ON THIS DAY    2 May      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1969: Crackdown on student protests in US

About 200 students calling for educational reforms at Columbia University have given up their sit-in after a supreme court judge issued a warrant for their arrest.

One hundred pacifists have also abandoned their demonstration at Stanford University after they were met with an equal number of police officers.

The moves signal the start of a police crackdown on campus uprisings all over America, including the prestigious institutions of Harvard and Cornell.

"The time has come for an end to patience"

Attorney-General John Mitchell

But many universities remain under siege with both black and white students demanding an end to alleged racial discrimination, on-campus military recruitment and a greater share in college government.

Black students are also demanding a special Afro-American studies programme.

In New York, City College has been barricaded by black and Puerto Rican students for the last week. The grounds of the southern campus are littered with debris and slogans in red paint on the side of buildings read: "Malcolm [X] lives" and "Long Live Che Guevara".

Queens College has also been vandalised by black students protesting against the disciplining of 38 students and a lecturer for an earlier demonstration. It remains closed, as does Bronx Community College.

The Nixon administration and House of Congress is in no mood for compromise. "The time has come for an end to patience," said the Attorney-General John Mitchell.

"I call for an end to minority tyranny - and for an immediate re-establishment of civil peace and protection of individual rights."

The Senate has set up two full-scale investigations into the unrest. Senator John McClellan, head of one of the investigation committees said the riots had been masterminded by the Black Panthers, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Black Students' Union.

In Context
Student demonstrations were the order of the day in late-Sixties America, inspired by uprisings in Paris in 1968, the protests against the war abroad in Vietnam and oppressive policing at home.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led mass protests and sit-ins across the States but increasing factionalism within its ranks and the end of the Vietnam War contributed to its demise in the mid Seventies.

Recent US student movements have protested against apartheid, nuclear weapons, destruction of the environment and cuts in funding for education.

The black student protest movement did persuade some US universities to introduce black history, literature, and humanities courses. In 1969 the philanthropic Ford Foundation donated $1 million to Morgan State, Howard and Yale Universities to prepare faculty members to teach courses in African-American studies.

Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |