Many of the students who founded the MCEWV—including a student who later became a professor at the UW School for Workers, Frank Emspak (1943- )—came from Communist Party backgrounds, although several of the founders were Trotskyists. A chapter of the Young Socialist Alliance, the youth group of the (Trotskyist) Socialist Workers Party, had existed at the University since 1962. In September 1962 I had bought my first copy of the Militant, the weekly newspaper of the SWP, from Gerry Foley, who sold it every Friday afternoon in front of the University Library, and I had begun reading it regularly. Weekly vigils against the War in Vietnam were held at the Capitol Square on Friday nights during the remainder of the frozen winter of 1965, one of the coldest winters in memory. As the weather improved in the late spring, anti-war activities increased substantially and demonstrations against the war were held outside the Truax Air Force Base (today the Madison airport) and at the Badger Ordnance powder works northwest of Madison near Baraboo, Wisconsin, which made much of the gun powder for the U.S. troops in Vietnam. “Teach-ins” during which University faculty spoke against the war were held in buildings near the campus. The MCEWV began distributing thousands of copies of its weekly newsletter, The Crisis, which I helped to produce.


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