Port Huron Statement 50 years later: 3-day conference at University of Michigan begins Wednesday
A three-day conference reflecting on the 50th anniversary of The Port Huron Statement, a manifesto for participatory democracy, begins Wednesday on the University of Michigan campus.
U-M alums Tom Hayden, Alan Haber and other co-founders of the 1960s activist group Students for a Democratic Society are expected to speak at the event, which will explore the significance of the statement and the social, cultural and political history of the New Left movement.
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. It became a central document of the New Left movement of the 1960s.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Haber said The Port Huron Statement "had an impact all over the world." SDS held its first meeting in 1960 on the U-M campus, where Haber was elected president. SDS co-founders Barbara Haber and Sharon Jeffrey Lehrer, who are participating in a Friday morning panel discussion as part of the conference, told AnnArbor.com on Wednesday that Alan Haber was "the visionary" of the group.
Howard Brick, U-M professor of history and organizer of the conference, said the three-day event on U-M's campus this week is the most important among several recent events 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."
The conference, "A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement in Its Time and Ours," kicks off with a keynote address titled "Refugees from the Fifties," which will be delivered by Ruth Rosen, a journalist and historian of the women's movement, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Angell Hall.
Hayden will deliver a speech titled "The Future of Participatory Democracy" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at 1324 East Hall.
Other panels and sessions will be held in the Michigan Union. For more information, go to the event website: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/phs.
The conference is free and open to the public. In addition to its main focus on the early period of the New Left and the founding of SDS in 1960, it will include discussions of the civil rights and women's liberation movements, as well as the Vietnam teach-in at U-M in March 1965 and the 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.
Local blogger Mark Maynard spoke with Hayden recently about what gave rise to the Port Huron Statement and the culture of protest in the 1960s.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.