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She was on the staff of the school newspaper in high school and a member of the cheerleading squad.
Bernardine Dohrn was born Bernardine Ohrnstein in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1942, and grew up in Whitefish Bay, an upper-middle-class suburb of Milwaukee. Her father, Bernard, changed the family surname to Dohrn when Bernardine was in high school. Her father was Jewish and her mother, Dorothy (née Soderberg), was of Swedish background and a Christian Scientist. Dohrn graduated from Whitefish Bay High School where she was a cheerleader, treasurer of the Modern Dance Club, a member of the National Honor Society, and editor of the school newspaper.
She attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago, where she graduated with honors with a B.A. in political science in 1963. Dohrn received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1967. While attending law school, Dohrn began working in support of civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. and became the first law student organizer for the National Lawyers Guild.
On the night of October 1, 1968, Dohrn spoke at a meeting in Chicago to condemn Chicago's Mayor Daley's orders to attack protesters during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Then, from October 11 to 13, she and SDS held a national meeting at the University of Colorado Boulder wherein Dohrn was a speaker addressing concerns about where the movement was headed and what involvement they could expect as governmental tensions mounted and the student movement splintered into factions. On October 11, 1968, Dohrn suggested she would expand the movement to non-students and do all that was necessary to complete the job of "attack, expose, destroy." Dohrn continued to give speeches on behalf of SDS and Weather Underground and attend leadership conferences for both organizations. On January 29 and 30, 1969, in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, the University of Washington held a Cuba teach-in where Dohrn was a speaker on campus. A month later at a press conference at the regional headquarters of SDS in Chicago, Dohrn spoke of the plans that were under way to "attack" college graduation ceremonies across the country, saying, "Our presence will be known at the graduation ceremonies where the big people will come as speakers." By that time, Dohrn was known as a National Interim Committee member of the SDS and a member of the Weatherman group.
Dohrn became one of the leaders of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM), a radical wing of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), in the late 1960s. Dohrn with ten other SDS members associated with the RYM issued, on June 18, 1969, a sixteen-thousand-word manifesto entitled "You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows", in New Left Notes. The title came from Bob Dylan's song, "Subterranean Homesick Blues." The manifesto stated that "the goal [of revolution] is the destruction of US imperialism and the achievement of a classless world: world communism."
The ninth annual national SDS conference was held at the Chicago Coliseum on June 18–22, 1969, and the SDS collapsed in a Revolutionary Youth Movement-led upheaval. Soon after the Revolutionary Youth Movement became known as the Weathermen. Dohrn led the Weatherman faction in the SDS fight and continued to be a leader afterward. Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who was with the Weathermen from autumn 1969 through spring 1970, considered her one of the two top leaders of the organization, along with Bill Ayers. On May 26, 1968, as a speaker for the National Lawyers Guild, Dohrn said she was filing a motion in federal court asking for an injunction to halt any disciplinary action that was being taken against student activists and represented students from Columbia University who were striking and protesting. On June 14, 1968, Dohrn was elected the Inter-organizational Secretary of SDS, and, once elected, was asked if she was a socialist. She replied, "I consider myself a revolutionary communist." From August 30 to September 1, 1968, Dohrn visited Yugoslavia. Her involvement with SDS and political advocacy stretch beyond the United States as well, as she and other SDS leaders had met with representatives from North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam in Budapest, Hungary to discuss peace talks. She and a delegation from the SDS also traveled to Cuba via Mexico City, Mexico on July 4, 1969, and later arrived in Canada via a Cuban vessel on August 16, 1969.
