- *Transcript of Recipe:
George Washington’s Beer Recipe
(Note: Following this recipe exactly will result in a beer with an alcohol content of about 11 percent — making it at least twice as potent as most of today’s commercially brewed domestic beers.)
To Make Small Beer:
Take a large siffer full of bran hops to your taste-boil these 3 hours. Then strain our 30 gall[o]n into a cooler put in 3 gall[o]n molasses while the beer is scalding hot or rather draw the molasses into the cooler. Strain the beer on it while boiling hot, let this stand till it is little more than blood warm. Then put in a quart of ye[a]st if the weather is very cold cover it over with a blank[et] let it work in the cask-Leave the bung open till it is almost done working-Bottle it that day week it was brewed.”
(Recipe courtesy Precious Book Department, New York Public Library. Spelling and punctuation have been left in their original form.)
- MAY 4, 2011, 5:23 PM ET
We cannot tell a lie: Even George Washington needed to take the edge off sometimes.
The founding father and first president of the republic was a man of the people when it came to his drink of preference. His “Notebook as a Virginia Colonel,” dated from 1757, includes a handwritten recipe for “small beer.”
- Associated Press
- George Washington’s recipe for “small beer”. For a larger version, scroll to the end of this post.
That recipe, along with many of Washington’s other papers, is part of the New York Public Library’s collection. This month, the library is partnering with Shmaltz Brewing Company to recreate a modern version of the porter, to celebrate the centennial of its Steven A. Schwartzman building.
Just 15 gallons will be brewed and offered for tasting. Local brewers Peter Taylor and Josh Knowlton have taken the liberty of tweaking the recipe, which the NYPL has dubbed “Fortitude’s Founding Father Brew.”
The brewers made batches of the beer, one with molasses — which Washington used — and one without, substituting malted barley for the fermentable sugar.
“Back then, they didn’t really have quite the same understanding of brewing science that we do now,” said Josh Knowlton.
Of Washington’s beer, “it’s pretty light, pretty dry, medium-bodied but roasty,” Knowlton said. “We used some roasted malts in there so it’s definitely got some of a roasted, chocolaty, little bit of a coffee flavor.”
The ingredient list is fairly basic, consisting of bran hops, yeast and molasses. The concoction is to “stand till it is little more than Blood warm,” in Washington’s words. He goes on to advise would-be brewers to “cover it over with a Blanket[et]” if the weather is very cold.
Despite its apparent simplicity, Jeremy Cowan, founder of Shmaltz Brewing Company, which makes Coney Island Lager, among other beers, called the recipe “tricky.”
“The ingredients in the brewing process that he used are kind of pre-modern,” he said.
Cowan figures Washington probably sketched the recipe the way a grandmother would, tweaking it and adding ingredients during the actual production. “They obviously did a couple of things that aren’t written down here, like a grandmother would,” he said. “So yeah, George Washington is like my old Jewish grandmother.”
Cowan said one of his brewers is also trying to reproduce a strict version of the recipe at their brewery in Coney Island. He hopes to use the finished product at future events and may even sell it. “I want to see if this is something that’s so special and one of a kind or whether we should explore putting it out on a larger scale,” he said.
Ann Thornton, acting director of the library, acknowledged that the brewing is an unusual way to celebrate a centennial.
“It is absolutely a very rare treasure of the library, it’s something that people might not expect and it’s something that can be brought to life today,” she said.
The beer will be showcased at the library’s centennial gala on May 23. The public can sample it on May 18 at Rattle N Hum, at 14 E. 33rd Street in Manhattan.
- Associated Press
- George Washington’s handwritten recipe for beer.
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January 12, 2006
In 1961, the Freedom Riders set out for the Deep South to defy Jim Crow laws and call for change. They were met by hatred and violence — and local police often refused to intervene. But the Riders’ efforts transformed the civil rights movement.
Oxford University Press
A “Freedom Bus” in flames, six miles southwest of Anniston, Ala., May 14, 1961. (Birmingham Public Library)
Raymond Arsenault is the author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. The book details how volunteers — both black and white — traveled to Mississippi and Alabama to fight segregation in transit systems.
Despite being backed by recent federal rulings that it was unconstitutional to segregate bus riders, the Freedom Riders met with obstinate resistance — as in Birmingham and Montgomery, where white supremacists attacked bus depots themselves.
In Freedom Riders, Arsenault details how the first Freedom Rides developed, from the personal level to the legal maneuvering involved. His narrative touches on elements from the jails of Alabama to the Kennedy White House.
Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History and co-director of the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. His previous writing includes Land of Sunshine,State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida and Crucible of Liberty: 200 Years of the Bill of Rights, which he edited.
Read an excerpt from Freedom Riders:
We had most trouble, it turned into a struggle,
Half way ‘cross Alabam,
And that ‘hound broke down, and left us all stranded,
In downtown Birmingham.
— Chuck Berry
Jim Farmer’s unexpected departure placed a heavy burden on Jim Peck, who suddenly found himself in charge of the Freedom Ride. As Farmer left for the Atlanta airport, Peck could not help wondering if he would ever see his old friend again. They had been through a lot together — surviving the depths of the Cold War and CORE’s lean years, not to mention the first ten days of the Freedom Ride. Now Peck had to go on alone, perhaps to glory, but more likely to an untimely rendezvous with violence, or even death. When Peck phoned Fred Shuttlesworth, the outspoken pastor of Birmingham’s Bethel Baptist Church and the leader of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, to give him the exact arrival times of the two “Freedom Buses,” the normally unflappable minister offered an alarming picture of what the Freedom Riders could expect once they reached Birmingham. The city was alive with rumors that a white mob planned to greet the Riders at the downtown bus stations. Shuttlesworth was not privy to FBI surveillance and did not know any of the details, but he urged Peck to be careful. Peck, trying to avoid a last-minute panic, relayed Shuttlesworth’s warning to the group in a calm and matter-of-fact fashion. He also repeated Tom Gaither’s warning about Anniston, a rest stop on the bus route to Birmingham. But he quickly added that he had no reason to believe the Riders would encounter any serious trouble prior to their arrival in downtown Birmingham. Barring any unforeseen problems, the four-hour ride would give them plenty of time to prepare a properly nonviolent response to the waiting mob — if, in fact, the mob existed.
Faced with staggered bus schedules, the two groups of Freedom Riders left Atlanta an hour apart. The Greyhound group, with Joe Perkins in charge, was the first to leave, at 11:00 A.M. The bus was more than half empty, unusual for the Atlanta-to-Birmingham run. Fourteen passengers were on board: five regular passengers, seven Freedom Riders — Genevieve Hughes, Bert Bigelow, Hank Thomas, Jimmy McDonald, Mae Frances Moultrie, Joe Perkins, Ed Blankenheim — and two journalists, Charlotte Devree and Moses Newson. Among the “regular” passengers were Roy Robinson, the manager f the Atlanta Greyhound station, and two undercover plainclothes agents of the Alabama Highway Patrol, Corporals Ell Cowling and Harry Sims. Both Cowling and Sims sat in the back of the bus, several rows behind the scattered Freedom Riders, who had no inkling of who these two seemingly innocuous white men actually were. Following the orders of Floyd Mann, the director of the Alabama Highway Patrol, Cowling carried a hidden microphone designed to eavesdrop on the Riders. Unsure of the Freedom Ride’s itinerary, Mann — and Governor John Patterson — wanted Cowling to gather information on the Riders and their plans.
During the ninety-minute trip to Tallapoosa, the last stop in Georgia, on Highway 78, none of the passengers said very much, other than a few words of nervous small talk. Around one o’clock the bus crossed the Alabama line and followed the road in a southwesterly arc to Heflin, a small country town on the edge of the Talladega National Forest. After a brief rest stop in Heflin, the Greyhound continued west through De Armanville and Oxford before turning north on Highway 21 toward Anniston. The largest city in Calhoun County and the second largest in east-central Alabama, Anniston as a no-nonsense army town that depended on nearby Fort McClellan and a sprawling ordnance depot for much of its livelihood. Known for its hard-edged race relations, Anniston boasted a relatively large black population (approximately 30 percent in 1961), a well-established NAACP branch, and some of the most aggressive and violent Klansmen in Alabama.
Just south of Anniston, the driver of a southbound Greyhound motioned to the driver of the Freedom Riders’ bus, O. T. Jones, to pull over to the side of the road. A white man then ran across the road and yelled to Jones through the window: “There’s an angry and unruly crowd gathered at Anniston. There’s a rumor that some people on this bus are going to stage a sit-in. The terminal has been closed. Be careful.” With this message the Riders’ worst fears seemed to be confirmed, but Joe Perkins — hoping that the warning was a bluff, or at least an exaggeration — urged the driver to keep going. A minute or two later, as the bus passed the city limits, several of the Riders couldn’t help but notice that Anniston’s sidewalks were lined with people, an unusual sight on a Sunday afternoon in a Deep South town. “It seemed that everyone in the town was out to greet us,” Genevieve Hughes later commented.
Amazingly enough, Hank Thomas did not recall seeing anyone on the streets. He did remember the strange feeling that he and the other Riders experienced as the bus eased into the station parking lot just after 1:00 P.M. The station was locked shut, and there was silence — and then suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a screaming mob led by Anniston Klan leader William Chappell rushed the bus. Thomas thought he heard Jones encourage the attackers with a sly greeting. “Well, boys, here they are,” the driver reportedly said with a smirk. “I brought you some niggers and nigger-lovers.” But it all happened so fast that no one was quite sure who was saying what to whom.
