1971 memories

Note:  I’ve been behind on things a lot lately and I’m starting off Writing 101 late…  And cheating a little.  By the time I caught up on the Reader it was late.  So this is a free-writing assignment that I did in a writing class a few weeks ago.  I’m presenting it just as written in the 15 or 20 minute time allotment so it’s at least stream-of-consciousness.


University Hall, Northwestern University

Clear blue skies covered the campus, dressed up for spring with purple and white crocuses–Northwestern’s colors.  A hush hung over the grounds except for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young drifting from dorm windows.  “Four dead in Ohio.”  The first anniversary of Kent State and the Viet Nam War raged on.

We were against the war and the establishment, wearing our protest statements of jeans, blue work shirts and desert boots.  But we protested with fear.  Now we knew they could and would kill us for it.  By the next year we were barricading the street and shouting loud.  But on the first anniversary it was too fresh.

I entered my freshman year the prior fall with great trepidation over the new reality that you could be shot walking to class on a cloudless blue day.

Black students had their own protest going on.  Crowds of African-American students walked arm in arm down the sidewalks, forcing white students into bushes and muddy meadows.  One day I walked by some Black students in one of the quads and as I moved beyond a bottle flew by, so close to my head that I could feel my hair move as it brushed by.

When some students confronted my roommate and I to inform us they’d be creating a Black floor upstairs and that she needed to move up there and I needed to accept whoever they chose to move in, we were furious at their arrogant presumptuousness.  But she moved.

Protest and change marched on in spite of four dead in Ohio.

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4 thoughts on “1971 memories

  1. Wow that date and photo caught my attention and I do remember closing down Sheridan Road with an irony as I walk the campus with my dogs whenever I have a chance and see that intersection at least six time a year but I honestly forgot the cause and thought it was the invasion of Cambodia. I also had greatly admired Eva Jefferson, NU Student Body President ( from memory so check it on Google) who I thought would go onto great things but I have come to terms that she was too thoughtful and that political crowd wants decisive and quick unfortunately as Obama has found to his and mine regret. “So it goes” and ” those were the days my friend”!


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