Madison in the sixties – July, 1964
As the month opens, the UW chapter of the Friends of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee is raising bail money and gathering supplies for the so-called Freedom Summer voter registration drive in the Deep South. Several UW students have already been arrested, including former student Andrew Goodman, who has been missing since his arrest with two other activists in late June.
On the 16th, the UW and three historically Black colleges and universities convene their Committee on Cooperation to start planning a ground-breaking faculty exchange program funded by the Carnegie Foundation. Local faculty will visit three schools in North Carolina and Texas for stays ranging from a week to a full year in residence while the Black faculty will come north for insights into new methods of instruction and administration – and to enlighten the UW faculty about the unique problems they face in the segregated South. Economics Prof. Jack Barbash says the exchange program shows the UW’s approach to addressing “the greatest social problem of our time, civil rights.” A recent survey revealed there are fewer than 100 African-Americans at the UW, including 21 from Wisconsin – two fewer than the number from Nigeria, part of a contingent of about 50 Black Africans.
On the 19th, foreign policy takes center stage, as three grad students tell the Socialist Club that the US should get out of Vietnam before the conflict there becomes a full-scale war. They say that despite its military superiority, America is already losing because it is fighting an authentic independence movement supported by the Vietnamese people. A demonstration has been scheduled for August 6 to protest the growing American involvement.
And on the 23rd, Betty Friedan, author of the controversial best-seller The Feminine Mystique gives a talk entitled “The Crisis in Women’s Identity: Challenge to Education.” She tells a predominantly female audience packing Great Hall that women have been conditioned by upbringing, education and mass media to lose their self-respect as independent human beings capable of being more than just housewives. Friedan calls on educators to “take the responsibility of affirming the image of women as a person,” by showcasing successful women, and maintains that “career or marriage” is a false choice. “Women are not really free if they are only free to move in the home,” she says. And she castigates TV advertising, noting that “in commercials the big thrill for women is getting their sinks white and still keeping their hands soft and feminine.” The married mother of three closes with a clarion call for self-determination: “Women are not equal to men unless they assume equality. Equality can’t be given to someone. Women must be willing to leave their private hiding place test themselves, and write their own story in the world.”
The UW professor who knows most about how mass media affects public policy gets good news, as professor Lee Dreyfus, general manager at WHA-TV, is promoted to associate director of television. Dr. Dreyfus will continue to teach in the Speech Department, where he received his Ph D in 1957.
The state of Wisconsin also has something to celebrate, as About two hundred people, most of them state employees, attend the dedication of the five-building, $12 million Hill Farms State Office Building complex on the 20th. “There is probably not another office building in Wisconsin that houses people whose functions are so vital to the continuance of an orderly society as this one,” Governor John Reynolds says, citing the Public Service Commission, Industrial Commission, and Department of Motor Vehicles.
Nothing to celebrate for risk-taking women interested in the controversial “topless” bathing suits designed by Rudi Gernreich. Manchester’s Department Store sells one suit, but returns the remaining five it had ordered after city attorney Edwin Conrad tells store officials “that the merchants of Madison owe it to the citizens here not to perpetuate this hysterical insanity that’s going on.” Vowing to prosecute any woman wearing the suit in public, Conrad calls on “all the citizens of the city, and particularly the clergy, to back me up on this.” Store president Morgan Manchester says, “Everybody who has any style sense at all is selling them. I personally don’t think they are in very good taste, but I don’t want to pass moral judgment on them.”
While many Madisonians are having hot fun in the summertime, some are out there doing wrong – especially at city parks and beaches. Parks Superintendent James Marshall reports there have been more than two dozen incidents recently, including burglary at a city beach house, motorcycles being ridden through picnic areas, and obscene language and immoral activity by teenagers. Most disturbing of all – someone stuffed a dead dog through a beach house window. The increase in crime and vandalism comes after Mayor Henry Reynolds cut $7,500 for special park patrols from the police department budget – money the Council restores at the request of Marshall and Police Chief Wilbur Emery, over the mayor’s objections.
And hot-rodders are in hot water as local judges crack down on young drivers drag-racing around the Capitol Square. Under a new policy announced by Judge William Byrne, and endorsed by his judicial colleagues, drivers who gun their motor and make a fast start from a stoplight will be convicted of racing – and assessed six-points – whether or not they’re actually racing another car. Previously, when there was no proof drivers had made a prior agreement to race, charges were reduced to speeding, a three-point violation. Byrne, a former Dane County District Attorney, calls on the police department to “station as many officers as they feel necessary on the Capitol Square in order to stamp this out completely.”
And on back-to-back nights, the 200 block of State street is the center of the musical universe, thanks to jazz immortal Louis Armstrong and top pop group the Beach Boys. On the 22nd, Satchmo delights a capacity Orpheum theatre crowd of all ages with the infectious jazz of his native New Orleans – and, of course, his recent number one hit, Hello, Dolly!. The next night, surf’s up across the street, as the Beach Boys bring the sounds of Southern California – including their recent number one hit, I Get Around – to a Capitol Theatre filled mainly with screaming teenage girls.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For your award-winning, vaccine-taking, summer-celebrating WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan