50 years ago: the beginning of political activism

By the time this was published, two or three weeks later, I was MORTIFIED by my response.

When I was 15, I was a conventionally conservative kid, fueled by my religion and small city roots. I had been in a couple civil rights marches but that was a topic that affected me personally.

I was preternaturally aware of the political issues, reading the op-ed pages of both the morning Sun-Bulletin and the Evening Press. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were on the NBC news and Walter Cronkite was over on CBS, and I watched one network or the other since I was 11.

I entered Binghamton Central High in February 1968 and was asked early on by someone on the school newspaper, the Panorama News, who I supported for President. Oddly, I hadn’t given it much thought. I opted for Richard Nixon, noting that he had eight years as Vice-President.

By the time this was published, two or three weeks later, I was MORTIFIED by my response. I was going through…something. It may have been the influence of new friends or Cronkite’s assessment of the Vietnam war on February 27 as a likely stalemate.

On March 12, Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-MN) received 42% of the vote in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire against a sitting President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I was utterly fascinated by this turn of events.

Still, I was not prepared when Johnson invoked the pledge in his March 31 national address, announcing, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” I had developed mixed feelings about LBJ. Great on civil rights, but like many, I was doubting the point of the war in southeast Asia.

So I’m pleased that my daughter, at an age younger than I was, is feeling all riled up about some issues in her world, more about which I’ll mention in due time. I think the Resistance play she was in this month at church was really in her emotional wheelhouse.

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