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Mrs. Friedman today.
Mrs. Friedman describes a 1968 demonstration in Washington D.C. Mrs. Friedman on Democracy and Communism

Born August 31, 1949, Fran Friedman was born in the lower end of Manhattan, in New York City.  Her father, a medic from World War II who had lost both of his legs, secured a teaching job in Syosset, Long Island, and when she was in 4th grade the family moved.  Mrs. Friedman was raised to be very socially and politically conscious, and she began protesting when she was 16.  Her first demonstrations were civil rights oriented, but later turned to anti-war protests. 

In this interview, Fran shares with us her experiences “on the march.”  She brought in an extensive collection of buttons from demonstrations, and expressed her optimism for the future.

Friedman Gallery


Q: When were you born?

Mrs. Friedman: August 31, 1949

Q: Could you describe where you grew up?

Mrs. Friedman: I started out in Manhattan, New York City. On 20th street, so we went to PS-40. I didn’t even know that schools had names; I thought that PS-40 was its name, I didn’t know it meant Public School until we moved out. PS-40, one word, you know. And we had a billion kids in each class, it was really hard, growing up in the city… not growing up in the city but going to school in the city. I feel bad for all the kids that are with 800 kids in the classroom; it’s hard for teachers.

Q: Busting the system?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah, yeah, I didn’t even… I was in 4th grade when we moved out and that was the first time that I remembered the teacher call me by my name.

Q: So where did you move to?

Mrs. Friedman: Syosset; it was on Long Island. My father was a teacher, and he got a different teaching job so we moved.

Q: How would you describe the difference in the people you were around?

Mrs. Friedman: Kids are kids, basically. Although I was already in first grade, I was cutting [classes]. And my parents are teachers, very into education. But in the city, [I was] hanging around other kinds of kids. But anyways, so when we moved to Syosset, it was cool to be smart and nice rather than a bum. Oh God there was one year, the house wasn’t built yet so we had to move to Westbury, and that was a nightmare. That was total hood city – black belts and everything – you don’t discuss that whole year of my life, it was awful. But anyway the kids in Syosset were (inaudible).

Q: So you moved from New York to Long Island, and you went to high school there?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah.

Q: How was that?

Mrs. Friedman: That was amazing. It was really hard. It was a very hard high school but it prepared me very well for later in life. College and stuff. Educationally it was very good; it also had a lot of after school activities. Which I know now a days [they wouldn’t do with] all the cutbacks. But it really… It was so important as far as my self esteem because I… I mean academically I was OK, but definitely not anywhere good. I mean I got to grad school and all that kind of stuff, but you know that was for working hard, it didn’t come naturally. But having the after school activities with music and sports, for me… and political stuff, we had NACJ, I don’t know if that’s still around… it was National Association of Christians and Jews. So that was back then, this was in the mid 60s. I was getting politically active starting ’64, was my first march. That was in the city, that wasn’t Washington, it was in New York City.

Q: So you were about 15 or 16?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah, I was 14 at that point, in 9th grade. And then later in high school when I was… well you know they had a lot of political groups as well as everything else. I was really involved in all that.

Q: Would you say your parents were very active?

Mrs. Friedman: Yea, well my parents were very liberal. And my father, when World War II came around you couldn’t be Jewish and a CO, Conscientious Objector. You had to be a Quaker. And he was Jewish, he didn’t want to convert. But he didn’t want to carry a gun, so it was either jail or… well he said “I’ll go in, but I’ll be a medic – I don’t want to carry a gun,” so he was a medic. He was in France for two weeks, and his job was to get the people from the land mines. So he’s getting a guy, and as he stepped down he stepped on a bomb and blew his legs off. So he was 18 at that point, and he got sent back. The good thing is that he didn’t hurt any body. He didn’t use a gun and kill any body; he was trying to save some body. Then he woke up, and had no legs. So he had to decide, “What am I going to do?”… Because there were people there, old people – well they’re probably younger than I am now, but at that point they were old people – sitting in the VA doing nothing. And he said, “Either I’m going to sit here and do nothing or I’m going to learn how to walk, and get out of here.” So he learned how to walk and then he went to college and became a teacher, met my mother and all that kind of stuff, and then we’re here. The thing is, I was proud of him because he didn’t carry a gun and through his actions… war is really stupid – its so – my whole philosophy, if I could be president of the world or something, is if you really want to fight, if you want to kill each other, pretend that you already fought and get to the peace tables. Because at the end you always get to a peace table, no matter what war, you always get to a peace table. Pretend you already had it, get to the peace table, and then go from there. Skip the war! Wouldn’t that be so good? This is perfect, [shows bumper sticker] this is my feeling in life, it says: “It will be a great day when our schools will get all the money they need, and the Air Force has to hold bake sales to buy a bomber.” [Laughs]. All the money that you spend on war could be spent on people. Health and education and stuff like that. So that’s my feeling. But anyway, I got that from them – my mother’s very liberal too. They didn’t march a whole lot, I was more of the marcher, but their political views, I got… because they made sense. What question did I just answer?

