1970 May 1

Massive Nationwide Student Strike Protests Cambodian Invasion in Vietnam War


Massive student demonstrations erupted across the country after, the night before, President Richard Nixon revealed  that he had expanded the Vietnam War by ordering the invasion of Cambodia, a neutral nation. The demonstrations included strikes by students on numerous college campuses.

The most famous single incident in the protests was the tragedy at Kent State University in Ohio, where four people were shot and killed by Ohio National Guard troops, on May 4, 1970. Nine other people were wounded. The photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller, who had been shot and killed, became one of the iconic images of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

The Vietnam War created a number of civil liberties crises. They include (1) the lack of a Congressional Declaration of War as required by the Constitution (June 3, 1970); (2) threats to freedom of the press in the Pentagon Papers case (June 30, 1971); (3) spying on the anti-war movement by the CIA (August 15, 1967); (4) threats to freedom of expression, for example high school student protests (February 24, 1969); censorship of television programs (February 25, 1968); and directly and indirectly some of the events that led to the Watergate Scandal (May 9, 1969; January 27, 1972).

Listen to Crosby Stills Nash and Young sing “Ohio” about the shootings (with images of the protests and the shootingshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68g76j9VBvM

Watch newsreel footage of the Kent State shootings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyzoNCJvy4c

Read: Philip Caputo, 13 Seconds: A Look Back at the Kent State Shootings (2005)

Learn more at the archive of material on the May 1970 student strike: http://depts.washington.edu/antiwar/photo_strike.php

Read first-hand accounts of 1960s-1970s radicals: Clara Bingham, Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost its Mind and Found its Soul (2016)

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