Whatever happened to?

IssueMay 2008
Feature by PN staff

Abbie Hoffman
Abbie Hoffman, a co-founder of the Youth International Party, or YIPPIES, led the October 1967 attempt by over 50,000 people to levitate the Pentagon using psychic energy. In 1968, he was one of the leaders of anti-war protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which led to his prosecution for conspiracy to cause riots as one of the Chicago Eight (he was sentenced to five years in prison, but the sentence was overturned on appeal). After a period underground, Abbie Hoffman returned to open activism. He died on 12 April 1989, aged 52.

Bernadette Devlin In 1968, Bernadette Devlin was an Irish Catholic/Nationalist civil rights activist in northern Ireland. The following year, she was elected to the British Parliament at the age of 21, still the youngest ever woman MP. In 1981, she and her husband Michael MacAliskey survived being shot eight and seven times respectively by loyalist gunmen. Since 1996, Bernadette Devlin MacAliskey has been working on cross-community development with South Tyrone Empowerment Programme.

Bob Overy In 1968, Bob Overy was co-editor of Peace News. In 1967 he was involved in the occupation of the Greek Embassy after the colonels' coup. By 1970 Overy had moved to Belfast but continued at Peace News. In 1982 he gained his PhD from Bradford University for “Gandhi as a Political Organiser”. In 1985 he was the principal officer in the Peace and Emergency Planning Unit of the Leeds City Council, and in 2001 he was seconded to the Home Office to review emergency planning arrangements in the UK.

Bobby Seale In 1968, Bobby Seale was a leading member of the armed revolutionary group, the Black Panther Party, and a member of the Chicago Eight, until his trial was separated from that of his white co-defendants. Dropping out of the Black Power movement in 1974, Bobby Seale subsequently wrote a cookbook, became a spokesperson for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and remains involved with media surrounding the Black Panthers.

Dan and Phil Berrigan In 1968, Phil and Dan Berrigan, brothers and Jesuit priests, were part of the Catonsville Nine protest (see p7) against the Vietnam War – for which they served three and three-and-a-half years in prison respectively. After a lifetime of committed radical pacifist activism, Phil Berrigan died on 6 December 2002, of liver and kidney cancer, at Jonah House, a faith-based, nonviolent community that he and his family helped found in 1973. Dan Berrigan remains a Catholic priest active in the peace community.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit In 1968, Franco-German “Dany the Red” was a key student leader in the May events in France, leading to his banishment from France. After co-founding the autonomist group Revolutionärer Kampf (Revolutionary Struggle) which engaged in squatting, street-fighting and agitation, he became involved in a radical bookshop and nursery. In 1984, he became a member of the German Greens. Today he is co-president of the Greens/Free European Alliance Group in the European Parliament, supports the free market, the neoliberal European Constitution and military intervention in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

David Dellinger In 1968, David Dellinger, a WWII conscientious objector, was the senior member of the Chicago Eight. After a lifetime of committed radical pacifism, partly recorded in his autobiography From Yale To Jail, Dave Dellinger died in Montpelier, Vermont on 25 May 2004.

Eartha Kitt In 1968, the acclaimed actress and singer took the opportunity of performing at a White House luncheon to speak out against the Vietnam War. As a result, the US entertainment industry turned its back on her, forcing her to work abroad until 1978. In December 2006, Eartha Kitt returned to Washington and lit the National Christmas Tree alongside President George W. Bush.

Jane Fonda In 1968, Jane Fonda appeared in the science fiction fantasy Barbarella. Later, as well as winning two Academy Awards for acting, she became a supporter of the Black Panthers and an anti-war activist. During her marriage to Tom Hayden (see below), the pair were accused of adopting a pro-Israeli position to advance his political career. In recent years she has resumed both her acting and her anti-war activism.

Jerry Rubin In 1968, Jerry Rubin, the other co-founder of the YIPPIES, was also a defendant in the Chicago Eight conspiracy trial. He moved away from activism into a successful career as an entrepreneur. He dabbled in New Age therapies, and worked with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Jerry Rubin died on 28 November 1994, after being hit by a car in Los Angeles.