Q: How did you view John F. Kennedy? And do you recall his assassination?

Mrs. Friedman: Oh God yeah, I was in 9th grade, it was awful. I was in gym class, and we got a call that he had gotten shot.  It was like ‘Oh my God!’ because I had worked for him, I really liked him, he was… it was like losing a father, God forbid. It would be like losing a parent, everybody was crying, I couldn’t believe it, because he was the first… now assassination aren’t as big a deal, which is pathetic, but for us that was huge! That was absolutely huge! So school got cancelled… everybody went home and I sat in front of the T.V. with my grandmother, who was living with us at the time, for days straight just looking at the T.V. and the funeral, and I saw when Lee Harvey Oswald got shot – not on a replay, it was the original. Even that’s stupid, take him to trial work it out, and see if he even shot him. The whole thing was just horrible, absolutely horrible! So yeah, I do remember it.

Q: And do you remember when his brother was shot?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah.

Q: Was that as important to you?

Mrs. Friedman: No, I wasn’t as into him as I was with JFK, but Martin Luther King was a biggie, that was huge.

Q: So you were also on the anti-war platform, and you were also for civil rights?

Mrs. Friedman: Well I started out on the civil rights movement in younger years, and those were the demonstrations in New York City that I had gone to, those were for civil rights. That was more in ’61, ’62, ’63. And then starting ’64… no ’64 was also civil rights, but after that it got mushed in with the war.

Q: When did you first hear about the Cold War? And what were your feelings about it?

Mrs. Friedman: Oh the Cold War? I was in… the Cold War… I grew up in the Cold War. Wasn’t the Cold War in the 50’s?

Q: How did the whole thing affect you? When were you first aware of the tensions between Russia and the U.S.?

Mrs. Friedman: I was brought up in that… The thing is…

Q: How did you view the communists?

Mrs. Friedman: They were people like us. They just had a different way of governing themselves. Part of it sounded kind of nice, that you all share and stuff. But I preferred living here with all the freedoms that we had, but if they wanted to live like that, that’s their choice, who am I to say, “No you can’t do that”? I grew up with the air raid drills… Have you heard about those? We literally had practices where you go… well the first practices we had were under the desk. Then I guess the bombs got bigger, [Laughter] so we went into the hall and we would line up against the wall, like that’s going to really protect us, and we would huddle. And practiced those drills. It was horrible because I was in fourth grade when we started doing those. What I thought… I mean I was kid… and my father’s a teacher, my mother was at home at that point, but my father was a teacher at the high school, and I saw all the teachers standing, and I was scared that I was going to be protected, my brother was going to be protected, but my father, because my father was standing, that he was going to die from the bombs. Isn’t that truly sad. You know, he was a teacher he was standing up. Little did I know that we would all be evaporated [if a bomb dropped].
But yeah… that was scary, then I talked to him about it…
[Enter Mr. Delaney]
[Mrs. Freedman shows button collection from marches in the 60’s and more recent wars.]
[Shows Love beads] These are true love beads. All I would wear would be jeans and a work shirt and I would change my love beads… I didn’t bring in all of them but these are my true love beads.
[Picture taken with love beads]

Q: Did you enjoy the privileges of the so-called affluent society period?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah… no, we weren’t affluent…

Q: Would you call yourself a baby boomer?

Mrs. Friedman: Oh yes, I am a true baby boomer. My parents were… my father was in World War 2, we were the result of…

Q: But you weren’t part of affluent society?

Mrs. Friedman: Well no, because my father was a teacher, and my mother was at home, teachers at that point, not that they get paid now anywhere where they should be, but at that point they got drek. The only reason that we could even attempt to move into Syosset, which was a nice neighborhood, was because my father got VA benefits because of his legs, and they helped with the house. As an adult, I just found this part out a couple of years ago – he was worried about us moving into the suburbs and would we blend? Would we feel badly because we didn’t have anything else?  But, two things, I was always very appreciative of what we had because I knew that we didn’t have a lot of money. So even if my parents gave me any little thing, I thought it was so nice of them. There were some other kids that were like us, not like in Weston where everybody is rich. I guess he was more concerned about it than I was, but I was surprised that it was a concern. But I’m glad he [moved us to Syosset] because we got a much better education than if we were to stay in the city.

Q: You went through high school in the suburbs, and you were pretty socially and politically conscious, you understood foreign events. When you graduated high school, what did you want to do?

