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The Hidden 1970s

The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Hidden 1970s
    Book Description:

    The 1970s were a complex, multilayered, and critical part of a long era of profound societal change and an essential component of the decade before-several of the most iconic events of "the sixties" occurred in the ten years that followed.The Hidden 1970sexplores the distinctiveness of those years, a time when radicals tried to change the world as the world changed around them.This powerful collection is a compelling assessment of left-wing social movements in a period many have described as dominated by conservatism or confusion. Scholars examine critical and largely buried legacies of the 1970s. The decade of Nixon's fall and Reagan's rise also saw widespread indigenous militancy, prisoner uprisings, transnational campaigns for self-determination, pacifism, and queer theories of play as political action. Contributors focus on diverse topics, including the internationalization of Black Power and Native sovereignty, organizing for Puerto Rican independence among Latinos and whites, and women's self-defense. Essays and ideas trace the roots of struggles from the 1960s through the 1970s, providing fascinating insight into the myriad ways that radical social movements shaped American political culture in the 1970s and the many ways they continue to do so today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5033-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Exploding Limits in the 1970s
    (pp. 1-18)

    Barack Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign generated much attention to the many barriers broken by his candidacy and subsequent election. His campaign energized many people who previously had been disinterested in or, by virtue of their age, ineligible from participating in national electoral politics. Several pundits and Democratic Party insiders openly hoped, and some even proclaimed, that the ascendance of Obama—two years old when Kennedy was killed and nineteen when Reagan was elected—would herald the end of the long-running 1960s-backlash culture wars.

    But the sixties era, which extended well into the 1970s, still loomed large in the election....

  6. PART ONE Insurgency

    • 1 Improvising on Reality: The Roots of Prison Abolition
      (pp. 21-38)

      The five-day seizure of Attica Correctional Facility in 1971 by prisoners held there was pivotal for the development of what can be called prison abolitionist praxis. This political approach, at once an analysis and a strategy, held that “prison reform” was not just insufficient, but also counterproductive. It sought instead to remove entirely the system of imprisonment and policing through a revolutionary transformation that would render such institutions unnecessary. As the rebels at Attica made clear, abolition involved both direct confrontation with the prison system and building alternative practices to replace confinement and solve the social problems that the criminal...

    • 2 Sick of the Abuse: Feminist Responses to Sexual Assault, Battering, and Self-Defense
      (pp. 39-56)

      By the early 1970s, the women’s movement had popularized the idea that women had a right to defend themselves and their families from outside harm. The emergence of publications such asThe Woman’s Gun Pamphletand groups like Women Armed for Self-Protection (both in 1975) attests to the growing acceptance, even popularity, of armed self-defense among segments of the women’s movement.¹ As a result, feminists—both radical and more mainstream—began to rally around women arrested for self-defense. Several of these cases, such as those of Joan (Jo Ann) Little, Yvonne Wanrow, Inez Garcia, and Dessie Woods, became causes célèbre...

    • 3 “The Struggle Is for Land!”: Race, Territory, and National Liberation
      (pp. 57-76)

      National liberation, the dominant response of the Third World to colonialism by the First World, became an increasingly salient political framework for radical people of color in the United States in the 1970s. To a large number of these activists, and even an expanding coterie of academics and other observers, this call for decolonization seemed a necessary response to the political, economic, cultural, and geographic oppression faced by black, indigenous, Mexican, and Puerto Rican people in the United States. This perspective was not original to the 1970s. Its roots were, in fact, both ancient and recent, present since the first...

    • 4 Canadaʹs Other Red Scare: The Anicinabe Park Occupation and Indigenous Decolonization
      (pp. 77-94)

      In October 1967, the Parliament of Canada came alive after Robert Thompson, a representative of the right-wing Social Credit Party, accused Cuba of sending revolutionary messages to First Nations people¹ in western Canada by way of Radio Havana.² The governing Liberal Party took the accusation seriously by promising to investigate the charge; the country’s media intelligentsia, however, could not contain its sarcasm. Though the government’s official investigation was just beginning, readers in western Canada were assured that “the White man doesn’t have anything to worry about.”³ As the nationally readGlobe and Mailput it: “There is no Ché in...

  7. PART TWO Solidarity

    • 5 “A Line of Steel”: The Organization of the Sixth Pan-African Congress and the Struggle for International Black Power, 1969–1974
      (pp. 97-114)

      Following the heady days of 1968, when the talk of global revolt was at a fever pitch throughout the Third World, Europe, and the United States, no single organized international event captured the optimism, challenges, and dilemmas of the black world more vividly than the Sixth Pan-African Congress (Sixth PAC) held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1974.¹ Initiated by political activists residing largely in the United States and the Caribbean, the Sixth PAC was the first Pan-African Congress to be held on the African continent and serves as a critical marker for understanding the development and contradictions of Pan-Africanism...

    • 6 How Indigenous Peoples Wound Up at the United Nations
      (pp. 115-134)

      The period bookended between the U.S. constitutional crisis generated by Richard Nixon’s reelection in 1972 and Ronald Reagan’s accession to office in 1981 was historic for indigenous peoples in the United States and throughout the Americas. The 1960s had ushered in a new direction in the indigenous struggles for land and self-determination throughout the country and the continent. Following decades of bare survival, of petitioning Congress, filing court cases, and attempting to work with federal government programs, a focus on indigenous sovereignty went from aspiration to formulation. Then came harsh repression under the infamous FBI Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) operation that...