As the crowd of about fifty surrounded the bus, an eighteen-year-old Klansman and ex-convict named Roger Couch stretched out on the pavement in front of the bus to block any attempt to leave, while the rest — carrying metal pipes, clubs, and chains — milled around menacingly, some screaming, “Dirty Communists” and “Sieg heil!” There was no sign of any police, even though Herman Glass, the manager of the Anniston Greyhound station, had warned local officials earlier in the day that a potentially violent mob had gathered around the station. After the driver opened the door, Cowling and Sims hurried
to the front to prevent anyone from entering. Leaning on the door lever, the two unarmed investigators managed to close the door and seal the bus, but they could not stop several of the most frenzied attackers from smashing windows, denting the sides of the bus, and slashing tires. “One man stood on the steps, yelling, and calling us cowards,” Hughes noticed, but her attention soon turned to a second man who “walked by the side of the bus, slipped a pistol from his pocket and stared at me for some minutes.” When she heard a loud noise and shattering glass, she yelled, “Duck, down everyone,” thinking that a bullet had hit one of the windows. The projectile turned out to be a rock, but another assailant soon cracked the window above her seat with a fist full of brass knuckles. Joe Perkins’s window later suffered a similar fate, as the siege continued for almost twenty minutes. By the time the Anniston police arrived on the scene, the bus looked like it had been in a serious collision. Swaggering through the crowd with billy clubs in hand, the police officers examined the broken windows and slashed tires but showed no interest in arresting anyone. After a few minutes of friendly banter with members of the crowd, the officers suddenly cleared a path and motioned for the bus to exit the parking lot.
A police car escorted the battered Greyhound to the city limits but then turned back, once again leaving the bus to the mercy of the mob. A long line of cars and pickup trucks, plus one car carrying a news reporter and a photographer, had followed the police escort from the station and was ready to resume the assault. Once the entourage reached an isolated stretch of Highway 202 east of Bynum, two of the cars (one of which was driven by Roger Couch’s older brother Jerome) raced around the front of the bus and then slowed to a crawl, forcing the bus driver to slow down. Trailing behind were thirty or forty cars and trucks jammed with shrieking whites. Many, like Chappell and the Couches, were Klansmen, though none wore hoods or robes. Some, having just come from church, were dressed in their Sunday best — coats and ties and polished shoes — and a few even had children with them. The whole scene was darkly surreal and became even more so when a pair of flat tires forced the bus driver to pull over to the side of the road in front of the Forsyth and Son grocery store six miles southwest of town, only a few hundred yards from the Anniston Army Depot. Flinging open the door, the driver, with Robinson trailing close behind, ran into the grocery store and began calling local garages in what turned out to be a futile effort to find replacement tires for the bus. In the meantime, the passengers were left vulnerable to a swarm of onrushing vigilantes. Cowling had just enough time to retrieve his revolver from the baggage compartment before the mob surrounded the bus. The first to reach the Greyhound was a teenage boy who smashed a crowbar through one of the side windows. While one group of men and boys rocked the bus in a vain attempt to turn the vehicle on its side, a second tried to enter through the front door. With gun in hand, Cowling stood in the doorway to block the intruders, but he soon retreated, locking the door behind him. For the next twenty minutes Chappell and other Klansmen pounded on the bus demanding that the Freedom Riders come out to take what was coming to them, but they stayed in their seats, even after the arrival of two highway patrolmen. When neither patrolman made any effort to disperse the crowd, Cowling, Sims, and the Riders decided to stay put.
Eventually, however, two members of the mob, Roger Couch and Cecil “Goober” Lewallyn, decided that they had waited long enough. After returning to his car, which was parked a few yards behind the disabled Greyhound, Lewallyn suddenly ran toward the bus and tossed a flaming bundle of rags through a broken window. Within seconds the bundle exploded, sending dark gray smoke throughout the bus. At first, Genevieve Hughes, seated only a few feet away from the explosion, thought the bomb-thrower was just trying to scare the Freedom Riders with a smoke bomb, but as the smoke got blacker and blacker and as flames began to engulf several of the upholstered seats, she realized that she and the other passengers were in serious trouble. Crouching down in the middle of the bus, she screamed out, “Is there any air up front?” When no one answered, she began to panic. “Oh, my God, they’re going to burn us up!” she yelled to the others, who were lost in a dense cloud of smoke. Making her way forward, she finally found an open window six rows from the front and thrust her head out, gasping for air. As she looked out, she saw the outstretched necks of Jimmy McDonald and Charlotte Devree, who had also found open windows. Seconds later, all three squeezed through the windows and dropped to the ground. Still choking from the smoke and fumes, they staggered across the street. Gazing back at the burning bus, they feared that the other passengers were still trapped inside, but they soon caught sight of several passengers who had escaped through the front door on the other side.
They were all lucky to be alive. Several members of the mob had pressed against the door screaming, “Burn them alive” and “Fry the goddamn niggers,” and the Freedom Riders had been all but doomed until an exploding fuel tank convinced the mob that the whole bus was about to explode. As the frightened whites retreated, Cowling pried open the door, allowing the rest of the choking passengers to escape. When Hank Thomas, the first Rider to exit the front of the bus, crawled away from the doorway, a white man rushed toward him and asked, “Are you all okay?” Before Thomas could answer, the man’s concerned look turned into a sneer as he struck the astonished student in the head with a baseball bat. Thomas fell to the ground and was barely conscious as the rest of the exiting Riders spilled out onto the grass.
By this time, several of the white families living in the surrounding Bynum neighborhood had formed a small crowd in front of the grocery store. Most of the onlookers remained safely in the background, but a few stepped forward to offer assistance to the Riders. One little girl, twelve-year-old Janie Miller, supplied the choking victims with water, filling and refilling a five-gallon bucket while braving the insults and taunts of Klansmen. Later ostracized and threatened for this act of kindness, she and her family found it impossible to remain in Anniston in the aftermath of the bus bombing. Even though city leaders were quick to condemn the bombing, there was little sympathy for the Riders among local whites. Indeed, while Miller was coming to the Riders’ aid, some of her neighbors were urging the marauding Klansmen on.
At one point, with the Riders lying “on the ground around the bus, coughing and bleeding,” the mob surged forward. But Cowling’s pistol, the heat of the fire, and the acrid fumes wafting from the burning upholstery kept them away. Moments later a second fuel tank explosion drove them back even farther, and eventually a couple of warning shots fired into the air by the highway patrolmen on the scene signaled that the would-be lynching party was over. As the disappointed vigilantes slipped away, Cowling, Sims, and the patrolmen stood guard over the Riders, most of whom were lying or sitting in a daze a few yards from the burned-out shell of the bus. But no one in a position of authority showed any interest in identifying or arresting those responsible for the assault. No one wrote down the license numbers of the Klansmen’s cars and pickup trucks, and no one seemed in any hurry to call an ambulance. Several of the Riders had inhaled smoke and fumes and were in serious need of medical attention, but it would be some time before any of them saw a doctor. One sympathetic white couple who lived nearby allowed Hughes to use their phone to call for an ambulance, and when no one answered, they drove her to the hospital. For the rest of the stricken Riders, getting to the hospital proved to be a bit more complicated. When the ambulance called by one of the state troopers finally arrived, the driver refused to transport any of the injured black Riders. After a few moments of awkward silence, the white Riders, already loaded into the ambulance, began to exit, insisting they could not leave their black friends behind. With this gesture — and a few stern words from Cowling — the driver’s resolve weakened, and before long the integrated band was on its way to Anniston Memorial Hospital.
Unfortunately, the scene at the hospital offered the Riders little solace. The first to arrive, Hughes found the medical care in Anniston almost as frightening as the burning bus:
There was no doctor at the hospital, only a nurse. They had me breathe pure oxygen but that only burned my throat and did not relieve the coughing. I was burning hot and my clothes were a wet mess. After awhile Ed and Bert were brought in, choking. We all lay on our beds and coughed. Finally a woman doctor came in — she had to look up smoke poisoning before treating us. They brought in the Negro man who had been in the back of the bus with me. I pointed to him and told them to take care of him. But they did not bring him into our emergency room. I understand that they did not do anything at all for Hank. Thirteen in all were brought in, and three were admitted: Ed, the Negro man and myself. They gave me a room and I slept. When I woke up the nurse asked me if I could talk with the FBI. The FBI man did not care about us, but only the bombing.
Hughes’s general distrust of the FBI’s attitude toward civil rights activists was clearly warranted, but — unbeknownst to her — the FBI agent on the scene had actually intervened on the Freedom Riders’ behalf. At his urging, the medical staff agreed to treat all of the injured passengers, black and white, though in the end they failed to do so. When the ambulance full of Freedom Riders arrived at the hospital, a group of Klansmen made an unsuccessful attempt to block the entrance to the emergency room. Later, as the crowd outside the hospital grew to menacing proportions, hospital officials began to panic, especially after several Klansmen threatened to burn the building to the ground. With nightfall approaching and with no prospect of adequate police protection, the superintendent ordered the Riders to leave the hospital as soon as possible.
Hughes and several other Riders were in no shape to leave, but Joe Perkins, the leader of the Greyhound group, had no choice but to comply with the evacuation order. Struggling to conceal his rage, he told the Riders to be ready to leave in twenty minutes, though it actually took him well over an hour to arrange safe passage out of the hospital. After both the state troopers and the local police refused to provide the Riders with transportation — or even an escort — Bert Bigelow called friends in Washington in a vain effort to get help from the federal government. A few minutes later Perkins placed a frantic call to Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham. A native of the Alabama Black Belt, Shuttlesworth knew enough about towns like Anniston to know that the Freedom Riders were in serious danger. Mobilizing a fleet of eight cars, he planned to lead the rescue mission himself until his longtime bodyguard, Colonel Stone “Buck” Johnson, persuaded him to remain in Birmingham with the Trailways Riders, who had arrived in the city earlier in the afternoon. Just before the cars left for Anniston, Shuttlesworth reminded Johnson and the other volunteers that this was a nonviolent operation. “Gentlemen, this is dangerous,” he admitted, “but… you mustn’t carry any weapons. You must trust God and have faith.” All of the “deacons” nodded in assent, but as soon as they were safely out of sight, several of the faithful pulled out shotguns from beneath their seats. Checking triggers and ammunition, they made sure they would be able to defend themselves if the going got rough.
While the Riders waited for Shuttlesworth’s deacons to make their way across the back roads of the Alabama hill country, the Anniston hospital superintendent grew impatient and reminded Perkins that the interracial group would not be allowed to spend the night in the hospital. Perhaps, he suggested with a wry smile, they could find refuge in the bus station. Fortunately, the superintendent’s mean-spirited suggestion became moot a few minutes later when the rescue mission pulled into the hospital parking lot. With the police holding back the jeering crowd, and with the deacons openly displaying their weapons, the weary but relieved Riders piled into the cars, which promptly drove off into the gathering dusk. “We walked right between those Ku Klux,” Buck Johnson later recalled. “Some of them had clubs. There were some deputies too. You couldn’t tell the deputies from the Ku Klux.”