Mrs. Friedman: Well I definitely wanted to… my father was chairman of the science department, he was a biology teacher, and I always loved science, so I definitely wanted to be a science teacher, a biology teacher. So I go to BU, undergrad, and it was horrible. Well, BU was wonderful, but I was in a premed program, and I wanted to do that because I wanted to learn really good biology, I didn’t want to just take Ed courses, and that was just scary because I was relating more to test tubes than I was to people. So at the end of that year, I said this was not for me, so I looked in the book and I had to decide what I wanted to do, because I knew I wanted to do something with people. I found this area “Speech and Hearing” so I got into that, and I loved it. Especially audiology – Speech was like “Well, if this doesn’t work, try that,” and that wasn’t me, I was more science. Audiology had everything I wanted: it had counseling, a lot of psychology, it had neurology, diagnostics, it was exactly what I wanted, and I loved it. So I went through BU undergrad, then I went to University of Wisconsin: Madison for grad school and then I worked for four years as an audiologist in Pittsburgh and then I came back to finish up the Ph.D. at BU, and then I did a post-doc at Tufts Medical Center, they had a great program in neuropsychology, because once the signal gets up to the brain, then what do you do with it? And in audiology at that time, I feel like a dinosaur, but at that time audiology stopped with the brainstem, there’s this whole cortex to deal with. That’s why I did my post-doc there. Then after that I taught at BU, mainly at the audiology clinic for six years then I did other things… they asked me to start the department of audiology at Harvard… so I did that for 16 years, so I was an audiologist for 24 years, and then things changed and it was cut time for patients, cut referrals, cut counseling, and you don’t want to cut counseling, that’s the whole… helping parents through… helping the people through those times that’s the really satisfying part of audiology for me. Anyway, things changed and I got back into music. In the ‘60s I did a lot of music, in coffeehouses…

Q: So were you into the folk scene?

Mrs. Friedman: Wait wait, I sung at folk clubs that aren’t in existence anymore, there were tons of… I used to do a lot of political folk music.

Q: Were you ever in the Greenwich Village area?

Mrs. Friedman: I got offered jobs at that point, but then I got into the University of Wisconsin, and I had to make a decision, music or audiology, so I chose audiology. And that was a tough program and it was very hard to get into. I figured, ill always have the music, but to get into this program… I was so excited so I went that route.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your coffeehouse days.

Mrs. Friedman: They were awesome! Even in marches… well there was this really important thing in Marsh Chapel at BU when I was an undergrad, it was called taking sanctuary. It was this guy Ray Kroll who was in the army, and he went AWOL because he realized what he was doing would hurt people, and was wrong, and he didn’t want any more part of Vietnam. At that point, there was a draft, and that was one of the big things that I was fighting, I did not think the draft was right. Anyways, he went AWOL, and I was involved with Student Mobilization Committee (SMC) in BU and there were two main groups, SMC and SDS, and I was more SMC, which is a little more moderate at that point, but still had similar beliefs. He went into Marsh Chapel, which was the chapel at BU, so there were 24 of us to start with, and we surrounded him and stayed with him day and night and it ended up, by the end of that week, being over 2,000 people. We were not [going to] our classes, we didn’t do anything, and we just stayed there. There was nothing to do, there was just us, thousands of students, so they asked me to bring in an acoustic guitar, and that really helped energize people.  I mean it was 24 hours a day, it was really tough. So that was good as far as getting people together, and civil rights, and that was a really big thing too. So I did coffeehouses, I opened for Odetta one time, anyone could have done it, it was a lot of fun. But then I had to go my grownup route in audiology.

Q: But you said you returned to music?

Mrs. Friedman: I did. I have. In a 1996, I left audiology and went back to music, which I’m still doing this day, and I’m doing it full time. I started out doing kids’ music and I hate regular kids music, because it has no meaning, it was a waste of time for me, not for other people, but for me. So I wanted to sing songs for kids that would sing about how special they were, how special other people were, respecting other people. That we’re all different, we’re all special, that kind of stuff, through music, disability awareness through music. And also with my background in audiology, sign language and stuff, it just seemed to blend. So I was doing a concert one time and this guy came up to me and said, “Oh you want to do an album, call me.” I thought [it was] some flyby night guy, and I took his card and didn’t respond. Months later, I was talking to another friend of mine who’s a real musician, and he said “Oh no, I use him.” He was real and I went back, and now I have four CD’s, I’m doing another one. But it’s still the same focus on treating people with respect. Even though the songs are for kids, that’s the issue I focus on. I write the songs but it takes me about a year to find 14 songs that touch my heart or say what I want to say, because I don’t want to do the typical railroad songs.

Q: How conscious were you of race matters as you grew into adulthood?

