Title

Kunstler at the Courthouse: What Happens When Sixties Activism and Small Town Politics Collide?

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James Duane Bolin

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract/Description

William Kunstler (1919-1995) called himself a "radical lawyer" and came to national prominence through his controversial work defending everyone from the Mississippi Freedom Riders, Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, and the "Chicago Seven" to Lenny Bruce, Jack Ruby, and John Gotti. In 1971 he was contracted to speak at Lovett Auditorium by Murray State's SGA as part of their "Insight" lecture series. Murray State's Board of Regents fought back against Kunstler's upcoming visit because of his political beliefs and the controversy that often accompanied his public appearances. Weeks of press coverage of the very public conflict between Murray State's administration and the student body followed. In the end members of the Murray community interceded and secured a location for Kunstler to speak - not on the stage of Lovett Auditorium but instead on Murray's Court Square. Kunstler's visit to Murray is a fascinating incident which brings to light issues of academic freedom, the relationship between "town and gown," and the perspective of a small, rural college town on one of the most iconic and infamous figures of 1960s and 1970s activism.

Location

Tennessee Room, Curris Center

Start Date

April 2016

End Date

April 2016

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Apr 19th, 2:00 PM Apr 19th, 3:30 PM

Kunstler at the Courthouse: What Happens When Sixties Activism and Small Town Politics Collide?

Tennessee Room, Curris Center

William Kunstler (1919-1995) called himself a "radical lawyer" and came to national prominence through his controversial work defending everyone from the Mississippi Freedom Riders, Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, and the "Chicago Seven" to Lenny Bruce, Jack Ruby, and John Gotti. In 1971 he was contracted to speak at Lovett Auditorium by Murray State's SGA as part of their "Insight" lecture series. Murray State's Board of Regents fought back against Kunstler's upcoming visit because of his political beliefs and the controversy that often accompanied his public appearances. Weeks of press coverage of the very public conflict between Murray State's administration and the student body followed. In the end members of the Murray community interceded and secured a location for Kunstler to speak - not on the stage of Lovett Auditorium but instead on Murray's Court Square. Kunstler's visit to Murray is a fascinating incident which brings to light issues of academic freedom, the relationship between "town and gown," and the perspective of a small, rural college town on one of the most iconic and infamous figures of 1960s and 1970s activism.