Golden Tigers Discuss 1968


Given the popularity of last spring’s Words of Wisdom surveys to our Golden Tigers, creating a fall survey was inevitable. With ongoing sheltering in-place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, rise of the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, and upcoming national elections in November, we recognized there were immediate parallels to 1968.

We created a survey targeted to those who graduated between 1966 and 1976 drawing on memories of that other year strongly marked by social, political and racial unrest.



Memories:  During 1968, I was at Ohio State. I witnessed many demonstrations and felt the after-effects of the shooting at Kent State. It was a very tense time to be in college. 

Advice:  I hope we have a peaceful election and that there will be a vaccine before too long.




Memories:  I was away at college near Chicago. (The late 1960s were) a period of upheaval during the Vietnam war and the legitimacy of the actions of our government. Both MLK Jr. and Robert Kennedy were lights of hope, so the assassinations were blows to those hopes in the ability of our society to advance forward. At the time, it felt like the events around 1968 had a much stronger impact on me. Part of this may be that my growth and personality were in a sensitive stage of formation at age 20, verses my current age of 72. It felt like some of the basic foundations of our society were coming apart at the seams. Now that I am writing this, I remember feeling a sense of betrayal that my parents’ generation was unable to see or act to correct the injustices of the Vietnam war, racial prejudices, political manipulations, and others. Now that I am the older generation, I can see that it takes constant ongoing work to move forward, and keep moving forward.  I… had friends who were in the demonstrations as peaceful participants. Several of them were beaten up and some arrested. Their reports of the brutality of the police, as directed by the powerful above them, were absolutely shocking. The discrepancy of their experience and the reporting on TV and in the press of the stalwart police against the “rioters” was another level of a wake-up call that echoed the events versus the reporting about the Vietnam war.  I think that the current election season has similar forces of the powerful over the less powerful, except now it is more subtle. Now we have political and election undermining, including the manipulation of all-powerful social media. It takes education and constant vigilance to understand and act against these kinds of forces. I think that anyone with any kind of a scientific background can see that there will not be a Covid-19 vaccination available until the second or third quarter of 2021. We will need the current tools at hand to deal with it until then. The event that I hope for is that the November election will overturn the current administration and that then we can all work to get over and through this current pandemic, economic, and social crisis that we are in.

Advice:  Hang in there, stay safe, and use your education, your brain, and your heart to understand the forces that are acting around and upon you. Put yourself in the “others’ ” shoes, and act to treat them as you would want to be treated yourself.


Memories:  In 1968, I was at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, a smaller school than Heights! I lived at home during the summers so (I) was still influenced by my parents with respect to the political landscape. We were quite devastated when we heard of the assassinations (of MLK, Jr. and RFK).  (I) mostly feared friends getting low lottery numbers and being drafted to go to Vietnam. Other friends joined the seminary or moved to Canada. Generally, the war wasn’t supported. I think we were naive about the treatment of blacks in the 60’s, Jim Crow laws, etc. Growing up in the Midwest, I didn’t observe the segregation that obviously existed. Unlike now, there were very few blacks in our neighborhood and schools. I feel much more politically educated now that I did in 1968. Everything was based on emotion back then. It’s interesting to refresh myself about 1968, as there are certainly similarities. I am very hopeful that we will have a vaccination soon – also hopeful that the economy will bounce back and people who lost so much during the pandemic will be “made whole.” Also, that we will be more active in space – mainly because it’s good for the economy and encourages inventiveness. [Image credit:]

Advice:  Keep following CDC advice – you’ll have plenty of time to socialize later.


Memories:  In ‘67 Vietnam was in full swing. I was in undergrad at OU and graduate school at Kent, then working for Brown Shoe Company during the war. The KSU (May 4th shooting) event also occurred during this time. KSU was like a morgue in 1971-72 when I was there. I was at OU ON APRIL 4, 1968. I found out about Rev. King when I called home that evening to wish my sister a happy Birthday. My first reaction, when my mom told me, was to cry.   I heard about RFK when my clock radio alarm went off the morning after the event. I have flashbacks of those events on the Anniversary of each to this day.  That era plagues my dreams even now especially now with our current unrest. It’s like a rerun…with COVID-19 (as) a 10-headed monster.

