all good. I thought you were well prepared. Well done. And I wish you all the really sincerely the very best with your effort. I know it has been a big effort. You have talked to a lot of people and, and, you know, wherever I fit in, it is completely up to you.

SM: No, you are going to be in there.

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Stephen McKiernan


Rennie Davis

Biographical Text

Rennie Davis (1940-2021) was a spiritual lecturer and an activist. Davis was an American anti-Vietnam war protest leader of the 1960s. He was one of the Chicago Seven defendants. He appeared on several shows, including Larry King Live and Barbara Walters, and provided business advice for Fortune 500 companies. Davis was an alumnus of Oberlin College.





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Binghamton University Libraries

Digital Format


Material Type


Interview Format


Subject LCSH

Chicago Seven Trial, Chicago, Ill., 1969-1970; Political activists--United States; Davis, Rennie--Interviews

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Voting rights; Drug culture; Baby boom generation;Healing; Vietnam Memorial; Hippies; Yippies; Peace Corps; Trust; Mistrust of government; Kent State; Watergate; Richard Nixon; Democratic Convention; Weathermen; Students for a Democratic Society; Vietnam Veterans; Eugene McCarthy; George McGovern; Lyndon Johnson; John F. Kennedy; Robert F. Kennedy; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Malcolm X.



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 Rennie Davis,” Digital Collections, accessed April 23, 2024,