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This article offers an extended treatment of two social justice efforts in a rural university town as historical examples of civic engagement with contemporary implications for Writing Democracy and similar projects. The article begins with an analysis of local activism initiated by John Carlos in 1967 while he was still a student at our university and the year before his heroic, silent protest against racism with Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. The author then turns to a linked effort five years later by local activist MacArthur Evans, a university student from Chicago. In 1973, Evans and other university students established the Norris Community Club (NCC) in partnership with residents of Norris, the historically segregated neighborhood, to provide what they called “a clear channel of communication” between Norris and city officials. Both were successful, albeit it in very different ways. The author uses “a clear channel” as both the object of study and interpretive lens to examine these local efforts and their many implications for today.



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