In 1964, what issue did the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) focus on?

2 Answers
May 11, 2017

They focused on the Civil Rights


Before the start of the Vietnam War, the activists of the SDS were focused on the Civil Rights. The Port Huron Statement of 1962 by Tom Hayden clearly shows that motive.

Port Huron Statement:

It is one of the key documents of the New Left which introduced a shift in political grievances from labor struggle to minorities' rights and other new issues.

In 1964, after the Gulf of Tonkin incident the students opposed immediately the escalation. Todd Gitlin depicted this movement very accurately in his book "The Sixties:Years of Hope, Days of Rage"

May 12, 2017

In 1964 the main focus was the Vietnam war.


The SDS was a socialist political organization from its founding.
The goals of the group were first economic inequality and secondly racial inequality. The group was against the so called military industrial complex that they felt controlled America. These goals were expressed at the 1960 Port Huron Meeting.

When the Gulf of Tokin Resolution happened the group shifted its focus to antiwar efforts. The draft made the Vietnam War very unpopular on American campuses. Sit In's and protests gave the SDS visibility and political power. Money and members poured in at one point raising the membership to more than 50,000 members.

The PL a pro Moaist group exerted more and more power over the SDS. The distinction between socialist and communists became more blurred. This result in a split in the group with the more radical part becoming the weather underground.

The goal of the group from the beginning was to promote international peace, inspired by socialism. The Vietnam war became a vehicle for promoting these socialistic goals. The group divided over how best to accomplish these goals