At Columbia, Remembering a Revolution

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Forty years ago, they launched a student protest at Columbia University that involved the occupation of five campus buildings, the hostage-taking of a dean, 712 arrests and injuries to scores of students, faculty members and police officers.

Now, they are lawyers, judges, playwrights, poets, professors and ministers. They gathered this weekend back on campus with former classmates to hear memories of those events and occasionally raise a revolutionary fist for old times' sake.

"Strangest reunion I ever saw," said Victoria Benitez, a spokeswoman for the university, which did not sponsor the event.

Some of the most radical are no longer fomenting revolution. Mark Rudd, the student leader who later helped start the Weather Underground and spent seven years as a fugitive, is now retired from a community college in Albuquerque.

The idea for the reunion developed at the prestigious World Economic Forum in Switzerland, where Robert Friedman, editor of the student newspaper in 1968 and now an editor at Bloomberg News, ran into the current Columbia University president.

But many of the student protesters of 1968 see their effort as part of a series of upheavals in American society that prompted deep change. They say the events also shaped their personal and professional decisions, and the people they became.

Related Links

  • Columbia’s Radicals of 1968 Hold a Bittersweet Reunion (NYT)

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