May Day at Yale,1970: Recollections
The Trial of Bobby Seale and the Black Panthers
By Henry “Sam” Chauncey & John T. Hill
This book comes from first hand experiences, both in word and in pictures. It offers a partial record of a community and an institution coming together to accommodate an event while deflecting its potential violence. The history of the New Haven Green bridges over four centuries. It has served as a place for worship, for grazing cattle, staging revolutions, witness to hangings, and various campaigns.
On the day before and on May Day of 1970, Yale University and New Haven prepared to host an agitated congregation of young civil rights activists with a diverse list of causes but focused mainly on freeing Bobby Seale, the Black Panther leader. This book gives a glimpse of that diversity; diverse in cause, attitude, and dress. Marked changes in mood evolved over the approximate 32 hours. Yale and New Haven could be proud of avoiding real violence and bloodshed.
Like an archeological record, it exhibits not only the New Haven Green on that one day but marks a broader shift in direction for a county at large. For those who were there, it seems painfully near. For later generations, it is likely a remote abstraction.