A young journalist for The Michigan Daily, reporting from the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles wrote, “There is no escaping the fact that the movement does exist, that it is developing potency and momentum, and that it has the ability to sometimes change a social situation.” The young man, Tom Hayden, would later become this paper’s editor in chief as well as an icon for progressive advocacy and the movement — then 500 students who wanted the Democratic Party to adopt a stronger civil rights plank — would become the largest and most influential mass-movement in our nation’s history.
It was a mere four years after Hayden’s piece ran when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — the single most sweeping piece of civil rights legislation in U.S. history. Without the unyielding dedication of millions of young civil rights activists in Ann Arbor and across the nation, such a bill may never have succeeded.
In the 1960s, the University was a progressive hotbed — students organized sit-ins first to protest racial discrimination and later to oppose the rapidly expanding U.S. military presence in Southeast Asia. It was in this tumultuous and rebellious atmosphere that the ideological tenets of this paper were forged. An unbending commitment to free expression, a firm belief in the equality of all individuals and an unrelenting desire to achieve lasting social justice — these values guided the Daily’s editorial page then, and they continue to guide it now. Day by day, year after year — from administrative threats to campus-wide boycotts — this page has stood firm against pressures to compromise and equivocate. We are now charged with ensuring the Daily stands resolved and hereby pledge not to falter.
For decades, in accordance with its deepest convictions, the steadfast and watchful eye of the editorial page has commanded notice from all echelons of government — be it from a Michigan Student Assembly representative or a concerned congressman. With passion, persuasion and often — painstaking reiteration, this page has fought fiercely for students’ rights and administrative accountability.
But advocacy and dialogue is a two-way street, and this page is worth far more than what we deem fit for this gray box. Essential to the functioning of our University, the operations of our government and advancement of our society is lively, passionate and informed debate. In our 114 years, the Daily has served not only as a steady champion of students’ rights, but also as an open forum for those who wish to be heard. As we pledge to continue the Daily’s editorial tradition, we encourage you to contribute to the spirited debate hosted on this page.
With the help of an active and engaged readership, this page can become more than the Daily’s editorial mouthpiece, it can retain its status as the printed pulse of the student body — a force that if harnessed properly, is vigorous in spirit and boundless in influence.