Bernardine Dohrn (1942- ) was a leader of the Weathermen, a radical offshoot of the Students for a Democratic Society. Born in Wisconsin, she graduated from the University of Chicago in 1963 and the University of Chicago Law School in 1967. As a member of the SDS, Dohrn aligned herself with its more radical factions. After the dissolution of the SDS in 1969, she helped found Weatherman, the militant group more commonly known as the Weathermen.
As one of the most influential leaders of the Weathermen, Dohrn argued that student activists needed to escalate their efforts to stop the war in Vietnam and end domestic racial and class oppression. To demonstrate their willingness to use violence, the Weathermen organized the Days of Rage in Chicago in October 1969, during which Dohrn led the Women’s Militia in its attack on an army induction center.
In 1970, the Weathermen went underground and plotted a series of bombings to protest the Vietnam War and what they saw as other forms of domestic injustice. Dohrn read the Weathermen’s declaration of their own war on the political establishment in 1970 that accompanied this campaign. But less than a year later she also read a statement announcing a modification of the Weathermen’s strategies; attacks on property would not cease, but “New Morning—Changing Weather” argued that mass protests and demonstrations were also revolutionary activities; guns and bombs were not the only way to advance radical change.
In 1980, Dohrn emerged from the underground and turned herself into authorities. She pled guilty to several charges and served a brief prison term. In 1991, she accepted a position on the faculty of the Northwestern University School of Law.