The anti-war movement gained momentum in 1970 after four unarmed college students were killed by the National Guard in a protest at Kent State University in Ohio. Students were protesting America’s invasion of Cambodia and President Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam War. These events galvanized students at college campuses across the country to go on strike. Students and faculty at Southeastern Massachusetts University, now UMass Dartmouth, were galvanized as well; 1,500 gathered on campus on Wednesday, May 6, 1970 to protest the war. At the time, total enrollment was only 3,000, so this was almost half of the student body. They followed this up with 500 participants marching down Route 6 to New Bedford City Hall, where they deposited one of four cardboard coffins that had been carried the entire route. At the end of the on-campus rally, Torch editor Bob Harp, read a national editorial calling for a nationwide university strike. Days later, on May 9, SMU students participated in a rally and march on Washington, D.C. SMU’s involvement was organized by the SMU Peace Action Committee and Regional Strike Committee.
Issues of the student newspaper, the Torch, are preserved in the Archives and Special Collections, along with flyers that were distributed on campus. For more information on the campus in the 1960s and the 1970s, contact the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Judy Farrar, Head, Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth