Where the Peace Corps Began: University of Michigan, October 14, 1960

I received a few days ago a copy of this documentary film of the founding of the Peace Corps at the University of Michigan. It was produced for the University of Michigan on the 50th anniversary of the agency. It was sent to me by Al Guskin (Thailand 1961-64), then a graduate student in social psychology in 1961 when Kennedy spoke at 2 a.m. on the steps of the University of Michigan Student Union and introduced the idea of a ‘peace corps’ to the students who had waited up all night to hear him. Al, and his wife Judy (Thailand 1961-64), a graduate student in comparative literature, would go the next day to form the “Americans Committed to World Responsibility” which organized students throughout the midwest to become part of this ‘student movement’. I was, with several others, Bill Donohoe (Ethiopia 19621-64), Dick Joyce (Philippians 1962-64), Leo Reno (Liberia 1963-65) all students at Western Michigan University, all part of this movement.

This video was made at the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. It shows footage of Judy and Al, and also kennedy-michigahnKennedy. There are video interviews with Harris Wofford, Bill Moyers, Ted Sorenson, Bill Josephson, Tom Hayden and many others.

The film was produced by a professional documentarian Paul Long and won an Emmy.  It is another piece of our history with the Peace Corps.

Watch this film. You were able to serve in the Peace Corps because of what Kennedy said that night in Michigan, and because of what Judy and Al Guskin did with Kennedy’s challenging words to college students. Never forget this moment in history. It is the reason you joined the agency. It is the reason the Peace Corps changed your life. It began here after midnight in the cold and rain of Michigan on October 14, 1960. You are young and ready for adventure and you wanted to make a difference. And you did.


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