The annual Family of Man awards dinner in New York City last month appeared to be more of a family quarrel than an expression of human solidarity.
While the city’s Council of Churches sponsored a $150-a-plate dinner attended by 2,000 inside the New York Hilton, a farrago of 500 gathered outside to protest the council’s honoring of President Nixon; former Ambassador Averell Harriman; Dr. S. I. Hayakawa, battle-scarred president of San Francisco State College; and civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin.
“It must be said … in plain truth,” said Secretary of State William P. Rogers as he accepted Nixon’s medallion, “that the leaders in Hanoi look upon disruption and dissent in the United States as their best ally.” Meanwhile, at the protest outside (engineered by Union Theological Seminary students), alternate awards were presented to James Forman (present) for “the Black Manifesto which symbolizes a great deal of hope”; Pete Seeger, “in this day of dead lakes and fouled-up rivers … for his interest in ecology”; Father James Groppi (unavoidably detained in a Wisconsin jail), for “uniting the people of Milwaukee who are poor and oppressed”; and others.
The protest group was a surprising assortment from moderate clergy to the Weatherman faction of the Students for a Democratic Society, Youth Against War and Facism, the “Crazies” militant youth group, and some supporters of the National Liberation Front. After the counter-awards, the clergy group marched across the street in defiance of a police order and fed one another bread and wine.
Several days before, a bevy of New York clergymen “liberated” the office of the Council ...1
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