Mrs. Friedman: Very. And the reason was because we're Jewish. And if you're Jewish, your background makes you aware. We had 126 immediate members of our family die in the camps. And if you're persecuted how in heaven's name can you persecute somebody else? How can you belittle them? So yeah, I was always very aware because whether you're Jewish, or any minority, or black, or Native American, it doesn't matter-it's another person feeling like you would feel-and so I was always very aware. My parents made us very aware.

Q: Martin Luther King had a very big effect on you. How about other radical leaders like Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party affect you?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah, they were very important. I can't believe they called him radical, you know? It's like, self respect, you know. I mean, I didn't agree with everything as far as-there was some antisemitism in there-which I didn't agree with. But the rest of it, sure.

Q: When did you first hear about the conflict in Vietnam?

Mrs. Friedman: '63.

Q: And you started getting involved in marches, when?

Mrs. Friedman: Well they didn't have big marches until later, but in the city they had marches, so I did that. But they were a mix of civil rights and antiwar. Everybody was so trusting during those marches. Marches obviously changed as the years went on, they got more, not dangerous, but you know, I was gassed. And all of that. Have any of you ever been gassed? It's horrible. Absolutely, absolutely horrible. You can't breathe, your eyes burn like beyond-you get sick, nauseous, it's absolutely vile. Anyway, the earlier demonstrations was like the one-I was just in Washington recently, and it was so peaceful. It reminded me of the ones earlier, you know, in the mid '60s you know, where everything was trusting and nice and no guns. But anyway, there was this one demonstration it was in '68, and we were in Washington again, and I went down and BU and all the schools had buses so we all took buses down to Washington. And then you know, we'd demonstrate and the buses would take us back. And it was around five o'clock and during that one was-some of us went back to the buses early like around 5. And one of my other friends came and he said, "Tear gas, he's getting a canister." Well I wanted a canister because I figured if I had already been tear-gassed I'd want a canister. You know, like I have my buttons. So I left the buses, the buses weren't gonna leave for another hour and a half. So I figured, "Fine." So I went with my friend Greg and we went back to where the demonstrations were and they were already breaking up and stuff, they weren't really being broken up but, they were still being tear gassed. But you know, it was for the (inaudible). Anyway, so I was going back to where we were gassed looking for a tear gas canister and I see these kids running up the street yelling: "You'll never make it! You'll never make it!" And I said, "What?" And they said: "The tank!" And I looked around and there's this huge tank-army tank, hosing people down. It was with CS, which was a gas they used in Vietnam. And that was just – we do not discuss – my eyes still burn. That was really scary because I couldn't get my breath and after that I was a wimp, I wanted to go back to the bus because I was really sick and he was sick. And you know, I wanted a canister but not at that expense. So we were walking back to the buses and we were so close we were right in front of the Lincoln monument and I get this hand on my shoulder. And I turn around and it's this cop in riot gear with the helmet and the stick and everything. And he said, "Come with me." So I was really upset. I was so upset because I so didn't want to be arrested. It's like I thought, "My vote! I won't be able to vote. I won't get a job." And then there are all these other people, you know, cheering us on saying, "We're with you!" And I'm thinking, "If you're with us, take my place, you know, please..." But I understood they were trying to be supportive, you know. There were other people who were not getting arrested. So they had a paddy wagon, we had to get in the paddy wagon, I was so pissed. And they got out the paddy wagon and I knew we were going to miss the bus. And how were we going to get back to the school? So they brought us to the station and they had a whole bunch of us. And then we got there and I said, "Well what are the charges?" because they wouldn't tell us up until that point. So then I asked, "What are the charges?" And they couldn't come up with any. So they let us go, but it was after the buses left. (Inaudible.)  So that was annoying. So there were a couple of buses left but not – you know – they knew they were inconveniencing everybody. So we get on one of the other buses from the other schools and we're in the bus now we can't hurt anybody, right? We're in the bus waiting to go back, and the cops or the army people – whoever they were – they come in and lob a canister in our bus. Hello? I mean, say no more. I could not believe it.

Q: You got your canister?

Mrs. Friedman: No, I didn't. It wasn't a canister it was a different kind of... Everybody was like... I mean, they shot it in the bus! What are they thinking? I mean, that does not get people on your side when you behave like that. So anyway, so that was that.

Q: How did you feel about Lyndon B. Johnson and that whole thing?

Mrs. Friedman: At the time, I absolutely wanted him out. I hated him, he was escalating the war. After he said he wasn't going to run anymore, and the reason, because the march was really effective (besides all the deaths and stuff), they really effected him. Let me just step back... At the beginning I really liked him because he did a huge amount with civil rights. So I really liked him. You know, it was after Kennedy, you know, and there was a question that he, you know, was involved in the killing. I still think it was the CIA and the FBI. But that's a whole other... But I felt bad for him after that because he did feel really badly about the deaths. Unlike some presidents now. [inaudible] So that's just kind of..you know, I had a mix thing with him.

