As sensitive to words that we are today, some of it deserved, in those days there was a greater selection of words that would cause people to shut off and not hear your message. Bernie as a Socialist, would not be elected forty-five years ago because of that word. Same message, just that one word. Lots of words, first used disparagingly have been shifted and refined over the years. We can now use African-American but not too long ago would mostly say Black. Before that here was Negro but is often used disparagingly today. And the words before that? I wouldn’t, couldn’t say.
Words were difficult during my early political days too. We wanted to let people know that we marched for equality but the word we wanted to be equated with was not evil or anti-American. This meant segregation from the rest of the movement because those other leaders were too squeamish to use our group’s name. We could work for the cause just not be identified. When all the smaller groups came together on an issue it was a beautiful thing. You felt strong, and also felt the solidarity.
Lennie and I ventured North to the big anti-Vietnam War demonstration in San Francisco. Travelling was fun in those days. It was like getting on a bus but for a much greater distance. PSA, the state-wide airline of that time, did a first-come, first serve system ad the flights left every half hour or so between LA and SF. You could board the plane and pay the stewardesses after you found a seat. There were no Security lines and I think for this flight for the protest we left Culver City thirty minutes before take-off and made the flight easy. We stayed with one of Lennie’s friends who had moved North a few years ago to Berkeley. A couple more kids from Culver City showed the day before the protest from Culver City. Our host drove us to downtown where the march was due to begin. We went early and the crowd got larger and larger.
By march time the crowd had swelled to an estimated 500,000 which we didn’t know at the time, only that it was a lot of people there. Both for your own spirit and the visuals for the news it was a wondrous event. Walking in a big group is of such great power. The one downer was that listening to conversations I learned that some of the protestors were there only for the free concert following the march.
That day I learned to power of big crowds, how feeling that you are right would cause lots of people to your rally and a free concert by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young didn’t hurt either.