Magazine article Tablet Magazine

What Happens to a Dream Gone Wrong? Why Theo Bikel Left SNCC

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

What Happens to a Dream Gone Wrong? Why Theo Bikel Left SNCC

Article excerpt

"I always despised the slogan 'my country, right or wrong,' " Theo Bikel used to say. "It's cheap. It's unworthy. My country is right when it's right, and when it's wrong, it's to be put right."

When Theo wrote his open letter to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), reprinted today in Tablet, he was 43 years old, living in New York's Village, and shuttling between the coasts as a successful actor and bestselling recording artist. Having arrived in the United States a decade earlier, he was completely smitten with what for him truly was the goldene medinah. This was 1967, just after the Six-Day War. About to become a father for the first time, he was still playing in Washington Square Park with Shlomo Carlebach, or at the Bitter End with Phil Ochs, Judy Collins, Odetta, and the others. He had been nominated nine years earlier for an Oscar for his role as a humanitarian sheriff in The Defiant Onesa movie that used the metaphor of two escaped convicts, one black and one white, chained to each other. …

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