"A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement in its Time and Ours" (UM, October 31-November 2) brings together world-renowned activists and scholars to mark the 50th anniversary of The Port Huron Statement, the historic manifesto of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) first issued in June 1962.
SDS's Port Huron Statement offered the most comprehensive analysis of American society and most eloquent vision for radical reform to be generated by the emerging movement known as the New Left. Young radical intellectuals—including many Michigan students—produced the document, but their inspiration stemmed from the energy and moral example already set by activists in the civil rights and peace movements, anticolonial struggles abroad, new signs of dissent from Latin America to Eastern Europe, and older leftwing ideas in need of renovation.
"A New Insurgency" focuses on the beginnings of the multifold New Left from 1958 to 1965. Speakers at the conference will examine the open, and sometimes hidden, elements of the new insurgent spirit of that time—including early trends in feminism, Black nationalism, Latina/o and Native American struggles for recognition and power, rebellious currents around the world, gay liberation, and developments in the arts that tracked the course of rising protest.
The relation between the New Left and labor will also be considered. The meeting that drafted the Statement took place at a retreat owned by the United Auto Workers and lent by the UAW to SDS for the occasion. The UAW also gave the seed grant that started SDS's famed community-organizing project in poor districts of Northern cities, ERAP (the Economic Research and Action Project), in 1963-64. Kim Moody, longtime activist and advocate of union militancy (and founder of Labor Notes), was a Port Huron delegate convinced that "participate democracy" could enliven the labor movement: He will speak at the "New Insurgency" conference, as will labor historians Mari Jo Buhle and Paul Buhle, who were most recently involved in the Madison uprising of spring 2011.
All conference events are free and open to the public. Free registration is available on the website: www.lsa.umich.edu/phs