|Born||William Charles Ayers
December 26, 1944
Glen Ellyn, Illinois, U.S.
|Residence||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|Institutions||University of Illinois at Chicago|
|Alma mater||University of Michigan (B.A.),
Bank Street College of Education (M.Ed.),
Teachers College, Columbia University (Ed.M., Ed.D.)
|Known for||Founder / former member of the Weather Underground
Urban educational reform
William Charles "Bill" Ayers (born December 26, 1944) is an American elementary education theorist and a former leader in the counterculture movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s radical activism as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. In 1969 he co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the Pentagon) during the 1960s and 1970s in response to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
He is a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, a controversy arose over his contacts with then-candidate Barack Obama. He is married to Bernardine Dohrn, who was also a leader in the Weather organization.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early activism
- 3 Involvement with Weather Underground
- 4 Academic career
- 5 Civic and political life
- 6 Praise and criticism of Ayers
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Works
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Ayers grew up in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. He attended public schools there until his second year in high school, when he transferred to Lake Forest Academy, a small prep school. Ayers earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan in American Studies in 1968 (his father, mother and older brother had preceded him there). His parents are Mary (née Andrew) and Thomas G. Ayers, who was later Chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison (1973 to 1980), and for whom Northwestern's Thomas G. Ayers College of Commerce and Industry was named.
Ayers was affected when Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) President Paul Potter, at a 1965 Ann Arbor Teach-In against the Vietnam war, asked his audience, "How will you live your life so that it doesn't make a mockery of your values?" Ayers later wrote in his memoir, Fugitive Days, that his reaction was: "You could not be a moral person with the means to act, and stand still. [...] To stand still was to choose indifference. Indifference was the opposite of moral".
In 1965, Ayers joined a picket line protesting an Ann Arbor, Michigan pizzeria for refusing to seat African Americans. His first arrest came for a sit-in at a local draft board, resulting in 10 days in jail. His first teaching job came shortly afterward at the Children's Community School, a preschool with a very small enrollment operating in a church basement, founded by a group of students in emulation of the Summerhill method of education.
The school was a part of the nationwide "free school movement". Schools in the movement had no grades or report cards; they aimed to encourage cooperation rather than competition, and the teachers had pupils address them by their first names. Within a few months, at age 21, Ayers became director of the school. There also he met Diana Oughton, who would become his girlfriend until her death in 1970 after a bomb exploded while preparing the bombs for Weather Underground activities.
Ayers became involved in the New Left and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). He rose to national prominence as an SDS leader in 1968 and 1969. As head of an SDS regional group, the "Jesse James Gang", Ayers made decisive contributions to the Weatherman orientation toward militancy.
The group Ayers headed in Detroit, Michigan became one of the earliest gatherings of what became the Weatherman. Before the June 1969 SDS convention, Ayers became a prominent leader of the group, which arose as a result of a schism in SDS. "During that time his infatuation with street fighting grew and he developed a language of confrontational militancy that became more and more pronounced over the year ", disaffected former Weatherman member Cathy Wilkerson wrote in 2001. Ayers had previously been a roommate of Terry Robbins, a fellow militant who was killed in 1970 along with Ayers' girlfriend Oughton and one other member in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, while constructing anti-personnel bombs intended for a non-commissioned officer dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
In June 1969, the Weatherman took control of the SDS at its national convention, where Ayers was elected Education Secretary. Later in 1969, Ayers participated in planting a bomb at a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket affair confrontation between labor supporters and the Chicago police. The blast broke almost 100 windows and blew pieces of the statue onto the nearby Kennedy Expressway. (The statue was rebuilt and unveiled on May 4, 1970, and blown up again by other Weathermen on October 6, 1970. Rebuilding it yet again, the city posted a 24-hour police guard to prevent another blast, and in January 1972 it was moved to Chicago police headquarters).
Ayers participated in the Days of Rage riot in Chicago in October 1969, and in December was at the "War Council" meeting in Flint, Michigan. Two major decisions came out of the "War Council". The first was to immediately begin a violent, armed struggle (e.g., bombings and armed robberies) against the state without attempting to organize or mobilize a broad swath of the public. The second was to create underground collectives in major cities throughout the country. Larry Grathwohl, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant in the Weatherman group from the fall of 1969 to the spring of 1970, stated that "Ayers, along with Bernardine Dohrn, probably had the most authority within the Weatherman".
