George Runquist

Sunday, April 26, 1959

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Jay Nelson Tuck moderates.

Interview with George Runquist, director of the New York City Civil Liberties Union discuss issues related to civil liberties in New York City - particularly related to education.

Fingerprinting of city employees and particularly teachers. Though Runquist disagrees with it personally, he does not think it is a infringement on civil liberties and therefore not the business of the Civil Liberties Union. Every teacher and every civil servant is checked before hiring and is required to attest to the fact that they are not in an organization trying to overthrow the government.
Some people look on the Civil Liberties Union as a leftist organization. Runquist describes it as a conservative organization. He gives a brief history of the organization, beginning with Roger Baldwin. He states that the ASLU believes in equal treatment under the law for all people - despite race, color, creed, wealth, etc.
The government is not allowed to bar an individual from joining the communist party. Though he says "no one but a fool would join the communist party at this time."
Runquist discusses the conscientious objector status.

Questioned again about fingerprinting, Runquist brings up national identity cards and speaks about fears related to actions under one administration being held against an individual during a future administration.

The ACLU objects to the saying of "The Lord's Prayer" in public schools, because this is a distinctly Christian prayer and feels this defies the separation of church and state. The interviewer presses him, saying that the prayer is a compliment to one's education, and that those who do not wish can just sit through the prayer.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 72129
Municipal archives id: LT8330


Barbara Benmolche, Ed Dean, Jim Farrell, Bill Larkin, Jack Parker, George Runquist and Jay Nelson Tuck


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About Campus Press Conference

This is not your run-of-the-mill 'student conference.'

"For the answers to these and other questions..." Each Campus Press Conference (1951-1962) begins with a slew of questions from the student editors of New York City college newspapers, delivered with the controlled seriousness of a teenager on the radio for the first time. Despite their endearing greenness, the student editors pose sharp inquiries to guests from the fields of science, finance, culture, and politics. 

With the country on the cusp of radical cultural and political change, these recordings offer insight to student empowerment movements, flower power, and hippie culture – a time when the youth of America began to realize their tremendous impact and ability to shape their futures. The passion and curiosity of young people is heard through interviews with elected and appointed officials and experts.

Notable guests include Jackie Robinson, Joseph Papp, Averill Harriman, and Senator Jacob Javits.


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