As the convoy raced toward Birmingham, the Riders peppered their rescuers with questions about the fate of the Trailways group. Perkins’s conversation with Shuttlesworth earlier in the afternoon had revealed that the other bus had also run into trouble, but few details had been available. The deacons themselves knew only part of the story, but even the barest outline was enough to confirm the Riders’ worst fears: The attack on the bus in Anniston could not be dismissed as the work of an unorganized mob. As the deacons described what had happened to the Trailways group, the true nature of the Riders’ predicament came into focus: With the apparent connivance of law enforcement officials, the organized defenders of white supremacy in Alabama had decided to smash the Freedom Ride with violence, in effect announcing to the world that they had no intention of letting the law, the U.S. Constitution, or anything else interfere with the preservation of racial segregation in their sovereign state.
The Trailway Riders’ ordeal began even before the group left Atlanta. As Peck and the other Riders waited in line to purchase their tickets, they couldn’t help noticing that several regular passengers had disappeared from the line after being approached by a group of white men. The white men themselves — later identified as Alabama Klansmen — eventually boarded the bus, but only a handful of other regular passengers joined them. The Klansmen were beefy, rough-looking characters, mostly in their twenties or thirties, and their hulking presence gave the Riders an uneasy feeling as the bus pulled out. There were seven Freedom Riders scattered throughout the bus: the Bergmans, Jim Peck, Charles Person, Herman Harris, Jerry Moore, and Ike Reynolds. Simeon Booker and his Jet magazine colleague, photographer Ted Gaffney, were also on board. Seated in the rear of the bus, the two journalists had a close-up view of the entire harrowing journey from Atlanta to Birmingham. “It was a frightening experience,” Booker later reported, “the worst encountered in almost 20 years of journalism.”
He was not exaggerating. The bus was barely out of the Atlanta terminal when the Klansmen began to make threatening remarks. “You niggers will be taken care of once you get in Alabama,” one Klansman sneered. Once the bus passed the state line, the comments intensified, giving the Riders the distinct impression that something might be brewing in Anniston. Arriving at the Anniston Trailways station approximately an hour after the other Riders had pulled into the Greyhound station, Peck and the Trailways Riders looked around warily before leaving the bus. The waiting room was eerily quiet, and several whites looked away as the unwelcome visitors walked up to the lunch counter. After purchasing a few sandwiches, the Riders walked back to the bus. Later, while waiting nervously to leave, they heard an ambulance siren but didn’t think much of it until the bus driver, John Olan Patterson, who had been talking to several Anniston police officers, vaulted up the steps. Flanked by eight “hoodlums,” as Peck later called them, Patterson gave them the news about the Greyhound riot. “We have received word that a bus has been burned to the ground and passengers are being carried to the hospital by the carloads,” he declared, with no hint of compassion or regret. “A mob is waiting for our bus and will do the same to us unless we get these niggers off the front seats.” His bus wasn’t going anywhere until the black Freedom Riders retreated to the back of the bus where they belonged.
After a few moments of silence, one of the Riders reminded Patterson that they were interstate passengers who had the right to sit wherever they pleased. Shaking his head in disgust, he exited the bus without a word. But one of the white “hoodlums” soon answered for him: “Niggers get back. You ain’t up north. You’re in Alabama, and niggers ain’t nothing here.” To prove his point, he suddenly lunged toward Person, punching him in the face. A second Klansman then struck Harris, who was sitting next to Person in the front section of the bus. Both black Freedom Riders adhered to Gandhian discipline and refused to fight back, but this only encouraged their attackers. Dragging the defenseless students into the aisle, the Klansmen started pummeling them with their fists and kicking them again and again. At this point Peck and Walter Bergman rushed forward from the back to object. As soon as Peck reached the front, one of the attackers turned on him, striking a blow that sent the frail, middle-aged activist reeling across two rows of seats. Within seconds Bergman, the oldest of the Freedom Riders at sixty-one, suffered a similar blow, falling to the floor with a thud. As blood spurted from their faces, both men tried to shield themselves from further attack, but the Klansmen, enraged by the white Riders’ attempt to protect their “nigger” collaborators, proceeded to pound them into a bloody mass. While a pair of Klansmen lifted Peck’s head, others punched him in the face until he lost consciousness. By this time Bergman was out cold on the floor, but one frenzied assailant continued to stomp on his chest. When Frances Bergman begged the Klansman to stop beating her husband, he ignored her plea and called her a “nigger lover.” Fortunately, one of the other Klansmen — realizing that the defenseless Freedom Rider was about to be killed — eventually called a halt to the beating. “Don’t kill him,” he said coolly, making sure that no one on the bus mistook self-interested restraint for compassion.
Although Walter Bergman’s motionless body blocked the aisle, several Klansmen managed to drag Person and Harris, both barely conscious, to the back of the bus, draping them over the passengers sitting in the backseat. A few seconds later, they did the same to Peck and Bergman, creating a pile of bleeding and bruised humanity that left the rest of the passengers in a momentary state of shock. Content with their brutal handiwork, the Klansmen then sat down in the middle of the bus to block any further attempts to violate the color line. At this point a black woman riding as a regular passenger begged to be let off the bus, but the Klansmen forced her to stay. “Shut up, you black bitch,” one of them snarled. “Ain’t nobody but whites sitting up here. And them nigger lovers . . . can just sit back there with their nigger friends.”
Moments later, Patterson, who had left during the melee, returned to the bus, accompanied by a police officer. After surveying the scene, both men appeared satisfied with the restoration of Jim Crow seating arrangements. Turning toward the Klansmen, the police officer grinned and assured them that Alabama justice was on their side: “Don’t worry about no lawsuits. I ain’t seen a thing.” The officer then exited the bus and motioned to Patterson to head out onto the highway. Realizing that there was a mob waiting on the main road to Birmingham, the driver kept to the back roads as he headed west. When none of the Klansmen objected to this detour, the Freedom Riders were puzzled but relieved, thinking that perhaps there were limits to the savagery of the segregationists after all, even in the wilds of eastern Alabama. What they did not know, of course, was that the Klansmen were simply saving them for the welcoming party already gathering in the shadows of downtown Birmingham.
During the next two hours, as the bus rolled toward Birmingham, the Klansmen continued to taunt and torment the Riders. One man brandished a pistol, a second threatened the Riders with a steel pipe, and three others served as “sentries,” blocking access to the middle and front sections of the bus. As Booker recalled the scene, one of the sentries was “a pop-eyed fellow who kept taunting: ‘Just tell Bobby [Kennedy] and we’ll do him in, too.’” When one of the Klansmen approached Booker threateningly, the journalist nervously handed him a copy of Jet that featured an advance story on CORE’s sponsorship of the Freedom Ride. Over the next few minutes, as the article was passed from Klansman to Klansman, the atmosphere became increasingly tense. “I’d like to choke all of them,” one Klansman confessed, while others assured the Riders that they would get what was coming to them when they arrived in Birmingham. By the time the bus reached the outskirts of the city, Peck and the other injured Riders had regained consciousness, but since the Klansmen would not allow any of the Riders to leave their seats or talk among themselves, there was no opportunity for Peck to prepare the group for the impending onslaught. He could only hope that each Rider would be able to draw upon some combination of inner strength and past experience, some reservoir of courage and responsibility that would sustain the Freedom Ride and protect the viability and moral integrity of the nonviolent movement.
Though battered and bleeding, and barely able to walk, Peck was determined to set an example for his fellow Freedom Riders. As the designated testers at the Birmingham stop, he and Person would be the first to confront the fully assembled power of Alabama segregationists. The terror-filled ride from Atlanta was a clear indication that they could expect some measure of violence in Birmingham, but at this point Peck and the other Trailways Riders had no detailed knowledge of what had happened to the Greyhound group in Anniston two hours earlier. They thought they were prepared for the worst. In actuality, however, they had no reliable way of gauging what they were up against, no way of appreciating the full implications of challenging Alabama’s segregationist institutions, and no inkling of how far Birmingham’s ultra-segregationists would go to protect the sanctity of Jim Crow. This was not just the Deep South — it was Birmingham, where close collaboration between the Ku Klux Klan and law enforcement officials was a fact of life. The special agents in the Birmingham FBI field office, as well as their superiors in Washington, possessed detailed information on this collaboration and could have warned the Freedom Riders. But they chose to remain silent.
The dire consequences of the bureau’s refusal to intervene were compounded by the active involvement of FBI informant Gary Thomas Rowe. In the final minutes before the Trailways group’s arrival, Rowe helped ensure that the plot to “welcome” the Freedom Riders would actually be carried out. The plan called for Rowe and the other Klansmen to initiate the attack at the Greyhound station, where the first group of Freedom Riders was expected to arrive, but news of the Anniston bombing did not reach Birmingham until midafternoon, just minutes before the arrival of the Trailways bus. A frantic call from police headquarters to Rowe, who quickly spread the word, alerted the Klansmen waiting near the Greyhound station that a bus of Freedom Riders was about to arrive at the Trailways station, three blocks away. The “welcoming committee” had just enough time to regroup at the Trailways station. Years later Rowe recalled the mad rush across downtown Birmingham: “We made an astounding sight . . . men running and walking down the streets of Birmingham on Sunday afternoon carrying chains, sticks, and clubs. Everything was deserted; no police officers were to be seen except one on a street corner. He stepped off and let us go by, and we barged into the bus station and took it over like an army of occupation. There were Klansmen in the waiting room, in the rest rooms, in the parking area.”
By the time Peck and company arrived, the Klansmen and their police allies were all in place, armed and ready to do what had to be done to protect the Southern way of life. Police dispatchers, following the agreed-upon plan, had cleared the “target” area: For the next fifteen minutes there would be no police presence in or near the Trailways station. The only exceptions were two plainclothes detectives who were in the crowd to monitor the situation and to make sure that the Klansmen left the station before the police arrived.
Since it was Sunday, and Mother’s Day, there were few bystanders, aside from a handful of news reporters who had been tipped off that something big was about to happen at the Trailways station. Despite the semisecret nature of the operation, the organizers could not resist the temptation to let the outside world catch a glimpse of Alabama manhood in action.
