The other day Sarah received a box from her parents containing a bunch of odds and ends from her high school and college years. It was fun to look through the stuff, travel the paths of memories. The re-discoveries included these two flyers from the Carleton College campus, from 23 years ago. I still remember the Cesar Chavez lecture. He was amazing, and already a legend in 1986. The UFW was engaged in a new campaign then, this time linking the working conditions of the fruit pickers to the heavy use of pesticides by commercial growers. It was a precursor to today’s many-sided environmental and climate justice movements.
I try to tell my younger friends about how it was then, at least on the Carleton campus. Every few weeks there were campus visits from noted activists, progressive thinkers, and workers for justice and liberation campaigns. People like Michael Harrington, Dennis Banks, and Angela Davis. And lots of other less famous people. The "tenured radicals" and so-called Closing of the American Mind backlash was right around the corner, but these widespread and frequent appearances by left wing figures were yet to be targeted by the organized right. Looking back on it, it was a very free moment in liberal education. I honestly don’t recall any of those events being documented. Partly, I’m guessing, because they weren’t recognized as so unusual or worthy of archiving. And partly out of simple neglect. So these flyers, randomly saved by Sarah years ago, are an important slice of our political eduction, i.e. a documentary bit of how that education actually was delivered two and a half decades ago.