By David Barber
By way of the spring of 1969, scholars for a Democratic Society (SDS) had reached its zenith because the greatest, so much radical circulation of white formative years in American history-a actual New Left. but below a yr later, SDS splintered into warring factions and ceased to exist.
SDS's improvement and its dissolution grew without delay out of the organization's kinfolk with the black freedom circulate, the flow opposed to the Vietnam battle, and the newly rising fight for women's liberation. For a second, younger white humans may understand their international in new and innovative methods. yet New Leftists didn't reply as a tabula rasa. to the contrary, those younger people's consciousnesses, their tradition, their identities had arisen out of a historical past which, for centuries, had privileged white over black, males over ladies, and the United States over the remainder of the realm. this sort of background couldn't aid yet distort the imaginative and prescient and perform of those activists, sturdy intentions though.
A not easy Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed lines those activists of their relation to different pursuits and demonstrates that the hot Left's dissolution flowed without delay from SDS's failure to wreck with conventional American notions of race, intercourse, and empire.
David Barber is assistant professor of heritage on the collage of Tennessee at Martin. His paintings has seemed in magazine of Social background, Left background, and Race Traitor.
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Additional resources for A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed
But Gitlin was less forthcoming in discussing the other side of SNCC’s understanding: that blacks should organize blacks. Indeed, the former SDS president made no mention of ERAP projects in black communities, like Newark. Instead, Gitlin smuggled black people into his vision by seeing them as poor—and not black, or only incidentally black—as in the pre–Black Power SDS manner. Gitlin discussed police brutality, for example, as though it were an issue that came out of poor communities, and not the black community specifically.
Black people and the civil rights movement would be responsible for the struggle against racism—apparently a black problem—and would be a single element in SDS’s radical coalition. SDS would be responsible for everything else. 21 Even as SNCC turned self-consciously to black nationalism and revolution, SDS leaders continued to marginalize SNCC, making it only a single element of the national work of social change. In an open letter to SNCC sent two weeks prior to Carmichael’s call for Black Power, SDS’s national secretary, Paul Booth, sought to defend SNCC from escalating liberal attacks.
Indeed, as Black Power fell from the national headlines, most SDS leaders and members returned to more comfortable and familiar notions of themselves and their activities. In November 1966—less than six months after Carmichael’s call for Black Power— Allen Jehlen, a Boston SDSer, felt sufficiently emboldened to launch the first direct attack on Black Power to appear in New Left Notes. Jehlen’s critique was in fact not a new response to Black Power but the traditional Old Left response to black nationalism: class, as most of the Old Left traditionally defined it, trumped race.
A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed by David Barber