One of the reporters on hand was Howard K. Smith, a national correspondent for CBS News who was in Birmingham working on a television documentary titled “Who Speaks for Birmingham?”. Smith and his CBS colleagues were investigating New York Times columnist Harrison Salisbury’s charges that Alabama’s largest city was consumed by lawlessness and racial oppression. “Every channel of communication, every medium of mutual interest, every reasoned approach, every inch of middle ground,” wrote Salisbury in April 1960, “has been fragmented by the emotional dynamite of racism, reinforced by the whip, the razor, the gun, the bomb, the torch, the club, the knife, the mob, the police and many branches of the state’s apparatus.” After several days of interviews, Smith was still trying to decide if Salisbury’s claims were exaggerated. A Louisiana native with considerable experience in the Deep South, Smith was more than intrigued when he received a Saturday night call from Dr. Edward R. Fields, the president of the ultra-conservative National States Rights Party (NSRP), an organization known to promote a virulent strain of white supremacist and anti-Semitic extremism. Identifying himself simply as “Fields,” the arch segregationist urged Smith to hang around the downtown bus stations “if he wanted to see some real action.”
A gun-toting Birmingham chiropractor with close ties to the infamous Georgia extremist J. B. Stoner, Fields himself had every intention of taking part in the action. Along with Stoner, who had driven over from Atlanta for the occasion, and several other NSRP stalwarts, Fields showed up at the Greyhound station on Sunday afternoon armed and ready for the bloodletting — even though Klan leader Hubert Page warned him to stay away. Page and his police accomplices were having enough trouble controlling their own forces without having to worry about Fields and his crew of professional troublemakers.
With Police Chief Jamie Moore out of the city and Connor lying low in an effort to distance himself from the impending violence, Detective Tom Cook was in charge of the operation, but Cook did not share Page’s concern. When Rowe called Cook to complain that the NSRP was complicating the Klan’s plans, the detective told him to relax. “You boys should work together,” Cook suggested.
Connor — who spent Sunday morning at city hall, barely a stone’s throw away from the Greyhound station — was probably the only man in Birmingham with the power to call the whole thing off. But he was not about to do so. Resisting the entreaties of several friends, including his Methodist pastor, John Rutland, who warned him that joining forces with the Klan was a big mistake, he cast his lot with the extremists. He knew that the welcoming party might backfire — that it could complicate the mayoral campaign of his political ally Art Hanes, that Birmingham might even become a second Little Rock, a city besieged by federal troops — but he simply could not bring himself to let the Freedom Riders off the hook. He had been waiting too long for an opportunity to confront the Yankee agitators on his own turf. It was time to let Earl Warren, the Kennedys, the Communists, and all the other meddling Southhaters know that the loyal sons of Alabama were ready to fight and die for white supremacy and states’ rights. It was time for the blood to flow.
At 4:15 on Sunday afternoon, Connor got all the blood he wanted — and then some. As soon as the bus pulled into the Trailways terminal, the Klansmen on board raced down the aisle to be near the front door. Following a few parting taunts — one man screamed, “You damn Communists, why don’t you go back to Russia. You’re a shame to the white race” — they hustled down the steps and disappeared into the crowd. They had done their job; the rest was up to their Klan brethren, several of whom were waiting expectantly in front of the terminal. The Klansmen’s hurried exit was a bit unnerving, but as Peck and the other Freedom Riders peered out at the crowd there was no sign of any weapons. One by one, the Riders filed off the bus and onto the unloading platform, where they began to retrieve their luggage. Although there were several rough-looking men standing a few feet from the platform, there was no clear indication that an attack was imminent. After a few moments of hesitation, Peck and Person walked toward the white waiting room to begin testing the terminal’s facilities. In his 1962 memoir, Peck recalled the intensity of the scene, especially his concern for the safety of his black colleague. “I did not want to put Person in a position of being forced to proceed if he thought the situation was too dangerous,” he remembered, but “when I looked at him, he responded by saying simply, ‘Let’s go.’” This bravery was not born of ignorance: Person had grown up in the Deep South; he had recently served sixteen days in jail for his part in the Atlanta sit-ins, and he had already been beaten up earlier in the day. Nevertheless, neither he nor Peck was fully prepared for what was about to happen.
Moments after the two Freedom Riders entered the waiting room and approached the whites-only lunch counter, one of the waiting Klansmen pointed to the cuts on Peck’s face and the caked blood on his shirt and screamed out that Person, who was walking in front of Peck, deserved to die for attacking a white man. At this point, Peck tried to explain that Person was not the man who had attacked him, adding: “You’ll have to kill me before you hurt him.” This blatant breach of racial solidarity only served to incite the crowd of Klansmen blocking their path. After an Eastview Klansman named Gene Reeves pushed Person toward the colored waiting room, the young black Freedom Rider gamely continued walking toward the white lunch counter but was unable to sidestep a second Klansman who shoved him up against a concrete wall. Standing nearby, NSRP leader Edward Fields pointed toward Peck and yelled: “Get that son of a bitch.” Several burly white men then began to pummel Person with their fists, bloodying his face and mouth and dropping him to his knees. When Peck rushed over to help Person to his feet, several Klansmen grabbed both men by the shoulders and pushed them into a dimly lit corridor leading to a loading platform. In the corridor more than a dozen whites, some armed with lead or iron pipes and others with oversized key rings, pounced on the two Riders, punching and kicking them repeatedly. Before long, the assault turned into a chaotic free-for-all with “fists and arms… flying everywhere.” In the ensuing confusion, Person managed to escape. Running into the street, he staggered onto a city bus and eventually found his way to Fred Shuttlesworth’s parsonage. In the meantime Peck bore the brunt of the attack, eventually losing consciousness and slumping to the floor in a pool of blood.
The fracas had been moved to the back corridor in an effort to avoid the reporters and news photographers roaming the white waiting room, but several newsmen, including Howard K. Smith, witnessed at least part of the attack. Smith, who had only been in Birmingham for a few days, could hardly believe his eyes as the rampaging Klansmen and NSRP “storm troopers” swarmed over the two Freedom Riders. But he soon discovered that this was only the beginning of one of the bloodiest afternoons in Birmingham’s history.
While Peck and Person were being assaulted in the corridor, the other Riders searched for a refuge. Jerry Moore and Herman Harris avoided detection by losing themselves in the crowd and slipping away just before the assaults began. Frances Bergman, at her husband’s insistence, boarded a city bus moments after their arrival, but Walter himself was unable to escape the mob’s fury. Still woozy from his earlier beating, with blood still caked on his clothing, he bravely followed Peck and Person into the white waiting room.
After witnessing the initial assault on his two colleagues, he searched in vain for a policeman who could help them, but soon he too was knocked to the floor by an enraged Klansman. When Simeon Booker entered the terminal a few seconds later, he saw the bloodied and defenseless professor crawling on his hands and knees. Recoiling from the grisly scene, Booker retreated to the street, where he found a black cabdriver who agreed to whisk him and Ted Gaffney away to safety.
Others were less fortunate. Several white men attacked Ike Reynolds, kicking and stomping him before heaving his semiconscious body into a curbside trash bin. In the confusion, the mob also attacked a number of bystanders misidentified as Freedom Riders. One of the victims was actually a Klansman named L. B. Earle, who had the misfortune of coming out of the men’s room at the wrong time. Attacked by fellow Klansmen who failed to recognize him, Earle suffered several deep head gashes and ended up in the hospital. Another victim of the mob, a twenty-nine-year-old black laborer named George Webb, was assaulted after he entered the baggage room with his fiancée, Mary Spicer, one of the regular passengers on the freedom bus from Atlanta. The last person to leave the bus, Spicer was unaware of the melee inside the station until she and Webb encountered a group of pipewielding rioters in the baggage area. One of the men, undercover FBI informant Gary Thomas Rowe, told Spicer to “get the hell out of here,” and she escaped harm, running into the street for help. But Rowe and three others, including an NSRP member, immediately surrounded Webb and proceeded to pummel him with everything from their fists to a baseball bat. Webb fought back but was soon overwhelmed as several more white men joined in. Dozens of others looked on, some yelling, “Kill the nigger.” But moments later the assault was interrupted by Red Self, one of the plainclothes detectives on the scene, who grabbed Rowe by the shoulder and told him it was time to go. “Get the boys out of here,” he ordered. “I’m ready to give the signal for the police to move in.”
During the allotted fifteen minutes, the violence had spread to the sidewalks and streets surrounding the Trailways station, making it difficult to get the word to all of the Klansmen and NSRP members involved in the riot. But by the time the police moved in to restore order, virtually all of the rioters had left the area. Despite Self’s warning, Rowe and those attacking Webb were among the last to leave. “Goddamn it, Tom,” Self finally screamed at Rowe, “I told you to get out of here! They’re on the way.” Rowe and
several others, however, were preoccupied with Webb and continued the attack until a news photographer snapped a picture of Rowe and the other Klansmen. As soon as the flashbulb went off, they abandoned Webb and ran after the photographer, Tommy Langston of the Birmingham Post-Herald, who made it to the station parking lot before being caught. After one man grabbed Langston’s camera and smashed it to the ground, Rowe and several others, including Eastview klavern leader Hubert Page, kicked and punched him and threatened to beat him with the same pipes and baseball bats used on Webb. In the meantime, Webb ran into the loading area, where he was recaptured by a pack of Klansmen led by Gene Reeves. With the police closing in, Webb, like Langston, was released after a few final licks, though by this time both men were bleeding profusely. Stumbling into the parking lot, Webb somehow managed to find the car where his terrified fiancée and aunt had been waiting. As they drove away to safety, Langston, whose life had suddenly become intertwined with the beating of a man whom he had never met, staggered down the street to the Post-Herald building, where he collapsed into the arms of a shocked colleague. Later in the afternoon, another Post-Herald photographer returned to the scene of the assault and retrieved Langston’s broken camera, discovering to his and Langston’s amazement that the roll of film inside was undamaged.
