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The Influence Of The Student Protest Movement On United States' 1960's

1315 words - 5 pages

The 1960’s was a decade filled with controversies and the fight for equality. The Student Protest Movement was the fuel to the fire that feed many protests on several important matters. At the beginning the students stood for a positive change in America. It is certain that such beliefs gave theses activist the title of dreamers. They would start small but eventually make their way up against the government, also known as “the man”. The beginning of the movement held different beliefs from what eventually cause its end. I believe that at first the movement had high hopes of achieving success for others, but by the end, the movement accompanied by many opposing viewpoints, began to lose sight of what they had set out to do in the first place. While some goals were eventually met, many were faced with a negative outcome. Their optimism was matched by the want for change in the United States, but it would begin to fall along with the goals of the SDS.
The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was the backbone to the Student Protest Movement. In 1959 the SDS was a coalition of socialist, liberals, and unclassified radicals, who vowed to “raise issues” about social questions as long as the solution did not endanger the “values of maximum freedom for the individual.”(Unger 52) Soon SDS became a new left political organization with a university campus base. Most of the members were in college or recent college graduates. Their outlook on America had been tarnished by the wars, racism, and poverty. They did not like intuitions or bureaucracies and felt America should have a participatory democracy where the people could join in making political decisions that affected their lives (Unger 54). The SDS did not have many members and was in fact a minority among other groups. They also didn’t have a lot of money to carry out any vigorous programs, so the first issue that seemed promising was university reform (Unger 57). Unfortunately, the SDS was neither intellectually nor psychologically ready to take on the educational system. The working-class whites seemed to be the right group for the radical student’s attention. This was clearly not revolutionary, but they were oppressed and the SDS with their optimistic view, wanted to help. They organized in the slums where students would work alongside the residents to better understand what they were going through. The problem with programs such as these is that most of the organizers were students who, when school started, would have to leave and attend college (Unger 60). Students who returned to campuses after these summer programs no longer saw their campuses as safe. The University of California at Berkeley saw the greatest impact from the mood set by returning students. Students began to protest the administrations control over activities. Many students were passionate in the fight, however for some it was nothing but a diversion from school and boredom (Unger 68). Those few students, who just wanted to...

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