Robert Gawley on segregation in the South and Vietnam
From - UM Libraries
Robert Gawley, Professor of Chemistry, gets some opening laughs by showing a slide rule, "the precursor to the calculator, the successor to the abacus," which "those of you under 40 may not have ever seen before." He recalls growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, and attending a segregated high school, then attending the conservative, Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. "Up until 1965, you were not allowed to dance anything other than square-dance on campus." He remarks that most of Florida was "very, very Southern," except for Miami, which had more Northern immigrants. Gawley was unaware of Vietnam until his freshman advisors suggested that he enter ROTC, both because he would become an officer if drafted, and because that way he could earn a deferment if entering graduate school. His draft number was 51, but he was able to avoid Vietnam. Gawley describes gender segregation at Stetson and fondly remembers the Dean of Women, Etter Turner, who kept open communication lines with the students. Other comments refer to the fact that Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and General Westmoreland were lying to America when they reported on Vietnam so that they could keep the war going; and that Richard Nixon, ironically, campaigned for the presidency as an anti-war candidate. Gawley recalls that Jimmy Carter's first act as president was to declare amnesty for all Vietnam protesters. Gawley winds up with a recollection of a black ROTC student at Stetson who was dating a white girl and was cautioned about it; he later became a successful businessman and a trustee at Stetson: "Things have changed quite a bit."