In the beginning ….

— Hulton Archive

What’s Happening in Florida?
Henry Morrison Flagler, Guilded Age Railroad Barron and Florida’s first Land Developer, greets a crowd upon his arrival on the first East Coast Railway train into Key West (January 22, 1912). Flagler built the FEC (railway) as a way of linking his string of hotels along Florida’s East Coast, St. Augustine, Ormond Beach, Palm Beach, and Miami. Finally, and most challenging, was continuing south, across seven miles of open, water to the small island of Key West. The southernmost point in the United States, just 90 miles north of Havana, Cuba, had been Flagler’s “moon,” the same as the Moon had always captured the imagination of another Florida dreamer, John F. Kennedy, who grew up in Palm Beach, just north on the island Flagler had built Whitehall, the mansion he called his Florida home. That after ten years at the Ormond Hotel, where he socialized with friends and fellow “titans,” John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Harvey S. Firestone, and Thomas A. Edison.

The Florida Alligator 
september 24, 1912
vol. 1 no. 1 The first edition of The Florida Alligator, was little more than a transcription of UF president Albert A. Murphree‘s opening speech to that year’s new students, 400 young, white men who had moved to Gainesville to attend, what Murphree described as one of America’s finest universities. The University of Florida was the South’s answer to the more established, Ivy League institutions, where students rowed a mean boat, but were nose-in-the-air pussies on a football field.

Murphree’s message was understandably propagandist, but still striking was how fundamentally Christian it was. Murphree preached, more than spoke, and it seemed that he was saying, “yes, The University of Florida was one of America’s finest universities, but more important, an even better religious institutions, or let’s say “Bible College” for the sake of daily-newspaper colloquialism.  

At the time, The Florida Alligator, was more a tool of the university’s always Christian conservative administration, than a trusted purveyor of news. Of course there were always those students who wanted to honestly report the news around them, but the University of Florida’s “newspaper” wasn’t the place to do it.

For sixty years, The Alligator would remain the university’s tool to tell the community how the Gator Athletic Department performed (some things stay the same), how acclaimed the professorial recruits were, and to explain (or hide) how the The University of Florida spent its money.

Not yet was The Alligator “allowed” to speak its mind, to be journalistic. To scrutinize, and report what the administration has been hiding behind its pages.   

The conflict and difference of opinion couldn’t have been more extreme than in the years college-age men (of any color) were killing and dying in Vietnam.

Independence Day
october 6, 1971
vol. 64 no. 12

No surprise The Alligator would be at odds with the Stephen C. O’Connell administration, when it came to killing communists. Conflict was inevitable, and any good editor would rebel, but it was Alligator editor Ron Sachs who defied O’Connell’s Christian-minded authority, and stood up for the Alligator, and its right to FREE SPEECH. 

Ron Sachs was 19 years old in 1971, and high school friends of his were among the thousands who had been drafted into military service, to protect the world from those Godless Communists who were out to destroy it. 

Not everyone, especially Sachs, agreed with the right-wing view of the world, and he refused to promote within the pages of his newspaper.

“Abraham Martin and John”
Marvin Gaye
That’s the Way Love Is
1970Bitches Brew

((( fighting words )))


Flower Power is a photograph taken by American photographer Bernie Boston for the now-defunct The Washington Star newspaper. Taken on October 21, 1967, during the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam’s “March on The Pentagon”, the photo shows a Vietnam War protester placing a carnation into the barrel of a rifle held by a soldier of the 503rd Military Police Battalion. It was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize.

War in Vietnam, Assassination (the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr.) Woodstock, Altamonte, and “Whitey On The Moon.” Anti-War activists fighting for peace, Liberated women screaming for their Equal and Reproductive Rights. Left vs. Right.

The difference of opinion between O’Connell and Sachs couldn’t have been more stark. The Communist-Loving Hippie vs. The War-Mongering Christian Soldier.  

Ron Sachs had one of his reporters compile a list of clinics, health and counseling services, and medical providers who specializing in women’s care. He thought it was The Alligator‘s civic duty to publish the list, including the ABORTION PROVIDERS, which made it illegal in the eyes of Florida’s Christian law.

Sachs argued that printing the list was a public service to Alligator readers. President O’Connell and Florida law thought otherwise. O’Connell forbade Sachs from printing the list, threatening to arrest, prosecute, convict, and hopefully imprison the young editor.

“Freedom Of Speech”
Above The Law
Pump Up the Volume (Soundtrack)

((( fighting words )))

Both O’Connell and Sachs took their expectedly rigid corners. It was as if O’Connell was daring Sachs to test his Christian meddle, and Sachs, alone in his decision, was afraid, but confident was right his fight for his and The Alligator’s First Amendment Right to FREE SPEECH. 

O’Connell mostly stewed, as Sachs went out looking for thoughtful counsel. He most trusted one of his younger journalism professors, Jean Chance, whose husband was a ______ Gainesville attorney.

Of course Chance and _____ were behind Sachs and his First Amendment cause, and would supported him completely after whatever decision he made. After a three hour, late-night discussion of the matter, Chance thought printing the list was too risky. No matter how right Sachs was in his conviction, law was, that O’Connell could have him arrested, he could be convicted, and he could go to jail.

Sachs appreciated the counsel, but had always known what he had to do. From the moment he started to compile the list, Sachs thought it an important public service for University of Florida students (Alligator readers), and he was going to provide it.

Sachs was arrested, but as The First Amendment beat back the religiously motivated, anti-abortion movement, he avoided jail. He instead took the now “Independent” Florida Alligator into a time when it could speak freely. (story)

“Gator On My Lawn”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)

((( hometown )))

bob self

Dragon And Fly

It’s green and bumpy, but at least a foot shorter than its predecessor. The first Graham Pond gator, that State Wildlife officers are hunting to kill, was last seen eight or nine days ago. Officials say the new gator (above) can live in the pond because it’s small enough not to endanger humans.

september 25, 1981
vol.75 no.24

september 24, 1912
vol. 1 no. 1
florida history (1912-1983)
Much more than just another sleepy, little, North Florida town.
New Student Edition 1981
OPINION (Letters To The Editor)
CONVENIENCE (Is In The Eye of The Beholder)
Gainesville Green (“I’d like to fertilize her buds”)
TOM PETTY (Coming Home)
MUSIC (The Sound of Higher Education)
PREACHERS (On The Green)
Murphree’s Opening Message (alt.)
Naked Launch (Pretty As A Florida Picture)
Diamond Teeth Mary (Singing With The Devil’s)
MOVIES (Pop Culture of The Day)


Students of another color

November 4, 1979 — Hostages In Iran