Happy 2017! Now, Let's Get Real

Published: Fri, 01/06/17

Author Mary Cronk Farrell 
                                                                                        January 6, 2017
Hello ,                                                    

Happy New Year!

I hope this finds you well and with at least a spark of hope and vigor for 2017. You know me, I'm looking to history for en-courage-ment.

Courtesy of Merriam Webster: -en: put into, courage: moral strength to venture, persevere, withstand danger, fear, or difficulty, -ment: action or process, akin to Latin -men, suffix denoting concrete result!

Before the counterculture 1960s, there was the American student movement of the 1930s. Taking a look at those young people nearly a century ago may provide some wisdom for us today.
1930's Student Demonstrations
Motivated by the poverty of the Great Depression, the 1930's student movement organized around a broad agenda for national reform, calling for federal education funding, academic freedom, job programs for youth, the right to collective bargaining and an end to racial segregation and discrimination.

An earlier movement of study groups discussing ideas grew into student action, agitation and a massive protest movement. 

At its peak, 1936-1939, some 500,000 youth, about half of the America's college students at the time, mobilized each spring, walking out of class to demonstrate for peace. 

Student's anti-war agenda brought together divergent groups. Communists, socialists, isolationist Republicans, and pacifist religious communities found common ground.

Students had coalesced around their desire to prevent another bloody foreign crusade, but they were also committed to social action. Students first made national headlines when they sent a delegation into the middle of Harlan, Kentucky ongoing coal war to deliver food and clothing to striking miners.

Below, Harlan strikers face off with National Guard bayonets, 1932. Courtesy LIFE.
Mining company gunmen and Kentucky police assaulted the students and barred them from delivering food and clothing to the families of striking miners. More than three thousand students from colleges all over the country sent letters and telegrams of protest, stirring publicity and helping instigate a Congressional investigation of conditions in Kentucky coal country.​​​​​​
American students worried about rising fascism around the world and they'd grown up with widespread disillusionment with WWI.

They were well aware of how freedom of speech, assembly and other basic rights had been restricted by legislation like the
Sedition Act of 1918, and anti-war opinions branded unpatriotic and disloyal.

Students knew American industries had reaped huge profits,
manufacturing and supplying weapons and ammunition for the trench warfare in Europe. They feared greed would influence a rush to war. 
Rachel Weaver Kreider, a graduate student at Ohio State University was drawn into the
movement by the conflict between her Mennonite peace convictions and her university's compulsory ROTC program.

In April 1935, religious pacifists and leftist student groups worked together planning a nationwide "strike" against war.  At Ohio State, a communist speaker hijacked the program and harangued the religious groups, interventionists and capitalists.

"I never saw so little sense shown," Rachel said. It distressed her that the Pacifist Club, left-wing political groups and religious organizations like the YMCA had trouble working together, even though they were after the same ends.
Photo courtesy Mennonite Life

Her experience foreshadowed the divisions that erupted in the student movement in the late 1930's. With the triumph of Franco, the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, the Chinese Rape of Nanking--students abandoned their pacifist pledges in droves.

Throughout the decade they fell victim to labeling and scapegoating by those who feared communist revolution, and by industrial corporations banding together to oppose any critique of their power.

The student movement went dormant with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rachel lived to see progress on civil rights and funding for social programs. She saw her country go to war again and again. 
As America readied for war against Iraq in 2002, Rachel, at ninety-three years old, raised her voice for peace as firmly and passionately as she had as a Ohio State college student nearly seven decades before.

The 1930 student movement was news to me. I'm still turning it all over in my mind. I'd love to hear your thoughts. What context does this provide for us today? What can we learn from those young people who came of age in one our nations Great Depression and chose to believe they could make a difference?  Just click reply to this email and tell me what you're thinking.
News and Links 
Huge thanks to Jen who featured Fannie Never Flinched  on her blog One Committed Mama this week.  She wrote a beautiful review!

"This beautiful hardcover book follows Fannie through her humble beginnings as a garment factory worker in St. Louis, Missouri to her tragic death while marching on a picket line with striking workers from Allegheny Coal and Coke in Brackenridge, Pa. This part of the book was particularly captivating 
for me because I grew up in the Alle-Kiski Valley, where much of Fannie’s fight took place. I didn’t realize until I reached the end of the book how much of her life was spent in the same area where many of my family members reside." 

Jen asked great questions and I think this is one of the best interviews I've given since the book came out. Read it here...

Tune in next week to hear me on the radio!
Tuesday, January 10
9:15 A.M. PST Click here...

​Until next week...

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My best,


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