Pete Seeger oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Beacon, New York, 2011-07-22.
And, uh, by one, I think by twelve-thirty, uh, they have a parade. In the beginning, it was just the fire engine and the ambulance, but next year it was the fire engine, the ambulance, and some people. Now the parade is an hour long, [laughter] and everybody wants to be in the parade.
PS: And after the parade, then is when they, this improvising - in fact, uh, some women from a Hindu temple now in beautifully colored saris, they’re dancing on a platform, with a tape recording of music from India and two hundred people watching them and applauding.
PS: To think that this was a narrow-minded little factory town until, I guess, World War II. It started with a Dutch girl. Uh, I don’t know why - this isn’t what you’re talking - well, in a way, it’s, it’s the same thing that produced the Civil Rights Movement, uh, people of different backgrounds getting together. Like Viola Liuzzo was Italian American, mother of five, I’m told, and she came down from Detroit and risked getting assassinated and did get assassinated.
PS: Here in Beacon, nobody got assassinated, but, uh - oh, I know what sparked it off! Yes! It was sparked off because there was a, uh, there was a high school race riot.
PS: There was a high school race riot, and these women decided, “Let’s, uh, get people.” And they started with the churches and the respectable groups. Now literally anybody can - the town is a town of [45:00] fourteen thousand, but ten thousand of them are out there. Of course, some are grumbling, “Oh, this town is going to hell,” but the kids are saying, “Hey, it’s fun, Dad. You ought to come down.” [Laughter]
JM: Let me, let me ask a final question for me. John may have questions as well. I’m just interested in what you think these days about our situation. Here we have our first black President, and yet we’re embroiled in complicated and long-running war. And I’m just curious about your perspective, thinking about this long arc of history.