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Life in the United States: Civil Rights, the Vietnam War and the Draft

Political Involvement and Divisiveness - Frank Scarfino

Time 0:03:04


I was one of the, yes, I was one of the,—it would be arrogant to say student leaders, but I was one of the co-presidents of a group that was, I don’t know if you heard about it here, but the Students for Democratic Society. So, we were—there was a wide range of people in that group, in different campuses. Even within the SDS, Students for Democratic Society, there were people who had a wide range of views about what to do about the war. So, we were affiliated also with uh protests, union affiliation, civil rights for black people. We had—I was non-violent. We had people who were more aggressive and wanted to be more forceful about getting the message across. I didn't want to do that. We were—we all considered ourselves uh Marxist-Humanists. That was the term. I'm sure very few of us read Marx. I did. I liked Marx and I liked Hegel. But I wasn't a member of the Communist Party. And most of the people, I know—I remember, there were also, were not members of the Communist Party. We were called, "Communists, traitors. How could you do this to your country? You know, you're destroying the country, you're destroying, you know, blah blah blah. You're not supporting the war. How could you do this to our country?" We were actively involved in peace marches and civil rights marches. In this case, Pittsburgh and depending on what city it was—they're everywhere like Boston, New York, San Francisco. So, it wasn't just us. At that time, in the sixties, it was everywhere I think. Every big city; especially with university campuses. They were sort of a hot bed of—for a variety of reasons I'm sure. Some students didn't want to get drafted. Some sincerely believed in what they espoused. So, it was a tough time. It was awful. It wasn't like,I never felt like uh— I don’t know what the right word is. It wasn't like going to a meeting about trying to set up supportive housing for the homeless or what should we do about lead pipes in the sewer. It was—you think it's divisive now in the U.S. It was divisive and everything was awful because people were angry, frustrated—us, students especially got frustrated. It was divisive.

Oral History 16.03.04FS with Frank Scarfino
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

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