Student Movement of the 1960s
During the 1960s Georgia experienced an increase in student activism on its college campuses and in its cities. Opposed to U.S. political leadership and dissatisfied with American culture, student
The student movement, also called the New Left because it represented the latest manifestation of left-leaning political activism, gained converts on campuses across the nation throughout the decade. In Georgia several schools maintained chapters of national and regional student organizations, such as Students for a Democratic Society and the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC). Georgia student leaders often looked to the national New Left for guidance and inspiration.
Civil Rights Movement
The civil rights movement motivated many of Georgia's New Left leaders to become involved in political activism. Emory University student Gene Guerrero, who became the first chairman of SSOC in 1964, turned to activism after being arrested at a 1963 civil rights sit-in in Atlanta. Georgia student activists who joined the civil rights and student movements routinely risked arrest and physical harm, as well as alienation from their conservative friends and families.
Activism at UGA
The growing sentiment among Americans against the Vietnam War (1964-73) generated numerous protests in Georgia. The largest antiwar demonstrations occurred during the fall of 1969, as part of the national "moratorium" campaign. In October and again in November, thousands of students gathered on campuses across the state to remember those killed in Southeast Asia. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Atlanta witnessed many antiwar demonstrations, most of which followed a route down Peachtree Street to Piedmont Park.
The success of the Great Speckled Bird, an underground newspaper that operated out of a house on Fourteenth Street in Atlanta, symbolized the considerable size and longevity of the 1960s student movement in Georgia. From 1968 until it ceased operation in 1976, writers for the Bird filled each weekly issue with stories about New Left causes. Founded by students from several Georgia colleges, the newspaper kept activists outside the metropolitan area in touch with the student movement. At its height in the early 1970s, activists distributed the paper throughout Georgia and the Southeast.
Women's Rights and Gay Liberation Movements
Georgia student activists participated fully in the social and political upheaval that overtook the nation in the 1960s. Although often overshadowed by events in other parts of the nation, the Georgia student movement played an integral part in the story of the twentieth century's most turbulent decade.
Sally Gabb, "A Fowl in the Vortices of Consciousness: The Birth of the Great Speckled Bird," in Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press, vol. 1, ed. Ken Wachsberger (Tempe, Ariz.: Mica Press, 1993).
John McMillian, Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
Gregg L. Michel, Struggle for a Better South: The Southern Student Organizing Committee, 1964-1969 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
Christopher Allen Huff, University of Georgia
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