Dory Mccowan

Written by Dory Mccowan

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Bill Ayers is a name that has sparked controversy and intrigue in the public discourse. Known for his involvement in the radical political and activist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, Ayers has remained a polarizing figure throughout his life. From his association with the Weather Underground organization to his academic career as an education professor, Ayers has certainly left a mark on American history. In this article, we will delve into the life of Bill Ayers and explore 17 intriguing facts that shed light on his personality, actions, and impact on society. Whether you view him as a revolutionary or a domestic terrorist, there is no denying that Ayers has played a significant role in shaping our understanding of activism and political dissent.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bill Ayers, born in 1944, co-founded the Weather Underground and later became a professor. He’s known for his activism and controversial past, but his impact on education and social justice is undeniable.
  • Despite controversy, Bill Ayers is a passionate advocate for social justice and education reform. From his radical past to his career as an educator, his influence on activism and academia is significant.
Table of Contents

Bill Ayers was born on December 26, 1944.

As a prominent figure in American education and radical activism, Bill Ayers was born on December 26, 1944, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA.

Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground.

Bill Ayers played a significant role as one of the co-founders of the militant group known as the Weather Underground, which was active during the late 1960s and 1970s.

He became involved in activism during the Vietnam War.

Driven by his opposition to the Vietnam War, Bill Ayers became actively involved in protests and demonstrations, advocating for peace and social justice.

Ayers was once on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

During his time with the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers became a fugitive and was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, evading arrest for several years.

He later became an educator.

After surrendering to authorities and facing legal consequences, Bill Ayers pursued a career in education and became a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ayers wrote numerous books on education.

Known for his progressive views on education, Bill Ayers authored several books, including “Teaching Toward Freedom” and “To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher.”

He is a strong advocate for social justice.

Throughout his career, Bill Ayers has been a vocal advocate for social justice, pushing for equality and reform in various spheres of society.

Ayers has faced criticism for his radical past.

Due to his involvement with the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers has faced criticism and controversy throughout his life, with some labeling him as a domestic terrorist.

He has been involved in community organizing.

In addition to his role in academia, Bill Ayers has been actively engaged in community organizing efforts, working to empower marginalized communities and effect positive change.

Ayers has collaborated with other prominent activists.

Bill Ayers has collaborated with various influential activists and scholars over the years, including his partnership with former First Lady Michelle Obama on education initiatives in Chicago.

He has been an outspoken critic of standardized testing.

As an advocate for educational reform, Bill Ayers has voiced his concerns about the limitations and drawbacks of standardized testing, calling for a more holistic approach to education.

Ayers has a passion for early childhood education.

Recognizing the crucial role of early childhood education, Bill Ayers has been dedicated to promoting effective learning opportunities for young children.

He has been involved in educational research.

Bill Ayers has contributed to educational research, focusing on topics such as school reform, teacher education, and the impact of poverty on education.

Ayers has been a controversial figure in the 2008 presidential election.

During the 2008 presidential election, Bill Ayers’ association with Barack Obama, then a senatorial candidate, sparked controversy and became a subject of political debate.

He retired from teaching in 2010.

After a long and influential career in education, Bill Ayers retired from teaching in 2010, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and advocacy.

Ayers continues to speak at public events.

Despite his retirement, Bill Ayers remains an active public speaker, sharing his insights and perspectives on education, activism, and social issues.

He is married to fellow activist Bernardine Dohrn.

Bill Ayers is married to Bernardine Dohrn, another former member of the Weather Underground and a respected figure in the field of law and social activism.

These are just a few of the intriguing facts about Bill Ayers, a controversial yet influential figure in American education and activism. Whether you perceive him as a radical or a visionary, his impact on the discourse surrounding education and social justice cannot be denied.


In conclusion, Bill Ayers is a celebrity who has made significant contributions in various fields. From his involvement in education reform to his role as a political activist, Ayers has left an indelible mark on society. His intriguing life and controversial past continue to spark interest and debate among the public. Whether you agree or disagree with his views, one thing is for certain – Bill Ayers is a fascinating figure who has made a lasting impact on American history.


Q: Who is Bill Ayers?

A: Bill Ayers is a former professor of education, author, and political activist. He gained notoriety for his involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement and co-founding the Weather Underground, a radical left-wing organization.

Q: What is Bill Ayers known for?

A: Bill Ayers is known for his activism and involvement in education reform. He has written extensively on educational theory and was one of the architects of the Small Schools Movement, which aimed to create more personalized and community-oriented educational institutions.

Q: Is Bill Ayers still active in politics?

A: While Bill Ayers is no longer actively involved in politics, he continues to have an impact through his writing and public speaking engagements. He remains a prominent figure in progressive circles and is often sought after for his insights on education and social justice.

Q: How has Bill Ayers’ past influenced public opinion of him?

A: Bill Ayers’ involvement in the Weather Underground and his radical activism during the 1960s and 1970s have shaped public opinion of him. Some view him as a hero and advocate for social change, while others see him as a domestic terrorist and radical activist.

Q: What is the Weather Underground?

A: The Weather Underground was a radical left-wing organization that emerged during the Vietnam War era. They conducted a series of bombings targeting government buildings as a form of protest against the war. Bill Ayers was one of the founding members of the organization.

Q: What are some of Bill Ayers’ accomplishments?

A: Apart from his activism and involvement in education reform, Bill Ayers has authored numerous books on education, including “To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher” and “A Kind and Just Parent.” He has also received recognition for his work in promoting social justice and educational equity.

Q: Does Bill Ayers regret his past actions?

A: Bill Ayers has never explicitly expressed regret for his past actions with the Weather Underground. However, he has spoken about the need for nonviolent means of political activism.

Q: How can I learn more about Bill Ayers?

A: To learn more about Bill Ayers, you can read his books, watch interviews and documentaries featuring him, or explore articles and resources related to his life and work. It is important to gather information from various sources to form a comprehensive understanding of his contributions and controversies.

Bill Ayers' captivating story sparks curiosity about other influential figures and movements. Philanthropist Eli Broad's impact on education reform is equally intriguing. Social activism in Trenton, New Jersey has its own unique history worth exploring. For those interested in Ayers' academic career, facts about the University of Illinois at Chicago may provide additional context. Each of these topics offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of education, activism, and the individuals who shape them.

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