Staughton Lynd Obituary, Death – American conscientious objector, Quaker, peace and civil rights activist, historian, educator, novelist, and lawyer Staughton Craig Lynd was born on November 22, 1929. He met some of the most well-known activists in the country through his work on social justice issues, including Howard Zinn, Tom Hayden, A. J. Muste, and David Dellinger. Carl Mirra’s book, The Admirable Radical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945-1970, details Lynd’s contributions to the causes of social justice and the peace movement.
Lynd was one of two children born to eminent sociologists Robert Staughton Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, who in the late 1920s and early 1930s published the ground-breaking “Middletown” study of Muncie, Indiana. Along with his parents’ academic prowess, Staughton Lynd also inherited their ardent socialist ideals. Even though Lynd never supported undemocratic socialism, his political views during the McCarthy Era led to his dismissal from a non-combatant position in the U.S. military.
He then pursued a history PhD at Columbia University and obtained a post as an instructor at Spelman College in Georgia, where he collaborated closely with historian and civil rights activist Howard Zinn. Lynd protested Zinn’s dismissal from Spelman at the conclusion of the school year 1962–1963. Lynd oversaw the Freedom Schools of Mississippi, a project of the SNCC, during the summer of 1964. Lynd moved to New England with his wife, Alice Niles Lynd, and their kids after accepting a position at Yale University. He delivered lectures at the Free University of New York in 1965 on “The History of the American Left.”
Lynd’s book Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism was published in 1968. Professor Eugene Genovese, a Marxist at the time, published a harsh review of it in the New York Review of Books. In his assessment of the book, Professor David Donald referred to it as “a important achievement in American intellectual history.” The book was reprinted by Cambridge University in 2009, and Commentary Magazine described it as a “established classic.” Lynd lost his ability to find employment in academia when it became evident that Yale would deny him tenure. Lynd moved his household to Chicago.
He struggled to use community organizing to support himself there. In the meantime, he and his wife Alice started a working-class-focused oral history project. The findings of this article, titled Rank and File, motivated Lynd to pursue legal studies in order to help employees who were wronged by businesses and left without protection by bureaucratic labor organizations. He enrolled in the University of Chicago Law School in 1973 and graduated from there in 1976.