Current protests bring memories of ‘70s

By Amy Huber, Off the Wall –

Amy ColheadLately it seems as though we are seeing more and more people picketing, protesting and

marching for what they feel is a good cause. Some are all gung ho, while others complain that it

is downright ridiculous. Like it or hate it, protesting is a great way to get our point across.

I was raised in the ’60s and ’70s. Heck yeah, I grew up in the hippie age, and I’m darn

proud of that fact. If you wanted something done, you made a sign and marched. We protested

against the Vietnam War, for better prison systems, and for equal rights for all people.

Most students are too young to remember or even care about Vietnam. However, I am

not. This was a war fought on foreign territory, which the U.S. had no business entering to begin

with. I watched the news night after night and saw young men with their legs blown off, widows

and mothers crying because their loved ones had either been blown to pieces or had gone missing

in some god-forsaken jungle. This was a hot, humid miserable, mosquito-infested, landmine-

riddled hell hole. Face it. Even the natives didn’t want to be there.

When my brother Paul asked if I wanted to go with him and his friends to a Jane Fonda

peace rally, I was all for it. We went, we protested, we screamed and cheered. Then on the way

home, we got pulled over by the police. My fondest memory of this rally was a police officer

asking me what a 15-year- old girl was doing out at ten o’clock at night in a carload of guys. I

smiled at him and said: “We just left a Jane Fonda peace rally, and if you hadn’t pulled us over I

would be home and in bed by now!”

Similarly locked in my mind is a recollection of a rally at the state Capitol building in

Columbus, Ohio. Do I recall what we were protesting? Not particularly. I remember a couple

of cars full of us driving to the rally from Cleveland. We marched, we carried signs, we were on

the 11 o’clock news, but I have no idea what we protested. I do however remember stopping at

Lake Erie on the way home, having a picnic and swimming.

When a friend was concerned that a local halfway house for prisoners was going to be

placed in her neighborhood. I suggest to her that she write her Congressman and picket. She and

I discovered the ground was contaminated on the proposed site. We met with a representative

from the EPA and started a petition. We then gathered a group, notified the local television

station, and picketed the halfway house that was proposed to go there. I think her sign that said

“Next door to a toxic dump…smart!” may have been the deal breaker for the person selling the

building. Ultimately, the halfway house never materialized.

Recently at a lecture on the black rights movement of the 60’s, Kurt Troutman noted that

our country was built on civil disobedience. There is little denying that if it hadn’t been for

protest rallies and Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back of a bus, African Americans may not

have the civil rights they now possess.

Every good idea comes from somewhere. Martin Luther King once said, “Somewhere I

read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for the right.”

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