In May of 1970, an organized group of white, mostly middle-class college students issued a declaration of war against the United States. In a communique -- the first of many -- they outlined a plan to violently revolt against the warmongering institution that was U.S. government. Over the next two decades, this group, calling themselves the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), bombed countless public buildings (such as the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol Building) as acts of protest against what they perceived as an illegal, immoral governing body. Whether right or wrong, their actions were always a direct response -- a last ditch effort -- to spotlight the atrocities being carried out by the U.S. government, both at home and abroad. What exactly made a group of privileged white college students with privileged upbringings decide to form a violent revolution, fighting for civil rights and against U.S. imperialism?
In 1969, at its ninth national convention, the organization of college-age activists known as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was in disarray. Having formed only nine years earlier, it became the ideological basis for the New Left -- highly critical of the government’s policies on war and most importantly, fervent supporters of racial equality. By its ninth national convention, it had grown to be 100,000 members strong, consisting of various alliances and parties, with over 300 chapters all across the continental United States. During the convention, the turmoil of its own inner-politics and conflict between parties lead to a splintering (Green, “The Weather Underground”). The expulsion of the Worker-Student Alliance and the Progressive Labor party by the Revolutionary Youth Movement was strategic -- a coup...
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...te kids from privileged backgrounds who risked everything for [their] anti-war, anti-racist, and revolutionary beliefs, to act in solidarity with the people of the world” (Rudd, IX). A strong sense of equality, instilled early on in family life; identification with persecution, whether through stories passed down to them about the Holocaust or identification with other ongoing revolutionary movements; an inborn, rebellious nature and shared anti-authoritarian streak -- all of these contributed to the seemingly irrational decision to evade -- even decry -- their white privilege and become professional, underground revolutionaries. To the WUO, being white was something of which they were ashamed. In many ways, their fervent actions were desperate attempts to absolve themselves of that shame. But they were also the genuine acts of concerned and caring individuals.
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