Q: What did you think about selective service?

Mrs. Friedman: The worst! The worst!

Q: Were you at draft card burnings or were you at all involved with them?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah. And it's scary because now as a mother. When my son turned 18, I didn't want him to, you know. But he's a...he's not an adult but I mean... I could not-I was terrified-I mean even though there was no war going on at that point. I didn't want him to register, but he had to, and I don't know. I felt very iffy. I couldn't go down to the post office with him, my husband had to because I was just too upset. But, as far as the draft, I think...well I just think nobody should be drafted. Well as far as the draft...if boys go, girls should go. But I don't think anybody should go because I don't think there should be any war. So that kind of... That makes that. I think if there was a draft now, that might end the war sooner, but I don't think that's the way to do it. It was just horrible. My brother was 11 months older than me. And... It terrified us, terrified us. You know, he was in grad school, they called his number. He had a low [inaudible] number too, 16. Scared us to death. And it was only in the last thing when he flunked his physical because of asthma. But a lot of kids with asthma got drafted anyway. I mean, that was so terrifying. We celebrated. We went out after that, you know, it's like..oh my god that was so scary... Yeah...no I think draft is disgusting.

Q: In 1968 it was a good year, but there was also some bad things-the My Lai massacre..

Mrs. Friedman: Oh yeah. I could not believe that. That is disgusting.

Q: How did you react when you heard about it?

Mrs. Friedman: Oh my God, he [Lt. Calley] should have been executed himself. Absolutely. You know, yes, he was a scapegoat. It should have... All the people, you know, involved in that should have been in jail... I don't mean executed, but should be in jail. But you don't kill people. It's bad enough we're going in there and screwing up their country with war. Killing civilians? No.

Q: How do you feel about the recent actions of American troops in Afghanistan?

Mrs. Friedman: Disgusting.

Q: Do you find parallels in them?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah. Totally. Totally.

Q: And do you feel the same way?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah, you don't treat people like that. I think it's disgusting.

Q: Did media impact the way that you saw the war?

Mrs. Friedman: Well… you know... that's a great question... you know, I'm so... well, no because I was against the war because of my family. But, I think it was so important, we had much better Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press when I was growing up than you have it. Bush put a clamp on Freedom of the Press. You are not going to take pictures of dead people, you are not going to take pictures of people injured in war, you're not going to take pictures of the bodies with the flags. That is unbelievable [inaudible]...that's the first Amendment! Read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all of that. He just put a clamp down and the thing is, what turns it around was when the press started showing the boys and I just say boys because most of them were boys although there were some girls at that time... and men and women... when they were dying, when they were getting injured. And they showed it on T.V. And that really turned the tide. It was really good, but unfortunately everything's sanitary right now... Nobody sees death, nobody sees any injuries. So no.. so oh, you just go over and kill. You know, big deal. Because you don't see it. You don't see it. So I think the press has gotten so much more conservative, and much less courageous. I don't see any courageous newscasters now. You know? But Bush put a clamp on that and nobody's said anything in the media, which was disgusting.

Q: A lot of it is fed by government?

Mrs. Friedman: Oh yeah, but not only that though, but where are the newscasters saying: "No, you can't tell us what we can show and what we can't”? Where are the great...? Walter Cronkite, all those people… They were wonderful, and courageous. And where are they now? We don't have any. Sad.

Q: Going back to 1968, the Democratic National Convention, you were a member of the Democratic Party at the time?

Mrs. Friedman: Yes.

Q: And how did you feel about the whole rioting?

Mrs. Friedman: Well, I mean, the cops were horrible. And at that point, that's when the media I think turned around because there was a lot of newscasters that were gassed and beaten unfairly. And so that was...I'm not saying that's good, but I think they saw how horrible it was, and unfair. And I had, you know, before I had gotten gassed, and before I had gotten hit, I thought: "Oh no, you know, they're making it up, or they're, you know, people don't hit other people for no reason." Until, until. You know, and I was... There was this one demonstration in Boston, this was in... I think this was also '68 or '69 and we were marching in the commons, and I was with my friend Greg- the same canister person. Yeah, we were good friends. So, they tripped him, and I saw it with my very own eyes. They tripped him, and started hitting him with night sticks. And it's like, we were marching, and we had a permit. You know, so things like this... when I saw directly that it was unprovoked, you know, I could definitely believe that in Chicago, you know... all that stuff was unprovoked… Not all, you know, but a lot of it... So that was a disgusting way that people were behaving.

Q: Another example of police brutality, or overreaction from the government-Kent State, were you still a student at the time?

