front cover of Prairie Power
Prairie Power
Voices of 1960s Midwestern Student Protest
Robbie Lieberman
University of Missouri Press, 2019
Prairie Power, a superb collection of oral histories from the 1960s, focuses on former student radicals at the University of Missouri, the University of Kansas, and Southern Illinois University. Robbie Lieberman presents a view of Midwestern New Left activists that has been neglected in previous studies.
Scholarship on the sixties has been shifting from a national focus to more local and regional studies, but few authors have studied the student movement in the Midwest. Moreover, the characterization of prairie power activists as “long-haired, dope-smoking anarchists” who were responsible for the downfall of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) has not been challenged directly. While still viewing these activists critically, Lieberman argues that Midwestern students made significant contributions to the New Left in the latter half of the decade, and that their efforts were not only important at the time but also had a lasting impact on the universities and towns in which they were active.
The author begins by explaining “prairie power” and establishing its significance in the history of 1960s protest. She then presents the oral histories in three parts. The first section reveals what “prairie power” meant to national leaders of SDS who were regional organizers in the Midwest. The second section of oral histories gives insight into the backgrounds, concerns, and activities of local leaders from the three universities who were homegrown Midwestern activists. Lieberman shows that while the national leaders take credit for organizing on several college campuses, the local activists often felt that they were on their own.
The third group of oral histories—from grassroots activists—is what most sets this book apart from previous works on the student New Left. These are students who joined demonstrations on their own campuses but did not necessarily identify with either local or national organizations. Their rarely heard voices help provide a better understanding of who participated in the student protest movement, why they were involved, and how their activities profoundly affected their lives for years to come.
Prairie Power makes a significant contribution toward a more comprehensive history of student activism in the turbulent 1960s.
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front cover of Rise Up!
Rise Up!
Activism as Education
Amalia Dache
Michigan State University Press, 2019
We live at a time when the need for resistance has come front and center to international consciousness. Rise Up! Activism as Education works to advance theory and practice-oriented understandings of multiple forms of and relationships between racial justice activism and diverse and transnational educational contexts. Here contributors provide detailed accounts and examinations—historical and contemporary, local and international—of active resistance efforts aimed at transforming individuals, institutions, and communities to dismantle systems of racial domination. They explore the ways in which racial justice activism serves as public education and consciousness-raising and a form of education and resistance from those engaged in the activism. The text makes a case for activism as an educational concept that enables organizers and observers to gain important learning outcomes from on-the-ground perspectives as it explores racial justice activism, specifically in the context of community and campus activism, intersectional activism, and Black diasporic liberation. This volume is an essential handbook for preparing both students and activists to effectively resist.
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front cover of Starving for Justice
Starving for Justice
Hunger Strikes, Spectacular Speech, and the Struggle for Dignity
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval
University of Arizona Press, 2017

In the 1990s three college campuses in California exploded as Chicano/a and Latino/a students went on hunger strikes. Through courageous self-sacrifice, these students risked their lives to challenge racial neoliberalism, budget cuts, and fee increases. The strikers acted and spoke spectacularly and, despite great odds, produced substantive change.

Social movement scholars have raised the question of why some people risk their lives to create a better world. In Starving for Justice, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval uses interviews and archival material to examine people’s willingness to make the extreme sacrifice and give their lives in order to create a more just society.

Popular memory and scholarly discourse around social movements have long acknowledged the actions of student groups during the 1960s. Now Armbruster-Sandoval extends our understanding of social justice and activism, providing one of the first examinations of Chicana/o and Latina/o student activism in the 1990s.

Students at University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Santa Barbara; and Stanford University went on hunger strikes to demand the establishment and expansion of Chicana/o studies departments. They also had even broader aspirations—to obtain dignity and justice for all people. These students spoke eloquently, making their bodies and concerns visible. They challenged anti-immigrant politics. They scrutinized the rapid growth of the prison-industrial complex, racial and class polarization, and the university’s neoliberalization. Though they did not fully succeed in having all their demands met, they helped generate long-lasting social change on their respective campuses, making those learning institutions more just.

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