Student political activism in the United States antedates the Berkeley student revolt of 1964. American students have been involved in political activities almost since the beginnings of higher education in the United States. Student activism in America has, in general, been linked to events in the larger society, and only seldom has been concerned with the universities. The early political groups were small but provided a political education to many who later became active in intellectual life, the labor movement, and other areas. The student movement of the thirties was concerned largely with the question of war and peace, although it had a strong undercurrent of radical politics. The immediate post-World War II period was one of apathy on the campuses, and ended only with the rebirth of the student peace movement and later the civil rights movement in the late 1950's. These groups provided some of the organizational base for the emergence of the New Left in the mid-1960's. Thus, the historical background of student activism in the United States offers a context for the current period of turmoil on American campuses.
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