Race Crisis Series – An Unfolding New School Story
More than a year ago I wrote a post about finding some buried New School treasure while working on a class lecture. The image was of MLK Jr. (at left) and it turned out to be part of a 1964 “Race Crisis” series. The public lecture series was hosted at The New School and featured an opening lecture in 1964 (coincidentally on my birthday of Feb 6) by no other than Martin Luther King Jr. That photo discovery led to a long story which is still unfolding today, and which involves many different people, university archives and avenues of exploration. You can read more about this story at the Free Press here.
So the latest update is a small cache of files discovered by staff in the New School for Public Engagement (NSPE) office earlier this year. The files include a series of correspondences with one of the lead organizers for the program, Daniel Anthony, and a hand written note (at right) from no other than illustrious former New School benefactor Dorothy Hirshon, for whom the Hirshon Suite in Arnold Hall (55 W 13th) is named.
In a handwritten letter from Hirshon she comments that the program overall looks excellent, but that she is adamantly opposed to the suggestion that Malcolm X be invited as a potential speaker. He “preaches hatred and violence,” says Hirshon, as well as “denigrates our late President” JFK, who had just been assassinated in November of 1963. She sarcastically suggests that perhaps the university should also invite then governor of Alabama George Wallace, a rabid white supremacist at the front lines of opposing the blossoming civil rights movement.
These documents are a fascinating insight into the planning and vision behind the event, and also yielded one more tantalizing piece of information which read as follows:
“The series will be broadcast on TV channel 13 and will be given strong publicity.”
If this is in fact the case, it may be that the lost archives of this event are not in fact all lost. It also means there is a very good chance that an actual video copy of these public talks may exist in the New York channel 13 (public access) archives somewhere. This would be in addition to the other fascinating and important Black produced media coming out of Channel 13 and NYC at this time, which you can read more about here.
Another exciting part of this find was a copy of the original poster for the lecture series, as seen below.
That investigation is the next step in this unfolding New School historical treasure hunt. So stay tuned…
You can download a copy of the American-Race-Crisis-Series-Archive_The-New-School_1964 here, and we hope to continue working to uncover more details about this exciting historical moment at The New School.
Until next time…Indiana Jones never gave up, and neither should you!