Wednesday, Jul 18, 2018
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Radicals of the '60s, '70s change with the times



Several radical activists from the 1960s and '70s have moved on with their lives and tried to acclimate and contribute to society. They include:

•Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn - Two founders of the Weathermen organization, their radical roots began during college in the 1960s with Students for a Democratic Society, a group adamantly opposed to the Vietnam War when it began in 1959. The group also fought against police brutality, segregation, and oppression of African-Americans.

The couple split with Students for a Democratic Society in 1969 to form the Weathermen, who believed nonviolence was mostly ineffective in ending American oppression.

They adopted their name from lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which said, "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."

On March 6, 1970, the Weathermen planned to bomb an officers' dance at New Jersey's Fort Dix U.S. Army base, but the bomb detonated prematurely and Weathermen Diana Oughton, Ted Gold, and Terry Robbins were killed in the blast at a New York City townhouse.

After that, the fugitive Weathermen went into hiding, hence the name Weather Underground. Believing bombing civilians was no longer a just cause, they went on to set at least 13 bombs intended to destroy government property.

After about 10 years as fugitives, Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn surrendered to federal authorities in 1980.

Charges against Mr. Ayers were dropped because of inadmissible surveillance evidence. Ms. Dohrn spent less than a year in jail, receiving three years probation.

The couple married during their fugitive days, had children, two of whom were adopted, and settled in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. Barack Obama, who was 8 years old when the Weathermen's first bombing took place, became their neighbor years later.

Now a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago's college of education, Mr. Ayers is regarded in Chicago as a well-respected academic expert on education issues, as well as a board member of the Woods Fund of Chicago.

A university official said he is on sabbatical this semester and he did not respond to e-mail sent by The Blade.

Ms. Dohrn directs the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University's College of Law. One of her assistants refused to allow The Blade to speak with her.

•Mark Rudd - According to his personal Web page, Rudd, former chairman of the Weathermen, surrendered to authorities in 1977, negotiating a plea deal for two years probation and a $2,000 fine.

Now retired from teaching at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, N.M., he works on student organizing with the newly formed Students for a Democratic Society among other groups.

Responding to an e-mail from The Blade, Rudd said he has nothing to say about the Weathermen until "Nov. 5," but added he is finishing a book called, Underground, which is to be published in the spring.

•Laura Whitehorn - A former Underground member, Whitehorn became a member of the fledgling May 19th Coalition after the Underground disbanded. The Coalition claimed responsibility for bombing four Washington military installations in addition to the U.S. Pentagon between 1978 and 1985.

She was arrested in 1985 and in 1990, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy and destruction of government property and later was sentenced to 20 years in prison, where she completed work on HIV and AIDS education. She was released on parole in 1999 after serving about 14 years.

Today, she is a senior editor for the New York City-based POZ magazine, which chronicles HIV and AIDS issues.

When contacted by The Blade, Whitehorn declined to be interviewed, but indicated she hopes Sen. Barack Obama is elected president.

•Eldridge Cleaver - Born in 1935, Cleaver helped found the Black Panther Party after he was released from prison in 1966. He had been convicted of assault with intent to murder.

At one point, he ran for U.S. president as a member of the Peace and Freedom Party.

Cleaver later became an active Republican, who discovered his newfound ideals when he became a born-again Christian.

He later ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in California. In 1994 he died of unknown causes.

•David Horowitz - Mr. Horowitz, born in 1939, is a 1960s New Leftist-turned American conservative writer and activist. His parents were both longtime members of the country's Communist Party, as was he until events in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including the the U.S. abandonment of South Vietnam, changed his political worldview.

Now he edits the Web site FrontPageMagazine,com and writes and speaks on political issues at universities, advancing the neoconservative worldview.

Points of Interest
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