Student Protest


The Swinging Sixties & Protest Singers

  • Younger generation separated further from the older generation and many of their views
  • They demanded greater freedom to do as they pleased, be it music, clothes or social lives
  • The explosion in pop music in the 1960s led to people using their platform to express youth culture and protest about serious issues
  • Bob Dylan's lyrics covered fields of nuclear war, racism & war
  • Jimi Hendrix used music to talk about sex, drugs and the Vietnam War
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Universities & The Student for a Democratic Societ

  • Students wanted a say in the universities at which they studied
  • They wanted an end to most imposing college rules and restriction
  • Students across the world were protesting:
    • Northern Irish protests for Catholic civil rights
    • 1968 strikes and demonstrations in Paris
  • SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) was one of its first to emerge in 1959 by Tom Haden
  • 100000 members by the end of the 1960s
  • Aimed to let students have a say in the runnings of universities
  • Achieved national prominence in 1964 - helped organise a free speech movement in University of California in Berkeley
  • Up to 13750 students took part from 1964-65
  • Played a key role in protest movement again the Vietnam War, including organising draft card burnings
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MLK's Influence and Civil Rights Involvement

  • Protests were first experienced in the civil rights movement for most students
  • MLK' s methods were an inspiration
  • White students supported the freedom marches, freedom rides and sit-ins
  • A disproportionate number of black students were called up to fight in Vietnam - MLK and other influential black figures spoke out against this
  • 1964: students organised rallies and marches to support for civil rights
  • Many were appalled at the racism in their own societies and were determined to expose racists in their own colleges with their demands for free speech
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The Vietnam War & Anti-War Protests

  • Many students (and people in general) were opposed to the Vietnam War as its casualty count increased
  • Casualty count 1965-68: 2000 to 14000 casualty increase
  • Students questioned the USA's right to be in Vietnam and challenged the draft conscription system
  • The USA was supporting a "corrupt regime" and methods of warfare such as napalm, and massacres of innocent people such as the My Lai in 1968, brought even further opposition
  • Anti-war protests reached their peak from 1968-70. Over 100 protests against the war in the first half of 1968 with 400000 protesters
  • 1969: 700000 marched in Washington DC
  • Serious clashes took place with police, such as burning draft cards
  • 4 May 1970: Kent State University students refused to move in a draft card protest - they were shot by National Guardsmen and 4 were killed; 11 were injured
  • US Press and abroad were horrified - 400 colleges closed as 2 million students went on strike against this.
  • President Nixon showed little sympathy
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Importance of the Student Movement

  • Changes in youth culture proved to be the longest-lasting achievement of student protest
  • This generation became much more fashion-conscious & sexually permissive than their older generation
  • Influenced the withdrawal of America from Vietnam and Johnson's unwillingness to seek re-election
  • Their movement exposed the reality of existing racism in America
  • Strengthened the fact that this generation would not tolerate discrimination & segregation
  • Many of the students were middle-class and supposed to support the government - they went against the government's and their families' conservative views, shocking the older generation.
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