Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History by Harvey PekarThe history of SDS as youve never seen it before. In 1962, at a United Auto Workers camp in Michigan, Students for a Democratic Society held its historic convention and prepared the famous Port Huron Statement, drafted by Tom Hayden. This statement, criticizing the U.S. governments failure to pursue international peace or address domestic inequality, became the organizations manifesto. Its last convention was held in 1969 in Chicago, where, collapsing under the weight of its notoriety and popularity, it shattered into myriad factions.
Through brilliant art and they-were-there dialogue, famed graphic novelist Harvey Pekar, gifted artist Gary Dumm, and renowned historian Paul Buhle (as well as several former members of SDS) narrate and illustrate the tumultuous decade that first defined and then was defined by the men and women who gathered under the SDS banner.
Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History captures the idealism and activism that drove a generation of young Americans to believe that even one persons actions can help transform the world.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
No student activist organization in U. Its members saw an American citizenry with no influence over the nuclear arms race or, closer to home, authoritarian university administrations. After , SDS became partial to confrontational tactics and increasingly sympathetic to one or another idea of a Marxist-Leninist revolution. Unlike most left-wing radicals and manifestos of the time, the Port Huron Statement was forthright and not riddled with jargon, thus its opening sentence:. Its growth was helped along by a structure that, for many years, was flexible enough to encompass diverse orientations and styles of activism.
Students for a Democratic Society SDS , American student organization that flourished in the mid-to-late s and was known for its activism against the Vietnam War. SDS, founded in , had its origins in the student branch of the League for Industrial Democracy , a social democratic educational organization. Initially, SDS chapters throughout the nation were involved in the civil rights movement. SDS organized a national march on Washington, D. Tactics included the occupation of university and college administration buildings on campuses across the country.
Todd Gitlin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. No student activist organization in U. We asked Todd Gitlin, former president of SDS , professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, and author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage for his perspective on this renowned organization and the state of student protest today. SDS wanted participatory democracy — a public committed to making the decisions that affect their own lives, with institutions to make this possible. Its members saw an American citizenry with no influence over the nuclear arms race or, closer to home, authoritarian university administrations. SDS was increasingly suspicious of established authorities and looked askance at corporate power.
Presented by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies
As part of the New Left movement in the United States, the organization developed rapidly in the mids, before dissolving in The SDS was the organizational high point for student radicalism in the United States during the s, and thus has been an important influence on student organizing in the decades since its collapse. Participatory democracy , direct action , radicalism, student power, shoestring budgets, and its organizational structure are all present in varying degrees in current national student activist groups. Though various organizations have been formed in the years prior as proposed national networks for left-wing student organizing, none has approached the scale of SDS, and most have lasted a few years at best. Its political manifesto, known as the Port Huron Statement , was adopted at the organization's first convention in , based on an earlier draft by staff member Tom Hayden. This manifesto criticized the political system of the United States for failing to achieve international peace and failing to address social ills in contemporary society. It also advocated non-violent civil disobedience as the means by which student youth could bring forth a "participatory democracy.