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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY (SDS) of Cleveland, founded in the summer of 1964 as the Cleveland Community Project, was part of a national organization of radical college students attempting to build a new, broad-based political left. SDS's local work laid the foundation for the Cleveland Welfare Rights Movement and helped train local grass-roots leaders. With loose ties to the national organization, locally SDS promoted civil rights, welfare rights, draft resistance, and opposition to the VIETNAM WAR. Two Western Reserve Univ. medical students, Charlotte Phillips and Ollie Fein, founded the Cleveland Community Project, an SDS Economic Research & Action Project, at 2908 Jay Ave., to unite poor whites and black civil-rights groups around economic issues. Frustrated in its public-housing and employment work, the project did revive a dormant organization of welfare mothers, Citizens United for Adequate Welfare. In the winter of 1965, this group agitated successfully for a free school-lunch program and later joined efforts to gain representation for the poor on the Cleveland COUNCIL FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES (CEO) IN GREATER CLEVELAND.

Cleveland SDS demonstrated against the Vietnam War and in the spring of 1967 established the Cleveland Draft Resistance Union. SDS chapters began forming at local colleges and universities such as Western Reserve (spring 1965); by summer 1969, chapters existed at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY, CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, and JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY Reflecting increased national SDS militancy, Cleveland SDS demonstrated at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In May 1970 violent antiwar protests occurred at CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, John Carroll, and Cleveland State universities. The national SDS disintegrated into feuding factions in 1969-70, and by 1971 no active SDS chapter existed in Cleveland.

Rose, Kenneth W. The Politics of Social Reform in Cleveland, 1945-1967: Civil Rights, Welfare Rights, and the Response of Civil Leaders (Ph.D. diss., CWRU, 1988).

Last Modified: 22 Jul 1997 04:55:50 PM

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