Nov 2, 2015

1960s Protest in the Bay Area (Part 1)

Union Square, San Francisco, April 15, 1967

All photos by Clay Geerdes

Protest, in varied forms, was rife throughout the Bay Area during the 1960s. Local colleges and universities served as hotbeds of unrest, with students frequently gathering together in the streets to express their collective views, particularly in regard to the war that the United States was waging in Vietnam. Young men, subject to being drafted into the war from the age of eighteen to the age of twenty-six, were especially prone to taking a stand of defiance against a conflict that was considered by them, and by many others, to be both immoral and unnecessary.

As the war continued and grew bloodier, and as the number of people being killed on each side increased from month to month, the voices of protest in the Bay Area became louder and more adamant. By the end of the 1960s, unrestrained expressions of opposition to the war in Vietnam, along with open approval of any young man who refused to fight, were commonly heard among those who had yet to reach the age of thirty.

Clay Geerdes photographed many of the demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, and the results can be seen here.

March 4, 5, 6, 1969:

October 15, 1969:

November 15, 1969:

On Veterans Day, November 11, 1969, a handful of veterans in San Francisco offered a small display of support in favor of the American forces in Vietnam, but it clearly was out of step with prevailing opinion in the Bay Area. The mood of the general public, not merely students but also businessmen and housewives, was shifting against the war, and would continue to do so until the war ended in 1975.

Nowadays, it seems that vocal opposition to war has, unfortunately, become a rare thing in America. Perhaps the young people of the 21st century (and the older people, too) need to take a lesson from the protesters of the 1960s.

Next: 1960s Protest in the Bay Area (Part 2) 

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