Mrs. Friedman: Yeah, in May, was it May 3rd? I thought it was May 3rd but I could be wrong. And we had finals, and then that happened. And BU closed. That was the time... I was getting scared at that point because the National Guard, you know they were shooting people. And, some of the people from Kent State came out here and spoke, and they were paralyzed. I mean, it was horrible, horrible. I mean, they spoke later. But, so it's not just an immediate thing, I mean these are lasting things. When you shoot bullets it has a lifelong effect. But anyway, it was scary...And so there were demonstrations around that time against going into Laos [Cambodia]. And it was in Kenmore Square, and I was living on Comm. Ave. at that point. And, so we were demonstrating down there, against the shootings and, you know, Kent State. And the Boston Police started letting out dogs. I used to like dogs. They are the scariest, scariest...And they're fast, they're fast. You know, horses are tough because you know, they're big. And the cops can just hit you on the head. You know, I've been in demonstrations where they do that. And the just go *bum bum bum bum.* You know? But dogs? They have the sharpest teeth and they're so fast. It was so scary. And so we were running this way and the dogs...They just let the dogs go. Thank God I was alright but I mean, I still remember that like it was yesterday. Very scary. So, I mean...the idea of shooting students or shooting anybody, is so important to me. You know? A lot of people whether it's the National Guard or the Police, they're not trained (maybe now they are) but they weren't trained in mass groups. And, so they were scared so they were the aggressor. Yeah, so they had the mob psychology. And they got so scared, they started shooting. But shoot blanks, or shoot you know, Cocoa Puffs or something. Don't shoot bullets. That was disgusting.

Q: 1968 also, Richard Nixon, so his position was restoring Law and Order in the country, and also he had a plan for "Peace with Honor," how did that sound to you?

Mrs. Friedman: I just wanted the war to stop. So, if he wants to call it anything he wants, fine. Just stop the war.

Q: Did you have any faith in it?

Mrs. Friedman: Until it...No.

Q: The Vietnamization, do you think that worked? Do you think that was a good idea? The Vietnamization of Vietnam, replacing American troops with Vietnamese troops?

Mrs. Friedman: I don't think we had any business being there. We went over probably for tin, you know, and things like that, that we wanted. I mean, I certainly don't think we went over to...well, let me back up... at first I think it was for tin. I think people – and I'm kinda mushing in nowadays – if you're an insecure person, maybe like (inaudible) is that you want everybody to agree with you. If you're insecure, you want everybody to be exactly like you so that...let me see how to say this...so that you don't feel threatened. Okay? So, a person like George Bush wants everybody in the world to be democratic, so that we don't have to be threatened. I think, I mean, just my personal belief, I think that's from an insecure psychological deficit. And some other politicians have that too. When you can't imagine that you can't live cooperatively with somebody else of a different faith, of a different background culturally, of a different political viewpoint, that's pathetic. You know, if it works, if the government works for whatever country, that's fine. Who are we to say: "No, you have to be Democratic?" And a lot..yes, I like being here in a Democratic society because I like to vote, I like to do all that kind of stuff. But, one of the benefits of a Communist or a Socialist country is [that it’s] quicker. So, if you don't have food or water, things like that, it's a quicker type of government for you to get your basic needs. And at that point, the people in Vietnam needed your basics. And... you know, as well as if they weren't {inaudible). But I think that on a personal level, I mean, families are families no matter where you live. And if you care about... if there's a war going on. Do you think those people cared what kind of government they had? I don't. But, you know, that's Vietnam's issue to solve. You know, and I think we went over for certain minerals and stuff like that. But, you know we had no business being there. Sort of like today.

Q: So when Nixon ordered the bombing of Cambodia, another strong [inaudible]?

Mrs. Friedman: Oh, yeah. That was unbelievable. Oh yeah, I meant Cambodia before, instead of Laos. But we went into everybody by that point. But, that was crazy.

Q: How did you feel about Vietnam veterans coming back?

Mrs. Friedman: You know, I was angry because at that point, and obviously now I wouldn't feel that way because they were drafted. I'd feel differently if somebody volunteers to go and kill. But you know, I was young too. And I was angry that...I guess I was angry at them because they went in... the war... but they were drafted, you know? It was different. And we were protesting... I guess we were angry at them for going in. You know, we felt if everybody avoided the draft and didn't go in, then there wouldn't be a war. But then everybody would be in jail. And jail is a scary thing. You know... I mean we had to think about it firsthand with my brother because he wasn't going to go in. And if he passed his physical, he was not going to go in. And you have to really think, five years in jail was not fun. Ray Kroll [the soldier in Marsh Chapel] ended up five years in jail, and it's a very scary thing. For what we knew then, now as an adult, I'd be softer on them. I just didn't like anybody going in and killing. But, you know, they were drafted, so I felt bad for them.

