This Week in Princeton History for December 13-19

In this week’s installment of our recurring series, an NAACP official’s lecture meets with a polarized reception, Jean Shepherd first appears on campus, and more.

December 13, 1813—John Randolph (Class of 1791) accuses John Witherspoon of having embezzled money from him when he was a student and derides the education he was given at Princeton: “burning with the thirst of knowledge (which I was not permitted to slake at the fountain of Nassau)… I can truly say, that except from my mother, who taught me to read, I never learned any thing [sic] from one of my preceptors.”

December 16, 1948—NAACP secretary Walter White lectures to about 400 Princeton students on the detrimental effect of racial segregation and discrimination. Opponents to the efforts of Princeton’s Liberal Union, who sponsored the talk, throw snowballs with rocks through the windows. White will later write about the audience: “There was a sternness on their faces which was stirring to see. What had been for some of them an abstract principle of academic democracy had been jelled by the puerile act of a few into a holy crusade.”

December 17, 1956—Nationally-known humorist disc jockey Jean Shepherd speaks to his followers in McCosh 46, further inspiring the fledgling “Milling Movement,” supported by a group of fans who refer to themselves as the “Night People.” This is Shepherd’s first performance in Princeton, but will not be his last: he will appear more than 30 times over the next 40 years.

Jean Shepherd and Frank King ’71, WPRB, April 3, 1970. WPRB Records (AC306), Box 10.

December 19, 1967—Princeton politics professor William W. Lockwood makes waves along with 13 other eminent scholars who issue a statement on this day printed in newspapers from the New York Times to the San Francisco Examiner asserting that their support of the Vietnam War represents “the moderate segment of the academic community” who “must now be heard, lest other voices be mistaken for majority sentiment.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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75th Anniversary Exhibition Celebrates Princeton’s Beloved WPRB Station

Princeton University’s radio station, WPRB, has for the most part been a frenetic hodgepodge where Beethoven plays alongside The Ramones and sports broadcasts back to back with national news. However, the radio station has also been the space where new bands get airplay, campus history is made, and revolutionary ideas are expressed without restraint. For 75 years, WPRB has facilitated creative and intellectual pursuits by serving as the delightful petri dish for the students that spin its turntables.

In celebration of its 75th anniversary, the exhibition “WPRB: A Haven for the Creative Impulse” showcases the impact of the college radio station on the Princeton campus and the entire nation.

students in WPRU studio

Photo from 1947 Bric-a-Brac.

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