Staughton Lynd

Last updated
Staughton Lynd
Born (1929-11-22) November 22, 1929 (age 90)
Spouse(s)Alice Niles Lynd

Staughton Craig Lynd (born November 22, 1929) is an American conscientious objector, Quaker, [6] peace activist and civil rights activist, historian, professor, author and lawyer. His involvement in social justice causes has brought him into contact with some of the nation's most influential activists, including Howard Zinn, Tom Hayden, A. J. Muste and David Dellinger. [7]


Lynd's contribution to the cause of social justice and the peace movement is chronicled in Carl Mirra's biography, The Admirable Radical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945–1970 (2010).

Early life

Lynd was one of two children born to the renowned sociologists Robert Staughton Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, who authored the groundbreaking "Middletown" studies of Muncie, Indiana, in the late 1920s and '30s. Staughton Lynd inherited not only his parents' gifts as scholars, but also their strong socialist beliefs. Although Lynd never embraced undemocratic forms of socialism, his ideological outlook led to his expulsion from a non-combatant position in the U.S. military during the McCarthy Era.

He went on to earn a doctorate in history at Columbia University and accepted a teaching position at Spelman College, in Georgia, where he worked closely with historian and civil rights activist Howard Zinn. When Zinn was fired from Spelman at the end of the 1962–63 academic year, Lynd protested. During the summer of 1964, Lynd served as director of the SNCC-organized Freedom Schools of Mississippi. After accepting a position at Yale University, Lynd relocated to New England, along with his wife, Alice Niles Lynd, and their children. In 1965 he gave lectures on 'The History of the American Left' at the Free University of New York. [8]

Vietnam-era activism

At Yale Lynd became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. [7] His protest activities included speaking engagements, protest marches, and a controversial visit to Hanoi along with Herbert Aptheker and Hayden on a fact-finding trip at the height of the war, which made him unwelcome to the Yale administration. As the protest movement became increasingly violent, Lynd began to have misgivings [ which? ].[ citation needed ] As a self-described "social democratic pacifist" and "Marxist Existentialist Pacifist", [9] he became more interested in the possibilities of local organizing.

In 1967, Lynd signed a letter declaring his intention to refuse to pay taxes in protest against the Vietnam War, and urging other people to also take this stand. [10]

Labor activism

In 1968, Lynd published his book 'Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism' It came under severe criticism by Marxist professor Eugene Genovese, writing in the New York Review of Books . Professor David Donald in reviewing the book called it "a major work in American intellectual history" About the Cambridge University 2009 reprint of the book, Commentary Magazine referred to it as an "established classic". It became clear that Yale would deny Lynd tenure, and he became unemployable in academia. [11] Lynd relocated his family to Chicago.

There, he struggled to make a living from community organizing. Meanwhile, he and his wife, Alice, embarked upon an oral history project dealing with the working class. The conclusions of this work, titled Rank and File, inspired Lynd to study law in order to assist workers victimized by companies and left unprotected by bureaucratic labor unions. In 1973, he enrolled at the University of Chicago law school, where he earned a degree in 1976.

Rust Belt activism

From there, the Lynds relocated to Youngstown, Ohio, in the heart of the Rust Belt. Working first for the union-side labor law firm of Green, Schiavoni, Murphy & Haines, and then for Northeast Ohio Legal Services in Youngstown, he proved to be a vital participant in the late 1970s struggle to keep the Youngstown steel mills open. He served as lead counsel for six local unions, several dozen individual steelworkers, and the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley which sought to reopen the mills under worker-community ownership. Despite the ultimate failure of those efforts, the Lynds continued organizing in the Youngstown-Warren area. [12] Staughton Lynd remained extremely active as an attorney, taking on a broad range of cases, including those concerning chemically disabled auto workers and retired steelworkers.

Lynd's book, Lucasville, is an investigation into the events surrounding the 1993 prison uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, and voices serious concern over the integrity of legal proceedings subsequent to the event. A memoir of his and Alice's life, Stepping Stones: Memoir of a Life Together was released in January 2009.

