1932 April 20

Reed Harris Reinstated by Columbia University, But He Resigns


Reed Harris, editor of The Columbia Daily Spectator at Columbia University, and an outspoken political activist, had been expelled by the university, but was reinstated on this day. The immediate cause of the expulsion was an article alleging financial impropriety on the part of the family of university president Nicholas Murray Butler. He had also criticized the over-emphasis on athletics at American colleges and universities. The expulsion prompted a one-day strike by students. The ACLU had agreed to represent him to contest his expulsion, but he chose to resign and leave the university instead. As editor of the student newspaper, he  had criticized the overemphasis on college football. His book, King Football: The Vulgarization of the American College, was published in the fall of 1932.

Twenty-one years later, Reed’s career as deputy director of the U.S. International Information Administration (IIA) was derailed by Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist “witch hunt.” McCarthy called him to testify before his Senate committee, and he was attacked for his college-years political views. McCarthy cited his 1932 book, King Football, while waving it at the hearing, and mentioned his association with the ACLU as evidence of his dangerous views. Harris resigned shortly after the hearing. McCarthy’s attack was cited in Edward R. Murrow’s famous broadcast on McCarthy on March 9, 1954. In 1962, when Murrow was head of the U.S Information Agency (USIA), he hired Harris as Deputy Director.

Learn more about Reed Harris: http://cuhistory3057.tripod.com/reedharris/

Read: Reed Harris, King Football: The Vulgarization of the American College (1932)

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