On August 22, 1969, Dohrn was arrested in Chicago and charged with possession of drugs. The defense argued that Chicago Police had conducted an illegal search of the car in which she was a passenger, which led Judge Kenneth R. Wendt of the Narcotics Court of Chicago to dismiss the charges. On September 20, 1969, at an anti-Vietnam War rally at the Davis Cup tennis tournament in Cleveland, police arrested Dohrn and twenty other persons on charges of disorderly conduct. On September 26, 1969, Dohrn was arrested again in Chicago during a rally in support of the eight men accused of conspiracy concerning protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, who were on trial for riot conspiracy charges. Dohrn was next arrested on October 9, 1969, by the Chicago police during a rally for the women's faction of the Weathermen group and was later released on a one thousand dollar bond. On October 31, 1969, a grand jury indicted 22 people, including Dohrn, for their involvement with the trial of the Chicago Eight, and she was again indicted on April 2, 1970, when a Federal Grand Jury indicted twelve members of the Weatherman group on conspiracy charges in violation of anti-riot acts during the "Days of Rage." However, all of these convictions were reversed on November 21, 1972, by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on the basis the judge was biased in his refusal to permit defense attorneys to screen prospective jurors for cultural and racial bias.
Dohrn was a principal signatory on the Weather Underground's "Declaration of a State of War" in May 1970 that formally declared "war" on the U.S. Government, and completed the group's transformation from political advocacy to violent action. She recorded the declaration and sent a transcript of a tape recording to The New York Times. Dohrn also co-wrote (with Bill Ayers) and published the subversive manifesto Prairie Fire in 1974 and participated in the covertly filmed Underground in 1976. In late 1975, the Weather Underground put out an issue of a magazine, Osawatamie, which carried an article by Dohrn entitled "Our Class Struggle"; the article was described as a speech given to the organization's cadres on September 2 of that year. In the article, Dohrn clearly stated support for communist ideology:
Due to the increasing volatility of the Weather Underground led by Dorhn, on October 14, 1970, Dohrn was added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. She was removed in December 1973, after District Court Judge Damon Keith dismissed the case against the Weathermen. That dismissal was followed shortly by another, when, on January 3, 1974, Judge Julius Hoffman dismissed a 4-year-old case against twelve members of the Weatherman faction of the Students for a Democratic Society, including Dohrn. She had been charged with leading the riotous "Days of Rage".
The couple turned themselves in to authorities in 1980. While some charges relating to their activities with the Weathermen were dropped due to prosecutorial misconduct (see COINTELPRO), Dohrn pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of aggravated battery and bail jumping for which she was put on probation. After refusing to testify against ex-Weatherman Susan Rosenberg in an armed robbery case, Dohrn was held in contempt of a grand jury and served seven months in prison. Shortly after turning themselves in, Dohrn and Ayers became legal guardians of Chesa Boudin, the son of former members of the Weather Underground Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, after the couple were convicted of murder for their roles in a 1981 armored car robbery.
From 1984 to 1988, Dohrn was employed by the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin, where she was hired by Howard Trienens, the head of the firm, who knew Thomas G. Ayers, Dohrn's father-in-law. "We often hire friends," Trienens told a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. However, Dohrn had not been admitted to the New York or Illinois bar even though she had passed both bar exams; she did not submit an application to the New York Supreme Court's Committee on Character and Fitness, and she was turned down by the Illinois ethics committee because of her criminal record. Trienens said of the Illinois rejection, "Dohrn didn't get a [law] license because she's stubborn. She wouldn't say she's sorry."
In 1991, Dohrn was hired by Northwestern University School of Law as an adjunct professor. Her title was "Clinical Associate Professor of Law". She was one of the founders of the Children and Family Justice Center in the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern Law. Because Dohrn was hired as an adjunct (a temporary assignment), her appointment did not require faculty approval. When law school officials were asked whether or not the dean or the board of trustees approved the hiring, the school responded as follows: "While many would take issue with views Ms. Dohrn espoused during the 1960s, her career at the law school is an example of a person's ability to make a difference in the legal system." She retired from Northwestern Law in 2013.
In 1994, Dohrn said, "I still see myself as a radical."
In 2008, Dohrn and Ayers resurfaced into news headlines as presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin publicly denounced the ties between Ayers and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Bernardine married Bill Ayers, a co-founder of the Weather Underground.
Currently, Bernardine Dohrn is 80 years, 10 months and 15 days old. Bernardine Dohrn will celebrate 81st birthday on a Thursday 12th of January 2023. Below we countdown to Bernardine Dohrn upcoming birthday.