Waking up the NEW LEFT

The New Left emerged independently at two great postwar knowledge factories, the University of Michigan and the University of California at Berkeley. More than a third of their students were in graduate or professional school. Michigan had more contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration than any other university in the country. Berkeley was the main federal contractor for nuclear research, and had more Nobel laureates on its faculty than any other university in the world.

Yeah, I skipped using the first paragraph. Lots of students in the New Left would have agreed 100% with it. In truth, the New Left was late to the dance. Folks, North and South, predominantly Black, had been leading an uprising against American Racism which came to be called the Civil Rights Movement. Lots of grassroots. Urban and rural. Students and workingclass activists alike had been building organizations like SNCC and CORE for a few years before, say, the founding of SDS. And these groups had already begun the reconstruction of an American Left that breached public comprehension with the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August, 1963.

I was there as co-founder of my local CORE Chapter along with the other founder, a Black member of one of the biggest UAW locals in Connecticut.

As discussions of New Left analysis grew across the U.S., most of the “welcoming committees” were folks already committed to the civil rights movement. In general, as community-based organizations, we were working class, all colors. And saying that, please, move on and read this article. It is a useful, thoughtful, pretty direct depiction of what the New Left thought of itself and the land where it was born.

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