We are people of this generation.

Students for a Democratic Society’s 1962 Port Huron Statement begins with these words: “We are people of this generation…”

During a public messaging training that I recently led for a student group, I reflected back to the group my observation that members often referred to themselves as activists — in both internal conversations and external messages. I asked them what purpose it served to label themselves as activists as opposed to students.

Students for Democratic Society might have begun their historic Port Huron Statement with, “We are student activists…” But instead they began, “We are people of this generation…”

Interestingly, the label “activist” appears in the over 25,000-word document only once, where it is one label listed amongst several that refer to types of participants in the “broadest movement for peace in several years.”

…it includes socialists, pacifists, liberals, scholars, militant activists, middle-class women, some professionals, many students, a few unionists.

The word “activism” also appears just one time. And here it is fully contextualized:

…the permeating and victimizing fact of human degradation, symbolized by the Southern struggle against racial bigotry, compelled most of us from silence to activism.

Continue reading