Alan Haber

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Alan Haber
Haber in 2007.
Born (1936-07-29) July 29, 1936 (age 87)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan 1954-1965, bachelor's degree
Known forFirst president of Students for a Democratic Society

Robert Alan Haber (born July 29, 1936) is an American activist. In 1960 he was elected the first president of the now-defunct Students for a Democratic Society, a left-wing student activist organization.[1] FBI files at the time indicated his official title as Field Secretary.[2] Described variously at the time as "Ann Arbor's resident radical" and "reticent visionary",[3][unreliable source] Haber organized a human rights conference in April of that year which "marked the debut of SDS"[4] and invited four organizers of the 1960 NAACP sit-ins against segregated lunch counters in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Early life and education[edit]

Haber "came from a leftist background".[3] His father, William Haber, was an economics professor at the University of Michigan.[5][6] Haber's parents named him after former Wisconsin governor, congressman and senator Robert M. La Follette Sr., advocate of the Wisconsin Idea political reforms in the late 19th century and early 20th century.[7] Haber has one brother.[8]

In 1954, Haber enrolled at the University of Michigan.[9] He graduated in 1965.[10][11][6]


Haber's political activism began in the mid-1950s. He worked unsuccessfully to bring concert singer and blacklisted political activist Paul Robeson to University of Michigan campus, protested the firing of three U-M professors for their refusal to sign a loyalty oath, and picketed Ann Arbor Woolworth’s and Kresge’s stores for refusing to serve African Americans in the Jim Crow south.[12]

Haber attended the National Student Association convention in Minneapolis in August 1960. There he witnessed a dramatic intervention by Sandra Cason (Casey Hayden) urging support for the fledgling Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She recalls that Haber "scooped" her up for the SDS, and that she in turn drew in Tom Hayden, editor of the University of Michigan newspaper.[13] While collaborating with Haber, Hayden was the principal author of the Port Huron Statement,[14] refined and adopted at the first Students for Democratic Society (SDS) convention in June 1962.

Haber was increasingly disaffected by the factionalism that marked the SDS as it mobilised on-campus opposition to the Vietnam War. By 1969, after Haber had moved to Berkeley, Calif., SDS splintered with the Weather Underground faction turning to violence. Haber regretted that the movement had "turned very hard edged."[12]

Haber makes a living as a cabinetmaker.[citation needed]

He helped found the Berkeley, California Long Haul Infoshop, an anarchist resource center and community space.[15][unreliable source?]

Personal life[edit]

Haber lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his partner Odile Hugonot-Haber.[16]


  1. ^ Sale, Kirkpatrick (1973). SDS: Ten Years Towards a Revolution. Random House.
  2. ^ Scholarly Resources, Inc. (1991). Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the FBI File on the Students for a Democratic Society and the Weatherman Underground Organization.
  3. ^ a b Towne, David, J.D. (1998). "SDS: Rage Against the Machine". Albion College: Unpublished undergraduate research paper. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Zulick, Margaret D. (1996). "Movement Chronology from the Civil War to the Present". from course on American Rhetorical Movements (COM 341): Wake Forest University. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: location (link)
  5. ^ Miller, James (1987). Democracy is in the Streets: Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago. Simon and Schuster.
  6. ^ a b Frederic Alan Maxwell (June 20, 2012). "Port Huron Statement turns 50". Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  7. ^ Levine, Peter (2000). The New Progressive Era: Toward a Fair and Deliberative Democracy. Rowman and Littlefield.
  8. ^ Sam Howe Verhovek (January 3, 1989). "William Haber, Who Directed Aid To Jewish Refugees, Is Dead at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  9. ^ Wendy Ochoa (September 2010). "'60s activist Alan Haber predicts today's 'enslaved' students will rise again". The Washtenaw Voice. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  10. ^ Chelsea Landry (November 1, 2011). "Famous 1960s activists visit Occupy Ann Arbor site". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  11. ^ Jeremy Allen (March 22, 2015). "U-M professors' first teach-in 50 years ago launched a national movement". Retrieved September 7, 2015. Haber, an Ann Arbor resident and the co-founder and first president of Students for a Democratic Society...
  12. ^ a b Miller, Janet (2012). "Activism in 2012: SDS founder Alan Haber and Odile Hugonot-Haber leading discussion on Occupy movement". Retrieved 2023-03-13.
  13. ^ Smith, Harold L. (2015). "Casey Hayden: Gender and the Origins of SNCC, SDS, and the Women's Liberation Movement". In Turner, Elizabeth Hayes; Cole, Stephanie; Sharpless, Rebecca (eds.). Texas Women: Their Histories, Their Lives. University of Georgia Press. p. 365. ISBN 9780820347905.
  14. ^ The Port Huron Statement.
  15. ^ "An evening with Alan Haber, founder of S.D.S. and Long Haul Infoshop : Indybay". Indybay. July 11, 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  16. ^ Miller, Janet (Feb 1, 2012). "Activism in 2012: SDS founder Alan Haber and Odile Hugonot-Haber leading discussion on Occupy movement". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved 2014-04-19.

External links[edit]