He graduated from New York's rigorous Horace Mann School at 16 with varsity letters in wrestling and football while also editing the school newspaper. The Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina became the next stop. University President Frank Graham remembers Lowenstein's reorganization of the student government which allowed Negroes like Flody McKissick, for the first time, to be elected to the student council; it made the young New York boy's name one of the best known on campus.
The campus politician was asked by Graham, who had just been appointed to fill a vacancy as U.S. Senator from North Carolina, to be his legislative assistant after his graduation in 1949 at the age of 20. Lowenstein remembers coming into contact with another freshman Democratic Senator during the fall of 1949, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The Senate office behind, Lowenstein was elected president of the National Student Association (NSA) during the summer of 1951. Ivanhoe Donelson, a former SNCC leader, and others in the New Lelt relate his NSA presidency with his involvement as an observer of the Dominican Republic elections of 1965. The unexpected election of conservative Balaguer aroused Leftist cries of a fixed election. The observers, led by Norman Thomas, reported that the elections were reasonably fair. As a consequence Lowenstein is still accused of being a CIA agent. As far as can be determined Lowenstein wasn't offered money from the CIA, nor was any offered the NSA while he was preisdent. Former NSA officials as well as CIA officials insist that the CIA financing of the NSA began after Lowenstein's one year term. Lowenstein denies any connection with the CIA.
Lowenstein next went to the Ivy League. He spent three years as a middle-of-the-class student at Yale Law School while wrestling throughout Connecticut and politicking across the country for the first time.
One afternoon during Lowenstein's first year at Law School, Adlai Stevenson telephoned him and asked him to come to a campaign pow-wow in Springfield, Illinois. There he was named chairman of the National Students for Stevenson.
After he plugged through Yale Law and a two year stint in the Army "digging latrines," Mrs. Roosevelt asked Lowenstein to run a national education campaign for the United Nations Association. He campaigned for the UN group for a year and then left to become Senator Hubert Humphrey's foreign policy advisor. He met Senator Eugene J. McCarthy, Humphrey's newly elected junior colleague, during the spring of 1959.
To the Bush
At the time Lowenstein was helping Humphrey in Washington, the Rev. Michael Stewart, a British missionary, was attempting to gather evidence of the South African government's brutality in governing its UN trust territory, Southwest Africa. When Stewart was barred from the South African mandate, he asked Lowenstein to continue his work.
With two friends Lowenstein entered the Southwest African bush country for a "biological expedition," as they described it to suspicious officials. After weeks of watching and waiting, the three reached several chiefs who were willing to talk about government atrocities. They were chased through the back country and just managed to leave the country before the police caught up with them.
The evidence Lowenstein gathered he later presented before a committee of the UN General Assembly. One top UN official called the 3 a.m. address before the committee the finest he had ever heard in his long stay at the UN. The testimony he presented became the basis for the World Court case against South Africa for its violation of the Southwest African mandate.
At the time of his return a "Lowenstein for Congress" movement blossomed, but he soon withdrew from the race and went to work for one of his opponents. He spent the rest of the presidential year, 1960, working for the Democratic National Committee.
In 1961 Lowenstein was asked to go to Stanford as an assistant dean of men and as an instructor in political science. In one year he succeeded in shaking up the previously non-activist campus to such an extent that Lowenstein and the dean of students left, rather than force a confrontation between students and the Administration. Had they remained, the office of the dean of students would have sided with the student activists.
One Stanford student recalled Lowenstein's apartment perpetually filled with students. "Many met each other," he said, "who would quite likely have never come into contact over the obstacles of Stanford's social life. Stanford is still facing the effects of those meetings."
After Stanford, Lowenstein went to North Carolina State in Raleigh where his activism and involvement with students in the racially tense years between 1962 and 1964 brought calls from the President of the State Senate, among others, for Lowenstein's ouster.
Lowenstein, while a professor in 1963 at North Carolina State, was one of the prime movers behind a black Mississippi "mock election" which gave birth to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). The election also served as a pilot project for a student movement which was later called the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The publicity which a group of about 50 college volunteers mainly from Yale and Stanford received in their hometown newspapers for their participation in the "mock election" prompted Lowenstein and one or two others to organize the "Freedom Summer" project which sent 600 campus volunteers to Mississippi. Lowenstein and his friends set up the project and raised most of the money.