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Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
~Kurt Vonnegut
Saturday, October 29, 2005

Activism Success Story

Activism Success Story

As reported in , the just celebrated the 45th anniversary of the .
E. Royster Harper, University vice president for student affairs, gave a brief history of the University’s role in the organization’s history.

“It is certain that U of M students played a key and viable part in its formation,” Harper said.

Kennedy delivered his historic speech on the Union steps at 2 a.m. without any prepared text, Harper said.

Kennedy arrived on the morning of Oct. 14, 1960, from New York — where he had just completed his third debate with Richard Nixon — to find 10,000 University students who had stayed up waiting for him.

Bolstered by the students’ enthusiasm, he challenged them to contribute to their country by serving overseas, using their professional skills — like medicine and engineering — to help people in countries like Ghana. He emphasized the need for personal contribution and the value of sacrifice. The students responded with a roar of cheers.

By early November, 1,000 students had signed a petition, organized by the University student group Americans Committed to World Responsibility, that demanded the implementation of the Peace Corps.

Kennedy formally announced plans to form the Peace Corps Nov. 2 in San Francisco, but that day on the Union’s steps was his first public mention of the idea.
An older Daily article has a little more background:
"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come and that can engage the passion of students," said Regent Philip Power (D- Ann Arbor), who spoke at the announcement.

Power, a University alumnus, recalled the role University students played in a nationwide movement that eventually established the Peace Corps.

"Many students (across the country) were unfairly found to be unconcerned and passive," Power said. Power was part of a small student group at the time called Americans Committed to World Responsibility, he said. The group wrote a manifesto calling for a national program allowing college students to volunteer abroad and published the manifesto on the editorial page of The Michigan Daily, Power said.

"What was needed was a vehicle for (the students') interest" in service, Power said. He said other newspapers printed the manifesto, and it eventually was sent to Theodore Sorenson, the speech writer for Senator John F. Kennedy, who at that time was a candidate for President.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot on the Internet about Americans Committed to World Responsibility, perhaps because there aren't many left. Even so, this is a nice little story that shows what a little can do...especially in the presence of a responsive government. Which we do not seem to have, at the moment.

UPDATE: This activism did not turn out as well.
posted by : Joseph j7uy5 | link | | |


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