Re: [sixties-l] more .. generations

From: William Mandel (
Date: Wed Jun 07 2000 - 20:07:21 CUT

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    Sorry to be plunging in with a second contribution my first day
    on this list, but the issues dealt with are things in which I was
    involved at first hand and on which I have thought, broadcast (on
    Pacifica via KPFA), and written for forty years.
        I agree with the criticism of Ted Morgan's periodization of
    the 60s, but disagree with Bibby's making it Black-centered.
    There were two parallel but interwoven movements from the outset,
    Black and white. Having been a participant in pre-1960s and
    pre-Montgomery movement in the South (the mass 1951 "pilgrimage"
    to Richmond, VA., then still very much the capital of the
    Confederacy in spirit, in an unsuccessful effort to save the
    seven Blacks executed in the Martinsville Seven case [see my
    SAYING NO TO POWER, pp. 222-236]), and a very enthusiastic
    supporter of King from the outset, it is absolutely clear to
    those of us whose activism bracketed the chronological divide
    that there was a discontinuity between those movements and the
    60s. That was made most clear by the dropping of the word,
    "Negro," by leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating
    Committee, the organization embodying the 60s spirit, as
    representing an excessive, in their view, willingness to
        Chronologically, the Sixties began, among Blacks (the new
    term soon adopted), with the coffee-house sit-ins at the
    beginning of 1960, and among whites with the mass demonstration
    of UC Berkeley and San Francisco State students outside the HUAC
    hearing in S.F. in April. The consciousness that that was
    happening emerges in a letter of mine in the fall of 1960:
        "In October...I wrote to Bill Sennett, a veteran of the
    Abraham Lincoln Brigade...: 'There is one phenomenon in current
    American political life -- and current American political
    MOVEMENT -- with which I am intimately associated and highly
    familiar...I refer to the student movement, and in particular
    student opposition to the Un-American Committee. The seriousness
    with which this is taken by the opposition is indicated by the
    fact that 1000 (one thousand) prints of the movie 'Operation
    Abolition' have been made'."
        "'It is important for your group to know that a new MOVEMENT
    is under way that, I am absolutely convinced, will have a major
    impact on American life in the years just ahead. I was present at
    a week-end encampment of the new campus political parties this
    summer, which so impressed the head of the official National
    Student Association, who was present, that he endorsed its
    opposition to the J. Edgar Hoover report on the San Fran
    demonstrations, and also endorsed its call for national student
    commemorations of the anniversary of...Hiroshima....This is NOT a
    movement led by any traditional Left party, although these
    students obviously have very advanced ideas in the major areas of
    social life'."
        "A month later a pamphlet called Campus Rebels appeared,
    written by Al Richmond, editor of the Communist 'People's World'.
    He had interviewed me and quoted me anonymously, thus:
        "'An older radical, who is acquainted with student leaders,
    said this movement might well spearhead a progressive democratic
    revival in American life, filling a vacuum that he believes has
    been created by the abdication of labor leadership and the
    ineffectiveness of existing radical groups'.
        "My view was at odds with conventional wisdom, Left, liberal,
    and Right. The Left believed that any movement not led by the
    working class could not be of significance. Liberals quickly
    recognized that something was happening, but did not know what to
    make of it. As for conservatives, an article in the Wall Street
    Journal titled 'Campus Radicals' was subtitled 'Increasingly,
    They are Right Wing, Drawn to Goldwater.' Exactly the opposite
    was true in the '60." (op. cit., ppp. 373-374).
         There is a great deal more to be written about periodization
    of the sixties. At this point, suffice it to say that those of us
    who were involved remember them as having been brought to an end
    very sharply by the nearly simultaneous National Guard shootings
    at Kent State of whites, and at Jacksonville State of Blacks.
    This brought a realization among youth that the "revolution" was
    not going to be brought about simply by parading back and forth,
    trashing, useful media spectacle a la Jerry Rubin, or even the
    heroism of Selma, Alabama. Among whites, who were free to retreat
    from activism, they moved into communes, self-improvement, and
    making a buck. Among Blacks there was a heavy shift, particularly
    in the South, into use of the vote they had gained, and,
    everywhere, use of access to higher education and, in some
    measure, jobs, won by affirmative action.
                                    William Mandel

    Michael Bibby wrote:

    Ted Morgan wrote:

    You may find of interest website

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