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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
Honorable Intentions
The Cardinal of Westwood
The Littlest Bruin
Sensing the Future
Dershowitz, For the Defense
Bruin Walk

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Winter 2003 Bruin Walk

Tell Us About It

John F. Kennedy
Illustration by Ward Schumaker

We asked you to share with us your memories of hearing an influential leader speak on campus, and here is what some of you had to say:

In fall 1959, I was a lowly freshman when Sen. John Kennedy came to campus. In those days, there was a walkway from the old student union to Royce Hall that visiting dignitaries took before their appearances to meet and greet students and faculty. I happened to be there with a copy of the Daily Bruin in my hands when the senator came by. I got to the front and asked for his autograph, which he graciously gave. I asked him if he was a candidate and he replied that he was "just a senator." That sound bite was on every channel at 11 p.m. I framed the autographed Bruin and have displayed it on my office wall for 44 years now. The irony of the whole thing was that since I was at the bottom of the campus totem pole, I couldn't get a ticket to Royce Hall, and I never heard the speech.

— Steve Spiegel '63, Seattle

Let's see now: Dr. King at Janss Steps, LBJ making his first public speech after becoming president, an obscure Republican minority leader named Gerald Ford speaking to almost no one, George Wallace easily taking on a packed house in Ackerman, Malcolm X assigned to speak in a small lecture room, Ed Pauley mispronouncing Hubert Humphrey's name in an introduction, Prince Philip speaking about the use of leisure time, Henry Kissinger giving a lecture that no one could understand, Paul Samuelson not understanding why UCLA introductory economics was not using his text book; and so it went.

— Trent R. Feldman '64, M.A. '66, McLean, Va.

In 1969, I heard that the author who had assisted Malcolm X with his legendary autobiography would be speaking at the student union. I joined a crowd of several hundred other students, expecting to hear what it was like to work with Malcolm X. Instead, we were treated to the totally enthralling story of how the author, Alex Haley, had been able to successfully trace his lineage to Africa. The story we heard that day would be known to the world a few years later as Roots. At the time, however, I doubt there was a person in the audience who would have imagined such a feat was possible. Haley held us spellbound for two full hours, and when he recounted the climactic moment at which he realized he had connected Kunta Kinte to Africa, there were gasps of astonishment throughout the room. I have never heard a more compelling speech. In the lengthy standing ovation that followed, I remember seeing the tallest and best-known member of the student body in attendance: Lew Alcindor (a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). I must confess that I never did read Roots — nothing could top hearing Alex Haley tell the story in the first person.

— David Simon '72, J.D. '75, Los Angeles

In 1971, famed anthropologist Louis Leakey spoke in Royce Hall about his excavations in Oldavi Gorge. Leakey was known for "debunking myths," to use the vernacular of the time, or "thinking outside the box," as we would say today. Leakey explained the then-popular theory that man migrated to the plains of Africa and stood upright while monkeys went to the trees to avoid predators ... then he showed a slide of a grown lion perched comfortably in a tree. He also commented on the principle (engraved on Royce Hall) that man is distinguished from animals by his use of tools ... then Leakey showed a picture of a gorilla using a stick to get ants from a rotten log. Two lessons learned: Experience counts and learn to recognize the obvious.

— Dana Sherman '75, Los Angeles

Bob Hope came to UCLA during homecoming 1987, aptly themed "On the Road to Roses." In Ackerman Grand Ballroom, he introduced the homecoming court, of which I was honored to be a member. The court stood on stage behind him as he took questions and responded with jokes to the humorous delight of all. That Monday in October 1987 also happened to be Black Monday on Wall Street. There was concern and discussion among everybody on campus who knew the market was falling, ultimately over 500 points, or 25% of its value then. Those of us in the ballroom listening to Bob Hope forgot our worries while he made us laugh.

— Mark Jessee '90, Westlake Village, Calif.

Next up: Tell us about your favorite campus or Westwood hangouts when you were a student. E-mail us at marinad@support.ucla.edu, fax us at (310) 794-6883 or write to: Bruin Walk Editor, UCLA Magazine, 10920 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1500, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Please include a phone number and city of residence.



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