Involvement with Weather Underground
After the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion in 1970, in which Weatherman member Ted Gold, Ayers' close friend Terry Robbins, and Ayers' girlfriend, Diana Oughton were killed when a nail bomb being assembled in the house exploded, Ayers and several associates evaded pursuit by US law enforcement officials. Kathy Boudin and Cathy Wilkerson survived the blast. Ayers was not facing criminal charges at the time, but the federal government later filed charges against him. Ayers participated in the bombings of New York City Police Department headquarters in 1970, the United States Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972, as he noted in his 2001 book, Fugitive Days. Ayers writes:
Although the bomb that rocked the Pentagon was itsy-bitsy - weighing close to two pounds - it caused 'tens of thousands of dollars' of damage. The operation cost under $500, and no one was killed or even hurt.
During this time Ayers and fellow member Bernardine Dohrn married, and the two remained fugitives together, changing identities, jobs and locations.
In 1973, new information came to light about FBI operations targeted against Weather Underground and the New Left, all part of a series of covert and often illegal FBI projects called COINTEL. Due to the illegal tactics[clarification needed] of FBI agents involved with the program, government attorneys requested all weapons- and bomb-related charges be dropped against the Weather Underground, including charges against Ayers.
However, state charges against Dohrn remained. Dohrn was still reluctant to turn herself in to authorities. "He was sweet and patient, as he always is, to let me come to my senses on my own", she later said of Ayers. She turned herself in to authorities in 1980. She was fined $1,500 and given three years probation.
In 1973 Ayers co-authored the book Prairie Fire with other members of the Weather Underground which they dedicated to close to 200 people including Harriet Tubman, John Brown, 'All Who Continue to Fight', and 'All Political Prisoners in the U.S.'. The list includes Sirhan Sirhan, convicted assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. Ayers himself has denied personally dedicating the book to Sirhan.
Later reflections on underground period
Fugitive Days: A Memoir
In 2001, Ayers published Fugitive Days: A Memoir, which he explained in part as an attempt to answer the questions of Kathy Boudin's son, and his speculation that Diana Oughton died trying to stop the Greenwich Village bomb makers. Some have questioned the truth, accuracy, and tone of the book. Brent Staples wrote for The New York Times Book Review that "Ayers reminds us often that he can't tell everything without endangering people involved in the story. Historian Jesse Lemisch (himself a former member of SDS) contrasted Ayers' recollections with those of other former members of Weatherman and has alleged serious factual errors. Ayers, in the foreword to his book, states that it was written as his personal memories and impressions over time, not a scholarly research project.
Statements made in 2001
Chicago Magazine reported that "just before the September 11th attacks," Richard Elrod, a city lawyer injured in the Weathermen's Chicago "Days of Rage," received an apology from Ayers and Dohrn for their part in the violence. "[T]hey were remorseful," Elrod says. "They said, 'We're sorry that things turned out this way.'" In the months before Ayers' memoir was published on September 10, 2001, the author gave numerous interviews with newspaper and magazine writers in which he defended his overall history of radical words and actions. Some of the resulting articles were written before the September 11 attacks and appeared immediately after, including one often-noted article in The New York Times, and another in the Chicago Tribune. Numerous observations were made in the media comparing the statements Ayers was making about his own past just as a dramatic terrorist incident shocked the public.
Much of the controversy about Ayers during the decade since 2000 stems from an interview he gave to The New York Times on the occasion of the memoir's publication. The reporter quoted him as saying "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough", and, when asked if he would "do it all again," as saying "I don't want to discount the possibility." Ayers protested the interviewer's characterizations in a Letter to the Editor published September 15, 2001: "This is not a question of being misunderstood or 'taken out of context', but of deliberate distortion." In the ensuing years, Ayers has repeatedly avowed that when he said he had "no regrets" and that "we didn't do enough" he was speaking only in reference to his efforts to stop the United States from waging the Vietnam War, efforts which he has described as ". . . inadequate [as] the war dragged on for a decade." Ayers has maintained that the two statements were not intended to imply a wish they had set more bombs.
