Louisville Magazine

APR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Page 139 of 148

liveinlou.com LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.19 109 steps, his arms raised in a defiant Black Power salute. According to a timeline compiled by the school, Strickler stated, "I shall long remember this day — the most disappointing one in my 31 years of association with the university." A statement by the BSU laid "full responsibility" for the occupation on the administration for refusing "to deal rationally and justly with an exceedingly rational and just proposal. Power to the people, black power to black people…the revolution shall overcome." e students spent the night in jail. e next day in Lexington, Republican Gerald Ford, then the U.S. House Minority Leader, addressed the gathering of governors. He noted that, as a boy, Kentucky native and first Republican president Abraham Lincoln had traveled "12 miles just to borrow a book," which he'd read by the light of the fire in his family's log cabin. "It's so much easier nowadays for an ambitious young man to get an education," Ford continued. "All he has to do is steal a rifle from the ROTC, seize the campus library and read by the light of burning draft cards." In an oral history Blaine Hudson gave in 2000 while a professor at U of L, he noted that the BSU had "a pretty radical agenda but, you know, our methods were not unusual." Some in the group "went around armed at various times, but we had sense enough not to take arms into that building because we would probably still be in jail right now or the graveyard." Mid-afternoon on Derby Day, May 3, a U.S. Army helicopter followed Nixon's motorcade from Standiford Field. e next day's C-J called it a "panoply of presidential power." At the Downs' main entrance, Hudson and other veterans of the occupation — advocates of a different kind of power — had gathered with picket signs targeting Strickler, Schmied, Nunn and Nixon. Charged with violating Kentucky's anti-riot statute, the students would still have been in jail if Hudson's mother had not gotten them out on bail on Friday. In Churchill's gleaming new fifth-floor VIP section, the commander in chief table- surfed, chatting with some two dozen governors and their wives, who had driven over from Lexington after a Derby breakfast at Spindletop Hall. e Nixons watched the sixth race with Republican Governors Association president/California Gov. Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy. Reporters tried to determine whether the president actually drank the julep he was holding and peppered him with questions about which horse he would bet on. "I intend," Nixon told them, "to savor this race in Kentucky style." C-J reporter James Tunnell parsed the politics at work for Nixon. e president flew to Louisville directly from Columbia, South Carolina, where he had called on 90-year-old veteran politico and "nominal Democrat" James F. Byrnes, who had been key to Nixon's victory there in 1968. Byrnes had campaigned actively for Nixon alongside segregationist "Dixiecrats"-turned-Republicans, like Sen. Strom urmond and South Carolina Congressman Albert Watson, who flew to Kentucky with the president and first lady. ese Southern leaders had protested bitterly against Brown v. Board of Education, as well as the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, pushed forward by another Southern Democrat, Lyndon Johnson. In response, they and many other disgruntled white, states'-rights-oriented Democratic voters switched parties. Republicans like Nunn and Nixon grasped the chance to capitalize on disenchantment within the Democratic party.

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