Advice:  Stay alert, study hard and keep a journal of these historic times.



Memories:  1968 was a tumultuous year, as were the few years prior and after. In 1968, I was a student at Ohio State University (Columbus). Fresh on the heels of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, on the weekends during Spring Quarter at OSU, I had been canvassing in Ohio and Indiana with my roommates for Robert F. Kennedy for President. We felt hopeless upon hearing of not one, but two… assassinations. The 1963 Birmingham riots and March on Washington, DC had such a profound effect on me that I wrote about them in my daily diary. (However, darn, I can’t seem to find them at this time!) I remember that I was babysitting for my cousins while glued to the TV watching the demonstrations at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention. (With respect to the future,) as my mother, of blessed memory, always told me, (we) must never, ever stop having hope.

Advice:  As my grandmother, of blessed memory, always told me in her Yiddish accent, one always must have “paaaashon” (i.e., P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E).


Memories:  In 1968, I was a student at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. (I remember feeling) shock at both shootings and pondering about the high level of public violence in our country and rather lax security compared to many places. (I recall) good friends from Heights High who went “crazy” with drugs and sophomoric ideology at Columbia. While there were radicals such as Malcolm X, initially the mainstream protests were marked by civil disobedience but rarely the venom, hate, intolerance and violence of today’s protests.

Advice:  The bad, unpleasant times will pass! Looking back at them, they won’t seem as bad as while we’re wallowing in them.


Memories:  I was attending CWRU studying Pre-Med and working part time at May Company (back when you could earn enough to pay your way through school). I heard about King while I was at work and that’s all we salespeople talked about that evening. I was at home and woke up to the news about RFK when he was killed. Most of us survived 1968, although we got to force out a corrupt and evil president a few years later. The civil unrest then was nothing compared to today, I think. It seems much more wide spread now, and a larger percentage of the American public opposes the current president’s actions than did the population back then. Apollo 8 took our minds off Vietnam for a few days, but did not provide any lasting relief. I don’t expect a vaccine to instantly provide instant relief either. Just wear a mask! [Image credit:]

Advice:  Hang in there. Cliched right? But it is true. All bad things eventually pass.


Memories:  I graduated in June 1968 from Heights and started at The Ohio State in September. When King was assassinated, I was afraid of more rioting such as the Hough riots of the summer of ‘66 where four people were killed and 50 injured – all Black. Heights was at that time almost entirely White and heavily Jewish; so, there were no marches or demonstrations, (rather) feelings of sadness and foreboding. You can’t change the way people think or feel by terrorizing them or making them mouth slogans. That just makes hatred grow. Cure the hate in your own heart. Treat everyone with kindness and respect including yourself. The lesson from all of the anti-war demonstrations for me, and I was in the middle of a couple, was that your civil rights as a citizen are illusory. [Image credit:]

Advice:  Take some time to learn about your country’s history. I recommend Ken Burn’s “Civil War.” You will see how much we have already overcome and be encouraged. We’ve gone through them before (uncertain times) and are still here. You are stronger than you suspect.


Memories:  I graduated in the spring of 1968 and went to college that fall.  I recall I was at home when hearing about (the deaths of MLK and RFK). (I remember) one of the neighbors on our street was an East Cleveland policeman and he was caught in some of the cross-fire during some of the unrest over Martin Luther King’s death. I remember him telling our family just how scared he was. My minister at our church believed in civil rights and regularly marched. My parents shared his view.

