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U. of I. alumna to speak about local civil liberties fight in the 1950s

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor

Released 4/9/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —  A front-row, personal perspective on local events during the anti-communist McCarthy era of the early 1950s will be the subject of a lecture April 17 at the University of Illinois.

The speaker will be Courtney Cazden, a professor emerita of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who was then a U. of I. graduate student and whose husband, Norman, was a U. of I. music professor. He died in 1980.

Courtney Cazden’s lecture, “McCarthyism, Blacklists and Urbana-Champaign: A Community’s Stand for Civil Liberties and One Family’s Personal Experience,” will be at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Cazden will discuss how the couple and a small group of local citizens and university colleagues got involved in 1953 in an effort to oppose a series of anti-communist bills introduced in the Illinois Legislature.
They saw the bills as a threat to civil liberties and free speech, and their efforts contributed to the bills’ eventual defeat.

Later that spring, however, Cazden would learn that her husband had been denied tenure and his contract terminated based on anonymously presented evidence of his communist activities. The following year he would be called to testify before the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee.

Cazden will discuss both the power of a community in taking a stand for civil liberties, as well as the personal challenges that can come to those involved in the effort.