Vlasits, George

Nov. 20, 2002, midnight | By Josh Gottlieb-Miller | 21 years, 6 months ago

The man, the legend, the Vlasits

Name: Vlasits, George.
Department: History.
Education: Paramus High School. Bachelors of art degree from Lehigh. Vlasits played lacrosse and football there. Vlasits has a major in history and minors in math and physics.
Year started at MBHS: 1991.
Previous Jobs: Drapery installer. Student organizer. Steel mill worker. History teacher at Gaithersburg.
Hobbies: Reading historical fiction and history and politics.

Anti-war protestor, civil rights activist, steel worker, lacrosse player, Blair legend. In other words; history teacher George Vlasits.

Vlasits is a gray-haired stately fellow, with a full beard and a calmly wizened visage. Most surprising are his enormous biceps though, the product of years of playing football and lacrosse. Vlasits fondest teaching memories involve simply helping students get their schoolwork organized, however as a young adult Vlasits was a political student organizer for the civil rights and anti-war movement.

During his time as a protestor years ago, Vlasits faced various dangerous situations but never backed down from his beliefs. Vlasits remarks, "[There were] plenty of riots and rallies that went bad. At Duke University [I] used [my] lacrosse skills to dodge tear gas canisters. That was a police riot, there were relatively few student protestors, [but] the police lobbed tear gas into the dormitories and it got into the ventilation system. All the students ran out madder than hell."

Vlasits similarly remembers a civil rights march in Durham, North Carolina in the summer of 1967. "[The marchers] were demanding more jobs, respect, etc. and we marched to City Hall. Only three whites out of 600 marchers, myself, a friend of mine, and a woman [that] I didn't know. We crossed the tracks and the street was lined with all white National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets and 500 Klansmen and racists on the other side, shouting ‘encouragement,' [and carrying] sticks and rocks and who knows how many guns." Vlasits states seriously.

Vlasits also reminisces fondly about the organizer of that rally. He says, "A man by the name of Howard Fuller pulled the whites aside [earlier] and told us, ‘You're welcome to come, but if something happens you'll get it from both sides.' The organizers were very disciplined, [there were] a lot of 15 to 20 year olds spoiling for a fight, and if not for the leaders we'd all have been dead," Vlasits states seriously.

Vlasits spent some time in North Carolina with his wife, and one of his most dangerous civil encounters came when he and his wife decided to build an anti-war coffee house there. "There was a Quaker Coffee House that was firebombed [and] the story on the front page [of the local paper] said [the owners] moved and gave our address; cause they had moved in with us. For the next two weeks there was a steady stream of cars driving by our house and we lived on a dead end street, so they all had to turn around and go back. [The Quakers were] pacifists but we weren't, so we fortified the place. We were ready for them," Vlasits claims with a knowing chuckle.

Vlasits also had positive experiences in North Carolina and attended several rallies there. Vlasits says, "In Fayetteville, North Carolina, 5,000 people in the summer, no, May of 1970; after the killings at Kent State. There were 20 or 30 Klansmen with the police protecting us. They had guns and nothing happened. Great rally. Jane Fonda spoke at it."

Vlasits clearly enjoys the positive social change for which he protested, and that he continues to work toward as the Students for Global Responsibility sponsor. Mr. Vlasits' actions speak for themselves; proving that he is not only a great teacher-information that any of his students will gladly volunteer-but also a great person.

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