Tariq Ali In 1968, Tariq Ali was the leader of the British group, Vietnam Solidarity Campaign (VSC) and co-founder of the underground London review Black Dwarf. On 17 March Ali and the VSC led the anti-Vietnam march on Grosvenor Square that resulted in 41 arrests. Today Ali is an accomplished author and an editor of the New Left Review. He also remains active in political commentary and campaigning. On 16 March 2008, Ali appeared on Desert Island Discs, Radio 4’s British Hall of Fame.

Tom Hayden In 1968, Tom Hayden was community activist, one of the Chicago Eight and an ex-president of the student activist group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), having helped to write its most significant document, the Port Huron Statement. In 1982, Tom Hayden began the sort of career predicted by his judge in the Chicago Eight trial – 18 years as a California state legislator – and continues to be an outspoken anti-war member of the US Democratic Party.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos In 1968, Tommie Smith won the gold medal and John Carlos won the bronze medal for the United States in the men’s 200m at the Mexico City Olympics. On the podium, the two African-American athletes each raised one black-gloved fist in an act of black power and solidarity. They were expelled from the Games, banned from further competitions, and they and their families suffered ostracism in the US. In 1999 Tommie Smith was awarded a Sportsman of the Millennium award, and there is now a 20-foot-high statue of the two athletes in San Jose State University. The two men are now track and field coaches at colleges in California.

Vaclav Havel In 1968, the playwright, Vaclav Havel, was a leading activist pushing for democracy and cultural revival in Czechoslovakia. Between 1998 and 2003, he was the elected president of the Czech Republic. He has returned to writing.

The year

5 January Czechoslovakia
The Prague Spring began with the election of Alexander Dubcek as the leader of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. Dubcek instituted freedom of expression as part of a more liberalised form of communism.
31 January Vietnam
On the first day of Tet (Vietnamese new year), the Communist National Liberation Front with support from the North Vietnamese Army mounted a surprise attack on South Vietnamese and US troops in almost every major city in South Vietnam, invading the US embassy in Saigon.
16 March Vietnam
The US army’s 11th Brigade’s Charlie Company attacked the Vietnamese village of My Lai, killing around 500 civilians without a shot being fired at them. The attack was initially reported to be a successful attack on anti-American militants, and not until later in the year was the truth revealed by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.
17 March Britain
Thousands of anti-Vietnam War protestors rallied in front of the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. The demonstrations lead to 41 arrests.
22 March France
Daniel Cohn-Bendit and other students begin actively speaking out at the University of Nanterre in France. This was a foreshadowing of the larger actions that would sweep across France in May.
4 April USA
Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, leading to riots in over 100 US cities
11 April USA
US president Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, also known as the Fair Housing Act, expanding on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
23 – 30 April USA
Students at Columbia University in New York City occupied the school’s administrative buildings and shut down the university in protest against the Vietnam war.
May ’68
Students and workers led massive strikes in France, nearly causing the collapse of the de Gaulle government.
17 May USA
The Catonsville Nine burned draft cards with homemade napalm in protest against Vietnam War (see p7).
5 June USA
US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. 21 August Czechoslovakia
The Prague Spring ended when hundreds of thousands of troops and thousands of tanks from allied Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia, killing over 100 people and arresting political leaders
22 – 30 August
Anti-Vietnam War activists clashed with the police at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, leading to at least 600 being arrested and over 100 police and 100 protestors being injured. The Chicago Eight – Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale and Lee Weiner – were subsequently prosecuted for conspiring to cause a riot. Their convictions were overturned on appeal.
2 October Mexico
Separate student demonstrations against police brutality and for Castro’s Cuba ended with over 200 students killed and thousands beaten by security forces, in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, Mexico City, only 10 days before the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In 2006, the minister of the interior in 1968, Luis Echeverría Álvarez, was briefly charged with genocide for his part in the massacre.
16 October Mexico
At the 200 metres awards ceremony at the Olympics, Tommie Smith (gold medallist) and John Carlos (bronze medallist) raised their hands in black power salutes on the podium.

Topics: History