April 28, 1969: Outcasts and Sit-Ins

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(Pictured: Don Murray and Otis Young in The Outcasts, a western that aired on ABC in 1968 and 1969.)

April 28, 1969, is a Monday. Yesterday, voters in France rejected a referendum that would have modernized the country’s armed forces. Today, President Charles de Gaulle, who had backed the referendum, resigns from office. De Gaulle, who led the Free French during World War II, served briefly as president in 1945 and 1946, but his current term began in 1958. Among his official communications today, President Nixon sends a message to De Gaulle, and condolences to Bolivia following the death of that country’s president. He also asks Congress to create a commission to develop a plan for “meaningful self-government” in the District of Columbia. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Nixon presents the National Teacher of the Year Award to English teacher Barbara Goleman of Miami.

Around the country, college students stage a variety of protests. An armed group takes over the administration building at Voorhees College, a historically black institution in Denmark, South Carolina. The students’ list of demands includes the establishment of a black studies program, raises for non-academic staff members including cooks and janitors, and a rule that no student should be compelled to attend classes. The standoff will end tomorrow with the arrest of approximately 25 protesters, although only seven will be charged. At St. Louis University, members of the Association of Black Collegians peacefully occupy a campus building for about 12 hours. Although school policy is to disperse such protests by force, university president Paul Reinert chooses to negotiate. He says the school will address the students’ concerns, including investigating the harassment of black students, hiring more black maintenance personnel and security officers, and establishing an office of black student affairs. At Memphis State University, more than 100 students, both black and white, are arrested after a sit-in at the university president’s office. The president had refused student requests to invite controversial New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell to speak on campus.

Michigan representative Gerald Ford gives a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, where he tells the following joke: “You know what an atheist is, don’t you? It’s a guy who doesn’t care how the game between Notre Dame and Southern Methodist comes out.” In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is confident about the outcome of a baseball game. In Santa Rosa, California, Redwood Empire Ice Arena opens with a show featuring Olympic figure skater Peggy Fleming, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, the cast of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and master of ceremonies Joe Garagiola. The arena is owned by Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz. Joe Burg, who played in 13 games for the National League’s Boston Doves (later the Braves) in 1910, dies at age 86. Eight games are played in the majors today. The Chicago Cubs beat Philadelphia 2-1 in 10 innings to run their record to 15-and-6, the best in major league baseball. In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles also have 15 wins, but their game tonight in Cleveland against Indians is postponed due to a forecast of rain. The Indians have dropped 10 in a row on the way to a 1-and-15 start.

Tonight, ABC-TV airs western series The Big Valley and The Outcasts. The latter is a post-Civil War drama starring Otis Young and Don Murray as a freed slave and a former Confederate soldier who form a partnership as bounty hunters. NBC airs a variety special called The Spring Thing, hosted by Noel Harrison and Bobbie Gentry and starring, among others, Goldie Hawn, Rod McKuen, Shirley Bassey, and Harpers Bizarre. Tonight’s CBS schedule includes an episode of The Carol Burnett Show.

The Who plays in Sunderland, England, and the Doors tape a performance in New York City. It will be part of a profile of the band to be broadcast June 25 on the public television series PBS Critique. At KDWB in Minneapolis, “Hawaii Five-O” by the Ventures shoots to #1 on the station’s new survey from #15 last week. “Hair” by the Cowsills falls from #1 to #2, and “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” by Neil Diamond holds at #3. Also hot: “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” by Peppermint Rainbow, up to #4 from #14. “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers is also new in the Top 10 at #10, while “Do Your Thing” by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is at #12, up from #22. New songs among the Top 30 include “Pinball Wizard” by the Who and “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy.

Perspective From the Present: “Love (Can Make You Happy)” is another record about which I’m  completely irrational. Mercy was from Florida, and their song came out on a local Tampa label sounding half-amateurish and all great.

 

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