In light of the Million Women March on January 21st and the many other protests happening before, after and during the inauguration of President Trump, I wondered if UMass Dartmouth students had historically been involved in protests in Washington, DC. Searching the UMass Dartmouth Publications index to the Torch Archives, I came up with a long list of possible protests to look into. A notable one, because it took place at an inauguration, was the 1969 protest at the first inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon. January 1969 was preceded by one of the most turbulent years in U.S. history with the deaths of Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King. The U.S. was still heavily involved in the Vietnam War and public opinion against it reached a boiling point in 1968. The Tet Offensive in February of 1968 turned public opinion rapidly into opposition to the war in reaction to high daily casualty reports among the American troops. And finally, in a contentious election that year, Nixon won by an electoral landslide, while only receiving 43 percent of the popular vote.
January 20, 1969. On the grounds of the Washington Monument, protesters held a “counter-inauguration” complete with a counter-inaugural ball under a tent, at which Judy Collins performed, and a reverse inaugural parade. 6,000 protesters participated, including some SMTI (UMD) students. The number seems small compared to today, but keep in mind only 65,000 attended the inauguration to begin with, made clear by the photo in this Torch article by editor Al Caron. At that time, UMass Dartmouth was known as SMTI (Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute). SMTI students were simultaneously in an uproar over the firing of professor Krueger, one of many acts which led to the resignation of SMTI president Joseph Driscoll in 1971. Also in February 1969, was the Winter Carnival, which culminated in the crowning of a Winter Carnival Queen, Louise Wojclk. This issue of the Torch is a contrast in subject matter, but it’s clear that civil unrest is on their minds more than anything else. So much so that in the 1969 yearbook, published at the end of the Spring semester, a full-page spread was devoted to “Campus Unrest.”
For access to the Torch index, please follow the link on the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections web page at http://umdserials.lib.umassd.edu/
Form more information on the turbulent year of 1968, see http://www.ushistory.org/us/56f.asp
Our long-range digitization plans include digitizing the entire run of the SMTI, SMU and UMass Dartmouth Torch, as funding permits.