The graphic picture of the Webb beating that appeared on the front page of the Post-Herald the next morning, though initially misidentified as a photograph of the attack on Peck, turned out to be one of the few pieces of documentary evidence to survive the riot. Immediately following the attack on Langston, Rowe and Page grabbed Birmingham News photographers Bud Gordon and Tom Lankford and promptly destroyed all of the unexposed film in their cameras. Neither photographer was beaten, but Clancy Lake, a reporter for WAPI radio, was not so lucky. As Rowe and two other Eastview Klansmen, Billy Holt and Ray Graves, walked toward the Greyhound station parking lot to retrieve their cars, they spied Lake sitting in the front seat of his car broadcasting an eyewitness account of the riot. Convinced that Lake had a camera and had been taking photographs of the scene at the Trailways station, the Klansmen smashed the car’s windows with a blackjack, ripped the microphone from the dashboard, and dragged the reporter onto the pavement. Although Lake noticed a passing police car and screamed for help, the officer drove on, leaving him at the mercy of attackers. At one point the three men pushed him into a wall, but after Holt swung at him with a pipe and missed, Lake bolted into the Trailways station, where he was relieved to discover that a squad of police had just arrived. With the police on the scene, the gritty reporter was able to resume his broadcast via telephone, as Rowe and his companions called off the pursuit and once again headed toward their cars.
Along the way, they encountered a smiling Bobby Shelton, who congratulated them for a job well done and offered them a ride to the Greyhound parking lot in his Cadillac. Upon their arrival, the Imperial Wizard and his passengers were shocked to discover several local black men writing down the license plate numbers of the Klansmen’s cars. Following a brief struggle — at least one of the overmatched blacks was in his mid-sixties — the Klansmen ripped up the pages with the incriminating numbers before heading to Rowe’s house for a victory celebration. Arriving at the house around five o’clock, they stayed there only a few minutes before a phone call from Sergeant Tom Cook sent them back downtown to intercept another bus full of Freedom Riders. The Greyhound freedom bus, having been burned in Anniston, never actually arrived, but Rowe and Page had too much blood lust to return home without getting some action. Wandering into a black neighborhood on the north side of downtown, they picked a fight with a group of young blacks who gave as good as they got. The battle put one Klansman in the hospital and left Rowe with a knife wound in the neck serious enough to require immediate attention from a doctor. None of this, however, dampened the sense of triumph among the Klansmen and their police collaborators.
At a late-night meeting with Rowe, Red Self suggested that the shedding of a little blood was a small price to pay for what they had accomplished. After weeks of anticipation and careful planning, they had done exactly what they set out to do. Carried out in broad daylight, the assault on the Freedom Riders had turned a bus station into a war zone, and the Klansmen involved had come away with only minor injuries and little likelihood of criminal prosecution. In the coming days and weeks, the publication of Langston’s photograph would be a source of concern for those who were identifiable as Webb’s attackers — and for Rowe’s FBI handlers, who were furious that one of their informants had allowed himself to be captured on film during a criminal assault. But as Self and Rowe congratulated each other in the waning hours of May 14, there was no reason to believe that anything had gone wrong. Backing up words with action, the white supremacists of the Eastview klavern and their allies had demonstrated in no uncertain terms that they were ready to use any means necessary to halt the Freedom Rides.
The late-afternoon scene at the Trailways station testified to the success of the operation. Within twenty minutes of the Freedom Riders’ arrival, the mob had vanished, leaving surprisingly little evidence of the riot and few witnesses with a clear sense of what had just happened. When Peck regained consciousness a few minutes after the assault, he was alone in the corridor.
Excerpted from Freedom Riders by Raymond Arsenault. Copyright © 2005 by Raymond Arsenault. Excerpted by permission of Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Audrey Hepburn Biography
Audrey Hepburn was a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century and one of the most beloved actresses of all time. She enchanted the world with elegance and innocent charm, and portrayed some of the most memorable characters in film. Although she was one of the few actresses to win an Emmy, Tony, Grammy, and Academy Award, Audrey was modest about her talents, often claiming she had no acting technique. She redefined glamour with elfin features and a waif-like figure that inspired timeless designs by Hubert de Givenchy.
Raised in the Netherlands during World War II, Audrey never forgot her own struggles during the German occupation and dedicated her later years to helping needy children around the world, becoming an International Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and traveling around the world to provide aid.
Audrey Hepburn is remembered as a natural talent, a timeless beauty and a great humanitarian.
Audrey Hepburn Biography
Also known as Eda van Heemstra
( 1929 – 1993 )
- Theatre [cut]
- 1951 Gigi
- 1954 Ondine
Actress, philanthropist. Born on May 4, 1929, in Brussels, Belgium. A talented performer, Audrey Hepburn was known for her beauty, elegance, and grace. Often imitated, she remains one of Hollywood’s greatest style icons. A native of Brussels, Hepburn spent part of her youth in England at a boarding school there. During much of World War II, she studied at the Arnhem Conservatory in The Netherlands. After the Nazis invaded the country, Hepburn and her mother struggled to survive. She reportedly helped the resistance movement by delivering messages, according to an article in The New York Times.
After the war, Hepburn continued to pursue an interest in dance. She studied ballet in Amsterdam and later in London. In 1948, Hepburn made her stage debut as a chorus girl in the musical High Button Shoes in London. More small parts on the British stage followed. She was a chorus girl in Sauce Tartare (1949), but was moved to a featured player in Sauce Piquante (1950).
That same year, Hepburn made her feature film debut in 1951′s One Wild Oat in an uncredited role. She went on to parts in such films as Young Wives’ Tales(1951) and The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) starring Alec Guiness. Her next project on the New York stage introduced her to American audiences.
At the age of 22, Audrey Hepburn went to New York to star in the Broadway production of Gigi, based on the book by the French writer Colette. Set in Paris around 1900, the comedy focuses on the title character, a young teenage girl on the brink of adulthood. Her relatives try to teach her ways of being a courtesan, to enjoy the benefits of being with a wealthy man without having to marry. They try to get a friend of the family, Gaston, to become her patron, but the young couple has other ideas.
Only a few weeks after the play premiered, news reports indicated that Hepburn was being wooed by Hollywood. Only two years later, she took the world by storm in the film Roman Holiday (1953) with Gregory Peck. Audiences and critics alike were wowed by her portrayal of Princess Ann, the royal who escapes the constrictions of her title for a short time. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this performance.
The next year Hepburn returned to the Broadway stage to star in Ondine with Mel Ferrer. A fantasy, the play told the story of a water nymph who falls in love with a human played by Ferrer. With her lithe and lean frame, Hepburn made a convincing sprite in this sad story about love found and lost. She won the 1954 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance. While the leading characters in the play grew apart, the actors found themselves becoming closer. The two also made a dynamic pair off stage and Hepburn and Ferrer got married on September 25, 1954, in Switzerland.
Back on the big screen, Hepburn made another award worthy performance in Sabrina (1954) as the title character, the daughter of a wealthy family’s driver. Sabrina returned home after spending time in Paris as a beautiful and sophisticated woman. The family’s two sons, Linus and David, played by Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, never paid her much mind until her transformation. Pursuing her onetime crush David, Sabrina unexpectedly found happiness with his older brother Linus. Hepburn earned her an Academy Award nomination for her work on this bittersweet romantic comedy.
Showcasing her dancing abilities, Hepburn starred opposite Fred Astaire in the musical Funny Face (1957). This film featured Hepburn undergoing another transformation. This time, she played a beatnik bookstore clerk who gets discovered by a fashion photographer played by Astaire. Lured by a free trip to Paris, the clerk becomes a beautiful model. Hepburn’s clothes for the film were designed by Hubert de Givenchy, one of her close friends.
Stepping away from lighthearted fare, Hepburn co-starred in the film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace with her husband, Mel Ferrer, and Henry Fonda in 1956. Three years later, she played Sister Luke in The Nun’s Story (1959), which earned her an Academy Award nomination. The film focused on her character’s struggle to succeed as a nun. A review in Variety said “Audrey Hepburn has her most demanding film role, and she gives her finest performance.” Following that stellar performance, she went on to star in the John Huston-directed western The Unforgiven (1960) with Burt Lancaster. That same year, her first child, a son named Sean, was born.
Returning to her glamorous roots, Hepburn set new fashion standards as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), which was based on a novella by Truman Capote. She played a seemingly lighthearted, but ultimately troubled New York City party girl who gets involved with a struggling writer played by George Peppard. Hepburn received her fourth Academy Award nomination for her work on the film.
For the rest of the 1960s, Hepburn took on a variety of roles. She starred with Cary Grant in the romantic thriller Charade (1963). Playing the lead in the film version of the popular musical My Fair Lady (1964), she went through one of the most famous metamorphoses of all time. As Eliza Doolittle, she played an English flower girl who becomes a high society lady. Taking on more dramatic fare, she starred a blind woman in the suspenseful tale Wait Until Dark (1967) opposite Alan Arkin. Her character used her wits to overcome the criminals that were harassing her. This film brought her a fifth Academy Award nomination. That same year, Hepburn and her husband separated and later divorced. She married Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti in 1969, and the couple had a son, Luca, in 1970.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Hepburn worked sporadically. She starred opposite Sean Connery in Robin and Marian (1976), a look at the central figures of the Robin Hood saga in their later years. In 1979, Hepburn co-starred with Ben Gazzara in the crime thriller Bloodline. Hepburn and Gazzara teamed up again for the 1981 comedy They All Laughed, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Her last screen role was in Always (1989) directed by Steven Spielberg.
In her later years, acting took a back seat to her work on behalf of children. She became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF in the late 1980s. Traveling the world, Hepburn tried to raise awareness about children in need. She understood too well what it was like to go hungry from her days in The Netherlands during the German Occupation. Making more than 50 trips, Hepburn visited UNICEF projects in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. She won a special Academy Award for her humanitarian work in 1993, but she did not live long enough to receive it. Hepburn died on January 20, 1993, at her home in Tolochenaz, Switzerland after a battle with colon cancer.
Her work to help children around the world continues. Her sons, Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti, along with her companion Robert Wolders, established the Audrey Hepburn Memorial Fund to continue Hepburn’s humanitarian work in 1994. It is now known as the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.
Visit our special AUDREY HEPBURN Tribute Site for photo gallery, timeline, and more.
A udrey Hepburn. (2011). Biography.com. Retrieved 05:56, May 4 2011 fromhttp://www.biography.com/articles/Audrey-Hepburn-9335788
© 2011 A&E Television Networks. All rights reserved.