In a November 2008 interview with The New Yorker, Ayers said that he had not meant to imply that he wished he and the Weathermen had committed further acts of violence. Instead, he said, “I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more shit.” Ayers said that he had never been responsible for violence against other people and was acting to end a war in Vietnam in which “thousands of people were being killed every week.” He also stated, "While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” and “We killed no one and hurt no one. Three of our people killed themselves.”
The interviewer also quoted some of Ayers' own criticism of Weatherman in the foreword to the memoir, whereby Ayers reacts to having watched Emile de Antonio's 1976 documentary film about Weatherman, Underground: "[Ayers] was 'embarrassed by the arrogance, the solipsism, the absolute certainty that we and we alone knew the way. The rigidity and the narcissism.' " "We weren't terrorists," Ayers told an interviewer for the Chicago Tribune in 2001. "The reason we weren't terrorists is because we did not commit random acts of terror against people. Terrorism was what was being practiced in the countryside of Vietnam by the United States."
In a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune, Ayers wrote, "I condemn all forms of terrorism — individual, group and official". He also condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks in that letter. "Today we are witnessing crimes against humanity on our own shores on an unthinkable scale, and I fear that we may soon see more innocent people in other parts of the world dying in response."
Views on his past expressed since 2001
Ayers was asked in a January 2004 interview, "How do you feel about what you did? Would you do it again under similar circumstances?" He replied: "I've thought about this a lot. Being almost 60, it's impossible to not have lots and lots of regrets about lots and lots of things, but the question of did we do something that was horrendous, awful? ... I don't think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable." On September 9, 2008, journalist Jake Tapper reported on the comic strip in Ayers' blog explaining the soundbite: "The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being.... When I say, 'We didn't do enough,' a lot of people rush to think, 'That must mean, "We didn't bomb enough shit."' But that's not the point at all. It's not a tactical statement, it's an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, 'we' means 'everyone.'"
In an op-ed piece in 2008, Ayers gave this assessment of his actions:
The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated.
He also reiterated his rebuttal to the charge of terrorism:
The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices.... We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.
Ayers is a retired professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education. His interests include teaching for social justice, urban educational reform, narrative and interpretive research, children in trouble with the law, and related issues.
He began his career in primary education while an undergraduate, teaching at the Children’s Community School (CCS), a project founded by a group of students and based on the Summerhill method of education. After leaving the underground, he earned an M.Ed from Bank Street College in Early Childhood Education (1984), an M.Ed from Teachers College, Columbia University in Early Childhood Education (1987) and an Ed. D from Teachers College, Columbia University in Curriculum and Instruction (1987).
He has edited and written many books and articles on education theory, policy and practice, and has appeared on many panels and symposia. On August 5, 2010, Ayers officially announced his intent to retire from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
On September 23, 2010 William Ayers was unanimously denied emeritus status by the University of Illinois, after a speech by the university's board chair Christopher G. Kennedy (son of assassinated U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy), containing the quote "I intend to vote against conferring the honorific title of our university to a man whose body of work includes a book dedicated in part to the man who murdered my father, Robert F. Kennedy." He added, "There is nothing more antithetical to the hopes for a university that is lively and yet civil...than to permanently seal off debate with one's opponents by killing them". Kennedy referred to a 1974 book Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism, written by Ayers and other Weather Underground members, which includes a dedication to a list of over 200 revolutionary figures, musicians and others, including Sirhan Sirhan, who is currently serving a life sentence for Robert Kennedy's assassination in 1968. Ayers said he has never dedicated any book, including Prairie Fire, the book in question, to assassins.
Civic and political life
Ayers worked with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley in shaping the city's school reform program, and was one of three co-authors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant proposal that in 1995 won $49.2 million over five years for public school reform. In 1997 Chicago awarded him its Citizen of the Year award for his work on the project. Since 1999 he has served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, an anti-poverty, philanthropic foundation established as the Woods Charitable Fund in 1941.
