Protests took place at a third of the nation’s colleges and universities in May 1970 after the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Vietnam War protesters at Kent State University, killing four and wounding nine. In response, students at more than 400 colleges went on strike, and by the end of the month, 4 million of the nation’s more than 7 million college students had participated in a demonstration.
Most protests were peaceful, but Southern Illinois University in Carbondale was among the 5 percent of campuses where protests turned violent. The community experienced seven days of civil disorder between May 6 and May 12. This is the story of that time, and the background for it, as told from the perspective of student journalists who reported the events for the Daily Egyptian, the SIU newspaper.
Former student journalists were interviewed between 2002 and 2004 by the author while conducting graduate studies at SIU. Newspaper accounts, university archival materials and FBI documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act were used to provide a historical context for their recollections.
Except where indicated, all images on this site were taken by photographers for the Daily Egyptian and may not be used or reproduced in any form without their consent or without the consent of the Daily Egyptian.
Rod Spaw is a retired journalist living in Indiana. He spent more than 40 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor. This work was created during 2019 and 2020.