Youth movements through the ages
The March for Our Lives for gun control and voter registration March 24 for upcoming primaries brought back memories of another “Children’s Crusade” of 50 years ago. The campaign slogan was “Clean and Shave for Gene.” On Sunday, March 31, 1968, a busload of CU–Boulder students that included my financee and me, were transported to Lincoln, Nebraska, to work on the primary campaign of Eugene J. McCarthy to contest the renomination of Lyndon B. Johnson for a second term as president. We were bunked in the spare bedrooms of faculty members of the University of Nebraska. That Sunday evening, LBJ announced that he would not run.
Although Robert F. Kennedy had entered the race on March 16, four days after McCarthy had almost won the New Hampshire primary, we considered RFK a Johnny Come Lately.
We workers had breakfast with our hosts every morning before going to the bare storefronts to mimeograph fliers to stuff into hand-addressed envelopes to send to every registered Democratic voter in the state. We lived on pizza and Chinese takeout, going home after 10 each evening. We listened to top-40 music on the radio until Thursday afternoon, when Martin Luther King’s shooting was announced. After that, the news reported riots in dozens of cities. We finished in Nebraska in a fog of shock. MLK’s funeral was the following Tuesday. His murder was just a spike in unending violence. Bobby Kennedy’s murder two months later was another spike. Vietnam deaths were 500 per month for both 1968 and 1969. Anti-war demonstrations were constant. It was like 9/11 every week for the whole year.
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