Margaret Thatcher, leader of the Conservative Party, is sworn in as Britain’s first female prime minister. The Oxford-educated chemist and lawyer was sworn in the day after the Conservatives won a 44-seat majority in general parliamentary elections.
Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in Grantham, England, in 1925. She was the first woman president of the Oxford University Conservative Association and in 1950 ran for Parliament in Dartford. She was defeated but garnered an impressive number of votes in the generally liberal district. In 1959, after marrying businessman Denis Thatcher and giving birth to twins, she was elected to Parliament as a Conservative for Finchley, a north London district. During the 1960s, she rose rapidly in the ranks of the Conservative Party and in 1967 joined the shadow cabinet sitting in opposition to Harold Wilson’s ruling Labour cabinet. With the victory of the Conservative Party under Edward Health in 1970, Thatcher became secretary of state for education and science.
In 1974, the Labour Party returned to power, and Thatcher served as joint shadow chancellor before replacing Edward Health as the leader of the Conservative Party in February 1975. She was the first woman to head the Conservatives. Under her leadership, the Conservative Party shifted further right in its politics, calling for privatization of national industries and utilities and promising a resolute defense of Britain’s interests abroad. She also sharply criticized Prime Minister James Callaghan’s ineffectual handling of the chaotic labor strikes of 1978 and 1979.
In March 1979, Callaghan was defeated by a vote of no confidence, and on May 3 a general election gave Thatcher’s Conservatives a majority in Parliament. Sworn in the next day,
Prime Minister Thatcher immediately set about dismantling socialism in Britain. She privatized numerous industries, cutback government expenditures, and gradually reduced the rights of trade unions. In 1983, despite the worst unemployment figures for half a decade, Thatcher was reelected to a second term, thanks largely to the decisive British victory in the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina.
In other foreign affairs, the “Iron Lady” presided over the orderly establishment of an independent Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) in 1980 and took a hard stance against Irish separatists in Northern Ireland. In October 1984, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb exploded at the Conservative Party conference in Brighton. The prime minister narrowly escaped harm.
In 1987, an upswing in the economy led to her election to a third term, but Thatcher soon alienated some members of her own party because of her poll-tax policies and opposition to further British integration into the European Community. In November 1990, she failed to received a majority in the Conservative Party’s annual vote for selection of a leader. She withdrew her nomination, and John Major, the chancellor of the Exchequer since 1989, was chosen as Conservative leader. On November 28, Thatcher resigned as prime minister and was succeeded by Major. Thatcher’s three consecutive terms in office marked the longest continuous tenure of a British prime minister since 1827. In 1992, she was made a baroness and took a seat in the House of Lords.
In later years, Thatcher has worked as a consultant, served as the chancellor of the College of William and Mary and written her memoirs, as well as other books on politics. She continues to work with the Thatcher Foundation, which she created to foster the ideals of democracy, free trade and cooperation among nations.
Margaret Thatcher sworn in. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 5:43, May 4, 2011, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/margaret-thatcher-sworn-in.
THE MAY 4 SHOOTINGS AT KENT STATE UNIVERSITY: THE SEARCH
FOR HISTORICAL ACCURACY
JERRY M. LEWIS and THOMAS R. HENSLEY
On May 4, l970 members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine Kent State students. The impact of the shootings was dramatic. The event triggered a nationwide student strike that forced hundreds of colleges and universities to close. H. R. Haldeman, a top aide to President Richard Nixon, suggests the shootings had a direct impact on national politics. In The Ends of Power, Haldeman (1978) states that the shootings at Kent State began the slide into Watergate, eventually destroying the Nixon administration. Beyond the direct effects of the May 4th, the shootings have certainly come to symbolize the deep political and social divisions that so sharply divided the country during the Vietnam War era.
In the nearly three decades since May 4, l970, a voluminous literature has developed analyzing the events of May 4th and their aftermath. Some books were published quickly, providing a fresh but frequently superficial or inaccurate analysis of the shootings (e.g., Eszterhas and Roberts, 1970; Warren, 1970; Casale and Paskoff, 1971; Michener, 1971; Stone, 1971; Taylor et al., 1971; and Tompkins and Anderson, 1971). Numerous additional books have been published in subsequent years (e.g., Davies, 1973; Hare, 1973; Hensley and Lewis, 1978; Kelner and Munves, 1980; Hensley, 1981; Payne, 1981; Bills, 1988; and Gordon, 1997). These books have the advantage of a broader historical perspective than the earlier books, but no single book can be considered the definitive account of the events and aftermath of May 4, l970 at Kent State University.(1)
Despite the substantial literature which exists on the Kent State shootings, misinformation and misunderstanding continue to surround the events of May 4. For example, a prominent college-level United States history book by Mary Beth Norton et al. (1994), which is also used in high school advanced placement courses,(2) contains a picture of the shootings of May 4 accompanied by the following summary of events: “In May 1970, at Kent State University in Ohio, National Guardsmen confronted student antiwar protestors with a tear gas barrage. Soon afterward, with no provocation, soldiers opened fire into a group of fleeing students. Four young people were killed, shot in the back, including two women who had been walking to class.” (Norton et al., 1994, p. 732) Unfortunately, this short description contains four factual errors: (1) some degree of provocation did exist; (2) the students were not fleeing when the Guard initially opened fire; (3) only one of the four students who died, William Schroeder, was shot in the back; and (4) one female student, Sandy Schreuer, had been walking to class, but the other female, Allison Krause, had been part of the demonstration.
This article is an attempt to deal with the historical inaccuracies that surround the May 4th shootings at Kent State University by providing high school social studies teachers with a resource to which they can turn if they wish to teach about the subject or to involve students in research on the issue. Our approach is to raise and provide answers to twelve of the most frequently asked questions about May 4 at Kent State. We will also offer a list of the most important questions involving the shootings which have not yet been answered satisfactorily. Finally, we will conclude with a brief annotated bibliography for those wishing to explore the subject further.
WHY WAS THE OHIO NATIONAL GUARD CALLED TO KENT?
The decision to bring the Ohio National Guard onto the Kent State University campus was directly related to decisions regarding American involvement in the Vietnam War. Richard Nixon was elected president of the United States in 1968 based in part on his promise to bring an end to the war in Vietnam. During the first year of Nixon’s presidency, America’s involvement in the war appeared to be winding down. In late April of 1970, however, the United States invaded Cambodia and widened the Vietnam War. This decision was announced on national television and radio on April 30, l970 by President Nixon, who stated that the invasion of Cambodia was designed to attack the headquarters of the Viet Cong, which had been using Cambodian territory as a sanctuary.
Protests occurred the next day, Friday, May 1, across United States college campuses where anti-war sentiment ran high. At Kent State University, an anti-war rally was held at noon on the Commons, a large, grassy area in the middle of campus which had traditionally been the site for various types of rallies and demonstrations. Fiery speeches against the war and the Nixon administration were given, a copy of the Constitution was buried to symbolize the murder of the Constitution because Congress had never declared war, and another rally was called for noon on Monday, May 4.
Friday evening in downtown Kent began peacefully with the usual socializing in the bars, but events quickly escalated into a violent confrontation between protestors and local police. The exact causes of the disturbance are still the subject of debate, but bonfires were built in the streets of downtown Kent, cars were stopped, police cars were hit with bottles, and some store windows were broken. The entire Kent police force was called to duty as well as officers from the county and surrounding communities. Kent Mayor Leroy Satrom declared a state of emergency, called Governor James Rhodes’ office to seek assistance, and ordered all of the bars closed. The decision to close the bars early increased the size of the angry crowd. Police eventually succeeded in using tear gas to disperse the crowd from downtown, forcing them to move several blocks back to the campus.
The next day, Saturday, May 2, Mayor Satrom met with other city officials and a representative of the Ohio National Guard who had been dispatched to Kent. Mayor Satrom then made the decision to ask Governor Rhodes to send the Ohio National Guard to Kent. The mayor feared further disturbances in Kent based upon the events of the previous evening, but more disturbing to the mayor were threats that had been made to downtown businesses and city officials as well as rumors that radical revolutionaries were in Kent to destroy the city and the university. Satrom was fearful that local forces would be inadequate to meet the potential disturbances, and thus about 5 p.m. he called the Governor’s office to make an official request for assistance from the Ohio National Guard.
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE KENT STATE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS ON SATURDAY MAY 2 AND SUNDAY MAY 3 AFTER THE GUARDS ARRIVED ON CAMPUS?
Members of the Ohio National Guard were already on duty in Northeast Ohio, and thus they were able to be mobilized quickly to move to Kent. As the Guard arrived in Kent at about 10 p.m., they encountered a tumultuous scene. The wooden ROTC building adjacent to the Commons was ablaze and would eventually burn to the ground that evening, with well over 1000 demonstrators surrounding the building. Controversy continues to exist regarding who was responsible for setting fire to the ROTC building, but radical protestors were assumed to be responsible because of their actions in interfering with the efforts of firemen to extinguish the fire as well as cheering the burning of the building. Confrontations between Guardsmen and demonstrators continued into the night, with tear gas filling the campus and numerous arrests being made.
Sunday, May 3rd was a day filled with contrasts. Nearly 1000 Ohio National Guardsmen occupied the campus, making it appear like a military war zone. The day was warm and sunny, however, and students frequently talked amicably with Guardsmen. Ohio Governor James Rhodes flew to Kent on Sunday morning, and his mood was anything but calm. At a press conference, he issued a provocative statement calling campus protestors the worst type of people in America and stating that every force of law would be used to deal with them. Rhodes also indicated that he would seek a court order declaring a state of emergency. This was never done, but the widespread assumption among both Guard and University officials was that a state of martial law was being declared in which control of the campus resided with the Guard rather than University leaders and all rallies were banned. Further confrontations between protestors and guardsmen occurred Sunday evening, and once again rocks, tear gas, and arrests characterized a tense campus.
WHAT TYPE OF RALLY WAS HELD AT NOON ON MAY 4?
At the conclusion of the anti-war rally on Friday, May 1, student protest leaders had called for another rally to be held on the Commons at noon on Monday, May 4. Although University officials had attempted on the morning of May 4 to inform the campus that the rally was prohibited, a crowd began to gather beginning as early as 11 a.m. By noon, the entire Commons area contained approximately 3000 people. Although estimates are inexact, probably about 500 core demonstrators were gathered around the Victory Bell at one end of the Commons, another 1000 people were “cheerleaders” supporting the active demonstrators, and an additional 1500 people were spectators standing around the perimeter of the Commons. Across the Commons at the burned-out ROTC building stood about 100 Ohio National Guardsmen carrying lethal M-1 military rifles.
