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Sam Chauncey

This interview was conducted as part of the CPTV original documentary "The 60s in Connecticut."  By sharing the many hours of rich content that do not appear in the finished documentary, we hope to provide even further understanding of the times.  Sam Chauncey, alumni of Yale University and Assistant to its President during the 60s,  was interviewed in the fall of 2010.

Interview Synopsis

While working for the President of Yale University in the 1960’s, Sam Chauncey experienced first hand the dramatic events that took place throughout the decade:  Yale began admitting women, 35,000 protesters occupied the campus during the 1969 May Day protest, riots devastated New Haven, President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated.

Mr Chauncey began working for the university shortly after he graduated from Yale.  He believed the University needed to embrace co-education.  “Fifty percent of the population of the United States were being denied the same education that a Yale man had available to him if he was admitted, and that was not right,” says Sam.   He pushed for co-education and was then made responsible for its implementation.  While many were opposed to the change,  Mr. Chauncey remained committed to making it happen.  

In 1969 thousands of radicals, students, and civil rights activists planned a major rally in New Haven to protest the trial of several Black Panthers accused of murder.  Sam Chauncey was part of the team that decided how to accommodate this large and potentially violent crowd.  Instead of locking up the campus, they opened it to protesters, providing food, day care and other services in an effort to keep everyone calm and safe.  

“For me it was the most important experience of my lifetime to be part of the emergence of revolution.”  Sam Chauncey reflects on his experiences during the 1960s and what he learned about civil action and change.  “When you’re faced with radicalism, embrace it,”  he advises.  See Sam and many others in the CPTV original documentary “The 60’s in Connecticut.”

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