Miles Rapoport ’71 boasts an impressive resumé. He spent 15 years as a community organizer and another 15 as a state legislator and the secretary of state in Connecticut. In 2017, he was appointed a senior practice fellow in American democracy at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. This year, Rapoport added another title to his resume: event planner.
To mark the 50th anniversary this month of the Harvard strike of 1969, Rapoport has organized what he hopes will be a meaningful commemoration of the iconic moment of activism on campus that will engage critical reflection of its successes and failures. In his HKS office — which has a poster from the ’69 strike — Rapoport described the event, which will feature strike participants and current College activists, as “an intergenerational conversation about activism then and now.”
Rapoport was a College sophomore when he and about 500 other student-activists took over University Hall on April 9, 1969, to protest Harvard’s role in the Vietnam War. The students demanded that Harvard end its Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, which was providing officers for a war they considered morally bankrupt. Harvard President Nathan Pusey called city and state police onto campus to remove the protesters, who had vowed nonviolent resistance, and before sunrise the next day about 400 officers in riot gear used what some accounts called excessive force against the students. According to Harvard a Crimson article published the following day, “between 250 and 300 people were arrested in the raid, and nearly 75 students were injured.”