Us About It
by Ward Schumaker
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.
us about your favorite campus or Westwood hangouts when you were
a student. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org,
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.