by Taylor Holland
Oct 21 2010
In early May 1970, unrest rocked the Capstone as many students
protested the U.S. military's invasion of Cambodia.
Now, nearly 40 years later, the University's department of history
and the Friends of History are hosting a conference about the events
entitled "Days of Rage: A 40-Years' Prospective." The conference,
today from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Hotel Capstone, is free and open to the public.
Many student activists who participated and observed the events will
be back in Tuscaloosa to discuss what was happening on campus and nationwide.
Earl Tilford, the event's keynote speaker, was a student at the
University from 1964 to 1969 and recently completed a history of the
University of Alabama in the 1960s. Tilford is now a UA adjunct
professor of history and an inspiration for Friday's conference.
"The events of May 1970 served as a culmination point for growing
dissent on campus, but also served as a watershed marking an
important turning point in the transformation of the University of
Alabama from the quintessential Southern 'party school' that it was
in 1964 when I entered an academic slough comparable to similar
public institutions to our immediate west to becoming a viable
research and teaching university comparable with the best state
universities in the South and even beyond," Tilford said in an email.
"That process began with desegregation in 1963 but reached a major
turning point in May 1970. After that time, the University moved
rapidly forward in an evolutionary process that continues until this day."
Panel members include: Jack Drake, who participated in the dissent
and successfully defended some of the students who were arrested;
Carol Ann Self, who organized a candlelight vigil that turned into a
demonstration; and Eugenia Twitty Crosheck, who participated in the
candlelight vigil, occupied the SUPe Store and was later arrested by
State Troopers during later demonstrations.
The panel will also feature Billy Field of the College of
Communications and Information Sciences, who participated as a
student in several demonstrations. He will be joined by Wayne
Greenhaw, a former reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser who
observed these events.
Jo Anne Singley-Sharlach, a former editor of The Crimson White, will
also be attending the conference.
Singley-Sharlach, who was overseas at the time of the Kent State
shooting, was one of the first UA students to publicly voice
information about The Machine and take on the Ku Klux Klan.
"For about five years after my article ran, free-thinking students
who would not just go along with the majority's opinion began writing
for the paper," Singley-Sharlach said. "I hope this conference
reaffirms to students that they can have a voice and that their views
can be heard.
"Although I feel like there are many ways to do it other than
violence, I applaud those who stand up for what they believe in."
At the time of the events, a strong anti-war effort was sweeping
across the country. Jerry Rubin, an anti-war advocate that protested
at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, rallied students on May 3
inside Foster Auditorium just one day before the shooting of four
Kent State University student protestors.
Days later, a memorial for the Kent State students turned into a
large-scale demonstration. Later that night, a UA building known as
Dressler Hall was burned to the ground.
"The Days of Rage conference will bring some of the participants back
to reflect upon their role," Tilford said. "This will be, I hope, an
interactive conference involving the audience which will contain
former administrators, professors and students."