Not sure if it was 1968, but in that era was Murray Hill and the marches and pickets and protests there. Little Italy was VERY bigoted. My parents and my minister joined in some of the marching at Murray Hill. My mother taught us kids that discrimination based on race was wrong. But there were only about three black students at Heights High in a school of about 3,300. None in our class. One black teacher in the whole school. So, no real interaction with kids who were not Caucasian. For a summer job, I worked at a heat treatment plant that is no more. But for the first time, I met black youth who were my age (and) lived in the Glendale and Hough neighborhoods. (I) learned they were no different than me except working in that plant was their life and I was going onto college. (This) made an impression that kids are kids, (people are people), but for the grace of God, that could have been my life as well. Throughout my professional career, I simply approached all I dealt with as just another person like me, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, religion, etc. Believing that if one wants respect, first one had better give it. That viewpoint has served me well. Racial justice is not just words of equality. It is about an attitude of respect for all as truly equals in this society. It also requires true moral fiber and a belief in what is right and what is wrong, and to keep one’s personal sense of right and wrong no matter what. Popular or not. (I) voted for Nixon, I regret to say (and) I remember that great quote from Mayor Daley: “The police are not here to create disorder they are here to preserve disorder.” I am always hopeful. Hopefully the experience of the last four years will remind us that this nation and its Constitution are special, and only if all enjoy true equality can our nation continue as we have known it. [Image credit:] 

Advice:  Communication is a function of intention. If you communicate respect, and no intention to offend, but rather curiosity about wanting to actually know the person you are dealing with, you will find the interaction rewarding, and (do) not worry about whether one has inadvertently committed an act that may not be the most politically correct because one has communicated respect and no intention to offend.


Memories:  In 1968, I was an undergrad at Northwestern University. I remember RFK’s (assassination) like it was yesterday. I was driving home from work and heard it on the radio. (Other memories from then include): working on Carl Stokes mayoral campaign; driving to Florida in the mid ‘60s and being shocked at seeing white and colored bathrooms and water fountains; and watching the riots. It’s hard to be hopeful (now). [Image credit: Stokes Project/Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center)

Advice:  Find a hobby, don’t watch the news more than 30 minutes per day. Find someone or something you love and hang with them or it.


Memories:  I was at Kent State for undergraduate work from ’69 – ‘73. In high school (during 1968, I) was not very politically involved. The resources dealing with May 4, 1970 show how many of us were politicized. I remember watching the Democratic convention on TV and watching people being arrested. I think this election season raises the question of whether we will have truly democratic elections or if they will be skewed… I’m concerned that the vaccination trials are being rushed. I don’t see a lot of progress made in convincing people to take precautions. Wearing a mask isn’t difficult, but many refuse to do so.

Advice:  Try to find peace in the little things. Concentrate on the positive things in your life-health, family, food, shelter. Forget the rage that things are not “normal”– we may never go back to what was “normal.”


Memories:  I was attending the Univ. of Cincinnati from 1969 – 1971. I marched in an anti-Vietnam protest and nearly got arrested for it. I believed what my classmates believed, although we proved to be better at chanting and shouting than at being able to defend our views intelligently. (Regarding MLK and RFK,) I remember thinking how sad it is that we always seem to kill our best and most loving leaders.

The folks with “progressive” politics were rioting in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention 52 years ago just as they are doing today. The demographic was also the same. Young people have passion, energy and idealism, God bless them. Old people were often just like them…till we saw enough of life to gain understanding. “Do what the winners do and you’ll be a winner too!”  Young folks, learn what made the Civil Rights Movement so successful and emulate it if you want to gain more progress…their protests were peaceful, non-violent and without the hatred and anger. Their leaders led moral, peaceable lives. King once said, “Hatred begets hatred; violence begets violence.” The reason that the white lawmakers in Congress effected so many positive changes in response to the CRM was that they gained respect for the way all those in the movement comported themselves. Young people, learn a lesson from those victories…(There are similarities to today with) young folks behaving violently to try to force change concerning issues they have only been thinking about for 5 years… Emulate leaders who are known for having actually built something good … not just for wanting to tear something down.

Advice:  Many “good things” are coming and they will be trumpeted with much fanfare… …but beware of evil masquerading as good.


Memories:  After graduating from CHHS in 1970, I attended Michigan State University. I briefly remember the Hough riots. I would have hoped that we would be farther along in this process to secure racial justice. However, the time is now. And we cannot stand silently. I don’t ever remember so many protests all over the country or so many days, weeks and months of protesting. It would be great if a vaccine could be developed and approved by the end of 2020, but I do not know how realistic that is. Also, we need to address social justice and health disparity issues and climate change. [Image:]

Advice:  Complete the CENSUS! VOTE! Take care of yourself and your family. And do not stand idly by–say something and do what you can to effect positive change!


