Julia Vinograd website
Julia Vinograd website 2
Julia was among those arrested on 12/3/1964 during the Free Speech Movement
THE SPROUL HALL SIT-IN
for the 30th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement
I remember telling my legs,
legs you aren't going into that building, no way,
stop walking legs, you listen to me.
My legs didn't listen
they walked into Sproul Hall
carrying me with them.
I was scared silly and not just of the cops.
Joan Baez was singing, it was too beautiful
the way the air on a high mountain is too clear.
I was scared of the beauty, it was hard to breathe.
I remember everything.
Girls dressed as secretaries,
boys dressed like law clerks
and we expected America to keep the promises
it made in 8th grade social studies.
Freedom to Assemble.
I remember the food when we didn't get arrested at once.
Organized people brought cardboard boxes
of cardboard baloney sandwiches and oranges.
But I also remember a big cauldron of cold spaghetti
and even a tin of caviar and we took
a fingernail each till it was gone.
I remember classes springing up in every corner.
I remember passing the huge black walnut table in the lobby,
the constitution was probably signed at a table just like it
and a TA was standing on the table
giving a lecture about the war of the roses
to his class who were sitting under the table,
cross-legged and taking notes.
It looked like a scene from a foreign art film
but the subtitles was the Bill of Rights.
About every 45 minutes
someone would hear the cops were on their way
but people did try to sleep.
That was the first time I saw tv cameras,
they didn't look electrical,
they looked like high noon on another planet.
"These are the protesters asleep in Sproul Hall,"
the reporters said, and they shone those cameras
and everyone woke up.
It was a long night, it isn't over yet.
I got arrested by a young black cop with a big adam's apple.
He was half my weight and looked at me and said
"Please miss, don't go limp."
Nothing went as planned.
I hadn't planned to be there;
part of me hasn't left.
I remember a light brighter than the tv cameras,
stronger than fear.
I remember us.
(From The Eyes Have It, 1995)
For the 20th Anniversary of F.S.M.
By Julia Vinograd
I can still see myself as a scared student
wearing mainline clothes and worrying
about what expression I was wearing
and the freedom songs are sad
the way love songs are sad
and I fell in love with freedom
because it is beautiful
which is why people fall in love
Everbody fell in love with freedom
800 of us got arrested
and it was like getting married;
it mattered and it wasn’t comfortable
and it changed everything
for a world full of wedding guests, as well.
here have been 20 years
but history is about dead people
and the scared young me is alive.
I can’t talk about that time
without using the present tense.
It’s bitter and angry and confused enough;
it has all the small uglinesses
that come with love
and yes, it’s worth it.
Have you ever been in love?