Jerry Rubin it s okay a bad rap. He was a the majority of things: one activist, a provocateur, a showman who orchestrated media blitzes v the experienced precision.

You are watching: Founded the vietnam day committee and co-founded the yippies.

But for a lot of of people familiar v Rubin with his facetious, rabble-rousing activism, the devolved into a sellout. For every the legend-making surrounding Abbie Hoffman, Rubin’s collaborator, creative partner and also eventual sparring companion in the Yippie vs. Yuppie debates, his mythos survived only due to the fact that he stayed true to his belief up come his untimely death by suicide in 1989. It’s a narrative that lends chin to lore. No so with Rubin.

“He"s been pretty much written out of the background books,” stated Pat thomas in an interview v Thomas, that wrote Did It! -- the first biography committed in Rubin’s respect -- records Rubin’s life in painstaking detail.

Thomas interviewed upwards the 70 world who knew Rubin closely, native exes to fellow activists to his younger brother, Gil. Every web page is laden with Thomas" quest to cohere the contradictions in between Rubin together ‘60s revolutionary and Rubin as ‘80s yuppie.


With Hoffman and master snarksmith Paul Krassner, Rubin co-founded the Youth international Party in 1967. Members of the Party -- who branded us the Yippies -- were well known for your flair for the theatric. They staged unlimited interludes within the political theater of Capitol Hill.

Among their perform of "accomplishments," the Yippies ran a pig because that president, levitated the Pentagon, and also staged protests in ~ the 1968 democratic National Convention that brought about a violent retaliation by police — and the Chicago 7 trials that followed.

If the SDS to be the straight-and-narrow honor roll students of "60s-era activism, Rubin and also the ragtag cumulative of Yippies to be the guileless class clowns. And, follow to Thomas, the true heritage of Rubin was the sense of humor embedded into his politics action.

" can win civilization over means more 보다 dogmatic rhetoric or browbeating world in a class or the jury room," said Thomas. "Rubin"s good legacy is feeling disarms you."

The soil zero because that his irreverent, oftentimes off-color type of protest to be born right on the UC Berkeley campus -- a site that continues to be rife v political tension.

One step Further

Rubin became fascinated v spectacle-driven to work while the attended Cal. ~ a stint as a cub reporter for the Cincinnati Post, he gone into the graduate sociology regimen at UC Berkeley. However but his zeal because that front-line protesting outweighed his ambitions in academia, for this reason Rubin dropped the end of Berkeley after ~ a six weeks. It to be then he ended up being a full-time protestor. At the elevation of the Berkeley totally free Speech Movement, recorded by Mario Savio and his acerbic polemics, Rubin staged what would become the largest teach-in ~ above the UC Berkeley campus.

"60s activist Jerry Rubin protesting through the Vietnam day Committee. (Fantagraphics Books)

"Rubin take it the totally free Speech activity one step further, acquisition Savio"s message and also turned it against what was happening in Vietnam," cutting board said.

With renowned mathematician and Berkeley professor Stephen Smale and his then-partner, other activist Barbara Gullahorn, that co-founded the Vietnam day Committee (VDC). A loose organization of activists based the end of Victorian home on Fulton St., the VDC lasted for a year.

The organization’s most outsized affect was facilitating the Vietnam work Teach-In. Almost 30,000 students and also residents to be in attendance throughout the three-day occasion held best on Sproul Plaza. It to be the largest teach-in to ever take ar in American history.

Folks choose novelist Norman Mailer, comedian prick Gregory and also folk crooner Phil Ochs were among those who participated in the torrent that lectures, music performances and also assorted rallying cries end the three days.

The momentum adhering to the Teach-In was enormous; it was the catalyst, follow to Thomas, v which the bigger anti-war motion in the bay Area and the brand-new Left to be born.

At a details point, however, Rubin’s vision shifted from publicly intellectualism to public performance.

All for great Causes

For Rubin, a protest was just as impactful together the media fist that it could garner -- a belief that lingered during his time as a cub reporter for the Cincinnati Post. His stunts contained dressing up together a Viet Cong member, depicting a founding Father in ~ the residence Un-American tasks Committee (HUAC), and, later on with the Yippies, levitating the Pentagon.

Rubin"s first big change into political theatre was inspired by a Yale professor who urged because that mass polite disobedience at the VDC teach-in. Trains filled with troops and war munitions being shipped turn off to Vietnam would travel v Berkeley en route to the port of Oakland; Rubin and also a mass of his girlfriend in the VDC, says Thomas, “started precise lying under on the tracks.”

Later, Rubin would man a van that would follow anonymous vehicles filled v Napalm, i m sorry was produced in the only Area. Attached to the next of the truck to be a banner that check out “Danger! Napalm! Bombs Ahead.”

Rubin to be in pursuit of mobilizing a an essential mass the the only Area into a unified front, from middle-class folks who drove by the napalm trucks, come the hippies whose comes to for tranquility were overshadowed by the lust because that the Summer the Love. At the person Be-In, Rubin hopped on phase with the grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, taking the occasion to foment anti-war sentiment amongst the largely apolitical san Francisco hippies. Rubin even ran for market of Berkeley.

A project poster indigenous Jerry Rubin"s efforts to come to be the market of Berkeley (Fantagraphics Books)

But in his search to get the hippies involved, that butted heads. Jerry Garcia, cutting board notes in the book, wasn’t a fan of his antics. The hippies he preached to at the person Be-In withstood his wild diatribes. Ronald Reagan, that was quiet an actor-turned-conservative pundit in the late "60s, stumped versus Rubin and also his ilk, condemning them together Communist traitors. Even Jack Kurzweil, a core member that the Vietnam day Committee, grew distrustful the Rubin ~ an occurrence at the harbor of Oakland wherein a man practically got eliminated on the tracks.

“Jerry’s response,” follow to Kurzweil’s account in the book, “was ‘Oh no, allow him continue to be there. If that dies, it will be great publicity!”

Rubin would abandon Berkeley to uncover notoriety elsewhere. After his stint at Berkeley, that went to brand-new York and dropped disagreement bills everywhere the brand-new York share Exchange, which led to so lot chaos the exchange close up door down. It ended up being an global incident — Rubin"s first of many.

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The brand-new Left was splintered by Rubin"s antics. It was clear he was driven by this countless quest because that publicity -- a reality that cutting board will conveniently admit to.

"Jerry had actually a large ego," he admits. "You got to have a big ego to want to get up on a soapbox, and it to be ego that drove Jerry. Yet it was all for great causes."


Pat Thomas will certainly be appearing at eco-friendly Apple publications in mountain Francisco ~ above Nov. 8 and also Pegasus publications in Berkeley ~ above Nov. 12.>