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The People of This Generation

The Rise and Fall of the New Left in Philadelphia

By Paul Lyons

Publication Year: 2011

At the heart of the tumult that marked the 1960s was the unprecedented scale of student protest on university campuses around the world. Identifying themselves as the New Left, as distinguished from the Old Left socialists who engineered the historic labor protests of the 1930s, these young idealists quickly became the voice and conscience of their generation.

The People of This Generation is the first comprehensive case study of the history of the New Left in a Northeast urban environment. Paul Lyons examines how campus and community activists interacted with the urban political environment, especially the pacifist Quaker tradition and the rising ethnic populism of police chief and later mayor Frank Rizzo. Moving away from the memoirs and overviews that have dominated histories of the period, Lyons uses this detailed metropolitan study as a prism for revealing the New Left's successes and failures and for gauging how the energy generated by local activism cultivated the allegiance of countless citizens.

Lyons explores why groups dominated by the Old Left had limited success in offering inspiration to a new generation driven by the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War. The number and diversity of colleges in this unique metropolitan area allow for rich comparisons of distinctly different campus cultures, and Lyons shows how both student demographics and institutional philosophies determined the pace and trajectory of radicalization. Turning his attention off campus, Lyons highlights the significance of the antiwar Philadelphia Resistance and the antiracist People for Human Rights—Philadelphia's most significant New Left organizations—revealing that the New Left was influenced by both its urban and campus milieus.

Combining in-depth archival research, rich personal anecdote, insightful treatment of the ideals that propelled student radicalism, and careful attention to the varied groups that nurtured it, The People of This Generation offers a moving history of urban America during what was perhaps the most turbulent decade in living memory.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title

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pp. 2-4

Copyright

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pp. 5-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: The Movement and the City of Brotherly Love

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pp. 1-17

In the early 1960s a new generation's voice would emerge across the nation, responding to the kinds of themes highlighted in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Port Huron Statement of 1962: the threat of nuclear confrontation, the contradictions between American affluence and minority and Third World poverty, ...

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1. The Old Left and the 1960s

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pp. 18-33

The watershed moment in the origins of the new Left in America was the virtual collapse of the Communist Party in the United States following the Twentieth Party Congress in Moscow and the subsequent Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. Within several years Party membership and associated networks precipitously declined ...

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2. The Quaker Schools

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pp. 34-72

The campuses of Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr Colleges are about as far away from the gritty neighborhoods of Philadelphia as one can possibly get. Two of these liberal arts colleges—Haverford and Bryn Mawr—tended to coordinate their student activism; ...

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3. The Catholic Schools

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pp. 73-87

Virtually none of the literature addressing student opposition to the Vietnam War or, more broadly, the emergence of the New Left movement, considers the experience of Roman Catholic colleges and universities. There is a marginalized literature addressing Catholic movements for social justice and peace, ...

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4. From Subway School to Ivy League

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pp. 88-131

Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia's dominant Center City campuses, illustrate an important juxtaposition of New Left experience. Temple, though considered by many the Philadelphia equivalent of the City University of New York, only stumbled into 1960s New Left activism, ...

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5. The Beloved Community Goes to War

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pp. 132-166

In the early 1960s, prior to the Americanization of the Vietnam War, the peace movement in Philadelphia focused attention on the struggle to eliminate or at least reduce nuclear testing. The participants in this effort were mostly a hardy band of pacifists, Old Leftists, and liberals. ...

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6. The Politics of White Antiracism: People for Human Rights

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pp. 167-192

Although the Philadelphia Resistance concentrated most of its attention on the war in Indochina, it also worked with other activist groups who were focusing on domestic social issues. Of these groups, People for Human Rights (PHR) emerged as the most vocal. ...

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7. The Rise and Fall of the New Left

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pp. 193-232

To examine the history of the New Left movements on college campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s is to enter a minefield of interpretative brawls and extraordinarily contradictory developments. First of all, there is the ideological battlefield on which conservatives and some liberals see utopian dreams descending into a nihilistic nightmare, ...

Notes

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pp. 233-268

Index

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pp. 269-276

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 277-279

I have been most fortunate in having so many people to thank for offering me advice, guidance, and criticism over the seven years during which this book was written. Let me start with my students at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, those studying social welfare policy, U.S. history since 1920, ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780812202687
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812237153

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 22 illus.
Publication Year: 2011

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Subject Headings

  • Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • New Left -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History.
  • College students -- Political activity -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- 20th century.
  • Radicalism -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia -- History -- 20th century.
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