Memories:  I was in 10th grade at Heights (when MLK and RFK were gunned down. Those) events helped create a sense of despair and a feeling that “the establishment” would never change with the times. The events of 1968 seem so different than the events of 2020. Today’s racial justice events sadden me beyond words. Not only have we not moved forward in the last 50 years, but the recent events confront us with the realization that we have actually taken backward steps… So sad.  One can’t help recognizing the similarities between the Chicago police and the “pro law and order” factions seen in today’s news. I see no positive events in the foreseeable future. I believe it will take years to recover. from (today’s) culture.

Advice:  The creation of meaningful positive change is a marathon, not a sprint.


Memories:   I was finishing high school (in 1968). I remember waking up to my radio alarm before school with the news of Robert Kennedy’s death and running downstairs to tell my family at breakfast. Watching the Black Lives Matter protests, I can well remember all the Vietnam era protests with “Flower Power.”  It feels as if not much has changed regarding racism. It just feels that there is now more conversation, more awareness that gets elevated by social media, more news stations. I don’t remember a bigger and uglier political divide than now… I don’t think there will be a viable vaccine by the end of the year. I think this virus has polarized our nation so much when we should be uniting. I believe that once there is a vaccine, how we interact will be quite different.

Advice:  The future is unknown and we certainly have been through a lot, but hope is always close by.


Memories:  I was in college between 1971-1975. I felt overwhelmed (in 1968) but also somewhat numbed. There had already been some very high-profile killings in the 1960s. It was quite unsettling and confusing. I remember race-related riots in Little Italy. While it did not directly threaten me, I felt scared and confused. While there has definitely been progress in race relations through legislation and some progress in attitudes, we are still dealing with systemic racism and its impacts. We still have a huge need for more self-awareness of our biases. There are similarities (to today where) protests sometimes include violence. In 2020, it seems as if the conservative right is even more polarized and aggressive in dealing with liberal concerns for racial justice (as compared to 1968). I think a vaccine will be widely available at the earliest mid to late 2021. I am hopeful that the November 2020 election can slowly begin to lead the country in a direction of more collaboration between people of differing world views. [Image credit: The Otero/AP]

Advice:  It is important to acknowledge one’s fears and anxieties and then to find a purpose to add meaning to one’s life in ways that are controllable.


Memories:  1968 began with me in the 9th grade at Roxboro Junior High. It was a school year that I didn’t particularly care for as the teachers and administration were experimenting with the structure; where previously we were assigned to tracks there were no longer tracks based on academic ability. An average student, I found myself in classes with more academically advanced students and I was lost… All was not lost though. I was the baseball team manager and stage crew captain that year and was happy in those roles. Still I couldn’t wait until I was at Heights and a return to academic “normalcy.” I was home, after baseball practice, when Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination was announced. I was perhaps shocked, but not distraught. I heard of the Robert Kennedy assassination attempt upon waking since the shooting occurred in California. Maybe callous, but I remember remarking that there seemed to be a curse on the Kennedy family since this was the third tragic death Joseph and Rose Kennedy would suffer. Both assassinations were topics of discussion at school but I don’t have any vivid recollections.  

Unrest wasn’t exclusive to 1968, as it began a few years before. I remember demonstrations with respect to the Vietnam War occurring in previous years as well as racial unrest in 1965 with the Watts riots (an area of Los Angeles). I recall the National Guard traveling down Cedar to Grenville past Heights (when I was attending summer school). I recall the demonstrations and riots at the Democratic National Convention that summer, as it was well-covered in the news. I am not sure 1968 would necessarily mark the high mark of unrest as demonstrations would continue into, at least, 1970.  Following King’s assassination, I was certain a “hot” summer was soon to follow, and I think everybody expected it. With respect to myself, I would say I was more of a quiet observer than an active participant. Sure, there were discussions, sometimes heated, within the family, but not so much with friends as being a teenager and doing teenage things was the rule of the day for my immediate circle. The heated family discussions, of course, ran along political alliances and beliefs. I quietly watched and listened while my dad made his tirades about the idiots in Chicago.

