The Port Huron Statement

In 1962, fifty-nine members of the Students for a Democratic Society convened in Port Huron to compose a manifesto that came to be known as The Port Huron Statement. These students, part of a growing movement toward radical democratic ideals, identified several of what they saw as shortcomings of the national government as the nation moved out of WWII and Civil Rights Movements were gaining a large head of steam. These students collaborated with each other to conclude that the government was failing to preserve the nation’s ideals of freedom through Jim Crow legislation. They produced an agenda calling for the mobilization of the next generation of voters politically to dismantle the institutions that hindered progress towards an ideal democracy. The manifesto was even referred to as the model for the New American Left. In March of 2012, Sam Roberts of the New York Times wrote an article about the Port Huron Statement titled The Port Huron Statement at 50 and gathered the opinions of several historians on its impact. Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown, said that to this day the Port Huron Statement is “the most ambitious, the most specific and the most eloquent manifesto in the history of the American left.” The above video is the drafter of the manifesto himself, Tom Hayden, speaking to students at St. Clair County Community College (SC4) in Port Huron on the manifesto’s 50th anniversary.

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