According to Ayers, his radical past occasionally affects him, as when, by his account, he was asked not to attend a progressive educators' conference in the fall of 2006 on the basis that the organizers did not want to risk an association with his past. On January 18, 2009, on his way to speak about education reform at the Centre for Urban Schooling at the University of Toronto, he was refused admission to Canada when he arrived at the Toronto City Centre Airport although he has travelled to Canada more than a dozen times in the past. According to Ayers, "It seems very arbitrary. The border agent said I had a conviction for a felony from 1969. I have several arrests for misdemeanours, but not for felonies." 
In an interview published in 1995, Ayers characterized his political beliefs at that time and in the 1960s and 1970s: "I am a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist ... [Laughs] Maybe I'm the last communist who is willing to admit it. [Laughs] We have always been small 'c' communists in the sense that we were never in the Communist party and never Stalinists. The ethics of communism still appeal to me. I don't like Lenin as much as the early Marx. I also like Henry David Thoreau, Mother Jones and Jane Addams [...]".
In 1970 Ayers was called "a national leader" of the Weatherman organization and "one of the chief theoreticians of the Weathermen" by The New York Times. The Weathermen were initially part of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) within the SDS, splitting from the RYM's Maoists by claiming there was no time to build a vanguard party and that revolutionary war against the United States government and the capitalist system should begin immediately. Their founding document called for the establishment of a "white fighting force" to be allied with the "Black Liberation Movement" and other "anti-colonial" movements to achieve "the destruction of US imperialism and the achievement of a classless world: world communism."
In June 1974, the Weather Underground released a 151-page volume titled Prairie Fire, which stated: "We are a guerrilla organization [...] We are communist women and men underground in the United States [...]" The Weatherman leadership, including Ayers, pushed for a radical reformulation of sexual relations under the slogan "Smash Monogamy".
Larry Grathwohl, an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated The Weather Underground, claims Ayers told him where to plant bombs. He says Ayers was bent on overthrowing the government. In response to Grathwohl's claims, Ayers stated, "Now that's being blown into dishonest narratives about hurting people, killing people, planning to kill people. That's just not true. We destroyed government property," 
On June 18, 2013, Ayers gave an interview to RealClearPolitics' Morning Commute in which he stated that every president in this century should be tried for war crimes, including President Obama for his use of drone attacks, which Ayers considers an act of terror. 
During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, a controversy arose regarding Ayers' contacts with then-candidate Barack Obama, a matter that had been public knowledge in Chicago for years. After being raised by the American and British press the connection was picked up by conservative blogs and newspapers in the United States. The matter was raised in a campaign debate by moderator George Stephanopoulos, and later became an issue for the John McCain presidential campaign. Investigations by The New York Times, CNN, and other news organizations concluded that Obama does not have a close relationship with Ayers.
In an op-ed piece after the election, Ayers denied any close association with Obama, and castigated the Republican campaign for its use of guilt by association tactics. In a new edition of his memoirs, Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War-Activist, he added a new afterword describing the blogospheric characterization of their relationship as "neighbors and family friends" ("In 2008 there was a lot of chatter on the blogosphere about my relationship with Barack Obama: we had served together on the board of a foundation, knew one another as neighbors and family friends, held an initial fundraiser at my house, where I'd made a small donation to his earliest political campaign."). This was misleadingly characterized as his own claim by some.
Praise and criticism of Ayers
Praise for Ayers and his work
In 1997 Chicago awarded him its Citizen of the Year award for his work on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge project.
William C. Ibershof, formerly the lead federal prosecutor in the Weather Underground case, wrote in 2008: "Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased to learn that he has become a responsible citizen."
Ayers was elected Vice President for Curriculum Studies by the American Educational Research Association in 2008. William H. Schubert, a fellow professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wrote that his election was "a testimony of [Ayers'] stature and [the] high esteem he holds in the field of education locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally."
Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank praised Ayers as a "model citizen" and a scholar whose "work is esteemed by colleagues of different political viewpoints." Studs Terkel called Ayers' memoir "a deeply moving elegy to all those young dreamers who tried to live decently in an indecent world."
