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Bill Ayers-- Profile of Bill Ayers, the Weatherman (aka Weather Underground)

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Bio Sketch:

Ayers, born in 1944, was raised in a Chicago suburb. He became active in the anti-war leftist group, Students for a Democratic Society, while he was a student at the University of Michigan in the mid- 1960s. In 1969, Ayers helped lead a group that splintered off from SDS, Weatherman (known as the Weathermen). The group set off a number of bombs against U.S. targets in the early 1970s, earning it the label of "domestic terrorist organization" from the FBI.

Key Influences:

Ayers has described his own transition to active, and then violent, protest in his memoir, Fugitive Days, as having taken place at a teach-in against the Vietnam War in 1965. There, the president of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), Paul Potter, asked "How will you live your life so it doesn't make a mockery of your values?" The question galvanized Ayers, who records having thought, "You could not be a moral person with the means to act and stand still ... To stand still was to choose indifference. Indifference was the opposite of moral."

Objectives:

Ayers own objectives were wrapped up in those of the organizations he helped led, SDS and later the Weathermen. SDS was a leftist student organization that sought to push the advances of the civil rights movement forward and encourage participatory democracy in the United States. In the mid-1960s, anti-Vietnam war sentiment and activities were a prominent part of their activities.
The goal of the Weathermen was to create a force that would fight with the Black Panthers, in the service of creating a classless, racism-free society.

Notable Attacks:

As a member of the Weatherman, Ayers had a hand in several attacks, all designed to protest the Vietnam War and racism in the United States, including:
  • 1970: Bombing of New York City Police Headquarters
  • 1971: Bombing of U.S. Capitol Building
  • 1972: Bombing of Pentagon

Where He Is Now:

Ayers, who by profession has always been an educator, is currently Distinguished Professor of education at the University of Illinois. He is the author of a number of books on parenting, education, and the relationship between ethics and education.
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