Making of the New Left
By Maryanne George
University of Michigan alums Tom Hayden (photo left), Al Haber and other co-founders of the 1960s activist group Student for a Democratic Society will speak at “A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement in Its Time and Ours,” a three-day conference, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, that will explore the significance of the statement and the social, cultural and political history of the New Left.
The 75-page statement drafted by Hayden, former editor of the Michigan Daily, emerged from a meeting of the SDS at the United Auto Workers Retreat on Lake Huron in June 1962. The statement became a legendary document of the New Left movement of the 1960s and its call for participatory democracy resonates with today’s Occupy movement.
The free public conference will focus on the early period of the New Left and the founding of SDS in 1960. It will also include discussions of the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, as well as the historic Vietnam teach-in at U-M in March 1965 and the legendary speech “Naming the System” by U-M graduate student and SDS president Paul Potter at the first major demonstration against the Vietnam war in Washington, D.C., in April 1965.
Howard Brick, the Louis Evans Professor of History and organizer of the conference, says it is the most important among several recent conferences commemorating the statement’s 50th anniversary because of its broad scope and U-M’s significance in the birth of SDS.
“Our conference carries special import because University of Michigan students spearheaded the organization of SDS after 1960,” Brick said. “It will also examine a wide range of left wing social movements of the same era in the U.S., Europe, Africa and Latin America.”
Ruth Rosen, a journalist and historian of the modern women’s movement, will deliver the opening keynote address.
“‘A New Insurgency’ is the most intellectually exciting conference on Port Huron and the New Left that I have seen,” Rosen said. “It displays exceptional understanding of how race, gender and other vital injustices were so central to the creation and impact of the New Left.”
PLACE: Michigan Union and the Hatcher Graduate Library. Campus map: http://www.umich.edu/~info/mapsAndDirections.html#anchor_centralCampus
SPONSORS: College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Rackham School of Graduate Studies, Office of the Vice President for Research and numerous academic departments
WEB LINK: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/phs