I pulled out my old green, black and red “Abolish Apartheid Divest Now” button. It was once pinned to the lapel of the black tweed blazer I wore every day, part of the 80’s newspaper reporter uniform (costume, I suppose).
I got the button up in Buffalo. Allegany County, where I lived and worked, had no such buttons were for sale. There’s a town there that vigorously proclaims – contrary to all evidence – that it is the birthplace of the Republican Party. That kind of place.
Allegany County, however, is home to Alfred University, know for its ceramic engineering and art schools. It was Alfred students; building shanties and asking trustees to divest that inspired me to voice an opinion.
The plywood and nylon shanty went up on the campus green, was knocked down, rebuilt. The kids were accused of discovering their conscience as the end of spring term loomed. I wrote several stories and a column on the topic.
“Michael Emch, one of the organizers of the anti-apartheid student group said, ‘If we get enough signatures I don’t see how the university can refuse to divest.’”