Alternative UF: Counterculture Through the Decades exhibition

Demonstrations Against the Vietnam War

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Captions: Top Center, Anti-war protest at UF (date unknown). Right top, Poster advertising anti-war demonstration following Kent State. Right bottom, Fr. Michael Gannon monitors a police line during the 1970 student strike in memory of Kent State.

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By Bronwyn McCarthy and Candice Ellis

Protests against the war in Vietnam and Cambodia took place throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s at UF. On October 15, 1969, in conjunction with national protests held by the Vietnam Moratorium, the University of Florida Student Mobilization Committee (SMC) organized “Gentle Wednesday.” Approximately 1800 UF students and faculty gathered at the Plaza of the Americas to rally against the Vietnam War. The SMC sold red and black armbands with ‘644,000’ on them representing the estimated number of US casualties in the war.

Kent State Protest SignAfter the shooting of college demonstrators at Kent State in May 1970, students at UF called for a suspension of classes in protest. President Stephen O’Connell declared a day of mourning to be held on May 6, 1970, but did not cancel classes. It is estimated that 3000 students went on strike over this decision. The strike ultimately forced President O’Connell to cancel classes and close the university. UF remained closed from May 6 to May 8. In 1972 a demonstration against the war spilled out into the streets as hundreds of people flooded the intersection at University Avenue and N.W. 13th Street.

      Michael Gannon monitors police during the 1970 student strike in memory of Kent State

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