Interview with Les Campbell

OK, the poem by, by Sia, could you tell me how it came to be read on WBAI? And did you have any regrets for having read it?


Well, Julius Lester was a revolutionary Black media person of that day who had a program on WBAI radio. He had came out to the school, taped a class of mine, and played it on the radio and it had gotten a very good response. He invited me up to the studio, I think it was December the 27th, 1968, and, ah, we were doing an interview show. I showed him a poem by Sia Berhan that was a raw response of a 15 year old youth to what had happened in Ocean Hill-Brownsville. And, he asked me to read this poem on the air. And I read the poem. Ah, there were a few callers who called in, the poem was entitled, "Hey, Jew Boy", and there were a few callers who called in after the reading of the poem and expressing their feeling that the poem was kind of, ah, bitter and filled with hate, so forth, but nothing big came out of that radio broadcast until approximately three weeks later, on January 15th, when Albert Shanker revealed to the world that, ah, you know, this poem was a indication of the anti-Semitic response of Ocean Hill-Brownsville and that teachers like myself were teaching these youngsters anti-semitism within the school system, particularly within the experimental project at Ocean Hill-Brownsville.