Is there anything helpful that contemporary social activists can learn from the survivors of the most radicalized arm of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), known as the Weather Underground? How, for instance, can one engage in active resistance without crossing the line into violence?
For many involved in the peace movement of the 1960s, the moment when things began unraveling – when antiwar activists’ hold on the moral high ground became hopelessly slippery – occurred on March 6, 1970, when three members of the Weather Underground were killed in an explosion that destroyed a townhouse at 18 West 11th Street in Greenwich Village, where they were working on constructing a nail bomb in the sub-basement. Two of their colleagues, Kathy Boudin and Cathy Wilkerson, whose father owned the building, were upstairs at the time and managed to escape relatively unhurt. Both became fugitives, named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, and Wilkerson successfully evaded the authorities for another ten years.
In 1980, Wilkerson gave herself up and served nearly a year in prison, convicted of criminally negligent homicide and illegal possession of dynamite. She has spent the ensuing four decades teaching mathematics and writing adult education curricula. Her memoir, Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times in the Weather Underground, was published in 2007.
With a long track record of volunteer work in the Civil Rights movement prior to her involvement with SDS and the Weathermen, Wilkerson has offered to share the hard lessons of her past with the activists of today who are trying to plan a constructive way forward under the Trump administration. Time & Space Limited (TSL) in Hudson will host the former radical on Friday, January 6 at 6:30 p.m. in a talk titled “Cathy Wilkerson: What’s Next?”
With a $10 admission fee to cover the cost of a group supper (tamales, rice and beans, salad and beer), this event is intended for TSL members only. However, new members can sign up at the door. RSVP by calling (518) 822-8100 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, visit www.timeandspace.org. TSL is located at 434 Columbia Street in Hudson.