On the right – the New Right of conservative politics – three fellow students, who would subsequently assume major leadership roles in the nationwide conservative movement, actively contested the IU New Left on the Vietnam War. One became President of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and later served in the Nixon White House, another founded a magazine that became immensely influential in conservative circles in Washington and across the country, while the third alum assumed leadership of the national pro-Vietnam War movement.*
For the New Left activists, most of them anyway, who returned to IU for a gala reunion in August 2013 as well as for two of the campus conservative leaders, family politics had been a significant determinant of their activism as students and beyond. In contrast, the genesis of the IU SLA members’ – William Harris, Emily Harris, and Angela DeAngelis Atwood – subsequent infamous behavior is less well understood.
Perhaps most surprising was the case of Angela DeAngelis, who subsequently took the nom de guerre ‘General Gelina’ in the SLA and helped kidnap Patricia Hearst. Angela had arrived at Indiana University from a New Jersey high school where she’d been a popular young woman, cheerleading captain, and the star of many school musicals. True, at IU she fell under the influence of Gary Atwood, a student left activist whom she later married, but otherwise hers was a fairly typical college experience – joining a sorority, performing in university theater, majoring in education.
After leaving Bloomington, I went into the labor movement – actually I first went to grad school. Initially I tried to get into the labor movement – you know like my father, work my way up in the mill – but looking back no steel mill anywhere in Indiana would hire me because of our family name. So I ended up going to grad school [for an MA in Labor and Industrial Relations], and then I went into the labor movement. I’ve been in the labor movement for the last 40 years.
I work in the Service Employees International Union. I worked for a number of industrial unions, and in ’88 I went to the SEIU as a research director. I will say that it’s the one job – and I’ve had a number of positions – but the one job I really wasn’t qualified for, but that was neither here nor there. They actually recruited me – I became Research Director of the Property Service Division.
Maybe you’ve heard about the ‘Justice for Janitors Movement’? … I was the national director of it, and then in ’94 I went back to Chicago for SEIU … I made the transition to an elected position, got elected president of that local.
I’m president of Local 1 in Chicago, it’s a Property Service local, we’re a central region local. … I don’t know if any of you have heard about the Houston janitors struggle, but we organized that. I was the president and negotiated all those contracts – won two successful strikes, our first historic one in 2006, and last summer a five-week strike to maintain janitors’ standards in Houston. … I do a lot of stuff for SEIU – I’m on the national board. I actually do a lot of international labor stuff [too]. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 40 years.
Their language was forthright, figurative, and four-
**The phrase 'red diaper baby' usually signifies a child born of at least one parent associated with the American Communist Party, although more loosely as the offspring of radical parents of the Old Left. It's difficult to know, however, whether such a self-described person means the term narrowly or broadly.