Substantial consensus exists that the active participants in the rally were primarily protesting the presence of the Guard on campus, although a strong anti-war sentiment was also present. Little evidence exists as to who were the leaders of the rally and what activities were planned, but initially the rally was peaceful.
WHO MADE THE DECISION TO BAN THE RALLY OF MAY 4?
Conflicting evidence exists regarding who was responsible for the decision to ban the noon rally of May 4th. At the 1975 federal civil trial, General Robert Canterbury, the highest official of the Guard, testified that widespread consensus existed that the rally should be prohibited because of the tensions that existed and the possibility that violence would again occur. Canterbury further testified that Kent State President Robert White had explicitly told Canterbury that any demonstration would be highly dangerous. In contrast, White testified that he could recall no conversation with Canterbury regarding banning the rally.
The decision to ban the rally can most accurately be traced to Governor Rhodes’ statements on Sunday, May 3 when he stated that he would be seeking a state of emergency declaration from the courts. Although he never did this, all officials — Guard, University, Kent — assumed that the Guard was now in charge of the campus and that all rallies were illegal. Thus, University leaders printed and distributed on Monday morning 12,000 leaflets indicating that all rallies, including the May 4th rally scheduled for noon, were prohibited as long as the Guard was in control of the campus.
WHAT EVENTS LED DIRECTLY TO THE SHOOTINGS?
Shortly before noon, General Canterbury made the decision to order the demonstrators to disperse. A Kent State police officer standing by the Guard made an announcement using a bullhorn. When this had no effect, the officer was placed in a jeep along with several Guardsmen and driven across the Commons to tell the protestors that the rally was banned and that they must disperse. This was met with angry shouting and rocks, and the jeep retreated. Canterbury then ordered his men to load and lock their weapons, tear gas canisters were fired into the crowd around the Victory Bell, and the Guard began to march across the Commons to disperse the rally. The protestors moved up a steep hill, known as Blanket Hill, and then down the other side of the hill onto the Prentice Hall parking lot as well as an adjoining practice football field. Most of the Guardsmen followed the students directly and soon found themselves somewhat trapped on the practice football field because it was surrounded by a fence. Yelling and rock throwing reached a peak as the Guard remained on the field for about ten minutes. Several Guardsmen could be seen huddling together, and some Guardsmen knelt and pointed their guns, but no weapons were shot at this time. The Guard then began retracing their steps from the practice football field back up Blanket Hill. As they arrived at the top of the hill, twenty-eight of the more than seventy Guardsmen turned suddenly and fired their rifles and pistols. Many guardsmen fired into the air or the ground. However, a small portion fired directly into the crowd. Altogether between 61 and 67 shots were fired in a 13 second period.
HOW MANY DEATHS AND INJURIES OCCURRED?
Four Kent State students died as a result of the firing by the Guard. The closest student was Jeffrey Miller, who was shot in the mouth while standing in an access road leading into the Prentice Hall parking lot, a distance of approximately 270 feet from the Guard. Allison Krause was in the Prentice Hall parking lot; she was 330 feet from the Guardsmen and was shot in the left side of her body. William Schroeder was 390 feet from the Guard in the Prentice Hall parking lot when he was shot in the left side of his back. Sandra Scheuer was also about 390 feet from the Guard in the Prentice Hall parking lot when a bullet pierced the left front side of her neck.
Nine Kent State students were wounded in the 13 second fusillade. Most of the students were in the Prentice Hall parking lot, but a few were on the Blanket Hill area. Joseph Lewis was the student closest to the Guard at a distance of about sixty feet; he was standing still with his middle finger extended when bullets struck him in the right abdomen and left lower leg. Thomas Grace was also approximately 60 feet from the Guardsmen and was wounded in the left ankle. John Cleary was over 100 feet from the Guardsmen when he was hit in the upper left chest. Alan Canfora was 225 feet from the Guard and was struck in the right wrist. Dean Kahler was the most seriously wounded of the nine students. He was struck in the small of his back from approximately 300 feet and was permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Douglas Wrentmore was wounded in the right knee from a distance of 330 feet. James Russell was struck in the right thigh and right forehead at a distance of 375 feet. Robert Stamps was almost 500 feet from the line of fire when he was wounded in the right buttock. Donald Mackenzie was the student the farthest from the Guardsmen at a distance of almost 750 feet when he was hit in the neck.
WHY DID THE GUARDSMEN FIRE?
The most important question associated with the events of May 4 is why did members of the Guard fire into a crowd of unarmed students? Two quite different answers have been advanced to this question: (1) the Guardsmen fired in self-defense, and the shootings were therefore justified and (2) the Guardsmen were not in immediate danger, and therefore the shootings were unjustified.
The answer offered by the Guardsmen is that they fired because they were in fear of their lives. Guardsmen testified before numerous investigating commissions as well as in federal court that they felt the demonstrators were advancing on them in such a way as to pose a serious and immediate threat to the safety of the Guardsmen, and they therefore had to fire in self-defense. Some authors (e.g., Michener, 1971 and Grant and Hill, 1974) agree with this assessment. Much more importantly, federal criminal and civil trials have accepted the position of the Guardsmen. In a 1974 federal criminal trial, District Judge Frank Battisti dismissed the case against eight Guardsmen indicted by a federal grand jury, ruling at mid-trial that the government’s case against the Guardsmen was so weak that the defense did not have to present its case. In the much longer and more complex federal civil trial of 1975, a jury voted 9-3 that none of the Guardsmen were legally responsible for the shootings. This decision was appealed, however, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a new trial had to be held because of the improper handling of a threat to a jury member.
The legal aftermath of the May 4 shootings ended in January of 1979 with an out-of-court settlement involving a statement signed by 28 defendants(3) as well as a monetary settlement, and the Guardsmen and their supporters view this as a final vindication of their position. The financial settlement provided $675,000 to the wounded students and the parents of the students who had been killed. This money was paid by the State of Ohio rather than by any Guardsmen, and the amount equaled what the State estimated it would cost to go to trial again. Perhaps most importantly, the statement signed by members of the Ohio National Guard was viewed by them to be a declaration of regret, not an apology or an admission of wrongdoing:
In retrospect, the tragedy of May 4, 1970 should not have occurred. The students may have believed that they were right in continuing their mass protest in response to the Cambodian invasion, even though this protest followed the posting and reading by the university of an order to ban rallies and an order to disperse. These orders have since been determined by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to have been lawful.
Some of the Guardsmen on Blanket Hill, fearful and anxious from prior events, may have believed in their own minds that their lives were in danger. Hindsight suggests that another method would have resolved the confrontation. Better ways must be found to deal with such a confrontation.
We devoutly wish that a means had been found to avoid the May 4th events culminating in the Guard shootings and the irreversible deaths and injuries. We deeply regret those events and are profoundly saddened by the deaths of four students and the wounding of nine others which resulted. We hope that the agreement to end the litigation will help to assuage the tragic memories regarding that sad day.
A starkly different interpretation to that of the Guards’ has been offered in numerous other studies of the shootings, with all of these analyses sharing the common viewpoint that primary responsibility for the shootings lies with the Guardsmen. Some authors (e.g., Stone, 1971; Davies, 1973; and Kelner and Munves, 1980) argue that the Guardsmen’s lives were not in danger. Instead, these authors argue that the evidence shows that certain members of the Guard conspired on the practice football field to fire when they reached the top of Blanket Hill. Other authors (e.g., Best, 1981 and Payne, 1981) do not find sufficient evidence to accept the conspiracy theory, but they also do not find the Guard self-defense theory to be plausible. Experts who find the Guard primarily responsible find themselves in agreement with the conclusion of the Scranton Commission (Report , 1970, p. 87): “The indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.”
WHAT HAPPENED IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SHOOTINGS?
While debate still remains about the extent to which the Guardsmen’s lives were in danger at the moment they opened fire, little doubt can exist that their lives were indeed at stake in the immediate aftermath of the shootings. The 13 second shooting that resulted in four deaths and nine wounded could have been followed by an even more tragic and bloody confrontation. The nervous and fearful Guardsmen retreated back to the Commons, facing a large and hostile crowd which realized that the Guard had live ammunition and had used it to kill and wound a large number of people. In their intense anger, many demonstrators were willing to risk their own lives to attack the Guardsmen, and there can be little doubt that the Guard would have opened fire again, this time killing a much larger number of students.
Further tragedy was prevented by the actions of a number of Kent State University faculty marshals, who had organized hastily when trouble began several days earlier. Led by Professor Glenn Frank, the faculty members pleaded with National Guard leaders to allow them to talk with the demonstrators, and then they begged the students not to risk their lives by confronting the Guardsmen. After about twenty minutes of emotional pleading, the marshals convinced the students to leave the Commons.
Back at the site of the shootings, ambulances had arrived and emergency medical attention had been given to the students who had not died immediately. The ambulances formed a screaming procession as they rushed the victims of the shootings to the local hospital.
The University was ordered closed immediately, first by President Robert White and then indefinitely by Portage County Prosecutor Ronald Kane under an injunction from Common Pleas Judge Albert Caris. Classes did not resume until the Summer of 1970, and faculty members engaged in a wide variety of activities through the mail and off-campus meetings that enabled Kent State students to finish the semester.
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE PULITZER PRIZE WINNING PHOTO OF THE YOUNG WOMAN CRYING OUT IN HORROR OVER THE DYING BODY OF ONE OF THE STUDENTS?
A photograph of Mary Vecchio, a fourteen year old runaway, screaming over the body of Jeffery Miller appeared on the front pages of newspapers and magazines throughout the country, and the photographer, John Filo, was to win a Pulitzer Prize for the picture. The photo has taken on a life and importance of its own. This analysis looks at the photo, the photographer, and the impact of the photo.
The Mary Vecchio picture shows her on one knee screaming over Jeffrey Miller’s body. Mary told one of us that she was calling for help because she felt she could do nothing (Personal Interview, 4/4/94). Miller is lying on the tarmac of the Prentice Hall parking lot. One student is standing near the Miller body closer than Vecchio. Four students are seen in the immediate background.
