Colorado dissent debate and Lytton Plaza

New York Times photo Matt Staver

New York Times photo Matt Staver

The Chronicle teed me up and the New York Times online hit me home about some noise out of Arvada, Colorado where a school board wants to revise U.S. History so as to produce a citizenry that is less likely to protest. Huh?

Reminds me of the effort in recent years to discourage musicians from gathering at Lytton Plaza, in payback for the unruly protests during the Vietnam era.

This will take a few more readings and writings to get clear on, but I wanted to mark the discussion so far.

From Matt Bowling:
The leftist Midpeninsula Free University (MFU) first took advantage of Lytton Plaza’s in-between status during the summer of 1968. After staging a series of rallies and music concerts there — some of which had resulted in police intervention — downtown business had grown weary of the new MFU scene at the plaza. The Palo Alto Times reported that summer that 63% of downtown merchants wanted the plaza closed and 86% favored the police stopping the demonstrations.

Lytton and his bank responded to business concerns by posting a list of rules at the plaza. Reiterating that the land was owned by Lytton Savings, the poster stated that music and crowds over 25 people were prohibited except through the permission of the bank. The poster was soon graced with an expletive-laced response.

By 1969, Saturday night rock concerts with live bands were commonplace at the plaza, many sponsored by the “Free People’s Free Music Company” run by Paly teenagers. One summer concert devolved into mayhem when a motorcycle gang began numerous fist fights and scuffles with the largely hippie high school crowd.

From Jack Healy’s Times report Sept. 23, 2014:
So far, nothing is settled in Jefferson County. The board put off a discussion of the curriculum-review committee until a meeting in October, and Ken Witt, the board president, suggested that some of its proposed language about not promoting “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law” might be cut.

“A lot of those words were more specific and more pointed than they have to be,” Mr. Witt said. He said that the school board was responsible for making decisions about curriculum and that the review committee would give a wider spectrum of parents and community members the power to examine what was taught in schools. He said that some had made censorship allegations “to incite and upset the student population.”

But on Tuesday, those allegations were more than enough to draw hundreds of students into the sun. They waved signs declaring, “It’s world history, not white history,” and talked about Cesar Chavez and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leaders of the walkout urged others to stay out of the streets and not to curse, and sympathetic parents brought poster board, magic markers and bottles of water.

“Occupational Hazards of Democracy” by Lynn Stegner in the Chronicle, November, 2011, and the inspiration for an Etsy-sold work of art by Evelyn Markasky:

Ok, I admit this is not very good writing, in that I am merely stringing together a group of sources or excerpts from such.


About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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