A 48-Year-Old Senior

In His 28 Year Detour From Harvard, Marshall Ganz Made History

When Marshall Ganz left Harvard in the summer of 1964, he had every intention of returning in the fall.

But the 60s were "intoxicating times," Ganz says. And he was drawn into the fabled activism of the era.

After a detour that lasted nearly three decades, the 48-year-old Ganz is back at the College finishing his senior year.

Of course, calling the last 28 years a detour does not do Ganz justice.

In that time he was on the streets of Mississippi registering Black voters even before the passage of the land-mark 1965 Voting Right Act.


He worked side by side with Cesar Chavez, the founder and leader of the United Farm Workers.

And just after Robert F. Kennedy won the California primary in 1968, Ganz was walking alongside the Senator when he was shot.

"I was supposed to come back to school [in 1964]," Ganz says. "But making history was more exciting than reading about it."

From Bakersfield To Harvard

Ganz began his career at Harvard in 1960, coming to study at the College from his small town home of Bakersfield, California.

"Kennedy was just elected," he says, "and he took a large chunk of the faculty with him to Washington. It felt like [Harvard was] the center of the world."

After two years, though, Ganz decided to take some time off. He went home to California, where he spent eight months working in Berkeley, a hotbed of student activism.

"I needed time to reflect on what to do next," he says, reminiscing about halcyon days spent living in the shadow of the era's emerging hippie culture.

"The civil rights stuff had just started. There was a kind of political folk scene just starting up," he recalls. "Those winds were sweeping through the Bay area."

Ganz, who spent much of his free time that year on the University of California at Berkeley campus, says he "got turned on to the music scene."