Studs Terkel lectures at Northeastern University in Chicago.
00:00Copy video clip URL Terkel begins by congratulating the students and the University for being around for seventy five years. He jokes that it makes them three years older than him, and therefore an important place.
00:33Copy video clip URL Studs explains that the “non-celebrated ones” are the people he finds “the most attractive and endearing.” He tells the group that it is people who do not make it into the history books who interest him the most. “It’s the people who have the book, not those in it.”
01:15Copy video clip URL He furthers his metaphor, talking about the street and noting that many students themselves are workers as well. He references the condition of Christians in the Roman empire. “They were the commies of their day, called up before the House Un-Roman committee.” Studs compares that corruption to the way some groups are treated today.
02:34Copy video clip URL Studs talks about the Depression and notes that many of the student’s grandparents may not have told them about that time because they felt guilty: “They were conditioned to believe, if you’ve got it you’ll make it. Well, a lot of people had it and a lot of people didn’t make it.” He also describes the ways in which “big government” saved the economy. Studs claims that young people have no sense of history.
03:51Copy video clip URL Studs talks about free enterprise and why the small business owners cannot live up to a bigger corporation. He jokes that “has a mass lobotomy occurred?” Studs says he feels like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because he is the only one who seems to have a sense of past and the concept of dissent. “Youngstown, the men of steel are now men of rustiness.”
06:05Copy video clip URL Studs talks about how our priority should be the needs of people and schools and the elderly, saying “the biggest welfare bums are in the Pentagon.” He speaks out against military buildup and claims that it actually eliminates jobs.
07:55Copy video clip URL “Do you have a life wish?” Studs says that parks and schools last, while missiles do not. He says it is a decision to make that must involve decision and intelligent thought.
08:32Copy video clip URL Studs describes his life during the Depression and his work as a gangster in radio soap operas. He describes playing the dumb character and how many of his roles were virtually the same. He tells a story about one called Betty and Bob and how President Reagan made a reference to Edie Davis, the woman who played the mother-in-law on his show. Studs notes: “this was a revelation; you can no longer tell where soap opera leaves off and real life begins.”
10:12Copy video clip URL Soap Opera versus Real Life: Studs says that there are always choices. He quotes Albert Einstein and how he noted that “The human being made a leap. … Unless we make that same leap in human relations … we’re in for a disaster.”
12:15Copy video clip URL “To me, ‘student’ has always been the magic word throughout history. Students have always questioned.” Studs notes the importance of questioning one’s surroundings and how students have always been more willing to do that.
12:47Copy video clip URL Studs talks about some of the ordinary people he has met. He talks about Peggy Terry, who was from Appalachia and only received a fifth grade education. He emphasizes her willingness to learn and grow. “Something has to touch you and suddenly you realize what a big world it is.” He also talks about C.P. Ellis, a Ku Klux Klansman who later repented and learned the error in his ways. Studs explains how Ellis fell into the Klan and how he learned to change.
15:52Copy video clip URL Studs tells the story of Miles Horton, who said he “looks at a person with two eyes. One eye shows me what he is, the other eye shows me what he can be.” He also talks about Mary Lou Wolf, from Chicago, who became a community leader. She talked about dreams and how they enrich peoples’ lives. “When you’re aware, you’re alive.”
17:23Copy video clip URL Studs talks about a town in Kentucky and the story of a woman named Gaynell Begley. Studs says that her husband looks like Abe Lincoln and that he told Studs how you “don’t give up.”
19:33Copy video clip URL Audio and video cuts out for a moment, then goes back to the story about Gaynell Begley and how she had to pull a dinner bell. She compares the community to the effort that it took to ring that bell.
20:32Copy video clip URL Studs ends with a quote from Rev. Bill Coffin, who is now head to Riverside Church. It is a prayer to students in the sixties. The prayer asks for students to want to be open minded and always question petty rules that separate people from one another. “Quarrel with the world.”
22:37Copy video clip URL Studs end with an “Amen” and walks off stage to an uproar of applause. Another man takes the podium and the camera pans to the audience to a standing ovation. The second speaker thanks Studs for his speech and asks the guests back to the reception.
24:19Copy video clip URL End of tape, goes to snow.