Interview with Arthur M. Eisenson : The Movement Oral History Project
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- http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046558 - Stanford (Calif.) : Stanford Historical Society
- April 16, 2018-May 11, 2018
- http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046615 - http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046611 : http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046606, http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046568, http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046573, http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046592, http://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/n50046600
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The purpose of the project is to document the experiences, background, and life trajectories of participants in “the Movement,” the term used by group leaders to describe a diverse collection of activists that coalesced at and around Stanford University from about 1963 to 1973, especially although not exclusively in opposition to the Vietnam War. Project organizers aim to further document the Movement’s political objectives and activities and its social and cultural milieu; to illuminate the interconnections between various activist groups and issues; and to share lessons learned with new generations of activists. They also hope to record the impact of the events of that time on participants’ personal identities, careers, and ongoing political involvement as well as their impact on Stanford and the surrounding community. The project steering committee is comprised of: Janet Cooper Alexander, Margie Cohn, Art Eisenson, Jeanne Friedman, David Pugh, Merle Rabine, Dave Ransom, Lenny Siegel, and Marc Weiss. Merle Rabine serves as project coordinator. Support for this and other Stanford Community History Toolkit projects was provided by the Stanford Associates, the Stanford University Archives, and the Stanford Historical Society.
Art Eisenson begins the interview by describing the influence of his upbringing in a Jewish family in suburban New York, touching on his family’s ties to the Democratic Party and local unions, as well as the impact of major events of the time, including the civil rights movement and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Arriving at Stanford as a graduate student in the Department of English in 1963, Eisenson describes the genesis of the Graduate Coordinating Committee (GCC), which formed around free speech and took its cue from the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, and later joining protests against the Vietnam War following a series of teach-ins.
- Art Eisenson begins the interview by describing the influence of his upbringing in a Jewish family in suburban New York, touching on his family’s ties to the Democratic Party and local unions, as well as the impact of major events of the time, including the civil rights movement and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Arriving at Stanford as a graduate student in the Department of English in 1963, Eisenson describes the genesis of the Graduate Coordinating Committee (GCC), which formed around free speech and took its cue from the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, and later joining protests against the Vietnam War following a series of teach-ins. In discussing his campus activism, Eisenson moves through his involvement with the Stanford Committee for Peace in Vietnam (SCPV), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Venceremos and the Revolutionary Union, and the April Third Movement (A3M), especially the sit-ins at the Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL) and Stanford president Wallace Sterling’s office in protest of the Stanford Research Institute’s contributions to the Vietnam War. He also describes experiencing a personal “rubicon,” a realization of the lengths he would go to in order to defend friends and beliefs if threatened. Eisenson also describes off-campus activism, including handing out leaflets to workers at a plant manufacturing napalm and supporting striking workers at a steel plant in Milpitas. Eisenson left Stanford in 1969, moving to Los Angeles, where he worked in the entertainment industry and became active in the Writers Guild. Throughout the interview, he aims to give a sense of the cultural milieu of the time, including the impact of books, movies, and music on his generation.
- In 1963, Art arrived at Stanford to become a writer. Until then, he lived all his life in New York, growing up in a New York suburb and then studying English and comparative literature at Columbia College of Columbia University. In part to avoid the military draft, he went on to pursue a master’s degree at Stanford. As a graduate student, he began his activism with the Graduate Coordinating Committee, followed by the Stanford Committee for Peace in Vietnam and Students for a Democratic Society.
After graduating with master’s degrees in English and communication, Art went on to write for theatrical film and television in Los Angeles, contributing crime dramas for Warner Bros, Universal, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Columbia. Among his notable works rooted in his campus experience is “What Really Happened to the Class of '65?,” an anthology television series that aired on NBC in 1978. He continued his activism in media through the Writers Guild of America, West where he served as picket captain and member of the strike committees in five strikes, lead plaintiff in the Television Writers Class Action Age Discrimination Lawsuits, and chairperson for the Committee on Freedom of Expression and Censorship.
When Eisenson left Stanford in 1969, he received two master’s degrees and a temporary restraining order forbidding him to step foot on campus. He now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he continues to write professionally. A partial list of his credits is available here: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0260545/?ref_=nv_sr_1
- Finding Aid
- The Movement Oral History Project (SC1432)
- Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
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