WETA TV 26 looks back at one of the most intriguing chapters in local history in Washington in the ’60s. Produced by WETA, the documentary is the first retrospective of its kind to explore the collective political, social and cultural events that took place during this seminal period in Washington’s history. The one-hour special premieres Monday, November 2 at 9 p.m. on WETA TV 26.
Washington in the ’60s features first-hand accounts from those who experienced and shaped the events of the time. Below is a list of people interviewed in the documentary and select quotes from some of these individuals.
• Marion Barry, D.C. Councilmember and Former D.C. Mayor
• Ben Bradlee, Washington Post Vice President at Large
• Chuck Brown, Musician
• Pat Buchanan, Political Analyst
• Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Civil Rights Leader and Former U.S. Congressman
• Charlene Drew Jarvis, Educator and Former D.C. Councilmember
• Colbert King, Washington Post Columnist
• G. Gordon Liddy, Radio Talk Show Host
• Arthur Moore, Architect
• Maury Povich, TV Talk Show Host
• Mike Schreibman, Concert Producer
• Carol Schwartz, Former D.C. Councilmember
• Sam Smith, Writer and Social Activist
• Lou Stovall, Artist
Marion Barry, D.C. Councilmember and Former D.C. Mayor
One of the first things I asked the people about was voting. They said we can’t vote here. “What?” I didn’t know anything about the structure of the government but I knew enough that that wasn’t right, you know, it wasn’t right, it wasn’t right. And I got busy.
(On the appointment of Walter Washington as the city’s first mayor.)
Looking back in retrospect, Walter Washington made a pretty good foundation at the time. Probably the only one that could have gotten through the Senate. Somebody like myself never would have gotten in. No, too hot, you know.
Ben Bradlee, Washington Post Vice President at Large
I mean … for all its youthfulness and … forward looking … philosophies, Jack Kennedy didn’t have many black friends. There was one black guy in the White House who didn’t have a very important job.
(On Vietnam war protests.)
Vietnam was a daily presence here … I’ve never seen anything like it before and you don’t see it now.
Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Civil Rights Leader and Former U.S. Congressman
I was taught in elementary school how beautiful the American Dream is that you are ruled by people whom you elect to organize and run the government. When I got to the seventh grade in junior high school, my civics teacher said that applies to everybody except those of us who live in the District of Columbia. I really got sort of angry with it. I said, why? And he very astutely said to me something I didn’t understand then. He said the city is controlled by Southern Democrats and conservative Republicans who … do not want us to vote in the District of Columbia because the District of Columbia was too urban, too liberal, too democratic and too black.
I had met Martin Luther King Jr. in my first year of college at Virginia Union University. So when I became pastor in 1959, and he learned about it, he said, Walter, I want you to be my personal representative in Washington because you know the government. I said wonderful, I am going to work with you because if we get our rights in the South, the first thing we’re going to do is get me Home Rule because I can’t even vote.
Charlene Drew Jarvis, Educator and Former D.C. Councilmember
There was a class issue that arose with Barry’s rise. Because the city is composed of African Americans of different economic status there are those who are in the city who were in the government who thought that if there was going to be change, it was going to be change from the leadership within.
(On the 1968 riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.)
I could not fathom the celebratory nature of what was going on in the street with some of the looting with the tragedy of the loss of this leader who would have decried this action if he had an opportunity to do that. The conflagration was not downtown; it was in the communities of African Americans, their business corridors. That was not going to be repaired for 30 years.
Colbert King, Washington Post Columnist
(On Marion Barry’s rise as a community activist.)
He was received well by people who felt dispossessed, who felt they had no voice in the city, who felt that they were the outside. He was not received well by the black middle class. He was received very well by the white middle class who felt that the black middle class wasn’t representative of black people. But that Marion, because he wore a dashiki, was authentic.
Maury Povich, TV Talk Show Host
(On congressional control over the District of Columbia.)
You have to understand that basically I think at the best, D.C. residents felt that they were sharecroppers. The government decided everything. The government decided how much money it would give the District in every single line item when it came to schools, when it came to transportation, when it came to taxation.
Carol Schwartz, Former D.C. Councilmember
I think demonstrations become a part of your life when you live here. You don’t even think about them because when you live here you’re raising your family, you’re going to your job. On the weekends you’re buying your groceries and going to the cleaners and mowing your lawn.
Pat Wood, Sports Analyst
(On the Beatles’ 1964 concert at the D.C. Coliseum.)
So every time somebody wants to point to, well, the Beatles broke in Chicago and the Beatles broke in New York, well, it really wasn’t. I mean, those people were kind of late to the party because the party actually began in Washington… The coliseum had been a sports arena and, so, Ringo would actually get off his drums and turn the platform the drums were on, himself, in order to play to another side of the stage. Following the Beatles, literally every major act that was becoming popular then would come through Washington.