1960-1969

Civil rights protest at UW, 1960
Civil rights protest at UW, 1960

February/March 1960

Students protest the refusal of several chain stores in the South to allow African-Americans to sit at lunch counters.

Students picket the Woolworth store on the square, and 500 students demonstrate on Library Mall on March 3.


February 21, 1961

Over 200 students attend a hearing by the Judiciary Committee of the Wisconsin Legislative Council on whether the House Un-American Activities Committee should be retained.


March 26, 1962

Over 300 students hold a demonstration against U.S. nuclear testing. Many onlookers heckle the students.


October 4, 1962

On October 4, 1962, a group of fraternity and sorority members marched in pairs, two by two, to Bascom Hall to protest the University’s decision to expel the Delta Gamma sorority from campus for discriminating.


Bus to Washington
Bus to Washington

August 1963

University students depart for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” from the Memorial Union.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Student Carin Brania comments on civil rights. (1:30)

Dion Diamond and Louis Lomax
Dion Diamond and Louis Lomax

February 1964

5th Annual Student Symposium is held, entitled “Discourses in Dissent.”

Guest speakers included civil rights activist Dion Diamond, journalist Louis Lomax, and Alabama governor George Wallace, among others.

View a short film clip from this event on YouTube:

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Student Carin Brania comments on George Wallace. (2:43)

April 1, 1965

29 faculty members hold a “Teach-In” about the Vietnam conflict at the Social Sciences building, with an estimated 1,500 students participating.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Philosophy Professor Haskell Fain comments on the first teach-in. (2:07)

May 14-16, 1966

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organize a protest against the draft test being administered in the field house on May 14. Two days later, 250 students stage a sit-in at the Peterson Building to protest the University’s cooperation with the draft.

Listen to Oral History Clips below.

Student Henry Haslach comments on the appeal of SDS. (1:54)
Student Henry Haslach comments on the sit in at the Peterson Building. (2:08)

Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy

October 27, 1966

Senator Edward Kennedy appears on campus as part of then Lt. Governor Patrick Lucey‘s gubernatorial campaign. The visit is sponsored by the campus Young Democrats.

When hecklers challenge Kennedy to explain his stance on Vietnam, he challenges student Robin David to “Tell us how you would solve the problem in Vietnam.”

After the speech, a petition of apology to Kennedy collects over 8,000 signatures.


October 1966

Dow Chemical Co. employment interviewing takes place on the engineering campus, sparking protests and police intervention. Dow produced napalm during the Vietnam conflict.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Administrator Emily Chervenik comments on the engineering campus protest. (1:48)

late February 1967

SDS organizes demonstrations against recruiters from the Dow Chemical Co. in Engineering, Chemistry and Commerce Buildings.

Students blockade offices in Bascom Hall. This event came to be known as the first Dow riot.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Administrator Emily Chervenik comments on the first Dow riot. (1:54)

April 1967

Students protest against CIA recruiters at the chancellor’s office.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

Administrator Emily Chervenik comments on the CIA recruitment protests. (1:39)

Vicki Gabriner, Dow protest
Vicki Gabriner, Dow protest

October 18-19, 1967

Chancellor Sewell calls in police who use tear gas to clear protesters against the Dow Chemical Co. from the Commerce Building on October 18.

A general student strike is called and over 3,000 students rally on Bascom Hill the following day. This event came to be known as the second Dow riot.

Listen to Oral History Clips below.

Dean of Students Joseph Kauffman on lack of preparedness for the Dow riots. (1:32)
Dean of Students Joseph Kauffman on the violence of the Dow riots. (2:28)
Dean of Students Joseph Kauffman comments on SDS tactics during the Dow riots. (1:12)
Administrator Emily Chervenik comments on the second Dow riots. (1:16)
Professor of Agricultural Economics C. William Loomer comments on the use of tear gas. (0:29)
Student David Burress comments on the second Dow riots. (1:34)

February 6, 1968

The “Crow Report” [pdf] of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Role of Students in the Government of the University, which was set up to examine student involvement in university governance and recommend any need changes, is released.

Listen to an Oral History Clip below.

History Professor George Mosse comments on the relationship between the riots and the Crow Committee. (2:21)

March 13, 1968

The “Mermin Report” of a very divided Ad Hoc Committee on Mode of Response to Obstruction, Interview Policy, and Related Matters” is released:

Listen to Oral History Clips below.

Professor of Agricultural Economics C. William Loomer on the relationship between the Crow and Mermin Committees. (0:57)
Professor of Agricultural Economics C. William Loomer on the Crow and Mermin Committees recommendations. (4:30)

MLK memorial on Bascom Hill
MLK memorial on Bascom Hill

April 5, 1968

Following a rally on Bascom Hill, a huge crowd marches up State Street as part of a memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated the previous day.


May 19, 1968

South Hall is firebombed; no one claims responsibility.


August 26-29, 1968

Members of SDS protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Listen to Oral History Clips below.

Student Henry Haslach comments on his disillusionment with SDS. (3:53)
Student James Rowen comments on joining SDS at this time. (1:59)

mid-September 1968

Freshmen organize a week of protests against compulsory ROTC orientation.


October 23, 1968

Jesus Salas, representing the Wisconsin Farm Workers Union (Oberos Unidos) speaks in the Great Hall of the Union about workers’ rights and the grape boycott which began in 1965.

The boycott successfully ends in 1969.


Milwaukee 14 flier
Milwaukee 14 flier

October 30, 1968

Members of the Milwaukee 14, a group which destroyed 10,000 1-A draft files from the Milwaukee Selective Service offices, speak on campus.


November 20-22, 1968

Students boycott Union food services in protest of the arrest of an African American non-student in the Union.


Bascom Hill cemetery
Bascom Hill cemetery

December 12, 1968

Students erect a cemetery on Bascom Hill as a memorial to the casualties the class of 1968 suffered in Vietnam.


Black student strike
Black student strike

February-March, 1969

The Black Peoples Alliance organizes a strike to demand recruitment of more minority students and faculty and creation of a black studies department.

On February 12, Wisconsin governor Warren P. Knowles calls out the National Guard to keep campus open, and guardsmen remain on campus until February 21.

On March 3, the faculty accepts the student-faculty Thiede “Report of the Committee on Studies and Instruction in Race Relations [pdf],” leading to the creation of the Department of Afro-American Studies:

Listen to Oral History Clips below.

Administrator Emily Chervenik comments on the position of black students and administrators. (2:02)
Professor of Agricultural Economics C. William Loomer comments on the University Committee meetings during the black students strike. (2:24)
History Professor George Mosse comments on his experiences during the black students strike. (1:34)

May 3, 1969

The Mifflin Street block party turns violent as police move in. Over 80 people are injured and protests continue for several days.


Welfare mothers protest
Welfare mothers protest

early October 1969

Students participate in demonstrations at the Capitol against cuts in the state welfare budget.