YSU Faculty Panel Speaks on 1968 Protests

By Brianna Gleghorn
Jambar Contributor

A Youngstown State University faculty panel led a discussion along with a question and answer session to remember a massacre of hundreds of people 50 years ago in Mexico City during a protest.

The discussion took place in the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor, also known as the Steel Museum, on Oct. 11.

On Oct. 2, 1968, the police and military shot down a group of students protesting in the Tlatelolco plaza. This was one of many protests happening over the world in 1968.

The panelists included: Brian Bonhomme, Alicia Prieto Langarica, Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich, Rachel Faerber-Ovaska, David Simonelli, YSU student Sylvia Arias and Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez as the moderator.

During the discussion, the panelists spoke of protests in the Soviet Union, Paris, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and many more that weren’t discussed. All of these protests happened in 1968 making it a memorable year on a global scale.

Prieto Langarica, instructor in mathematics and statistics, spoke more in detail of the Mexico City massacre. She also discussed the divisiveness in politics that each side may perceive.

When a conversative student said he could not express his views, Prieto Langarica was quick to respond.

“The government convinces us we are divided into groups, but when we come together we realize we both want the same things,” said Prieto Langarica. “We want to be happy and live our lives.”

Arias, vice president of the Youngstown’s student Latino Organization, discussed the need for peace in the world.

“There has got to be a way where we all get together and have some peace,” said Arias.

Simonelli, YSU associate professor of history, spoke of the serious problem with how these protests were handled when the protesters were only college students.

“In college, students are learning new political ideas and protesting. Do you deserve to be shot for this? Dead no,” said Simonelli. “These governments handled these protests with an extreme force that was not needed.”

Bonhomme, chair of the history department at YSU, spoke about protests in the Soviet Union.

“It was a difficult place to protest,” said Bonhomme. “Protest while you can because it can become impossible.”

This discussion showed students the historical impact that protesting had across the world and the similarities with today’s students movements.

The discussion and Q&A were a part of the university’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.