Jonah Raskin

I was arrested at Columbia in ’68, and that same year I also taught at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, wrote for Liberation News Service (LNS) and lived in Oxford, England that summer and conducted research and wrote about Columbia ’68 in ’68 for a British magazine. I have been doing many of the same things since: teaching and writing and researching, and traveling to England, where I received my Ph.D. I wrote about the year 1968 in my biography of Abbie Hoffman, entitled “For the Hell of It.” I have recently written about Jack London, who was one of the fathers of SDS, in that he founded the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which led to the League for Industrial Democracy, which led to SDS and he also traveled across the USA in 1905-1906, speaking at college campuses, from Berkeley to Harvard, Yale and Columbia, urging revolution. I also wrote an autobiography entitled “Out of the Whale” – published n 1974 – that had a chapter on Columbia, so I have been writing about 1968 ever since 1968. At the age of 65, I teach journalism and communication law – with emphasis on the First Amendment – at Sonoma State University in California, and some years ago I worked in Hollywood on a feature about marijuana called “Homegrown.” I lived in Mexico in 1975, in Belgium in 1987-1988, where I taught American culture. Except for those years, I have lived in California, and call myself a Californian. I have also written about another Columbia graduate – Allen Ginsberg in a book entitled “American Scream” and read “Howl” with Ann Douglas at the West End Bar on the 40th anniversary of “Howl” when 800 people showed up. I have been screaming and howling ever since 1968 and have encouraged students in my classes to do the same. I always ask people I meet, if they’re old enough to know, “What did you do in 1968?” And I am sure Tom Brokaw, of “the greatest generation fame” and who has just written about the 1960s, hasn’t gotten it right. I was at best an outside agitator at Columbia – having graduated in 1963 from the college, and was married to a Columbia law school student in 1968. I disrupted the law school tribunal in 1969 when Gus Reichbach was on trial, and when a Spectator reporter asked me my name, I said, “Jonah” whereupon he wrote an article in which he said “a man identifying himself as the prophet Jonah…” I am still Jonah, but I am not now, nor have I ever been a prophet, and the world is a much better place and a much worse place now than it was in 1968.

- by Jonah Raskin
^ Back to Top |
© 2017 | RSS | Sitemap | Contact