Q: Did you know any Vietnam vets in the late '60's, early 70's?

Mrs. Friedman: Well, there was some from our high school, one was killed. And, in my circle I didn't know vets. You know, I was more with kids in college. You know, just a social... I knew some through the political groups that I joined. You know, but those were the veterans against the war. You know, so then it was the draft at that point.

Q: Today we talked about the lessons of Vietnam, and how we've either learned from them or have ignored them, how do you see that we've learned from them and what have we ignored?

Mrs. Friedman: We've ignored everything.

Q: Everything?

Mrs. Friedman: Everything.

Q: So we haven't learned a thing?

Mrs. Friedman: Not a thing, not a thing. We go into a country, we invade them to get their resources, or to convert them because of somebody's insecurities...psychological insecurities... because you're scared of anybody being different than you. So if they're a different religion, you know, like in Iraq, or a different culture, they have to be just like us. You know, so that we don't get threatened. You know, we haven't learned a thing. I can't imagine anything that we've learned. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Q: Do you have any last thoughts or points that you'd like to share?

Mrs. Friedman: It's just so sad...as somebody who went through the 60's and really...I had such good hopes...that we fought really hard, first of all, to get rid of the draft, to stop the war, to try to get a [inaudible], things like that. And I really, really felt towards the end, "Okay, well maybe this war was horrible, it was a waste- a waste of kids lives, and who are we to invade another country, that we would never do it again because of all the lessons we learned. That thousands and thousands of kids were killed and for what? As soon as we leave the country, it's going to go back over to them as it did in Vietnam. And here, we're doing the same exact thing- we're invading a country probably for the oil instead of tin or whatever, and then we take kids lives and we ruin them, we ruin the people's lives over there, they don't have homes, they don't have... their families are killed and hurt and injured, we totally ruined a culture...just like we did in Vietnam. And then when we leave what's going to happen? They'll solve their issues in their own way, but the thing is, we don't have any business being there. I mean, we should get out like, right now, because spending one more life? For what reason? I mean, you got to figure out the reason why we went there, I don't know. I mean, if you can answer that. I mean, it's either oil or the threat of them being not Democratic.

Q: The students of the 60's, the students of today, why is that different? Why would a college student in the 60's get tear gassed, and go back for more even being afraid, but believing in their cause, and college students today listen to their iPods and step back?

Mrs. Friedman: You know, you're 100% percent right. That is such a good observation. And as I mentioned before, I taught at BU for 6 years. And that was really depressing because the students, all they cared about... and this was ideology, you know, so you'd think they're into people, and stuff, you know, caring about people. And they were talking about what business course we should take, how much money are we going to make. It's like: "I never asked..." I'm not saying you shouldn't, but you know, they definitely didn't have the ideals. And there were issues going on, whether it was global warming or other issues, and they didn't demonstrate. The faculty was more politically, you know, into it than the students. But I think the main reason is because the draft. When we were going through school, everybody we knew, you know, they were all our ages, were up for the draft. It was your life. And I think that got people more motivated. I think your particular age-this is just a rough thing- when I was teaching was more in the 70s and 80s and I think those people were totally unpolitical. I get hope when you do things like this that you guys are going to be different. You know, maybe you guys will be the next 60s or something. You know, thank God there's no draft, and we fought very hard for us not to get the draft. But it's also... it would be good if you could also get on the demonstrations, and be there, you know, to [inaudible]. There was a lot of old people... like... that was... you know, there was some kids...it was nice to see... it was nice to see kids at a demonstration. I don't mean that you're kids. Young adults. It gives me faith. When I see things like this, it gives me total faith that maybe we could get out of this and learn something.

Part II

May 15, 2007
Interviewer: Sherry Ng
Interviewee: Fran Friedman
Editor: Ben Boegehold

