Interview with Les Campbell

OK, what was happening with the students? You talked a little bit before about the student march into the streets. Could you talk about the formation of the African-American Students Association? What was happening with the students?


Well, in the, um, fall of '67, we, ah, teachers, began to hear the voices and demands of students for the need for change. And these students were brought together to form the African-American Students Association. And these were representatives of high schools all over New York City. I remember a young man from Harlem named Ron Dix[SIC] who represented the Harlem schools. And we had a young man from Queens, Arthur Tear[SIC], who was representing Andrew Jackson High School. And then we had people like Adeyemi Bandele here from Tilden High School. And, ah, we had students from schools all over New York City, the bright schools like Brooklyn Tech, Charles Angel[SIC], I remember he was a representative from Brooklyn Tech, as well as, ah, the vocational schools, even, we had a young woman by the name of Ellen Shephard[SIC] from Fashion High School. So, this, this student association was a cross-section of young people who understood the need for change in the public school system and who were ready to put their bodies on the line to bring about this change. And, ah, they had a lot of impact. First, they helped to impact by opening many of these schools during the strike. It was the students actually demanded that many of these high schools be open and in fact opened them up during the strike. Secondly, they held demonstrations themselves. They held demonstrations on the street, then, one demonstration culminated in a march of students throughout the city to Ocean Hill-Brownsville. That march was met with one of the bloodiest riots that happened during the Ocean Hill-Brownsville demonstration. Ah, you saw, ah, bus loads of police jumping out buses beating these students. And, ah, while we sympathized with what was happening, this became an understanding for these students that they were not going to win changes. They were not going to win, ah, movement, ah, changes easily. That they were going to run up against forces that were going to be willing to bloody them, to beat them, to put them in jail, if they wanted the change.