Skip to main content
Michigan State University

Alumni/Greater MSU Community

MSU Alumni Magazine -- Winter 2014:  

MSU Leadership Helped To Advance Civil Rights:  Let Freedom Ring, by David Bailey

"As MSU celebrates two major civil rights milestones in 2014, an award-winning cultural historian recounts how President John Hannah helped position MSU at the forefront of the nation’s postwar crusade for civil rights, both as university president and as the f irst president of the u.s.Commisiion on Civil Rights.

On a wintery morning in 1979, I made my way to lunch at Kellogg Center. I had never seen East Lansing, but my Canadian indiff erence to temperatures above absolute zero meant that I walked across the beautiful campus and admired the way it glistened. My wife and I were being considered as potential faculty members, and the lunch gathered together economists For her and historians for me. I sat next to a man in a Hawaiian shirt, convinced that he could not possibly be an economist. I was wrong. My companion was the labor economist Charles Patrick Larrowe, known more commonly as “Lash.”

He asked me what I knew about John Hannah. Larrowe then began to explain what Hannah meant to the university. I only later came to understand that Larrowe had spent Much of his time at Michigan State as a self-defi ned thorn in Hannah’s side.

What I learned at that lunch, though, was that however much he disagreed with Hannah, Chuck (as he let his close friends call him) understood how important Hannah had been to the university they both loved."

More