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Protesting the Vietnam War and racial injustice at college

In 1965, during George's second year at college, George first met people who opposed the Vietnam War. Tom Cornell, one of the first Catholic conscientious objectors and draft card burners, visited St. Vincent College during a series of anti-war events and stayed in George’s dorm room. George said his courage impressed him.

George Schmidt graduated high school in 1964.George was also moved then and throughout his life by the horrors of racial injustice. His first demonstration came on behalf of the Westmoreland County NAACP in Jeanette, Pennsylvania, protesting racial discrimination. In a May 21, 1966, letter he wrote to his cousin Mary, George talked about some of the protest work he was doing at his small college in Pennsylvania:

“This year was the beginning of our Berkeley here. I became a politician and polemicist. I edited a subversive student magazine … the last issue went after one of the kings of the monastery, a Thomistic poli-sci teacher who believes people and the world stopped growing in the fourteenth century. We’re getting to him, even. Meanwhile, there’ve been protest marches, faculty walkouts, writing for all kinds of things … The last thing on every list has been, unfortunately, studies.”

In the letter he talks about the English and German literature courses he liked, as well as Metaphysics, impressed that “our prof is a philosopher, not just a philosophy teacher.” But George was frustrated with the weak academics of the small college and happy to be moving on from Catholic education.



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