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A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed

reviewed by Henry Berger - August 07, 2008

coverTitle: A Hard Rain Fell: SDS and Why It Failed
Author(s): David Barber
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi, Jackson
ISBN: 1934110175, Pages: 257, Year: 2008
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Challenging prevailing interpretations of the Students For A Democratic Society (SDS) that attribute the collapse of the 1960s activist organization to multiple and fractious splinterings, University of Tennessee (at Martin) historian David Barber argues that SDS, and the New Left of which it was a part, failed because their white male, middle class leaders and members were unable and unwilling to rid themselves of “the dominant white culture’s understandings of race, gender, class, and nation…that always placed white people on top” in American society (p. 3, 228).       In successive chapters, Barber asserts that SDS was incapable of imagining, let alone acting, outside the box of white male supremacy. “New Leftists,” he elaborates, did not “question their own racial identities” (p. 16) and as a consequence rejected demands by black power advocates such as Stokeley Carmichael of SNCC and the Black Panther Party that SDS “organize white communities against racism” (p. 51),... (preview truncated at 150 words.)

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 07, 2008
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15329, Date Accessed: 10/21/2020 6:20:57 PM

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About the Author
  • Henry Berger
    Washington University
    HENRY BERGER is Professor Emeritus of History at Washington University where he taught courses about United States foreign relations, American labor history, and discontent, dissent, and protest in America, 1945-1975. He was a graduate student of the late William Appleman Williams at the University of Wisconsin and has also been a political activist since the mid fifties, including for a short time as a member of SDS.
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