[Rocking the Boat: Studs Terkel’s 20th Century rough cut]

Documentary on activism and the labor movement.

0:00Copy video clip URL Titles open on Studs Terkel typing at a typewriter and speaking in voiceover: “‘Don’t make waves,’ they say, meaning ‘Be quiet. Shh. Don’t.’  You’ve got to make waves if something is wrong. You’ve got to rock the boat.”

0:30Copy video clip URL Celebration at Haymarket Square honoring the 110-year anniversary of the actions there. Studs speaks to the assembled crowd. “From this platform (or one close to it), ardent advocates of a revolutionary idea put it forth. It was called the eight hour day.” He quotes a popular song of the time which said, “Eight hours of work, eight hours of play, eight hours for sleep in free Ameri-cay.” He implores the crowd to keep battling for workers’ rights.

1:35Copy video clip URL Studs: “We are suffering from a national Alzheimer’s disease. There is no memory of yesterday. Yesterday is erased… Big government, the alphabet agencies of FDR saved the butts, the asses, of the daddies and granddaddies of those who most condemn government today.” He then explains that for all the good these organizations did for employment, it was not the CCC that ended the Great Depression, it was the war.

2:25Copy video clip URL Propaganda film announcing the outbreak of war in America after the attack at Pearl Harbor.

2:34Copy video clip URL Over more newsreel and industrial footage, Studs Terkel describes the anti-Japanese hysteria that took over the nation after the attack on Pearl Harbor. “That was a big, big blemish, I’d say, on the Roosevelt administration. How easy it is for people to be deceived.”

3:11Copy video clip URL Terkel stands in Bughouse Square and describes the lively debate that used to occur there every day.

4:20Copy video clip URL Terkel: “I call myself, as just a joke, a radical conservative. You know why?… A radical means getting to the root of things… I’m a conservative – I want to conserve the Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment. I want to conserve clean air and pure drinking water and green grass and blue skies and unpolluted air.”

5:00Copy video clip URL Shots of Terkel’s somewhat disorganized office. He says that given the choice of any time period in human history, he would have loved to live through the period of the American Revolution, to witness the excitement of all the fervent politics and ideas.

5:47Copy video clip URL 90-year old civil rights activist Stetson Kennedy describes how he came to be a Klu Klux Klan infiltrator. He explains that while his friends were fighting facism abroad during WWII, he (who was unable to fight due to health issues), decided he would fight facism at home by infiltrating the KKK. He went to various groups (local authorities, FBI, HUAC), but found no one interested in investigating, so he began to take down the Klan from inside by making passwords and other secret information public. He then goes on to describe the progress the labor movement has made in the last century as fundamental to our well-being; however, he reminds us that there is still a large imbalance in the state of African-Americans today. “The black masses in the inner city are just about as skill-less and jobless and hopeless as they ever were. So when we think in terms of ‘What progress have we made?’ we have to face the fact that those things remain unfinished business.”

10:25Copy video clip URL Footage of riots in Flint, Michigan, 1937. 88-year-old Victor Reuther, co-founder of the United Auto Workers and a leader of the famous 1936 Flint sitdown strike, describes the events leading up to the successful strike. He says that fair treatment for minorities, women, immigrants, etc had to be actively combated as part of their agenda, otherwise nothing would have been done. “We had to be boat rockers.”

13:24Copy video clip URL Hazel Wolf, a labor and environmental activist who died recently at the age of 101, describes the tremendous gains that were made through the development of pensions and social security. She tells a story about being sent to jail under the charge of “attempt to overthrow the government by force and violence.”

15:00Copy video clip URL Jessie De La Cruz, 87, who helped organize the United Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez, describes how a regular person like her came to be a farm workers union organizer. “There’s always something you can do… Hope dies last.”

 

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