In an October 2010 Chicago Sun Times editorial Attacks on Ayers distort our history, former students of Ayers and UIC Alumni, Daniel Schneider and Adam Kuranishi, responded in opposition to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees' decision to deny Ayers Emeritus status. They write, "We juxtaposed the image of him painted by the media with the teacher we saw in class; and the two could not be more distinct. The Ayers in the media was frozen in time; he never left the 1960s, never aged out of his 20s, and never grew in perspective. As his students, we see through this representation ... Ayers is still committed to movements for peace and justice. His worldview and tactics are evolved and elaborate, thoughtful and wise, making him unrecognizable to the media's caricature. Should we not expect someone to evolve after 40 years? One may disagree with his activism, but it is impossible to ignore his hard work and contributions to urban education, juvenile justice reform, the University of Illinois and Chicago."
Criticism of Ayers and his work
Radical bomber Jane Alpert criticized Ayers in 1974 "for his callous treatment and abandonment of Diana Oughton before her death, and for his generally fickle and high-handed treatment of women."
Reviewing Ayers' memoir in Slate Magazine, Timothy Noah said he couldn't recall reading "a memoir quite so self-indulgent and morally clueless as Fugitive Days." Sol Stern, a conservative opponent of liberal education policies, is a longtime critic of Ayers; he has "studied Mr. Ayers's work for years and read most of his books." Stern has written critiques of Ayers's career as an education reformer for City Journal and elsewhere. His criticism in summary: "Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer.". "The media mainstreaming of a figure like Mr. Ayers could have terrible consequences for the country's politics and public schools."
Feminist critic Katha Pollitt sharply criticized Ayers' December 2008 New York Times opinion piece as a "sentimentalized, self-justifying whitewash of his role in the weirdo violent fringe of the 1960s-70s antiwar left." She castigates Ayers and his Weathermen cohorts for making "the antiwar movement look like the enemy of ordinary people" during the Vietnam War era.
Ayers is married to Bernardine Dohrn, a fellow former leader of the Weather Underground. They have two adult children (including Zayd, who was featured in the book A Hope in the Unseen as the college friend of the main character Cedric Jennings) and shared legal guardianship of Chesa Boudin, son of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. Boudin and Gilbert were former Weather Underground members who later joined the May 19 Communist Organization and were convicted of felony murder for their roles in that group's Brinks robbery. Chesa Boudin went on to win a Rhodes scholarship. Ayers and Dohrn currently live in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.
- Education: An American Problem. Bill Ayers, Radical Education Project, 1968, ASIN B0007H31HU OCLC 33088998
- Hot town: Summer in the City: I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more, Bill Ayers, Students for a Democratic Society, 1969, ASIN B0007I3CMI
- Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism, Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, Billy Ayers, Celia Sojourn, Communications Co., 1974, ASIN B000GF2KVQ OCLC 1177495
- The Good Preschool Teacher: Six Teachers Reflect on Their Lives, William Ayers, Teachers College Press, 1989, ISBN 978-0-8077-2946-5
- To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher, William Ayers, Teachers College Press, 1993, ISBN 978-0-8077-3262-5*
- To Become a Teacher: Making a Difference in Children's Lives, William Ayers, Teachers College Press, 1995, ISBN 978-0-8077-3455-1
- City Kids, City Teachers: Reports from the Front Row, William Ayers (Editor) and Patricia Ford (Editor), New Press, 1996, ISBN 978-1-56584-328-8
- A Kind and Just Parent, William Ayers, Beacon Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-8070-4402-5
- A Light in Dark Times: Maxine Greene and the Unfinished Conversation, Maxine Greene (Editor), William Ayers (Editor), Janet L. Miller (Editor), Teachers College Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-8077-3721-7
- Teaching for Social Justice: A Democracy and Education Reader, William Ayers (Editor), Jean Ann Hunt (Editor), Therese Quinn (Editor), 1998, ISBN 978-1-56584-420-9
- Teacher Lore: Learning from Our Own Experience, William H. Schubert (Editor) and William C. Ayers (Editor), Educator's International Press, 1999, ISBN 978-1-891928-03-1
