Mark Rudd

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Mark William Rudd (born June 2, 1947 in Irvington, New Jersey) is a mathematics instructor, and former anti-war activist known for his involvement with the terrorist group Weather Underground. Rudd became a member of the Columbia University chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1963. By 1968, he had emerged as a leader for Columbia's SDS chapter. During the 1968 Columbia Student Revolt, he served as spokesperson for dissident students protesting a variety of issues, most notably the Vietnam War. As the war escalated, Mark Rudd worked with other youth movement leaders to take SDS in a more militant direction. Together, they formed a radical, violence-oriented organization, referring to themselves collectively as "Weatherman."


Rudd was given the birth name of Marc William Rudnitsky.[1] His surname was changed to Rudd on November 17, 1954. Rudd was the son of a Jewish former Army officer, Jacob S. Rudd (1909-1995), who sold real estate in Maplewood, New Jersey. Jacob was born as "Jacov Shmuel Rudnitsky" in Stanislower, Poland, and immigrated to the United States in 1917, when he was nine years old. Mark's mother was Bertha Bass (1912–?), who was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the year after her parents emigrated from Lithuania. Rudd has a brother: David R. Rudd (1939-?), who became an attorney. Mark Rudd attended Columbia High School in his hometown, and later Columbia University in New York.[2]

Campus activism

Mark Rudd's website says that his commitment to “fighting U.S imperialism”[3] was inspired by the revolutionary movement in Cuba, which at that time was in its ninth year.[4] In 1968, Rudd and Bernardine Dohrn and other leaders of SDS were invited to Cuba to meet with Cuban and North Vietnamese delegates. His experiences in Cuba strengthened Rudd’s anti-war and pro-Communist sentiments.[5] Rudd had described the life of Cuba as “extremely humanistic” and he idealized Ernesto "Che" Guevara, referring to him as the “Heroic Guerilla.”[6]

Once he returned from Cuba, Rudd was elected President of the Columbia chapter of SDS. In 1968, during his junior year, Mark Rudd was expelled from Columbia after a series of sit-ins and riots that disrupted campus life and attracted nationwide attention. These events culminated in the dramatic occupation of several campus buildings, including the Administration building, Low Memorial Library, and which ended only after violent clashes between students and the New York Police Department. The Columbia protest was not the first student revolt on an American campus, but as it occurred at a relatively conservative Ivy League school located just up the street from the headquarters of the nation's news media, it received considerable press coverage and drew many supporters. The protests produced the slogan “Create Two, Three, Many Columbias!”

Revolutionary Youth Movement and Weather Underground

In 1969, as SDS membership grew rapidly, members' views concerning both goals and methods began to diverge widely. Rudd felt that SDS was not doing enough to protest the war in Vietnam. He was a leader of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM), a faction of SDS which advocated a more militant course of action. The 1969 SDS convention effectively splintered and ended the organization, with Rudd and other members of the RYM ultimately forming Weatherman, a self-proclaimed "organization of communist women and men" intent on overthrowing the government through violent action. Spreading communism was a priority for the members of Weather, as when Rudd told other members of SDS, “ Don’t be timid about telling people we’re Communist. Don’t deny it, be proud of it.”[7]

Years underground

Rudd and other members of Weatherman participated in an SDS National Action on October 8th - 11th, 1969, an event which became known as the Days of Rage.[8] Charges filed against demonstrators following this action threatened the movement and its supporters. Rudd, along with other prominent members of Weather, went underground in March 1970 following the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, an incident in which three members of the organization died when an explosive device, intended for a servicemen's ball, detonated prematurely. Among the dead was Terry Robbins, Diana Oughton, and Ted Gold, who was Rudd’s friend and partner in RYM and the Columbia sit-ins. Weatherman had already come to the attention of the FBI, but this explosion caused the members of Weatherman to take further precautions and to engage in more clandestine operations. After the townhouse explosion, the government actively sought to apprehend Mark Rudd and twelve other members of the Weather Underground Organization (WUO).[9] For seven years Rudd lived underground, although he was disengaged from the WUO for most of that time.


On October 13, 1977, Rudd turned himself in to authorities. He had been living and working under an assumed name just a few miles from the Columbia campus in Brooklyn. His first public appearance was on campus, where he spoke to a crowd of hundreds of admiring students. He was not the firebrand the crowd expected, but he did participate in a march around the campus after the speech.[10]

Later developments

In the summer of 1978, Mark and his then-girlfriend, Sue LeGrand,[11] moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. During his time there he became an instructor of mathematics at Central New Mexico Community College. He was interviewed in the 2002 documentary The Weather Underground (film) in which he stated that although the group's motivations, to end the Vietnam War and to oppose US imperialism, were justified, the violent actions performed in pursuit of those beliefs were questionable. Today he is living in western New Mexico on his ranch near the Continental Divide. He travels around the country in support of the newly reborn Students for a Democratic Society. Rudd, along with Brian Kelly of Pace SDS, have helped establish ties between the new SDS and the Kent State University movement.


  • Mark Rudd, Truth and Consequences: The Education of Mark Rudd, Grove Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0802112699
  • Mark Rudd, Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen, William Morrow, forthcoming March 2009, ISBN 978-0061472756


  1. U.S. Congress, pg. 95
  2. U.S. Congress, pg. 95
  3. U.S. Congress, Pg. 96
  4., paragraph 11
  5. U.S. Congress, Pg. 96
  6., paragraph 13
  7. U.S. Congress, Pg. 101
  8. U.S. Congress, Pg. 101
  9. U.S. Congress, Pg. 102
  10., paragraph 35
  11., paragraph 36

External links


Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.