Education: Commencement, 1969: Pomp and Protest

AT Tufts University, a mustachioed triple honors graduate clumped onstage to receive his undergraduate degree, wearing, in addition to his black academic robe, sandals, white pants and a construction helmet with red ribbon attached. Dozens of graduating seniors at Brandeis proudly wore stenciled red fists —a symbol of dissent popular with Boston area student activists—attached to their robes. At Pomona College, something of the spirit of '69 was summed up by the class poet, James E. Rosenberg, who instead of a speech read a passionate poem of societal rebellion, replete with phallic imagery and four-letter bravado.

That kind of nose-thumbing rejection of...

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