Kit Bakke

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Christopher Lynn "Kit" Bakke (born December 23, 1946)[1] is an U.S. activist. In the 1960s, she actively fought for women's rights and civil rights and she protested the Vietnam War. In college, she helped to establish a new chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).[2] Later, she became a member of the Weathermen, also called the Weather Underground, a militant leftist group. After leaving the Weather Underground, Bakke moved to Seattle, Washington. In Seattle, Bakke became a mother and worked as a nurse for many years. In 2006, her bio-memoir Miss Alcott's E-mail was published.

Early life[edit]

Christopher Lynn Bakke, otherwise known as "Kit" Bakke, was born in 1946. She grew up in a rural area near Seattle, Washington, with liberal parents and two younger brothers in a household that valued success in school above all else.[3][4] Her father, Jack Bakke, was a physician with a passion for human biology, anatomy and the practice of medicine.[5] Her mother, an active member of the League of Women Voters, championed various causes including voter education and keeping water supplies clean.[5] All of her grandparents were college graduates.[6]

Kit Bakke lived in a highly intellectual environment in which political awareness and activism were highly valued. On the other hand, her family was also very traditional with the bread-winning dad and the stay at home mom who volunteered and helped the children strive for success in school.

SDS[edit]

After graduating from high school, Bakke went on to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. While there, she helped to establish a new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter at her college.[7] As a member of SDS, she was involved with issues including civil rights, women's liberation, and anti-war demonstrations.[7] Kathy Boudin, a key figure in the Weathermen and Diana Oughton, a member of the Weathermen who was killed in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, also went to Bryn Mawr College. Bakke and Boudin, along with other members of the SDS participated in various protests, for example, for 24 days she refused to eat or drink in protest against the war in Vietnam. Bakke also helped end the dress requirement of women being required to wear skirts in class, and helped to unionize the "live in maids".[7] In her last undergraduate year, she shifted her focus to issues in the inner city rather than problems going on in the college.[8] In the summer of 1969 at the SDS Convention in Chicago, SDS came apart. Bakke became part of a group of people, in SDS, labeled as the "Action Faction" or the "Weatherman", that broke away from the SDS.[9] They believed that in order for a revolution to occur, they had to take militant action to provoke it.[9] She graduated in 1968, but after earning her undergraduate degree in political science, Kit got a job as a journalist for a Seattle suburban newspaper with the intent of better understanding by getting an inside view of the "nominating conventions".[10] When reporting on demonstrations, she took pictures, interviewed participants, and wrote articles.[11]

Cuba[edit]

Bakke went to Havana, Cuba, for eight days in July 1969 to meet with the members of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and Provisional Revolutionary Government to discuss the opposition movements going on in the United States.[12] While accounts of the number of SDS participants vary, according to the FBI summary, 13 people, including Bernardine Dohrn, a key figure in the Weatherman went on the trip to Cuba.[12] The experience was life changing for Kit and the others, according to a member of SDS. In Cuba, they learned the revolutionary tactics used by Cuba and other developing countries.[9] This experience shaped the militant characteristic of the Weatherman.[12] Only a few months after returning from Cuba, in October 1969, she participated in the Chicago riot termed the "Days of Rage" and was arrested. Bakke was also jailed in Cook County for three days after "some particularly aggressive street fighting".[13]

Life underground[edit]

Bakke lived in political collectives in Oakland, Cleveland, New Mexico and the Westside of Chicago.[14] While in Chicago, Bakke helped to print the Weatherman's publication, the New Left Notes.[15] She says that in the communes she lived with "no more than ten or eleven..." of her fellow Weathermen. All competed with one another to give up their white middle-class benefits, "We held frequent Maoist criticism sessions, confessing our failures to each other, worrying about our weaknesses, and concocting naïve improvement strategies."[14] While she was in the Weather Underground the FBI amassed a file of over 400 pages on Kit Bakke and classified her as a "'Priority I Security Index Subject.'"[16] In the early 1970s, Kit was pregnant with her first child, Maya, while she participated in a demonstration to protest against the Vietnam war. The demonstration got out of hand.[17] Fleeing from the police, trying to avoid the teargas, police batons and the barrels of firearms, Kit decided to leave the Weather Underground.[18] She was a political activist who got worn down by circumstance: "My revolutionary days in the passionate and violent Weather Underground were like the ruins of Pompeii, the sharp edges silted over by the ash of graduate school, marriage, kids in college, professional career, husband with ditto, vacations gardening, dinners in nice restaurants."[19]

Life after Weathermen[edit]

Bakke has earned two bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees: two nursing, one political science and one in public health. She moved to Seattle with her young daughter, Maya, to be close to family. She married in 1982.[20] For thirteen years, Kit worked as an oncology nurse at Children's Regional Hospital in Seattle. Today, Bakke is involved with charities that tackle local issues, such as drug abuse and homelessness.[21] Bakke remained underground for two years, and in that time cut off all contact with her parents.[5] She has expressed guilt and regret about how her actions have affected her parents, but according to Flanigan, "Bakke says she doesn't have any regrets. ‘Of course we made mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes... I believe in putting yourself out there for the things you care about. If you don't do that, you're going to live a diminished life.'"[21] In another interview, Bakke describes the Students for a Democratic Society as being arrogant bullies.[22] Kit Bakke has raised two daughters and currently lives in Seattle with her husband. In 2006, Kit Bakke wrote a bio-memoir, Miss Alcott's E-mail.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ FBI(1976)pg234
  2. ^ Gilroy 2007, p. 1
  3. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 15
  4. ^ Shackleton 2007
  5. ^ a b c Bakke 2006, p. 37
  6. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 38
  7. ^ a b c Walsh 2007, p. 1
  8. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 89
  9. ^ a b c Bakke 2006, p. 86
  10. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 90
  11. ^ Bakke 2006, pp. 90–91
  12. ^ a b c FBI 1976, p. 97
  13. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 109
  14. ^ a b Bakke 2006, p. 100
  15. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 84
  16. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 87
  17. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 225
  18. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 226
  19. ^ Bakke 2006, p. 6
  20. ^ Flanigan 2007, p. 2
  21. ^ a b Flanigan 2007, p. 3
  22. ^ Gilroy 2007, p. 2

References[edit]

  • Bakke, Kit. "About Kit Bakke". 
  • Bakke, Kit (2006). Miss Alcott's E-mail: Yours for Reforms of all Kinds. Boston: David R. Godine. ISBN 1-56792-311-9. 
  • Summary of FBI Surveillance Files, "Foreign Influence-Weather Underground Organization." 20 Aug. 1976. 2a) 234 1b) 97 2c) 379
  • Flanigan, Robin L. (March–April 2007). "Miss Alcott's 'Penpal'". Rochester Review. pp. 40–41. 
  • Gilroy, Jessica (2007-04-24). "From the Underground to Miss Alcott's Email". Internationalist Magazine. 
  • Hui Hsu, Judy Chia (2007-06-25). "Obituary Dr. John Bakke, 85, loved learning". The Seattle Times. 
  • McMichael, Barbara Lloyd (2006-09-22). "'Miss Alcott's Email:' Heart-to-Heart with Louisa May Alcott". The Seattle Times. 
  • See, Carolyn (2005-09-08). "The Woman behind the Girls". The Washington Post.  C02.
  • Shackleton, Paula (2007-02-27). "Interview: Kit Bakke". 
  • Walsh, Elizabeth (2007-11-21). "Why College Matters". The New York Times Magazine. 

External links[edit]