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SDS Labels Professor Racist


A noisy crowd of 700 faced Cornell professor Urie Bronfenbrenner at MIT during his speech on day care and child rearing yesterday.

The speech, preceded by a rally sponsored by the MIT Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the University Action Group (UAG), was punctuated by debate between Bronfenbrenner and members of the audience on an article written by Bronfenbrenner, a professor of Child Development and Family Relationships, five years ago.

The speech, sponsored by MIT's Educational Research Group and Psychology Department, was given as planned, despite interruptions and sidetracks to discuss the article.

The article suggested that obstacles to racial equality lie "as much in the character and way of life of the American Negro as in the indifference and hostility of the white community," and cited brain damage caused by improper prenatal care, inadequate nutrition, and childrearing practices as examples of some obstacles.

Whites are Responsible

Bronfenbrenner said at one point during the speech that he believes that "white people have made black people inferior." He added that "the manner in which blacks have responded is a clear indication of where integrity lies in our country."

The crowd, too large for the room originally scheduled, had to be shifted to an auditorium before the speaker arrived. Shortly after the switch, Bonnie E. Blustein '72 took the microphone to "challenge Professor Bronfenbrenner to come here" and answer charges of racism.

The professor arrived 15 minutes later, flanked by MIT President Jerome Wiesner, the captain of the MIT police, and several other men.

Early in the pre-speech rally, some members of the crowd chanted "We want a mike," when police barred entrance to the lecture room to an SDS member carrying a bullhorn. The student and the bullhorn remained outside.

During the room switch some chanted, "Answer on the article yes or no -- Racist garbage got to go."

Bronfenbrenner said he "stood by the facts" in the article although he said his conclusions would be different today.

Several times when interrupted, Bronfenbrenner asked the audience if they wanted him to go on with his planned speech. In each case the crowd responded affirmatively.

In his speech Bronfenbrenner said that "the major need in America today" is for parents to spend more time with their children. He recommended that day care centers near parents' place of business be established, and that the number and status of part-time jobs for parents be increased.

Bronfenbrenner Surrounded

About 100 people surrounded Bronfenbrenner on the stage at the end of his speech. He was escorted out of the auditorium after failing to locate his jacket, which apparently was taken from the stage immediately following the speech.

Bronfenbrenner is scheduled to speak at Boston University Monday night, an SDS spokesman said.

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