I am cautiously optimistic about one or more successful Covid-19 vaccinations and treatments, but whether it will be this year or not remains to be seen—I can be patient. In the meantime, I will take the steps necessary to keep safe as I wouldn’t describe myself as the picture of health. With respect to racial tensions, I don’t think there will be any resolution before the end of the year. I believe we will resolve to work on these issues beginning now and in the future. I admit I find myself with great unease, and to some degree distress with how events are unfolding and feel worse about the country’s situation now than I did back in the ‘60s—I can only hope that things will work out well.  Compared to 1968’s unrest (along with prior and subsequent years), 2020 is short but its events more intense. [Image credit: Roxboro Middle School PTA Facebook]

Advice:  We need to occupy our time with those things which will help distract us. I am not saying we should ignore what is happening but it shouldn’t be our center. Find something, anything, that will provide a different focus even if it’s of short duration.


Memories:  I recall feeling shock and disbelief, then fear, when MLK was killed, and with RFK, extreme shock and sadness.  I was in junior high in 1968, but I vividly remember the KSU shooting of students at a protest. My father was a racist, but my aunt, my mother’s sister who I spent time with daily after school as my mom worked, was very involved in the racial justice movement and held Sunday afternoon teas at her home in University Heights bringing together black leaders in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood. I do remember Chicago demonstrations, but they seemed more militant and violent than all our current demonstrations. I am very afraid, as a Jewish woman, that we may see unprecedented violence in this country. I am also very fearful that climate change is on an exponential growth curve. But, I am very hopeful that this may be the biggest Democratic landslide since Goldwater, and I am hoping that we can take this country back closer to the America I grew up in, where people cared for others, respected each other, and took actions to help each other, and believed in regulations to help save our environment. I think we will be headed into a new era of racial justice with the right administration, and that the majority of America is finally on the right page with that. 

Advice:  We NEED TO VOTE EVERY ELECTION to assure that we address climate change as an emergency and get back to taking care of each other again. I didn’t realize the importance of this when I was younger, and I regret that.


Memories:  I attended Miami University 1974-75 and started John Carroll University in 1976. I don’t remember much about MLK, but do remember picking up the Cleveland Press and seeing the headline about RFK. I must have known about it before seeing the paper but that’s my main memory. I remember the day (not sure if it was 1968) where we all walked out of Wiley to protest the war. I still have my peace armband I wore that day. I also remember the Hough riots. Sad to say I wasn’t that tuned in (then). I remember the disgust with George Wallace and the horror of water cannons on protesters and worse and watching the riot outside the (DNC) hotel on TV. I’ve lived in Chicago for 40 years and sometimes think about those times. I am hopeful several vaccines will be successful and available sometime in 2021. [Image: On April 5, 1968, the day after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy delivered his “mindless menace of violence” speech before the City Club of Cleveland. His wife Ethel Kennedy is at left. Credit: Matjasic. The Plain Dealer File. 1968]

Advice:  It’s hard to see the end when you’re in the middle. But this will end and perhaps some lasting good will come out of the pandemic and the social justice movement.


Memories:  I was in 6th grade and did not understand what was happening in 1968. I remember after the Kent State murder of four students by the Ohio National Guard that the “older kids” on my street all came home from colleges in Ohio, and I remember my parents talking with neighbors whose kids were at Kent. I was too young to understand what was happening. I vaguely remember the Hough riots and being scared that people I knew might get hurt. I have no hope of a reliable and proven-safe vaccine any time before mid to end of 2021.

Advice:  In retrospect, we were lucky to live through times that were more stable than the dystopian reality of 2020. I hope that Democracy survives and that we can look back at this frightening (time)…as a close call that we were lucky to survive, and that we strengthen the institutions that have nearly crumbled so quickly.


