Students for a Democratic Society

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a national student activist organization in the United States during the 1960s, and was one of the principal representations of the New Left. Disdaining permanent leaders, hierarchical relationships and parliamentary procedure, the founders conceived of the organization as a broad exercise in ‘participatory democracy.’ From its launch in 1960 it grew rapidly in the course of the tumultuous decade with over 300 campus chapters and 30,000 supporters recorded nationwide by its last national convention in 1969. The organization splintered at that convention amidst rivalry between factions seeking to impose national leadership and direction, and disputing ‘revolutionary’ positions on, among other issues, the Vietnam War and Black Power. … 1962–1964: Organize your own. In the academic year 1962–1963, the President was Hayden, the Vice President was Paul Booth and the National Secretary was Jim Monsonis. There were nine chapters with, at most, about 1000 members. The National Office (NO) in New York City consisted of a few desks, some broken chairs, a couple of file cabinets and a few typewriters. As a student group with a strong belief in decentralization and a distrust for most organizations, the SDS had not developed, and was never to develop, a strong central directorate. National Office staffers worked long hours for little pay to service the local chapters, and to help establish new ones. Following the lead of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), most activity was oriented toward the civil rights struggle. By the end of the academic year, there were over 200 delegates at the annual convention at Pine Hill, New York, from 32 different colleges and universities. The convention chose a confederal structure. Policy and direction would be discussed in a quarterly conclave of chapter delegates, the National Council. National officers, in the spirit of ‘participatory democracy’, would be selected annually by consensus. Lee Webb of Boston University was chosen as National Secretary, and Todd Gitlin of Harvard University was made president. In 1963 ‘racial equality’ remained the cause celebre. …”
Our Struggle Is Just Commencing (SDS, An Intro)

Students carried signs protesting the U.S. government’s announcement of a draft lottery in 1969.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Black Power, Books, Civil Rights Mov., Draft board, Feminist, SDS, SNCC, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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