This fall, the University of Michigan will hold a major conference commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the summer 1962 meeting at Port Huron, Michigan, which resulted in the creation of <i>The Port Huron Statement</i>, a manifesto that outlined many of the aims and principles of student protest and the New Left for the rest of that decade.
The Statement’s radical ideals of “participatory democracy” and its centrality in the history of the iconic Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) have made it enormously influential for subsequent activist movements in the United States and beyond, including the contemporary Occupy Wall Street movement. This event, organized by History Professor Howard Brick and colleagues from Afroamerican and African Studies, American Culture, and other units, will convene US and international scholars and activists, including some key founders of SDS and the prominent activist writers Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Klein. The event will feature lectures, a morning plenary session, and up to a dozen panels on topics such as gender, race, sexuality, and labor in the formation of the New Left; comparative discussions of the New Left in the US, Latin America, Europe, and elsewhere; the importance of colonialism and the global Cold War in the rise of the New Left; and the resonance of the New Left in today’s domestic and international political and economic climate. This conference highlights the special place of Ann Arbor and U-M in the history of the New Left and social protest during this critical decade. It also takes advantage of the University’s resources by offering a series of lectures by Michigan faculty in the months leading up to the event on the impact of “participatory democracy” on political theory, the influence of 1960s radicalism in reshaping academic fields, contemporary student activism, and other topics.
Co-sponsored by the Department of History, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, the Eisenberg Institute, and the Institute for the Humanities.