1968: The Great Rehearsal was a weeklong colloquium centered on events that occurred in 1968, using the year as a symbol for the great worldwide revolutions that took place thereafter. What started out as a conversation between visiting professor Andrej Grubacic and Global Commons director Katharine Wallerstein, grew into a week of events throughout the Bay Area, with its apex at the Harney Science Center.
The opening plenary discussed the significance of 1968 as a year that sparked a world revolution. However, this upheaval failed to change the world and may be a prelude for today’s actions. The recent failure of a major financial institution on Wall Street reflects a crack in the trust that the government places in the capitalist economy.
One of the successes of 1968 was that they began to transform the institutions of government, like the economy and the media. Although all of their revolutionary changes may not have been implemented, they realized that revolution is an ongoing process. The recent Wall Street meltdown shows that activists must build on the intentions of 1960s revolutionaries and seek to transform the current problems.
The audience also viewed a documentary on the San Francisco 8, a group of former Black Panther members that were charged with the murder a police officer in the seventies and were tortured until they “confessed.” Eventually a judge threw out the case saying that tortured confessions were inadequate and that there was no credible evidence to support the charge. Thirty years later, with the enactment of the Patriot Act, the case resurfaced, and the Panthers were jailed by the same men who had arrested and tortured them.
The thematic sessions were based around themes such as feminism and sexual liberation, the civil rights movement, the Forgotten People and liberation theology. The closing plenary communicated the idea of living in accordance with one’s convictions, thinking outside of the box and daring to struggle for a new and more just world.
Student reaction to the day’s event was positive. Senior Dennis Lambert said, “I think the event is great in that it brought a lot of people together.” He went on to say that the event debunked the common “hippie myths.”
The organizers of the event advocated the gathering of information and building stronger communities to create a better world. Grubacic said, “We must find a solution that is truly noble.”