The Day that Changed Madison: The “Dow Riot” Forty Years On
“Dow Day in Madison History.” PAUL BUHLE
Tuesday, October 16, 7pm, Room 1641 Humanities Building
“Dow Day & What it Means Now.” Panel discussion with Paul Buhle, Frank Emspak, Vicki Gabriner, and Betsy Lawrence
Wednesdy, October 17, 7pm, Room 1100 Grainger Hall
“The Radical American Tradition.” TOM HAYDEN
Thursday, October 18, 7:30pm, Room 1100 Grainger Hall
On October 18, 1967, a peaceful student sit-in against the makers of napalm, “liquid fire” used extensively by US forces against guerillas and civilians alike in Vietnam, prompted a police assault, then a melee with thousands of students joining the side of the peaceniks. The political atmosphere changed at an unprecedented speed. The Madison campus moved into the forefront of peace, anti-conscription and “Student Power” activity nationally.
Otherwise far-sighted administrators, seeking to protect the University itself from controversy and crisis, butted heads with students and faculty increasingly concerned with corporate takeovers of campus life and decision-making. The two sides, in agreement on many issues including the greatness of the university, found themselves badly divided. Local conservatives, meanwhile, faced challenges unknown since the Depression and the breakup of the Progressive Party for Cold War consensus.
The student strike — unofficially honored by many faculty members while bitterly opposed by others — and the resulting dialogue also emphatically reshaped Madison politics: Paul Soglin, a student activist, emerged with a strong community following, projecting him into the mayorality six years later, his administration a symbol of the larger changes locally in policing, gender equality, day care, ecology and related issues. Most notably, Madison had regained its national standing as an antiwar center, a standing lost since the days of Robert M. LaFollette, and which it has never forfeited in the years since.
Three days of lectures and a forum will address the issues of the Dow Days. Among the participants will be several on hand at the events, noted community activists involved in earlier campus protest against the Dow Chemical Company, and a leading figure of peace and social change from the 1960s to the present. Audience participation will follow the presentations of all events.
PAUL BUHLE is Senior Lecturer at Brown University and author/editor of nearly thirty books, including History and the New Left, Madison, Wisconsin, 1950-70, The Tragedy of Empire: William Appleman Williams, Images of American Radicalism, Marxism in the United States, Radical Hollywood: The Untold Story behind America’s Favorite Movies, The Encyclopedia of the American Left, The Immigrant Left in the United States, The New Left Revisited, and From the Lower Eastside to Hollywood: Jews in American Popular Culture. A former member of Students for a Democratic Society, Buhle founded the journal Radical America. He is a regular contributor to TIKKUN and CNS (an environmental journal), as well as a wide variety of other publications.
TOM HAYDEN was co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society in 1961, and author of its visionary call, the Port Huron Statement. During the 1960s, Hayden was a Freedom Rider in the Deep South and a community organizer in Newark, and later a vigorous opponent of the Vietnam War. After helping lead street demonstrations against the war at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, where he was beaten, gassed and arrested twice, Hayden was indicted in 1969 with seven others on conspiracy and incitement charges. After five years of trials, appeals, and retrials, he was acquitted of all charges. Hayden was elected to the California state assembly in 1982, and the state senate ten years later, serving eighteen years in all. After forty years of activism, politics and writing, Hayden remains a leading voice for ending the war in Iraq, erasing sweatshops, saving the environment, and reforming politics through greater citizen participation.