tv Reel America CSPAN August 6, 2016 10:38pm-10:51pm EDT
@cs panhistory. >> all weekend, american history tv is featuring port huron, michigan. the world's first underwater railroad was built to connect to canada in 1890. hosted by our comcast cable partners, the cities tour recently visited many sites showcasing the city's rich history. >> we are at lakeport state park just north of port huron, michigan. it is a state park. 1962, this was owned by the united auto workers. union members would come up here on summer weekends with their families. this park, at one time, was the site of the founding convention of the students for a democratic society.
sps -- sds came here to write what would be called the port huron statement. the students for a democratic society were a group formed in ann arbor michigan. they wanted to bring about a more democratic society. they figured that they needed a manifesto to bring that about. here to write their manifesto. sds was a student group. they wanted to sort of building more democratic society. they looked at the laws of the united states and they said, these come about because of a lack of democracy. here,ey came together working on an original draft by
tom hayden. , andbroken up into pieces worked on each of the sections for four or five days. tom hayden worked on the draft. he brought here and they divided .p each group worked on a .articular section and looked around america they saw the problems of racism and poverty and political apathy. they thought that the best way to address those problems were to get students involved. they believed college students should be change agents. universities were distributed
across the country and college students have intellectual skills and time to work on social problems that would bring about more democratic society. sds's influence during the time period of 1962 into the 70's was quite big. it really got the ball rolling in the sense that college students felt that they belonged and that they mattered and that they could make a change in society. it wasn't just the port huron statement, it was a lot of the work that sds made afterwards. they would send people to college campuses to organize chapters, bringing members. they grew up until the contentious split of 1968-1969, to about one million members.
works done through hard done by mail campaigns and talking to people. they wanted to form a new left. a new left broke with communism. they didn't have a fully thought-out system. advocated for what is called participatory democracy. they thought that if you make democracy available to everybody and if everybody has a say in the decisions that affect their lives, and you could bring about a better society. what that society looks like, we don't know. they cannot sort of give us with that and goalie is. they simply say that we think that all human beings have undeveloped capacities to reason , freedom, and love. the goal is to set up society to foster those capacities.
i think it is interesting to just look at the first sentence. where people of this generation house now in universities looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit. in that particular sentence, they are announcing a lot of things. they are saying we are worried about the future. if you look at the majority of the port huron statement, it doesn't give out this complete political philosophy. it looks at the problems they are about to get. systemic racism, the cold war, and political apathy, not to mention widespread poverty. thought that these social problems came about because of a lack of democracy. fairfax was more democracy not
less. students andout 60 they came here really because it had the infrastructure. right now, there is this wonderful lovely part. at the time they were cabins, a large kitchen area so that they can cook and eat and hold all the people that were here. the goal, again, was just a sort of work on this draft that tom wrote. they used a participatory democracy of method to try and write the document. we brought tom here for the 50th anniversary of the port huron statement in 2012. tom just doesn't slow down.
it is kind of amazing. he is in his early 70's and he just keeps moving. he keeps writing. it is quite incredible. he bolted out of the car and went right to the water and was standing there looking out over the water. i have to that, it seemed like he was home. i think this statement has a sort of long, slow influence. it wasn't right out of the gate influence. activistsre are many working on things like participatory budgeting in new york and chicago. they had money set aside for local areas. then the people get together and decide how that money is going to be spent.
all of that i think is traceable back to the port huron statement and participatory democracy. build a student movement, a democracy movement, and then it fractured in 1968 and 1969 when a group of sds members went to a more revolutionary left. wanted to be more of reformists. it fractured and it was all over. before sds broke up, there were almost one million members. college students around the country, campuses everywhere, had sds chapters. it became very integral to the peace movement, the antiwar movement.
it was hard to break them apart. they all sort of became one in the same. how the statement is represented today, there is one of two ways -- maybe two of two ways. idea that there was this very noble document looking for participatory democracy wanting to be more inclusive, of course,e together there is another group of people that say it is a radical hippie document, that they are a bunch of degenerates that wrote it. read it and decide for yourself. what i would like people to understand about the port huron we haven'ts that achieved our country yet. we are not there.
we need to do more, each one of us. can open up the society for us in that the political life is actually a way to bring us together, that we other, workeach together to solve shared a mores and make this just and democratic society. the port huron statement and is in the sort of ominously haunting sentence. if we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable. i think the unimaginable that they had their was the cold war, ,uclear war, lack of democracy the continuation of the rampant racism in america at the time.
that scared them and that moved them to organize and get people to join. >> this weekend, we're featuring the history of port huron, michigan. to learn more about port huron and other stops on the cities c-span.org/citiestour. who watching american history tv. the weekend, our road to white house coverage takes you to the green party political convention in houston. 9:00 pm eastern, city acceptance speeches from nomineespresidential for the green party. watch any time at c-span.org. >> up next on american history back -- derekek
.eck discusses his book in this hour-long talk in new details ther. back strategies on both sides of the conflict that took place in and around of boston, massachusetts prior to the convention. >> tonight, we are delighted to derek beck. derek has always had a passion for military history which inspired him to start his career in the u.s. air force. he has served as an officer. in 2005, he earned a masters of science degree at m.i.t. where he also fell in love with boston's revolutionary past.