Who were Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)? What activities did they routinely engage in to “change” American society? Do you agree with their methods of promoting change? Why? What was their overall effect on the United States? Explain.

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The Students for a Democratic Society, an outgrowth student of the League for Industrial Democracy, was founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1960. Through college chapters throughout the United States, SDS members were active—alongside SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee—in the Civil Rights Movement, such as Freedom Riders. Especially under co-founder and president Tom Hayden, SDS is primarily associated with the growing opposition to the United States' military involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s–1970s.

Hayden increased the SDS presence through organizing demonstrations and was one of the Chicago Seven arrested in the police attacks on protestors at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He was criticized for traveling to North Vietnam with his then wife, Jane Fonda.

While SDS generally adhered to peaceful civil disobedience, it had several offshoots that advocated violence. The Weather Underground, or Weathermen, gained notoriety by bombing military targets and related research facilities.

One's evaluation of any activist group's objectives and effectiveness will depend on one's overall attitude toward violence as a means of social transformation. Many people argue for peaceful means only, while others point to the prominent role of armed struggle in American history, including the nation's birth in revolution.

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