Mrs. Friedman: A lot of the questions that you raised last time, after I left, it scrambled my brain. It reminded me of so many things that happened. I also wanted to clarify a couple of things that I didn’t get to. The first one was the sanctuary. It was a place in the middle ages… a long time ago, way before I was born, that had people went into churches and the army wouldn’t be allowed in there, they would declare sanctuary. That’s where this was taken from. The first one was at Arlington street church in Boston, the second one was Marsh Chapel, which I was very involved with, and the third was at MIT, then it happened elsewhere in the country. The one I was more involved with was Marsh Chapel. I was involved with all of them but the one I was most involved with was Marsh Chapel, through Student Mobilization Committee (SMC). Ray Kroll was the guy who went AWOL from the army, and we were there to protect him. He was trying to take sanctuary, so he came… as I said there were about 24 of us and it ended up with over 2,000. We stayed day and night; it was for a whole week. It was five o’clock Sunday morning the FBI came, and they were really aggressive. We were already prepped on how to non-violently resist, not fight back. We had instructions and practice on going limp, so that if they try to move you it makes it harder and you get hurt less. People were tired and everything, but we were energized through music and talking. It was amazing. So, at five o’clock in the morning the FBI came. They had these giant lights, spot lights, and every body went right in their position, stayed in the aisle and it was non-violent passive resistance, which Martin Luther King had taught, as well as a lot of other people. We all went limp, but it was not that big a place and you saw everything that was going on, in the other aisle, they were taking kids and throwing them against the pews which was kind of not necessary, all they had to do was walk over us. We were going to be very non-violent, but some kids broke their arms and such. It was a powerful thing, but then when they took him (Kroll) it was incredible because how could you take him? It was sanctuary, but they didn’t care about that.

I was thinking about what you asked: “Have we learned anything?” And I realized that there are tremendous parallels between now and then. In 1968 Johnson was talking about escalating the war, and do you know about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? He was given full power in going to war, well that’s exactly like what Bush had. They were also both based on lies, they resolution was based on lies and the WMDs were definitely lies. It’s going after the wrong people. If some body hurts you from Afghanistan, you go into Iraq? I don’t get the logic, and there was no relationship, it was all based on lies.

I also wanted to go over some of these [shows buttons]. There was one button… I hadn’t looked at these in about 40 years, so after we got together I took them home and there was one button that said “Choose life” and it had the tree on it, I was really upset about that because back then it was about choosing life, not only ecologically, because ecology was becoming… Silent Spring and stuff, people were starting to get mobilized with that, but also choose life, don’t kill. What happened was, that was taken by the anti-abortion movement, and that really bothers me. I took that button out of my pack because I’m very pro-choice and I think its up to a woman and her doctor. The roots were actually from the bible, “choose life”. But they were not talking about anti-abortion. Well I was looking at these, these are my Iraq buttons: “Bush Lied, Thousands Died” and I was thinking, Johnson and McNamara. He totally lied the war was not winnable. He kept saying: “Yea it’s winnable, it’s winnable”. So he lied and thousands died. So here it is, have we learned anything? And I was looking at all these buttons, the peace buttons, and I was thinking, it’s so sad, you could use the same buttons, except these have the dates of 1968. Isn’t that sad? And “Bring Back the Troops” these are all things from way back. There was another button in there that I didn’t really wear, I just had it, it said: “Anti-Button”. But I really felt like we were not anti-anything, we were pro. We were very optimistic, we were very hopeful.

Also, going into Cambodia, hopefully that’s not going to be like what we’re going to do now.

I really felt like we had a lot of trust, we were very optimistic, all that stuff was really positive. So we weren’t as other people said: “The anti-culture”. We were for changing the culture to a better way. Unfortunately, over time, and this is me, the eternal optimist, I’d be in demonstrations and I’d see it being written up in the newspapers, and I knew the truth, that we didn’t start anything, and the cops did and then it would totally  be opposite in the papers. Even in a demonstration for the workers, this was with Martin Luther King, back in ’67 or ’68, around then, and the FBI, it was found out much later, had sent instigators, to get everything riled up and to start riots. The people there weren’t going to do it, but once the riots started, the cops went after everybody, but that’s really wrong. It takes 40 years to find out the FBI instigated it, but people still hurt, the culture still changes. Between all that and every body getting killed that I supported. And then the voting machines, I think that was my final… when we can’t have democracy… here we’re trying to spread democracy, and we can’t even have a democracy here. If you can’t have valid voting booths, then we have no democracy here. And that was a think I became pessimistic in… starting 2000 because the voting thing, what a scam. And then 2004, in Ohio… those machines were made by Bush’s friends and stuff… give me a break. In Wayland, we have a simple thing you draw a line from the office to the person you want, it’s a paper ballot, you can go back and check them out, you don’t need this high tech stuff that you can’t back anything up. 18,000 people in certain areas didn’t vote… happened to be democratic areas, just a coincidence I’m sure… [Sarcasm] those are the kinds of things… I became pessimistic about the country and the way we’re going, but then again, every once in a while, people like you turn up and then I see hope that maybe this country can go on a right track. So I just wanted to clarify some of that stuff, and I appreciate your time, and your effort.
One last thing, when I was saying minorities being prejudice against other minorities, the only reason I said “I can’t imagine if your Jewish you can be prejudice” is only because I’m Jewish. I know there are bigoted Jews, and bigoted black people and bigoted white people, and bigoted white people, and bigoted anything. What I was saying was that I just don’t understand if you’re a human being, how you can be prejudiced, especially if you’ve experienced it.