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Weatherman (aka Weather Underground)

By

Weather Underground Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn

Weatherman: Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn

Name:

The official name of the group is Weatherman, but it was called “the Weathermen” and, when members withdrew from public view, became the “Weather Underground.” The group was a splinter organization from group, Students for a Democratic Society.

The name comes from a song by American rock/ folk singer Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which contains the line: "You don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows."

Founded in:

1968

Objectives:

According the group's 1970 "Declaration of War" against the United States, its goal was to "lead white kids into armed revolution." In the view of the group, "revolutionary violence" was necessary to combat what they percieved as a "war" against African-Americans, and military actions overseas, such as the Vietnam war and the invasion of Cambodia.

Notable Attacks and Events:

  • May 19, 1972: The group set off a bomb in the Pentagon.
  • March 1, 1971: The bombing of the U.S. Capitol was designed to to protest the US invasion of Laos, according to a communique issued at the time. There were several hundred thousands of dollars of property damage, but no one was injured.
  • March 6, 1970: Three members were killed while making bombs in a Greenwich village house. This incident drove the group fully underground.
  • October 8, 1969: "Days of Rage" A violent riot staged by the Weathermen in Chicago, to protest the Vietnam war.

History and Context:

Weather Underground was created in 1968, during a tumultuous moment in American and world history. To many it appeared that national liberation movements and left-leaning revolutionary or guerrilla movements were harbingers of a different world than that which prevailed into the 1950s.

This new world, in the eyes of its proponents, would upend political and social hierarchies between developed and less developed countries, between races and between men and women. In the United States, a student movement loosely organized around these "new left" ideas grew over the course of the 1960s, becoming increasingly vocal and radical in its ideas and activities, especially in response to the Vietnam War and the belief that the United States was an imperialist power.

"Students for a Democratic Society" (SDS) was the most prominent symbol of this movement. The university student group, founded in 1960 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, had a broad platform of goals related to their critiques of American military interventions overseas and their charges of racism and inequality in the United States.

The Weather Underground came out of this ethos, but added a militant spin, believing that violent action was required to effect change. Other student groups, in other parts of the world, were also of this mind in the late 1960s.

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