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SDS in the South is on the move

By Michael Graham |
September 7, 2010
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Asheville, NC - Across the country, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is gearing up for an important fall semester. Chapters everywhere are seeing renewed interest and higher turnout than in past months. The evidence projects a coming year of great activity and enthusiasm.

In Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama, SDS is continuing to build their chapter from recent gains made in a labor struggle with the bus drivers. Jenae Stainer, a member of the Tuscaloosa chapter, remarked:

We're looking forward to another great year, picking up where we left off with our successful campaign in support of our Crimson Ride bus drivers. We may be in the south, but there is great interest in labor rights, anti-war and other political action among students here. We have already grown from last year and hope to gain even more members. We have freshmen coming in who want to do big things and because of campaigns like the one we did around the Alabama bus drivers, people know that SDS is the group to join if you want to get things done.

SDS at the University of North Carolina at Asheville is off to a good start. Active member Pete McKelvey said:

At UNC Asheville's first SDS meeting of the new semester, we saw a turnout of 38 students and community members, compared to last year's group of a steady 10 to 15 members. The turnout was unexpected but welcome! While a progressive perspective is prevalent at UNCA, a show of solidarity like this is rare. From what I saw at the meeting student activism is absolutely on the rise. Many of the attendees were interested in taking action for the very first time and were excited about attending protests and promoting the movement. Personally, I am most excited by the new perspectives that will be brought to the table.

UNCA-SDS is already planning many events including a movie and discussion about the war in Afghanistan, a campus event for the National Day of Action to Defend Public Education on Oct. 7, a trip to Fort Benning, Georgia for the School of the Americas Watch Vigil Nov. 19-21 and plans to host academic and author James Brittain for a talk about his book on U.S. involvement in Colombia’s civil conflict.

Moving further south, things are going well for SDS in Gainesville, Florida. Justin Wooten spoke of their first meeting:

A lot of new faces showed up. I think Gainesville SDS gained a lot of credibility after we led the protests last spring for the African graduate student, Kofi Adu-Brempong, who was shot in the face by university police. We had 35 people at our first meeting to talk about the big Sept. 11 protest SDS is leading in Gainesville against a racist and pro-war group that plans to burn the Muslim holy book, the Quran. SDS is preparing a huge turnout for our demonstration. This is clearly going to attract national media to our town and campus. We plan to pull together students, community and religious people to oppose these racists and bigots. SDS is against war and racism.

SDS is expecting a renewed and energetic student movement to meet and discuss their common goals and campaigns at the SDS National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the weekend of Oct. 22-24.