John Filo, a Kent State photography major in 1970, continues to works as a professional newspaper photographer and editor. He was near the Prentice Hall parking lot when the Guard fired. He saw bullets hitting the ground, but he did not take cover because he thought the bullets were blanks. Of course, blanks cannot hit the ground.
WHAT WAS THE LONG-TERM FACULTY RESPONSE TO THE SHOOTINGS?
Three hours after the shootings Kent State closed and was not to open for six weeks as a viable university. When it resumed classes in the Summer of 1970, its faculty was charged with three new responsibilities, their residues remaining today.
First, we as a University faculty had to bring aid and comfort to our own. This began earlier on with faculty trying to finish the academic quarter with a reasonable amount of academic integrity. It had ended about at mid-term examinations. However, the faculty voted before the week was out to help students complete the quarter in any way possible. Students were advised to study independently until they were contacted by individual professors. Most of the professors organized their completion of courses around papers, but many gave lectures in churches and in homes in the community of Kent and surrounding communities. For example, Norman Duffy, an award winning teacher, gave off-campus chemistry lectures and tutorial sessions in Kent and Cleveland. His graduate students made films of laboratory sessions and mailed them to students.
Beyond helping thousands of students finish their courses, there were 1900 students as well who needed help with gradation. Talking to students about courses allowed the faculty to do some counseling about the shootings, which helped the faculty as much in healing as it did students.
Second, the University faculty was called upon to conduct research about May 4 communicating the results of this research through teaching and traditional writing about the tragedy. Many responded and created a solid body of scholarship as well as an extremely useful archive contributing to a wide range of activities in Summer of 1970 including press interviews and the Scranton Commission.
Third, many saw as one of the faculty’s challenges to develop alternative forms of protest and conflict resolution to help prevent tragedies such as the May 4 shootings and the killings at Jackson State ten days after Kent State.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MAY 4 SHOOTINGS?
Although we have attempted in this article to answer many of the most important and frequently asked questions about the May 4th shootings, our responses have sometimes been tentative because many important questions remain unanswered. It thus seems important to ask what are the most significant questions which yet remain unanswered about the May 4th events. These questions could serve as the basis for research projects by students who are interested in studying the shootings in greater detail.
(1) Who was responsible for the violence in downtown Kent and on the Kent State campus in the three days prior to May 4th? As an important part of this question, were “outside agitators” primarily responsible? Who was responsible for setting fire to the ROTC building?
(2) Should the Guard have been called to Kent and Kent State University? Could local law enforcement personnel have handled any situations? Were the Guard properly trained for this type of assignment?
(3) Did the Kent State University administration respond appropriately in their reactions to the demonstrations and with Ohio political officials and Guard officials?
(4) Would the shootings have been avoided if the rally had not been banned? Did the banning of the rally violate First Amendment rights?
(5) Did the Guardsmen conspire to shoot students when they huddled on the practice football field? If not, why did they fire? Were they justified in firing?
(6) Who was ultimately responsible for the events of May 4, l970?
WHY SHOULD WE STILL BE CONCERNED ABOUT MAY 4, 1970 AT KENT STATE?
In Robert McNamara’s (1995) book, “In Retrospect:The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam” is a way to begin is an illustration of the this process. In it he says that United States policy towards Vietnam was “… terribly wrong and we owe it to future generations to explain why.”
The May 4 shootings at Kent State need to be remembered for several reasons. First, the shootings have come to symbolize a great American tragedy which occurred at the height of the Vietnam War era, a period in which the nation found itself deeply divided both politically and culturally. The poignant picture of Mary Vecchio kneeling in agony over Jeffrey Miller’s body, for example, will remain forever as a reminder of the day when the Vietnam War came home to America. If the Kent State shootings will continue to be such a powerful symbol, then it is certainly important that Americans have a realistic view of the facts associated with this event. Second, May 4 at Kent State and the Vietnam War era remain controversial even today, and the need for healing continues to exist. Healing will not occur if events are either forgotten or distorted, and hence it is important to continue to search for the truth behind the events of May 4th at Kent State. Third, and most importantly, May 4th at Kent State should be remembered in order that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. The Guardsmen in their signed statement at the end of the civil trials recognized that better ways have to be found to deal with these types of confrontations. This has probably already occurred in numerous situations where law enforcement officials have issued a caution to their troops to be careful because “we don’t want another Kent State.” Insofar as this has happened, lessons have been learned, and the deaths of four young Kent State students have not been in vain.
Bills, Scott. (1988). Kent State/May 4: Echoes Through a Decade. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. This book provides town and gown reactions to May 4th. It has the best annotated bibliography available on the literature on the shootings and is the basis for
for the annotations that follow.
Casale, Ottavio M. & Paskoff, Louis (Eds.) (1971). The Kent Affair: Documents and Interpretations . Boston: Houghton Mifflin. This is an early, useful volume which reproduces local and national newspaper articles on the shootings as well as radio and television broadcasts.
Davies, Peter. (1973). The Truth About Kent State: A Challenge to the American Conscience. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. This is a detailed narrative and analysis of the events of May 4 and their aftermath. He argues that the Guard conspired to fire upon the students. 74 photographs are included.
Eszterhas, Joe & Roberts, Michael D. (1970). Thirteen Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State. New York: Dodd, Mead. A very quick publication by two Cleveland journalists who use interviews of students, faculty, and Guardsmen to provide a background and narrative of May 1970 events.
Grant, Edward J. & Hill, Michael (1974). I Was There: What Really Went on at Kent State . Lima, OH: C.S.S. Publishing Co. The only book written by members of the Ohio National Guard, the authors provide a view of the hostile environment in which the Guardsmen found themselves.
Hare, A. Paul (Ed.) (l973). Kent State: The Nonviolent Response. Haverford, PA: Center for Nonviolent Conflict Resolution. A series of articles by noted peace activist Paul Hare as well as many Kent State faculty members. The common theme is the search for nonviolent approaches to conflictual situations.
Hensley, Thomas R. (1981). The Kent State Incident: Impact of Judicial Process on Public Attitudes. Westport, CONN: Greenwood Press. This is a detailed examination of the legal aftermath of the shootings, focusing upon the impact of various legal proceedings on public attitudes about the shootings.
Hensley, Thomas R. and Lewis, Jerry M. (1978). Kent State and May 4th: A Social Science Perspective. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt. This collection brings together a number of previous articles on May 4 that were published in social science journals, but articles covering the Kent State litigation and the 1977 gymnasium controversy were written specifically for this volume. This book also contains the excellent analysis of the events of May 4 written by James Best.
Kelner, Joseph and Munves, James. (1980). The Kent State Coverup . New York: Harper and Row. Kelner was the chief legal counsel for the students and parents in the 1975 federal civil trial. He presents a harsh analysis of the handling of the trial by Judge Donald Young. The book has a strong bias, but it provides the only detailed analysis of this long and important trial.
Michener, James. (1971). Kent State: What Happened and Why . New York: Random House and Reader’s Digest Books. This is undoubtedly the most widely read book on May 4th because of Michener’s reputation and the wide publicity it received. The book suffers from being produced so quickly, however, containing numerous factual errors.
Payne, J. Gregory (1981). Mayday: Kent State. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt. The book provides a rather sketchy overview of the May 4 events, presents excerpts from letters written by participants in the events, and discusses the made-for-TV movie on May 4 to which Payne served as a consultant.
Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest. (1970) Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Reprint edition by Arno Press. This remains the best single source for understanding the events of May 4. The report examines not only the shootings at Kent State but also the student movement of the sixties and the shootings at Jackson State University. Excellent photographs are included.
Stone, I. F. (1971). The Killings at Kent State: How Murder Went Unpunished. New York: Review Book. This is a rather sketchy book written with a strongly held viewpoint that the Guardsmen committed murder.
Taylor, Stuart; Shuntlich, Richard; McGovern, Patrick; & Genther, Robert. (1971). Violence at Kent State, May 1 to 4, l970: The Student’s Perspective. New York: College Notes and Texts, 1971. A study of the perceptions, feelings, attitudes, and reactions of Kent State students based upon a questionnaire sent to all Kent State students shortly after the shootings. Seven thousand students responded, and although this is not a random sample, it has the best data available about the views of Kent State students about May 4.
Tompkins, Phillip K. and Anderson, Elaine Vanden Bout. (l971). Communication Crisis at Kent State: A Case Study. New York: Gordon & Breach. This book presents a harsh analysis of the communications problems that permeated the University during May 1970.
Warren, Bill (Ed.) (1970). The Middle of the Country: The Events of May 4th As Seen by Students & Faculty at Kent State University . A hastily compiled set of essays put together by a Kent State University sophomore containing various reactions to the shootings by Kent State students and faculty members.
Best, James J. (1978). “Kent State: Answers and Questions” in Thomas R. Hensley and Jerry M. Lewis .) Kent State and May 4th: A Social Science Perspective . Dubuque, IA:
Haldeman, H.R. (1978). The Ends of Power. New York: Times Books.
McNamara, Robert. (1995). In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. New York: Times Books.
Norton, Mary Beth; Katzman, David M.; Escott, Paul D.; Chudacoff, Howard P.; Paterson, Thomas G.; & Tuttle, William M. (1994). A People and a Nation: A History of the United
States. Fourth Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
1.In addition to the many books on the Kent State shootings, numerous reports, book chapters, and articles have been written. The most comprehensive and accurate commission investigation is The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest (1970) chaired by William W. Scranton. An excellent book chapter on the shootings is by James J. Best (1978). The most comprehensive bibliography on the shootings is in Bills (1988).
2. Professor Hensley, the co-author of this article, became aware of this reference to the Kent State shootings because his daughter, Sarah, was taking Advanced Placement United States History at Kent Roosevelt High School with Mr. Bruce Dzeda. We thank Mr. Dzeda for reading this article and offering his reactions, although he bears no responsibility for the ideas expressed in this article.
3. In addition to Guard officers and enlisted men, Governor James Rhodes was also a defendant in the civil trial and signed the statement.
PUBLISHED IN REVISED FORM BY THE OHIO COUNCIL FOR THE SOCIAL STUDIES REVIEW, VOL 34, NUMBER 1 (SUMMER, 1998) PP. 9-21