50 Years Ago….
In the Winter of 1971, nineteen year old Jay Craven (MA GGP ‘78) visited Goddard’s historic campus in Plainfield, VT. One of several stops of his tour of college campuses throughout the country, Craven sought to raise awareness about Vietnamese opposition to the Vietnam war.
As part of a delegation of college newspaper editors and student body presidents sponsored by the US National Student Association, Craven had traveled to Vietnam in December 1970 where he saw first-hand the impact of the conflict. The invitation to visit was initially extended by the South Vietnamese Student Union who wanted to make connections with American students and those in North Vietnam. They believed in the power of youth advocacy and wanted to collectively come together to identify terms for peace. Billed as one of the earliest forms of “citizen diplomacy,” Craven and others hoped their efforts could lead to the development of a peace treaty and ultimately an end to the conflict.
During his visit to Goddard, Craven sought to raise student consciousness regarding the situation on the ground in Vietnam by sharing his experiences and personal testimony as well as a short documentary film called Time is Running Out.
One of several organizers around the country, Craven sought to mobilize Goddard students and other like-minded individuals to participate in a planned protest in Washington DC timed to coincide with May Day 1971. Small affinity groups of activists from throughout Vermont would ultimately travel to Washington to join more than 50,000 individuals from around the country. Together they would camp in West Potomac Park and participate in several weeks of massive non-violent actions in an effort to shut down the federal government and stop the war effort. Their actions resulted in the largest mass arrest for civil disobedience in American history.
Today a self-described “activist by nature,” Craven reflected on his work in the antiwar movement and the formative role it played in his development. “It was an enlivening time for me. It really changed my life and sort of gave me a sense of activism as an important force for getting things done. That activist spirit that was infused–and also conviction, acting on what you believe–those were things that really got me going. It was a coming of age experience for me.”1
Hear more from Jay Craven and others who participated in the 1971 May Day protests in our special 50th anniversary celebration, MAYDAY 1971 RAW, honoring peace activism and featuring a film screening with behind the scenes protest footage followed by a panel discussion.
MAYDAY 1971 RAW
May 1st is celebrated throughout the world as a traditional springtime festival and an international day honoring workers. However, in the days before and after May Day 1971, 50,000+ protesters from around the country flooded Washington DC for massive non-violent action against the Vietnam War. The May Day slogan: If the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government!
MAYDAY 1971 RAW is a production by Mayday Video, an ad hoc group of 25 early videomakers from around the US, including Eddie Becker, Joan Yoshiwara and Videofreex, who are among anticipated panelists. Videofreex and Goddard College are frequent collaborators on alternative media projects with a relationship dating from the 1960s.
Feel the fervor of 1970s utopian activism at this special 50th anniversary film screening of MAYDAY 1971 RAW featuring behind-the-scenes footage from two weeks of large-scale civil disobedience that aimed to shut down the federal government and Washington DC resulting in more than 12,000 arrests, the largest mass arrest event in US history. Hear directly from those who participated including the filmmakers, local Vermont residents and Goddard alums. Learn about the legacy of the protests credited by some for reshaping the nature of protest in the United States and informing feminist and LGBT movements.
MAYDAY 1971 RAW:
50th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, April 30, 2021 – 7:30 – 9:30pm
Zoom Online – Pre-registration required for link
To Register: Fill out this form.
The event is sponsored by the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at Goddard College and co-sponsored by the Haybarn Theatre at Goddard College.
Panelists: Who’s Who?
Eddie Becker is a documentary filmmaker, investigative archivist, walking tour guide, and AirBnB host. His documentary work began with the first introduction of consumer video, (the dramatic, action-packed Justice Department footage in Mayday 1971 Raw is his first video!), and has taken him to conflict zones in the Horn of Africa, Central, and South America, as well as continuing free speech coverage in Washington DC, including his January 6th, 2021 Voices from the Capitol Insurrection. Becker is well known for his exemplary interviewing skills that generate extreme, even outrageous answers, while maintaining a genial curious demeanor.
Skip Blumberg, co-producer/editor of MAYDAY 1971 RAW, has been producing videos since 1969 as one of the infamous Videofreex, subsequently completing hundreds of shorts and longer movies, independently and commissioned, seen on broadcast TV, the internet and screenings, winning 3 NYC Emmys and many other awards, and in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and museums around the world. His newest iPhone movies are posted on SkipsNewMovies.vhx.tv, with dozens of others available through MoreArtistsMovies.com.
Jay Craven (MA GGP ‘78) is co-founder of Kingdom County Productions and an award-winning director, writer, and producer. Craven founded and directs the biennial Cinema Sarah Lawrence program (formerly Movies from Marlboro) where 25 professionals mentor and collaborate with 40 students from multiple colleges to make an ambitious narrative feature film for national release.
Craven also founded and directed Catamount Arts (1975-91) in St. Johnsbury, VT and directed its wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary film and performing arts program. In 1987 he co-founded (with Rob Mermin) Circus Smirkus, America’s only touring youth circus. And from 1979 to 1991 he co-produced Don Sunseri’s G.R.A.C.E. project for older indigenous visual artists.
Craven continues (2009 – present) to curate and produce performing arts events through the KCP Presents series in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. He also curates the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and the Woodstock (VT) film series.
Bridget Downey-Meyer – Bridget Downey-Meyer lived with many others at Mt. Philo Commune/Collective in Charlotte VT from 1969-1972. Having travelled far and wide protesting and demonstrating against the Vietnam conflict, Bridget joined with other Vermont communards to form several affinity groups to travel to Washington and participate in the May Day 1971 protests where she marched with Vietnam Vets Against the War. To this day, Bridget remains engaged in social justice activism having recently participated in actions on behalf of Black Lives Matter.
Reuben Jackson (BA RUP ‘78) is the Archivist with The University of The District Of Columbia’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. From 1989 until 2009, he was Archivist and Curator with the Smithsonian Institution’s Duke Ellington Collection. He was also host of Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio from 2012 until April 2018. His poems have been published in over 40 anthologies.
His first book of poems , fingering the keys, won the 1991 Columbia Book Award. His most recent book, published in October 2019, is entitled Scattered Clouds.
Rick Winston has been involved in presenting films in Central Vermont since 1972, when he founded the Lightning Ridge Film Society. After eight years of showing films weekly at the Pavilion Auditorium, Rick established The Savoy Theater in 1980. After leaving the theater in 2009, Rick has been teaching film history. In 2018 he published a book “Red Scare in the Green Mountains: Vermont in the McCarthy Era 1946-1960” and is currently working on a book about the Vietnam protest movement in Vermont 1965-1975. Originally from Yonkers, NY, Rick has been living in Adamant, VT since 1970.
1Quote from Vermont Conversation Podcast, July 22, 2019
Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism by L.A. Kauffman (Verso Book, 2017) – links to a free online excerpt – book available for purchase here.
MAYDAY 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest by Lawrence Roberts (Houghton Mifflin, 2020)
Time is Running Out by Jay Craven
The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement (Vermont Conversation Podcast with David Goodman)
The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement edited by Karin Aguilar-San Juan and Frank Joyce (Just World Books, 2015)