- Teaching from the Inside Out: The Eight-Fold Path to Creative Teaching and Living, Sue Sommers (Author), William Ayers (Foreword), Authority Press, 2000, ISBN 978-1-929059-02-7
- A Simple Justice: The Challenge of Small Schools, William Ayers, Teachers College Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0-8077-3963-1
- Zero Tolerance: Resisting the Drive for Punishment, William Ayers (Editor), Rick Ayers (Editor), Bernardine Dohrn (Editor), Jesse L. Jackson (Author), New Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-56584-666-1
- A School of Our Own: Parents, Power, and Community at the East Harlem Block Schools, Tom Roderick (Author), William Ayers (Author), Teachers College Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-8077-4157-3
- Refusing Racism: White Allies and the Struggle for Civil Rights, Cynthia Stokes Brown (Author), William Ayers (Editor), Therese Quinn (Editor), Teachers College Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-8077-4204-4
- On the Side of the Child: Summerhill Revisited, William Ayers, Teachers College Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-8077-4400-0
- Fugitive Days: A Memoir, Bill Ayers, Beacon Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8070-7124-2 (Penguin, 2003, ISBN 978-0-14-200255-1)
- Teaching the Personal and the Political: Essays on Hope and Justice, William Ayers, Teachers College Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8077-4461-1
- Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom, William Ayers, Beacon Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-8070-3269-5
- Sing a Battle Song: The Revolutionary Poetry, Statements, and Communiques of the Weather Underground 1970-1974, Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, and Jeff Jones, Seven Stories Press, 2006, ISBN 978-1-58322-726-8.
- Handbook of Social Justice in Education, William C. Ayers, Routledge, June 2008, ISBN 978-0-8058-5927-0
- City Kids, City Schools: More Reports from the Front Row, Ruby Dee (Foreword), Jeff Chang (Afterword), William Ayers (Editor), Billings, Gloria Ladson (Editor), Gregory Michie (Editor), Pedro Noguera (Editor), New Press, August 2008, ISBN 978-1-59558-338-3
- To Teach: the journey, in comics, William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner, Jonathan Kozol(Foreword), Teachers College Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8077-5062-9
- Public Enemy. Confessions of an American Dissident, Bill Ayers, Beacon Press, 2013, ISBN978-0-8070-3276-3
- "Weather Underground Organization (Weatherman)" (PDF). FBI. 20 August 1976. Archived from the original on 31 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- The Weathermen's founding manifesto, signed by Ayers and ten others, indicates, "The most important task for us toward making the revolution, and the work our collectives should engage in, is the creation of a mass revolutionary movement...akin to the Red Guard in China, based on the full participation and involvement of masses of people...with a full willingness to participate in the violent and illegal struggle. Ayers, Bill; Mark Rudd, Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, Terry Robbinson, Gerry Long, Steve Tappis et. al. (1969). You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows. Weatherman. p. 28. Retrieved November 19, 2009.
- William Ayers University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education
- Terry, Don (Chicago Tribune staff reporter, "The calm after the storm", Chicago Tribune Magazine, p 10, September 16, 2001, June 8, 2008
- Jackson, Cheryl V. (June 12, 2007). "Former ComEd CEO; Businessman also fought for equality". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 49. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- Obituary: Thomas Ayers Served as Board Chair from 1975 to 1986 Northwestern University, June 19, 2007
- Sheepdogdesign.net, Thomas G Ayers, 1915-2007 Cinnamon Swirl, June 18, 2007
- Barber, David, "Fugitive Days; A Memoir - Book Review", Journal of Social History, Winter 2002, retrieved June 10, 2008
- Before "going underground" he published an account of this experience, Education: An American Problem.
- Fugitive Days: A Memoir
- Cathy Wilkerson (2001-12-01). "Fugitive Days (book review)". Zmag magazine.
- Jacobs, Ron, The way the wind blew: a history of the Weather Underground, London & New York: Verso, 1997. ISBN 1-85984-167-8
- Avrich. The Haymarket Tragedy. p. 431.
- Adelman. Haymarket Revisited, p. 40.
- Haymarket Memorial Statue Rededicated at Chicago Police Headquarters Chicago Police Department, June 1, 2007
- Good, "Brian Flanagan Speaks," Next Left Notes, 2005.
