Robert L. MacKinnon: Presidents

Robert L. MacKinnon talks about presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baynes Johnson, and Richard Nixon, giving him opinions. He also shares with personal encounters with them.

Interview by Amber Turkin.

Robert L. MacKinnon: Culture of the 1960s

Robert L. MacKinnon talks about the energy of the 1960s, the culture and also shares a story which demonstrates the difference between the two generations.

Interview by Amber Turkin.

Robert L. MacKinnon: Vietnam

Robert L. MacKinnon talks about Vietnam, the anti-war movement, why his opinion of the war changed and other wars such as Korea and Iraq.

Robert L. MacKinnon: MLK, Jr.

Robert L. MacKinnon talks about the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., and gives his thoughts on Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson.

Robert L. MacKinnon

Robert L. MacKinnon talks about the civil rights movement and desegregation of the U.S. Army.

Student Reflections: Amber Turkin

Amber Turkin, who interviewed Robert MacKinnon, shares how the oral history project impacted her.

Student Reflection: Ethan Pritchard

This Oral History assignment was an interesting one. It included a number of firsts for me. I have never conducted an interview before this one. I have never talked to someone of this age about times forty or fifty years prior. I have certainly never sat down with some total strangers early on a Saturday and asked them to hold a conversation with me for two hours (not even close), and lastly, I had never had a Dunkin Donuts coffee. This (and a few other things) I am doing this semester have greatly expanded my communicatory skills and my ability to have confidence in the presence of unfamiliar faces. The fact that these people wanted to talk and desired to help me in every aspect that I requested really altered my perception of the common “grumpy older white male in America” for the better too. I guess on a personal level, my relationship with society as a whole has improved.

Before starting this class, I was always interested in the sixties era but would commonly get aspects of the decade confused with the seventies. Also, some things I assumed had been around forever that are in reality only fifty-year-old concepts. Having the events and accomplishments laid out in sequence as the semester went on, helped me imagine each point in time, and try to figure out what I would have been doing, had I been there. With the addition of the interview, I was able to imagine life back then and comprehend why people were doing the things they did. It was also really nice to have the knowledge of the subject before performing the interview because there was no question as to what the narrator was referring to and I was never lost in the conversation.

The men that I interviewed were pretty chill. they wanted to talk about most of the same topics that the Anderson book touched on. It became obvious early on that there was a great sense of identity with the time that they were explaining. The major events seemed wide spread across the nation; a common opinion had been formed thanks to advances in media such as the TV and transistor radio. When I would ask about something we had learned in class it was always “ohh yes yes well… while that was happening I was doing this”, or “I remember how I contributed this way”. It was as if everyone of that generation was growing as one and asking what they could do for their country as a whole. For the most part, wide spread sense of being was felt across an entire nation. The people had their beliefs and were doing what it took to make the changes in the nation that they saw necessary.

As far as learning goes on my end, I believe this method was successful. It was very beneficial to learn about a subject first hand. The first-hand experience would not have been as beneficial, however, had I not known the subject matter at hand up front. I surely would have been lost had it not been for the readings in the text book, as well as the source packet readings that were provided. On a few occassions, references to literature were made, and it was helpful to know what the narrator was talking about. I think this method is very advantageous for learning history as well as other subjects like speech, politics, or really anything. It would be nice to learn from somebody personally so you can use their experience to your benefit. I believe this project has grown me as a pupil and I now have a new skill to help me be a better student in the future.

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