Pete Seeger R.I.P.

January 29th, 2014 § 2 comments

April 1949. HG was in his third year at the uptown campus of the City College of New York (CCNY). The tuition free college was dubbed “the Harvard of the proletariat.” Tough to get into and an academically rigorous institution, CCNY was noted for producing Nobel Prize winners, scientists (Jonas Salk, conqueror of polio, among them), journalists and left wing activists. That spring some 65 years ago, CCNY was gripped by a student strike, a protest against anti-semitism in the Spanish language department and racial segregation in the college dormitories. The misguided college administration called in the police. With cries of “No cops on campus”, students battled the police. (HG was whacked in the arm with a billy club). Some 16 students were arrested. HG remembers a pal shouting defiantly as he was hurled into a paddy wagon. Big rally the next day in support of the jailed students (almost immediately released by a sympathetic judge). And, there on an improvised platform was Pete Seeger. He was 29 then but already an icon in folk music and left wing circles. With Pete leading, the campus burst into song. HG, his hand bandaged, shook hands with Seeger. “Keep fighting the good fight,” encouraged Seeger. Well, HG’s activism and political ardor cooled over the years. Pete remained the same, always present when “the good fight” was being fought. May that good, brave, talented man rest in peace.

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§ 2 Responses to Pete Seeger R.I.P."

  • alicia atencio says:

    I was not familiar with this troubadour, so I looked him up. I am warmed by his reputation for optimism and inspired by his activism. I liked the fact that his banjo was inscribed with the words, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” nice post. RIP, sir.

  • Dave Henley says:

    He had the gonads to face HUAC unflinchingly, and to ask the question which is really, in the end, the only question: “Which side are you on?”

    Good post HG

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