The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a student activist movement in the United States founded in 1959. As part of the New Left movement in the United States, the organization developed rapidly in the mid-1960s, before dissolving in 1969.
The SDS was the organizational high point for student radicalism in the United States during the 1960s, and thus has been an important influence on student organizing in the decades since its collapse. Participatory democracy, direct action, radicalism, student power, shoestring budgets, and its organizational structure are all present in varying degrees in current national student activist groups.
Though various organizations have been formed in the years prior as proposed national networks for left-wing student organizing, none has approached the scale of SDS, and most have lasted a few years at best.
Most recently, a movement to revive the SDS took shape, beginning in 2003.
The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) developed from the youth branch of a socialist educational organization known as the League for Industrial Democracy (LID) which descended from the Intercollegiate Socialist Society which was started in 1905. SDS held its first meeting in 1960 at Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Robert Alan Haber was elected president. Its political manifesto, known as the Port Huron Statement, was adopted at the organization's first convention in 1962, based on an earlier draft by staff member Tom Hayden. This manifesto criticized the political system of the United States for failing to achieve international peace and failing to address social ills in contemporary society. It also advocated non-violent civil disobedience as the means by which student youth could bring forth a "participatory democracy."
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