Class, Culture, and the Classroom
The Student Peace Movement of the 1930s
Publication: Dec 81
The origins and legacy of the 1930's student movement for American radicalism
In the 1930s, amid economic catastrophe and international conflict, American radicalism was resurrected and the voice of the bullhorn was heard in the land. With it rose a student movement that was part of the Marxist, pacifist, and reformist impulse of the period. The main focus of the movement was the question of war and peace. This book traces the origins of the student movement, examines its internal dynamics, and traces its legacy. Several themes thread through the discussion: the influence on the movement of Marxism, religion, and progressivism; the relationship between government and education, and attitudes toward academic freedom; and the development of a new kind of American student, who became the model for student activists of another generation.
The movement took root in schools as diverse as City College of New York, Morehouse College, North Dakota A.C., and the University of Idaho. It took form in parades, symposia, and occasional riots. Thousands of students took the Oxford Oath, swearing never to fight in any war the United States government might conduct. A national Student Strike Against War drew the support of 350,000 to 500,000 students across the country. This book does more than chronicle events, however. It highlights one of those critical times when a student movement, like that in the 1960s, challenged the passive nature of education and the passive response of an entire society to the demands of the state.