Works by Lynd

See also

Related Research Articles

Howard Zinn American historian and socialist thinker

Howard Zinn was an American historian, playwright, and socialist thinker. He was chair of the history and social sciences department at Spelman College, and a political science professor at Boston University. Zinn wrote over 20 books, including his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States. In 2007, he published a version of it for younger readers, A Young People's History of the United States.

James Lawson (activist) American activist and university professor

James Morris Lawson Jr. is an American activist and university professor. He was a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolence within the Civil Rights Movement. During the 1960s, he served as a mentor to the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was expelled from Vanderbilt University for his civil rights activism in 1960, and later served as a pastor in Los Angeles for 25 years.

One Big Union (concept) Merger of all labor unions

The One Big Union was an idea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries amongst trade unionists to unite the interests of workers and offer solutions to all labour problems.

Barbara Deming American activist

Barbara Deming was an American feminist and advocate of nonviolent social change.

Tom Hayden American social and political activist, author and politician (1939-2016)

Thomas Emmet Hayden was an American social and political activist, author, and politician. Hayden was best known for his major role as an anti-war and civil rights activist in the 1960s, authoring the Port Huron Statement and standing trial in the Chicago Seven case.

Labor aristocracy or labour aristocracy has at least four meanings: (1) as a term with Marxist theoretical underpinnings; (2) as a specific type of trade unionism; (3) as a shorthand description by revolutionary industrial unions for the bureaucracy of craft-based business unionism; and (4) in the 19th and early 20th centuries was also a phrase used to define better-off members of the working class.

Martin Glaberman was an American Marxist writer on labor, historian, academic, and autoworker.

The Progressive Miners of America was a coal miners' union organized in 1932 in downstate Illinois. It was formed in response to a 1932 contract proposal negotiated by United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis, which reduced wages from a previous rate of $6.10 per day to $5.00 per day.

Southern Ohio Correctional Facility Maximum security prison in Scioto County, Ohio, U.S.

The Southern Ohio Correctional Facility is a maximum security prison located just outside Lucasville in Scioto County, Ohio. The prison was constructed in 1972. As of 2019, the warden is Ronald Erdos.

The Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) was one of two precursor labor organizations to the United Steelworkers. It was formed by the CIO on June 7, 1936. It disbanded in 1942 to become the United Steel Workers of America.

Ruth Milkman American sociologist

Ruth Milkman is an American sociologist of labor, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY and the director of research at CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.

Labor federation competition in the United States is a history of the labor movement, considering U.S. labor organizations and federations that have been regional, national, or international in scope, and that have united organizations of disparate groups of workers. Union philosophy and ideology changed from one period to another, conflicting at times. Government actions have controlled, or legislated against particular industrial actions or labor entities, resulting in the diminishing of one labor federation entity or the advance of another.

Industrial Workers of the World philosophy and tactics

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a union of wage workers which was formed in Chicago in 1905 by militant unionists and their supporters due to anger over the conservatism, philosophy, and craft-based structure of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Throughout the early part of the 20th century, the philosophy and tactics of the IWW were frequently in direct conflict with those of the AFL concerning the best ways to organize workers, and how to best improve the society in which they toiled. The AFL had one guiding principle—"pure and simple trade unionism", often summarized with the slogan "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work." The IWW embraced two guiding principles, fighting like the AFL for better wages, hours, and conditions, but also promoting an eventual, permanent solution to the problems of strikes, injunctions, bull pens, and union scabbing.

Paul Buhle American historian and writer

Paul Merlyn Buhle is a (retired) Senior Lecturer at Brown University, author or editor of 35 volumes including histories of radicalism in the United States and the Caribbean, studies of popular culture, and a series of nonfiction comic art volumes. He is the authorized biographer of C. L. R. James.

Andrej Grubačić Academic, world-system theorist, anarachist theorist.

