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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois in the Cold War Era 1945-1975: Vietnam War

Vietnam War

A protest turns violent in front of IMPE, May 9, 1970 (Photographic Subject File)

As the Vietnam War escalated so did the anti-war movement.  The anti-war movement borrowed tactics from the Civil Rights Movement to express dissent.  Although protests in the 1960s were not popular among most American citizens and many protestors were derided as seditious and unpatriotic, by 1972 the Vietnam War was highly unpopular and speaking out against the war became widespread, albeit still contentious. At the University of Illinois early protests were led by groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society and the Du Bois Club.

As the war intensified more students and professors joined the movement and mass rallies and demonstrations were held on campus.  Activists also protested against corporations that manufactured war material and reaped massive profits.  In the 1970s protests became more belligerent, especially after the invasion of Cambodia and the shootings of four students at Kent State University.


Michael S. Foley, Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance During the Vietnam War (Chapel Hill: 2003).

William A. Gordon, The Fourth of May: Killings and Coverups at Kent State (Buffalo: 1990).

Kenneth J. Heineman, Campus Wars: the Peace Movement at American State Universities in the Vietnam Era (New York: 1993).

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, Peace Now!: American Society and the Ending of the Vietnam War (New Haven, 1999).

Patrick D. Kennedy, “Reactions Against the Vietnam War and Military-Related Targets on Campus: The University of Illinois as a Case Study, 1965-72,” Illinois Historical Journal 84:2 (1991): 101-118.

James Miller, “Democracy is in the Streets”: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago (New York: 1987).

Michael Parenti, “Repression in Academia: A Report From the Field,” Politics and Society 1:4 (1971), 527-538.

Joel P. Rhodes, The Voice of Violence: Performative Violence as Protest in the Vietnam Era (Westport, CT: 2001).

Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan, Who Spoke Up?: American Protest Against the War in Vietnam, 1963-1975 (Garden City, N.Y.: 1984).