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The New York Times, June 3, 1962


Huck Finn Stirs Race Discord Note


SAN FRANCISCO: It has taken Huckleberry Finn to cause a loud and dissonant note in racial matters in this Bay Area. The discord stemmed from authorization by school officials of a musical version of the Mark Twain classic, with negroes cast as slaves. The show was adapted by Andrew Belling, president of the student body of George Washington High School.

Plunging into a controversy after O. I. Schmaelzle, the school principal, had given permission for two performances, were the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Afro-American Association, Inc., the Baptist Ministers Union, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, student, parents and countless writers of letters to the editor.

The N.A.A.C.P. first talked of picketing, then of a boycott. It called the musical "degrading." The ministerial groups said they were "shocked" by the aggressive disregard shown by the school authorities for the feelings and sensitivities of the Negro parents and students. The controversy almost got into the primary campaign when Lieut. Gov. Glenn M. Anderson, a Democrat running for renomination, endorsed the stand of the protesting ministers.

The N.A.A.C.P. later noted that almost 400 of the high school's 2,500 students were Negroes and agreed it was a well-integrated school.

The show was presented on Friday.

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