- Grathwohl, Larry, and Frank, Reagan, Bringing Down America: An FBI Informant in with the Weathermen, Arlington House, 1977, page 110
- Bill Ayers, Fugitive Days, pg. 261
- Why Weren't Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn Convicted of Terrorism? Glenrose.net
- Jeremy Varon, Bringing The War Home: The Weather Underground, The Red Army Faction And Revolutionary Violence In The Sixties And Seventies, (Berkley: University of California Press, 2004), 297.
- Susan Chira, At home with: Bernadine Dohrn; Same Passion, New Tactics, The New York Times, November 18, 1993
- Bernardine Dohrn, Billy Ayers, Jeff Jones, Celia Sojourn (May 9, 1974). "Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism:Political Statement of the Weather Underground". Communications Co. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
- Blogspot.com, Dedication page, Prairie Fire
- Harvey E. Klehr (1991) Far Left of Center: The American Radical Left Today, Transaction Publishers, p 108 ISBN 0-88738-875-2
- Marcia Froelke Coburn, No Regrets, Chicago Magazine, August 2001
- Staples, Brent, "The Oldest Rad", book review of Fugitive Days by Bill Ayers in New York Times Book Review, September 30, 2001, accessed June 5, 2008
- Jesse Lemisch, Weather Underground Rises from the Ashes: They're Baack!, New Politics, Summer 2006
- Dinitia Smith, No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen, The New York Times, September 11, 2001
- Bryan Smith (December 2006). "Sudden Impact". Chicago Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-18.
- NB that although the interview was published on 9/11, it was completed prior to that and cannot be properly construed as a reaction to the events of that day.
- Bill Ayers, Clarifying the Facts— a letter to the New York Times, 9-15-2001, Bill Ayers (blog), April 21, 2008
- Bill Ayers, Episodic Notoriety–Fact and Fantasy, Bill Ayers (blog), April 6, 2008
- Bill Ayers, WordPress.com, I'm Sorry!!!!... I think, Bill Ayers (blog)
- Remnick, David (November 4, 2008). "Mr. Ayers’s Neighborhood". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 24 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
- Ayers, Bill, letter to the editor, Chicago Tribune, September 23, 2001, retrieved June 8, 2008
- Web page titled "Weather Underground/ Exclusive interview: Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers", Independent Lens website, accessed June 5, 2008
- Bill Ayers: Violent Resistance Not Necessarily the Answer Blog post in Little Green Footballs with a copy of the cartoon including the word "shit"
- Tapper, Jake In a Not-Remotely-Comic Strip, Bill Ayers Weighs In on What He Meant By 'We Didn't Do Enough' to End Vietnam War ABC News, Political Punch, September 9, 2008
- Ayers, William (December 6, 2008). "The Real Bill Ayers". The New York Times. pp. A21
- Spak, Kara (August 5, 2010). "Bill Ayers to retire from UIC". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Cohen, Jodi (September 23, 2010). "Ayers denied emeritus status after plea from Chris Kennedy". Chicago Tribune.
- Brown, R. (2011) Emeritus Status: It's a Matter of Honor, Especially When It's Denied, The Chronicle of Higher Education 57(43), A8-A9.
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- Official website
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Bill Ayers at the Internet Movie Database
- Bill Ayers collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Works by or about Bill Ayers in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Video interview with Brandon Kosters of F Newsmagazine 19 February 2009
- Interview with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, PBS NewsHour (PBS), 1996, transcript
- Which Way The Wind Blows: Bill Ayers On Obama, Terry Gross, Fresh Air (NPR), November 18, 2008
- Bill Ayers: Radical Education Theory Gets Graphic, John Seven, Publishers Weekly, April 5, 2010
- Interview with Bill Ayers, Eddie Arruza, Chicago Tonight (WTTW), June 22, 2010 (video, 13:54)
- Thorne Dreyer's June 8, 2010, Rag Radio interview with Bill Ayers (58:47)
- Thorne Dreyer's February 4, 2011, Rag Radio interview with Bill Ayers and Rick Ayers (55:48)