Murray In The Middle, Part 2
A couple of Nigeria I Volunteers hitched a ride from the University College of Ibadan to APCD Murray Frank’s home with the news about the postcard. Protests were beginning on campus they told Murray; Volunteers were being ostracized. This was clearly not a training issue, and now Murray Frank was in charge of what to do next.
Frank had arrived in Ibadan early in October. While Volunteers were settling into dormitories at the University of Ibadan (then part of the University of London and called University College of Ibadan) to continue the training started at Harvard, he was arranging for Volunteer assignments. This meant Murray would visit a potential location, meet the principal and staff, establish that there was a position for the Volunteer to fill, and check out living conditions. By Friday, October 13, he was just getting started with this work, and also learning who the new Volunteers were back on campus at the University College of Ibadan.
The day after the postcard was found, Volunteers went into their college dormitory dining halls for lunch and found copy–word for word–of that postcard at each place. According to Murray, “Marjorie’s comments described how the average Nigerian lived. While not inaccurate, her comments were not flattering, and to a Nigerian student – especially one concerned about Western imperialism – the comments seemed downright insulting.”
When Frank learned what had happened on campus from the Volunteers who had hitched a ride to his place, he immediately arranged for all the Volunteers to come to my home that night for a meeting. He then went to the USIS library to phone Lagos–Frank did not have a phone in his home–to speak with Brent Ashabranner, Nigeria’s first Peace Corps Director. Brent Ashabranner cabled Peace Corps Washington with the news.
By coincidence, the second-in-command at the American Embassy, the Deputy Chief of Mission, was on his way back to Lagos after a trip up North. Murray and Marjorie met him at a local rest house and they all agreed Marjorie should go with the DCM back to Lagos. It was while at the rest house that Murray spotted an AP stringer staying there and he quickly realized the reporter would be onto what had happened with the Peace Corps Volunteer at the university. Murray knew the postcard incident would be on the AP the next day, and he was right. By Monday morning, the news of PCV Marjorie Michelmore and the infamous postcard was a headline in every daily newspaper in America.[Part 2]
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Can’t wait to read parts 3 and 4.