To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
After I noticed in the Chicago press your reaction to the appointment of President Derek Bok, I believed that the following short reminiscence would be of interest to you and your readers.
When I was a grad student and instructor, living in Belmont in 1960, I enthusiastically joined a small group of people who sought to make it possible for black families to move easily into our neighborhoods. I became the Housing Chairman of the "Fair Practices Committee." succeeding a very successful term by Derek Bok. I met him at the time, learned in some detail about his activities, and gained an excellent impression both of his attitudes and his work. You must remember that the country as a whole was far more stagnant and stingy on the race issue even than it is today, and the Chairmanship of the Housing Committee put a person on the front line of fire from people who panicked at the thought of a black neighbor.
Derek Bok never flinched in his work, and he handled the resulting problems with admirable activeness, adroitness, and real human sensitivity. I saw him handle many hostile encounters (often single-handedly. when others were frightened) with a skill that I can still only admire from a distance It was in no small way due to his efforts that many forces favorable to black neighbors made themselves felt in Belmont.
I congratulate the Harvard community for picking him as President. and I wish the very best for all concerned, in fruitful discussion, argument, and action.Ph.D. '60 Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, Northwestern University