‘The Possibilities of 1969’ By Elliot Maras

15-year-old Marty Rollins begins his final year of junior high school full of hopeful aspirations against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement and the “Generation Gap” in 1969. Intellectual and anti-social, he begins climbing out of his shell, earning a seat on the student council. But when he witnesses an African American classmate getting harassed by the disciplinarian band director, Marty finds himself moved to seek justice.
Besides seeking fairness for his classmate, Marty also wants to make his complacent white liberal community aware of its hypocrisy in allowing the mistreatment he wishes to correct.
His victimized classmate prefers not to “stir the pot,” making it difficult for Marty to champion his cause. In addition, in working “within the system” to get his classmate’s mistreatment addressed, Marty confronts structural obstacles as well as his parents’ reservations about how far to press his cause.
Once he finally states his case before the school board, Marty earns a level of social acceptance and a feeling of accomplishment. The school board investigates the matter, holds community hearings and invokes faculty discipline. Peers, parents and the community express their admiration.
Subsequent circumstances, however, shortchange Marty’s success and force him to reflect on the personal challenges he must confront to earn a more complete sense of fulfillment.

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