Oklahomans and the Vietnam War
Support and Protest at Home
Many students at Oklahoma universities were outraged at the growing numbers of troops being sent to Vietnam, as well as the growing number of bombs being dropped. Following examples from around the country, students began to organize peaceful protests on college campuses around the state. In an effort to try to stop further protests against the war, the FBI wrote a fake letter to newspapers to discredit the antiwar activist group Students for a Democratic Society located at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and Oklahoma State University (OSU). On October 15, 1969, Senator Fred Harris, who was openly against the Vietnam War, spoke to students at the University of Oklahoma.
Shortly after the Kent State University shooting, students expressed their anger through minor violence. On May 4, 1970, protestors damaged OU's ROTC building. Two days later on May 6, 1970, students gathered for a protest where one student was arrested for displaying the Vietcong flag. Local authorities and protestors continued to clash, which led to more arrests. Following these events, thousands of students assembled to protest the arrest and further protest the war. There was even a call to boycott classes!
Other examples of student-led protests include Philips University in Enid, where thirty students refused to eat for three days in opposition to the war. Students at Oklahoma City University held a peace march that traveled from the campus to city hall. At a larger demonstration at Oklahoma State University, ROTC events on campus were disrupted by 600 student protestors.
Although many students gathered to protest the war, a few students created counter-protests to support the war at both OU and OSU. Demonstrations from students on both sides in Oklahoma grew smaller and smaller by 1970.
Student protesting outside of the ROTC armory at OU (OHS Collections).8