    • 7 “Hit Them Harder”: Leadership, Solidarity, and the Puerto Rican Independence Movement
      (pp. 135-154)

      Several of the largest and most radical mobilizations of the 1970s were called by the Puerto Rican independence movement. “A Day in Solidarity with Puerto Rico” brought twenty thousand people to New York City’s Madison Square Garden in October 1974, and the headcount for the “Bicentennial without Colonies” protests in Philadelphia and San Francisco was approximately fifty thousand.¹ In addition to these mass demonstrations, notable independence activities of the decade included the ten-day takeover of Sydenham Hospital in New York (September 1980),² the occupation of the Statue of Liberty (October 25, 1977), and bombings by the Armed Forces of National...

    • 8 Unorthodox Leninism: Workplace Organizing and Anti-Imperialist Solidarity in the Sojourner Truth Organization
      (pp. 155-174)

      The North American revolutionary Left during the 1970s can generally be split into two camps: those who emphasized questions of class and devoted themselves to workplace organizing, and those who prioritized anti-imperialist struggles both within the United States and around the world.¹ But this division was not necessarily hard and fast, since a range of radicals attempted at different points to map the intersection between these areas. One such outfit, notable both for its theoretical contributions and its practical work, was the Sojourner Truth Organization (STO). STO was a small group—rarely exceeding even fifty members—that emphasized participation in...

  8. PART THREE Community

    • 9 Play as World-making: From the Cockettes to the Germs, Gay Liberation to DIY Community Building
      (pp. 177-194)

      Years before gay liberation, sex was recognized as “play”—especially when practiced for connection and pleasure rather than procreation or productivity.¹ Yet it was queer organizers who turned the struggle for a place to play into a living and breathing work of art. The modern gay liberation movement has its roots in mid-1960s disruptions at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco, the Black Cat Bar in Los Angeles, and the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York. These watershed moments were followed by challenges to sodomy laws, psychiatric classifications, and public mores around pleasure. By the 1970s, the gay...

    • 10 “We Want Justice!”: Police Murder, Mexican American Community Response, and the Chicano Movement
      (pp. 195-213)

      In August 1971, the National Chicano Moratorium Committee, the leading Mexican American anti–Vietnam War organization, dissolved in the wake of police harassment and brutality.¹ Much of this violence occurred in Los Angeles at the 1970 Chicano Moratorium March, where police killed journalist Ruben Salazar and two others, wounding many more. In May 1972, a Mexican American boycott against the public school system in Houston, Texas, fell apart after nearly three years of successful protest. At about the same time, the Los Angeles–based Brown Berets, perhaps the most militant symbol of the Chicano civil rights movement, succumbed to internal...

    • 11 Rising Up: Poor, White, and Angry in the New Left
      (pp. 214-230)

      In the first half of the 1970s, three small organizations with roots in the 1960s New Left attempted to organize working-class white communities toward a radical class politics and prevent white conservative reaction against the gains of the civil rights and black liberation movements. Rising Up Angry (RUA), based in Chicago, the Bronx’s White Lightning (WL), and the October 4th Organization (040) from Philadelphia comprise an important but largely forgotten project within the legacy of the New Left.

      In the early part of the decade, recession and reaction dampened the Left’s optimism. Attempting to counter the fatigue from more than...

    • 12 The Movement for a New Society: Consensus, Prefiguration, and Direct Action
      (pp. 231-249)

      Throughout the first years of the 1970s, amid an array of political transformations on the Left, a cohort of young nonviolent militants worked to rejuvenate the tradition of radical pacifism in the United States by combining its core tenets with political and tactical innovations emerging from the struggles of the 1960s. This effort was most effectively realized in the Movement for a New Society (MNS), an organization founded in 1971 as a national network of collectives with a hub of more than one hundred members living cooperatively in Philadelphia. MNS transmitted the practice of revolutionary nonviolence from the 1960s to...

    • 13 Hard to Find: Building for Nonviolent Revolution and the Pacifist Underground
      (pp. 250-266)

      In activist priest Daniel Berrigan’s classic 1972 poem “America Is Hard to Find,” he talks about those aspects of contemporary United States reality that escape common recognition. Things of beauty—wild strawberries, swans, heron, and deer—and things that people thrive on—good news, housing, holiness, wholeness, and hope—were all hard to find in an era marked by racism, assassination, and the continuing horror of the Vietnam War. But Berrigan was writing of personal experience as well. The subtitle of his book bearing the same name as his poem is straightforward enough:Notes from the Underground and Letters from...

    • 14 “The Original Gangster”: The Life and Times of Red Power Activist Madonna Thunder Hawk
      (pp. 267-284)

      One surprisingly sunny day during the 1973 American Indian Movement (AIM) occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, Madonna Thunder Hawk, who served as a medic and leader in the community, experienced a powerful moment of clarity about her purpose. She plainly felt the spirit of her ancestors and imagined how they had stood their ground in a losing battle to protect their right to be who they were and to protect the land. Wounded Knee brought that insight and experience of freedom that would stay with her and guide her choices when the real work of moving Red Power beyond...

    (pp. 285-288)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 289-303)