1951 September 4

Ohio State Imposes Speaker Ban


Due to objections to “controversial” speakers, the president of Ohio State University on this day banned a speech by a Quaker pacifist scheduled to be delivered on October 18. At the height of the Cold War, “peace” was a controversial issue. The fight over the speaker ban continued into the 1960s. On the last day of its session in 1963, the Ohio legislature passed a law banning all state colleges and universities from scheduling any speaker who was a member of the Communist Party, advocated the violent overthrow of the government, or who had taken the Fifth Amendment about his or her political affiliations.

The most famous incident at Ohio State involving the ban occurred on April 21, 1965, when Marxist historian Herbert Aptheker was prevented from speaking on campus. Aptheker appeared on stage and remained silent while someone read from his work.

The state of North Carolina, meanwhile, passed a ban on “known” Communists from speaking on college campuses in the state on June 25, 1963.

A brief history of the Ohio State speaker ban: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll15/id/1437

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