Andrej Grubačić is a US-based Yugoslav world-systems theorist, Balkan federalist, and university Professor who has written on autonomous zones and mutual aid in world history. He currently serves as editor of the Journal of World-Systems Research, an official journal of the American Sociological Association and published by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh. He is the grandson of Ratomir Dugonjić, Yugoslav partisan leader and communist revolutionary. One of the leading contemporary theorists of anarchism, Grubačić was a prominent member of the now defunct antiglobalization or global justice movement. Grubačić is a long standing friend of the Kurdish freedom movement and one of the most prominent supporters of the democratic revolution in the Kurdish region in Syria, also known as Rojava. His writings and interests range from comparative world history of exilic ("non-state") spaces and autonomous zones to the neo-marxist world-systems analysis, and from comparative historical sociology to the history of mutual aid. He is an active participants in the World-Ecology, and social science editor at PM Press. He taught at the University of Rojava in Qamislo, and he is an affiliated Faculty in Residence with the UC Berkeley Center for Social Medicine..

Stan Weir (1921–2001) was an influential blue-collar intellectual, socialist, and labor leader. A rank-and-file worker for most of his life, Weir worked as a seaman in the Merchant Marine during World War II, as an auto worker, longshoreman, truck driver, and painter, before taking a position at the University of Illinois, where he taught courses to union locals.

Samuel Hammersmark American politician

Samuel Tellefson "Sam" Hammersmark was an American book publisher, trade union organizer, political activist, and Communist Party functionary. Hammersmark is best remembered as a political lieutenant of William Z. Foster in the Chicago anarcho-syndicalist and communist movements of the 1910s through the 1930s and as a candidate of the Communist Party for public office.

Diversity of tactics Tactics used by Anarchists and other Militant groups to provoke revolution.

Diversity of tactics is a phenomenon wherein a social movement makes periodic use of force for disruptive or defensive purposes, stepping beyond the limits of nonviolence, but also stopping short of total militarization. It also refers to the theory which asserts this to be the most effective strategy of civil disobedience for social change. Diversity of tactics may promote nonviolent tactics, or armed resistance, or a range of methods in between, depending on the level of repression the political movement is facing. It sometimes claims to advocate for "forms of resistance that maximize respect for life".

Chude Pamela Parker Allen, also known as Pamela Parker, Chude Pamela Allen, Chude Pam Allen, Pamela Allen, and Pam Allen is an American activist of the civil rights movement and women's liberation movement. She was a founder of New York Radical Women.

Labor Law for the Rank and Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law is a 1978 guidebook on labor organizing written by labor historian Staughton Lynd and organizer Daniel Gross.


  1. "Alice and Staughton Lynd Papers (DG 099)". Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  2. "Staughton Lynd Facts, information, pictures". Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  3. "Staughton Lynd". Haymarket Books. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  4. Stanley, Tiffany L. "Sharing Life, and a Lifetime of Causes". Harvard Magazine . Retrieved 2015-01-10. May–June 2010
  5. "Ohio Citizen Action Honors Staughton and Alice Lynd". EcoWatch. February 2, 2012. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  6. Staughton Lynd, Living Inside Our Hope: A Steadfast Radical's Thoughts on Rebuilding the Movement, Cornell University Press, 1997, p. 44.
  7. 1 2 Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492–Present, 1999. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. P. 486.
  8. Lisker, Roy. "The Antiwar Movement in New York City 1965–67". Ferment Magazine. Retrieved 2015-01-11. An Updated and revised version of the article published in "Les Temps Modernes" the magazine of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre September 1968
  9. "Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.: Vietnam: What Next?". Youtube. Youtube. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  10. "An Open Letter" archived at Horowitz Transaction Publishers Archive
  11. Duberman, Martin (2012), Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left, The New Press.
  12. Thomas G. Fuechtmann, Steeples and Stacks: Religion and Steel Crisis in Youngstown, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 7.


Further reading