May Day at Yale, 1970: Recollections
The Trial of Bobby Seale and the Black Panthers
By Henry “Sam” Chauncey, with an introduction by Henry Louis “Skip” Gates and photographs by John T. Hill and Thomas Strong
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120 pages 11 x 11
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Official publication date: March 22, 2016 – signed copies available directly from Prospecta Press for a limited time at the special price of $25 with free shipping. To order, email email@example.com or send your check to Easton Studio Press, PO Box 3131, Westport CT 06880
This book comes from first hand experiences, both in word and in pictures. It offers a partial record of a community and an institution coming together to accommodate an event while deflecting its potential violence. The history of the New Haven Green bridges over four centuries. It has served as a place for worship, for grazing cattle, staging revolutions, witness to hangings, and various campaigns.
On the day before and on May Day of 1970, Yale University and New Haven prepared to host an agitated congregation of young civil rights activists with a diverse list of causes, but focused mainly on freeing Bobby Seale, the Black Panther leader. This book gives a glimpse of that diversity; diverse in cause, attitude, and dress. Marked changes in mood evolved over the approximate 32 hours. Yale and New Haven could be proud of avoiding real violence and bloodshed.
Like an archeological record, May Day at Yale, 1970 exhibits not only the New Haven Green on that one day, but marks a broader shift in direction for a county at large. For those who were there, it seems painfully near. For later generations, it is likely a remote abstraction, one that is well worth knowing something about, as emblematic of an important period in our history.
Henry Chauncey, Jr., known as “Sam”, was born in 1935. He graduated from Yale College in 1957. He worked in various administrative capacities at Yale from 1957 to 1982. He then was founding CEO of Science Park Development Corporation in New Haven; subsequently President and CEO of Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, Connecticut and finally Lecturer and Head of the Health Management Program in the Yale School of Public Health. He is retired and resides in New Haven.
Professor and educator Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. Gates excelled as a student, graduating from Yale University in 1973 with a degree in history. He continued his education at Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in England. He finished his doctorate degree in 1979, making him the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from the university.
In the 1980s, Gates became known as a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. At the start of the decade, he began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. Gates received a grant from the prestigious MacArthur Foundation in 1981, which helped support his scholarship in African-American literature.
In 1991, Gates became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is credited with transforming the school’s African American studies program.
Gates served an editor on several anthologies and collections of African-American literature and contributed to the field of literary theory with such works as Black Literature and Literary Theory (1984) and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (1988). In 1991, Gates became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is credited with transforming the school’s African American studies program. Gates is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university.
John T. Hill holds MFA degrees from both the University of Georgia and Yale. He taught at Yale for nineteen years, becoming its first director of graduate studies in photography. In 1975, on the death of his friend, Walker Evans, he became executor of that estate. After leaving Yale, he has designed and authored a number of books and exhibitions.
Thomas Strong has a BA from Dartmouth and a degree in graphic design from Yale School of Art and Architecture. Walker Evans was his principle instructor in photography. Since 1968, he and Marjorie C. Gordon have directed the design firm Strong Cohen on Chapel Street in New Haven.
Robert M. Pennoyer was born into a storied family – his maternal grandfather was the legendary J. P. Morgan. His irresistible memoir traces his sheltered childhood on the Gold Coast of Long Island; an adolescence overshadowed by the gathering clouds of World War II; and a young adulthood that survived one of the decisive engagements of the Pacific Theater – Iwo Jima. The author gives us as well a heartwarming account of a romance that blossomed into a lifelong matrimonial partnership and a close family life, tested nonetheless by crisis. And he chronicles a distinguished career, the early part of which was spent in the service of President Eisenhower and the latter part in private law practice and pro bono work.
As It Was begins in an era of unprecedented wealth and privilege for some and great misery and poverty for others, – one that Mark Twain lampooned as the “Gilded Age,” and ends, coming in effect full circle, in our own era of the One Per Cent, as the income chasm in America reopens. What divides these periods, and is so impressively portrayed here, is the rise of American Progressivism led by the two Roosevelts.
Most importantly, this book is itself a demonstration of the values that boosted America on its path to greatness and for which no finer exemplar could be found than its author. It bespeaks a belief in democracy that is passionate and unshakable, and builds on a deep appreciation of the institutions that enable it. The spirit that flows through these pages may be modest, but it is also filled with an irrepressible optimism and a faith in simple values that are both uplifting and marvelously contagious. As It Was is a lesson in a life well lived, and a tonic for dark and troubled times.
— Scott Horton, author of Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Warfare (2015), contributing editor,Harper’s Magazine.
“As It Was weaves effortlessly back and forth between Robert Pennoyer’s private life and his public life as a lawyer – from his fascinating recollections of his grandfather J.P. Morgan and his marriage to the prettiest girl on the block to being a counselor to the Department of Defense and a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum. Wherever he goes, he champions humanitarian causes, aided by the law and an elegant hand with a pen.”
– Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr., former staff writer for the New Yorker and author of several books about space exploration.
Robert M. Pennoyer attended St. Paul’s School and Harvard College. During World War II he saw action in the Pacific as a young Naval officer. After graduation from Columbia Law School, he became, successively, a Federal prosecutor, and a counsel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense during the Eisenhower years. In 1958 he returned to private practice in New York, joining a small firm, Patterson Belknap & Webb, which he helped to build into one of the leading firms in the country. For many years he served as counsel to the Rockefeller foundation.
Committed to public service, Pennoyer founded a halfway house for men emerging from prison, and over the years served as a trustee of Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and, for half a century each, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Morgan Library.
In the 1970s, under his leadership as president, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation established, at the suggestion of his poet wife, Victoria Parsons Pennoyer, the prestigious Whiting Writers’ Awards.
He lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and, at the age of 90, still goes to the office every day.