Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties at Indiana University

By Mary Ann Wynkoop | Go to book overview

Epilogue:
The End of an Era
at Indiana University

The Sixties did not end precisely on December 31, 1969. The spirit of that decade lived on into the early 1970s. In one sense, the student antiwar movement ended with the massive demonstrations after the events at Kent State University in May 1970. Many young Americans admitted that they were tired of marching against a war that did not end and that continued to take the lives of their brothers and sisters.

At the same time, during the early 1970s, the campaign to end the war in Vietnam was a victim of its own domestic political success. As historian Terry Anderson concluded, “The call for peace, which a majority considered unpatriotic as late as 1968, now was patriotic…. [T]he idea of Peace Now had become in the national interest. The only question was, When? Across the nation the political center shifted…. The antiwar crusade became obsolete.”1

This political shift at the national level inspired many students and former students to become more involved in local issues. Across the country, antiwar and civil rights activists began to focus their attention on matters closer to home. Paul Soglin, who protested the war as a student at the University of Wisconsin, was elected mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, in 1973. Julian Bond, one of the founders of SNCC, became a member of the state legislature in Georgia. Antiwar protestors who were concerned about the use of defoliants in Vietnam turned their attention to the use of pesticides in America. The environmental movement that began with the first Earth Day in 1970 had its origins in the peace movement of earlier years and it remains one of the most lasting contributions of Sixties activism.

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