Doing the Right Thing
I became actively involved in the civil rights movement as an International Relations major at UCLA in the late 1950's, when I ran for and won the Presidency of the campus chapter of the NAACP. My wife and I were inspired by James Farmer, Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, all of whom visited the campus and took the time to meet with students in small conversational settings that awoke us to the need for civil disobedience and other forms of direct action to change the culture of America.
The Sit-ins gave us our first chance to show solidarity with those on the front lines. It made it possible to meet the activists of the movement and to join with them to help organize sympathy picket lines at Woolworth stores, collect and send food and clothing to the people who lost their jobs and sharecropping farms for registering to vote and finally, to help organize Freedom Riders to Jackson, Mississippi.
When we returned from Jackson, the administration at UCLA kicked our NAACP chapter off campus for our activities, so we organized a CORE group in Santa Monica, CA which I chaired while continuing to fight for the rights of minorities in Los Angeles. A new chancellor took our side on many issues, and appointed me to an Advisory Board on Discrimination, which brought about many changes in housing, employment, sports, education and other forms of discrimination. I completed my stdies toward the Ph.D. in Economics (except for the dissertation)in 1964.
When I returned to a teaching position at UCLA, the Black students were engaged in a struggle for a Black Studies Center. After the violent deaths of two students, the Chancellor agreed with them to my appointment as its first Director. During the next year, Angela Davis arrived on campus, and history repeated itself.
I now teach Economics at Loyola Marymount University, where I served twenty years as department chair until 2004.