Liberation (magazine)

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Liberation Magazine (1956–77) was a monthly magazine of the New Left, compared with Dissent and Studies on the Left.[1]

Early days[edit]

Liberation was founded, published, and edited by David Dellinger and A. J. Muste from 1956 to 1975 out of New York. Muste brought funding from the War Resisters League.[2][3]

For Bayard Rustin, another of the magazine's editors, the magazine was a major commitment of time and energy, raising money and meeting every week with Muste.[4] He wrote to Martin Luther King, Jr.,[5] who later wrote for the magazine. The June 1963 issue contained the first full publication of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and the first version with that title. Muste and Rustin were Quakers.

The New Left[edit]

The New Left positions of the magazine compared with Dissent and Studies on the Left.[6]

The magazine supported the Cuban Revolution, with the article C. Wright Mills' "Listen Yankee",[7] leading to Roy Finch's resignation from the editorial board.[8]

The magazine supported SDS, and anti-Vietnam War.[9]

The magazine supported unilateral Nuclear disarmament, Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) organizers, and worked as a clearinghouse of activists, non-violence.[10]

A poem by Louis Ginsberg, father of Allen Ginsberg, was published in the magazine.[11]


In the 1970s the magazine became increasingly "collectivized". By 1977 the magazine was edited by Jan Edwards and Michael Nill out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Following Dellinger's departure, it concentrated on the personal as political, and ceased publication not long thereafter. For many years, though, Liberation was a thoughtful and provocative addition to the pacifist left. In addition to occasional theoretical pieces, it also focused on investigative journalism. In early 1965, for example, Liberation ran long articles by Vincent Salandria challenging the conclusions of the Warren Commission, and in 1975 it published an important article by Fred Landis on psychological warfare by the CIA in Chile.

Dave Dellinger graduated from Yale and then served time in prison for refusing to register for the draft in World War II. He was subsequently arrested numerous times for pacifist demonstrations. Dellinger was a leading figure in the movement against the war in Vietnam. At the age of 54 he was the oldest member of the Chicago Eight, the group that was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and incitement to riot at the Democratic convention in August 1968. His autobiography is entitled From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (Pantheon, 1993).[12]