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You said earlier most of the American Student Union was concerned
with issues of peace, and also you said there were some student
Yes. Free textbooks. NYA, National Youth Administration, that's
like the WPA for students. They had a policy on issues in each college:
to clean up the lunchroom, acting like a union, what would be in the
best interests of the workers, of the students, to unite them and bring
them together and to be leaders.
And you employed all the traditional organizing techniques,
Petitions, demonstrations, outdoor rallies, indoor rallies,
everything, you know, in classrooms.
The ASU was very large, must have had -- the membership goes up
and down. Its influence was maybe 1,000 or more people. It could
bring to a big rally, its annual peace rally, 1,500, 2,000, 3,000 people.
But it had influence among the leaders of the Student Council, the
editors of the publications, etc.
Was it the leading student organization on campus?
Yes, it was the major student organization. There were other
organizations on campus, the Newman Club, they were small
organizations. None had the power and influence of the ASU. And
people who belonged to the other ones also belonged to the ASU, and
This a period where active in it are people like Bella [Abzug]. A lot of
people whose names I could give you were involved. But the
movement absorbed like a sponge a lot of people, you know, soaked
them up and moved them out again as things happened. Many of the
editors of the college papers.
But what were your strengths, do you think? What did you do well
I think what I did well then was, first, people liked me, I think.
People liked me and people knew I was serious and that I was
committed and that I was prepared to do as much if not more than
anyone else would do, and that I was smart. I don't know how smart
they thought I was. I was smarter than they were because I read
more. I could speak with greater authority than they did, and I was
older than they were. I also had a very good sense of humor, always,
all my life.
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