Memories:  I was in elementary school and remember a lot of fights breaking out at a nearby middle school. I didn’t understand. I lived in a racially diverse neighborhood and we were all very close which caused me even more confusion over the issues. I just wish the activities would stay peaceful and not turn into rioting. A lot of the businesses (that have been) looted and damaged (this year) are the ones those same people rely on to provide needed goods. It makes no sense. I don’t think the immunization will be out this year. I am looking to 2021 for that. I am looking for a move away from nasal swabbing to saliva testing nationwide.

Advice:  Hold the course. This will take a while as we are getting immunity through a trickle effect in hopes of sparing some lives.

ALAN S, 1975

Memories:  I was a very confused and scared 11-year old in 1968. At the time, I did not fully understand the political climate, as I was too young. I remember catching snippets of the nightly news, and thinking that the world was a pretty crazy and scary place. However, I was most likely more concerned with riding my bicycle and playing with my friends in the neighborhood, than (having) any thoughts of world events and tragedies, rioting, or assassinations. I was very scared that notable people were being shot and killed in public places. I was confused by the protest and the rioting and looting in the streets. I did not understand the political and social consequences of these events. I probably asked myself why everyone could not just get along with one another.  I am in full support of peaceful, non-violent protests, and fully support the Black Lives Matter movement. On a positive note, I am hopeful that we will come out of the Covid-19 situation in late 2020 or early 2021, and that life with return to somewhat normal, pre-Covid circumstances. However, I am somewhat pessimistic that the social and political divisions in this country can be healed by either candidate for president. 

Advice:  The world is (and has been) a crazy place, sometimes appearing to spin out of control. However, we have weathered harsh times and dire circumstances many times in my lifetime. Yet, the earth still spins. In spite of the insanity around us, try to enjoy family, friends and loved-ones, as well as the good times!


Memories:  In 1968, I was in junior high at Roosevelt and it was several years since JFK was shot, which was a horrible event. I was in first grade then and had never seen so many adults crying. It was frightening and disheartening to see progressive, equality-minded leaders gunned down at a time (when) their influence was so greatly needed. At Roosevelt, we had probably 20% African-American students. There was very little racial tension and quite a bit of friendship across racial divides, at least that I was aware of. But I had classmates and even some teachers who would use the n-word, which was disturbing to me. I remember learning a lot in civics class and there was some controversy around desegregation and busing, which did not seem controversial to me.  There are definitely similarities, except that we seem to be regressing in 2020 when we were clearly progressing in ‘68. It seems that people are again more comfortable letting their bigotry be known, which is unfortunate. It has been very disappointing to see the number of people I’ve seen behaving in ignorant, racist, xenophobic ways… far more than I would have ever expected. Maybe it’s better to have it in the open, but it is a sad commentary on all the progress our country seemed to have made leading up to 2016. I remember we had a chapter of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) at Roosevelt. I think we may have had some small demonstrations, peaceful of course. I think the main issue was around ending the Vietnam War. I have learned to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It would be hard to imagine a 2021 that’ll be worse than this year, but it could happen. The best thing that could happen is not a vaccine, but that the election shows a decisive desire to go back to a more humanistic, compassionate atmosphere… one that shows Americans care about each other, the planet, and the legacy we are leaving to upcoming generations. 

Advice:  Good 12-step wisdom: Change the things you can, accept the things you can’t, and know the difference. This too shall pass. (I hope!) Meanwhile, try to look for the good in others (no matter how ignorant or obnoxious they are), and act in a kind way.


Hopes:  I am hopeful indeed that we will have a vaccine by year end. Enormous resources are being devoted to this and the best people in the world are working on it.

Advice:  Live life like you mean it. Make every moment count!


Memories:  I remember when the Kent State shootings occurred; I was in 6th grade. One of my teachers had a brother who was in the National Guard. Another teacher had a family member who was protesting. So, we received two very different perspectives of the same event. I hope for a vaccination but I also hope for a better relationship for people with differing views of the same events. We must find a way to work together toward a common goal, even if we have different ideas about how to get there. (Image credit:

Advice:  We need to learn listen to each other, and work together toward achieving a better life for everyone. We are stronger together than apart.