A new social justice tour strives to tell the uncensored story of LC

Caleb Diehl /// Editor-in-Chief

A student-led social justice tour opened to the Lewis and Clark community Thursday, Nov. 20, promising to enlighten us about our history of activism, organizing and dialogue, It includes such gems as Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit here in 1961, and student occupations of the manor house. The tours are sponsored by the office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement and run in collaboration with admissions (see more on Features p. 7). They promise a valuable resource for preserving LC history, provided they continue to resist a public relations veneer.

For a case study on historical memory, we welcome Ted Rattray, our correspondent of 42 years ago, back on staff to bring you this dispatch: Bob Dylan blared from a car stereo on Tuesday night, April 24, 1972, as Rattray joined 30 people outside Frank Manor House. Thirty to 40 students had shut themselves inside, demanding that the college take an official stance against the war in Vietnam.

Demonstrations of this magnitude were common fare at LC in the 1960s and ’70s, electrified by Nixon-era clandestine troop movements and bombing campaigns in Cambodia. At an all-college convocation on May 8, students heard Nixon’s press conferences and responses from two professors. ASLC met six times, drawing crowds of around 150, and passed a resolution against violence exercised by governments or students anywhere.

The big man, President John “Jack” Howard, arrived at Frank Manor around 10:30 p.m., followed by a crowd of around 100 people and a KGW news camera.Some students bailed through windows and the second-floor fire escape. Demonstrators opened the door for Howard. Bruce Rice, the spokesman for the protesters, emerged. “He’s a very dramatic man,” Rice said. “He’s sworn that if the people don’t leave inside, they will be expelled.”

Sure enough, Howard reminded demonstrators that college policy called for criminal trespass charges and academic suspension for this sort of behavior. LC didn’t order the bombing, he said, and didn’t deserve to be a target for students’ frustration.

Today, some professors emeriti say that Howard calmly negotiated with the demonstrators. The historical record tells a different tale. Story after story in the Pioneer Log, each by a different staff writer, characterizes Howard as stern and swift to discipline. An undisputed fact is that the manor house demonstration galvanized administrators into doing nothing more than calling an all-campus dialogue.

The new social justice tour includes every one of these facts. We applaud the organizers for telling the true and complete story.

Of course, if organizers expand the tour, we can’t be sure that avoiding historical censorship will be entirely possible under admissions oversight. Sheltering the tour under the admissions umbrella was a necessary and prudent first step, but hopefully, the organizers will at some point find a way to offer tours independent of this college office.

As the crowd outside the manor dwindled, Rattray caught another bit of dialogue (though he missed the student’s name). It was the most concise on-scene criticism of Howard’s tone: “Jesus, he can’t do that to them.” Forty-two years later, let’s celebrate the shining face LC students have presented to the world by standing up for human rights, while preserving the historical warts.

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