May 1970 Student Antiwar Strikes

by Amanda Miller

The May 1970 antiwar strikes became one of the largest coordinated sequences of disruptive protests in American history, with walkouts spreading across more than 880 campuses involving hundreds of thousands of students. On April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced that American forces had invaded Cambodia in an effort to disrupt North Vietnamese supply lines. This secret widening of the Vietnam conflict drew immediate condemnation around the the world and fierce protests from antiwar activists in the United States, especially on college campuses. Five days days later, Ohio National Guard troops fired into a crowd protesting at Kent State University, killing four, wounding nine. Calls for a nationwide student strike now escalated and in the days that followed students at hundreds of campuses boycotted classes, demanding the suspension of normal activities. Mass protests, marches, building takeovers, attacks on ROTC facilties, clashes with police were reported at many. Authorities suspended classes on 97 campuses and 20 remained closed for the remainder of school year. Most of the protests occurred at universities and four-year colleges, but walkouts were also called at 135 high schools and many two-year colleges. [continue introduction]

Here we map and list 883 campuses where protest activities were reported. This is a partial list of actions, derived mostly from reports compiled by the National Strike Information Center, a student group at Brandeis University. Research and data development by Amanda Miller. The maps are hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page. Here are other New Left and Antiwar Movement maps .

Move between six maps and databases by selecting tabs below

In Progress: We continue to seek additional data and are eager to correct errors. Please Help. If you know something about the actions and outcomes on particular campuses or location, please share it here.

Sources: National Strike Information Center newsletters from Kent State University Digital Archives and the Robert D. Farber University Archives and Special Collections Library, Brandeis University. Additional entries from On Strike ... Shut It Down! A Report on the First National Student Strike in U.S. History, May, 1970 (Chicago: Urban Research Corporation, 1970); New York Tmes, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Atlanta Constitution digital copies from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Research and data compilation: Amanda Miller.

Maps: James Gregory


The May 1970 Student Strikes

by Amanda Miller

In a televised address on April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced that US military units had entered Cambodia in an effort to disrupt North Vietnamese supply lines. For many Americans, the announcement felt like a betrayal. Nixon had campaigned on the promise to end the Vietnam War and had recently begun the process of “Vietnamization,” the slow withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam and their replacement with South Vietnamese forces. Though Nixon insisted that this was not an invasion of Cambodia, to many it signaled that the war in Southeast Asia was not ending; it was expanding. The next day, outraged students began to protest the Cambodia incursion on college campuses across the United States and, at a meeting of student activists in New Haven, the idea for a national student strike was born. Student protests were further galvanized when National Guardsmen opened fire on protesting students at Kent State University on May 4, injuring nine and killing four. The nationwide strike that ensued was, in many ways, the peak of the student antiwar movement.


Additional Vietnam-era antiwar movement maps and charts


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SDS Chapters 1962-1969

The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was one the most influential radical organizations of the 1960s and remains closely associated with the term "New Left." Founded in 1960, the organization took on a new mission after the Johnson administration escalated the war in Vietnam, launching a campaign of antiwar actions. Here we map the expansion of SDS chapters from 11 in 1962 to more than 300 by early 1969


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Draft Resistance 1965-1973

Millions of young men found ways to avoid conscription during the Vietnam war. Others, women as well as men, committed themselves to openly resisting the draft. They burned or surrendered draft cards, refused induction, and staged disruptive protests at draft boards and induction centers, employing in some cases tactics of peaceful civil disobedience, in other cases damaging property and battling with police. Here we map draft resistance actions that received publicity in major newspapers in the years between 1965 and 1972.


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Underground GI newspapers (antimilitarist) 1965-1975

Based on data assembled by James Lewes, these maps and charts locate 768 periodicals associated with the GI antimilitarist movement in the era of Vietnam war. By 1970, antiwar periodicals for GIs were available near most military bases in the US and at bases in Europe and Asia, especially in West Germany and Japan.


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Maps of underground and alternative newspapers 1965-1975

Here are five maps and charts showing the year-by year geography of the underground media system, locating the comings and goings of more than 2,600 weeklies and monthies. Filter by state and by categories, including African American, Chicana/o, GI antimilitarist, countercultural, radical left, and other descriptives.