A Minnesota PBS Initiative
Edina's Brush with Vietnam
VIETNAM ROUNTABLE EVENT AUG 28, 2018
Fifty years ago the world watched as the Vietnam War raged and protests rocked the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago (Aug 26-29, 1968).
To commemorate this anniversary, Edina resident Edward Schwartzbauer will share his experience as a ‘68 convention delegate at a free public program to be hosted by Concordia University on Tuesday, August 28 at 7 P.M.
I led the 1968 effort in Edina, MN to oppose the war and to nominate Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy for President. I was assisted by Edina resident Barbara Dunn. Later, we would appoint a precinct leader in every voting precinct.
Our initial effort was to get like-minded Edina residents to the DFL political caucuses. As part of that, we held our own forum at the Edina City Hall. I spoke on the political and legal history of the conflict. The U of M's Esther Wattenberg, Dr. Richard Benjamin, and Rev. John Cummins also spoke.
We had obtained the names of those who attended the DFL caucuses at the time of the "Sandy" Keith effort to replace Gove. Karl Rolvaag as the Party's candidate for Governor. We contacted all of them, and many suggested additional contacts. The result was that McCarthy supporters were elected to all of Edina's seats to subsequent conventions.
After the usual pyramid of Party conventions, I co-chaired the Third Congressional District Convention along with Ed Donahue, a very articulate labor organizer.
At that convention, I was elected as a delegate to the infamous Democratic National Convention in Chicago
Back in 1968, the public did not know in advance what the vote at the convention would be, and we were optimistic as we drove down Michigan Avenue in Chicago and saw every street lamp decorated with McCarthy posters. McCarthy forces had planned well, and young people who were "clean for Gene" provided directions and transportation to McCarthy rallies preliminary to the actual vote.
I remember young people being brought into the hotel on stretchers, with blood streaming from their heads.
Several McCarthy supporters and I wandered through Grant Park, where much of the violence started, to visit with the "Yuppies." Grant Park was directly across the street from the Conrad Hilton Hotel, where the Minnesota delegation was housed. I remember young people being brought into the hotel on stretchers, with blood streaming from their heads.
Amidst all of this, there were up-beat rallies for McCarthy. There were movie stars in town, including Dinah Shore, Paul Newman, and Joan Woodward, who did free shows for McCarthy.
I was one of thirteen delegates elected from the 3rd, 4th and 5th Congressional Districts who supported McCarthy. However, two of the delegates from the 5th (Minneapolis) bolted at the convention and voted for the candidate of the Black Caucus, the mayor of Cleveland. So McCarthy received only 11 votes from Minnesota, including mine.
As nearly everyone who lived through that period knows, the convention was dominated by the violence outside, and some noisy demonstrations within. A retrospective movie honoring Bobby Kennedy was shown. Kennedy had won the California primary, but was assassinated shortly before the convention. After the movie, the California delegates started singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Those of us from Minnesota who opposed the war walked back from the front of the convention where we were seated to the back where the California group was seated.
The California delegation included Shirley MacLaine, Audrey meadows, and a large football lineman from the L.A. Rams. We locked hands with them and joined them in singing. The crowd in the packed galleries tried to drown us out by singing "Happy Days are Here Again." The band joined the galleries, and then the convention adjourned for the night.
After the convention, many of us worried that the people in Minnesota who opposed the war would not vote for Humphrey. Because I had written a strong letter to the Star Tribune urging McCarthy supporters to now support Humphrey, Senator Mondale called me and asked me to prepare a half-page newspaper ad that the Humphrey campaign would pay for. We approached other leaders of the McCarthy movement to lend their names to the ad, and several did. Minnesotans did vote for Humphrey.
Among my proudest possessions is a letter from the Vice President that says in part "I have just read your letter to the Editor in last Sunday's Tribune, and I can't tell you how moved and grateful I am."
Story Themes: 1968 Democratic Convention, Audrey Meadows, Barbara Dunn, Bobby Kennedy, Chicago, Democrat, DFL, Dinah Shore, Dissent, Edina, Eugene McCarthy, Hollywood, Hubert Humphrey, Joan Woodward, John Barnes, Karl Rolvaag, Letter to the Editor, Paul Newman, Politics, Pop Culture, Protest, Read, Shirley MacLain, Walter Mondale