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Are campus protests effective? A look back in history

Campus protests have played a significant role in college life and world events for the past six decades. Here’s a look at some of the most significant ones.

It seems like nearly every college in the US has had some sort of protest against the war in Gaza. But student protests on political issues are nothing new.

In fact demonstrations on college campuses date back 60 years to the civil right movement and the Vietnam war. 

One of the first sit-in protests against desegregation happened in 1960, when four Black college students in North Carolina sat at a lunch counter reserved for whites and refused to leave. 

Four years later students at University of California Berkeley protested for free speech and the right to engage in political activities on campus. 

Those demonstrations grew to large-scale rallies and forced the university to overturn policies restricting speech and advocacy. 

Then protests against the Vietnam war became a dominant part of the college experience –and had an important impact on US politics. 

Experts say they helped Nixon get elected and later pressured him to withdraw troops from Vietnam .

The most famous of these protests took place in 1970 at Kent State University in Ohio  - when the National Guard fired into a crowd of anti-war protestors, killing four unarmed students. 

Days later police opened fire on a student protest in the predominantly black Jackson State College in Mississippi, killing two students. 

These events triggered nationwide student strikes at over 900 schools, forcing hundreds of colleges to close. 

In the 1980’s, campus protests against South African apartheid spread across the US. The protesters called for their universities to divest from companies that did business with South Africa. 

Eventually over 150 schools pulled money from those companies. 

That’s exactly what many pro-Palestinian protesters are doing  - calling for their universities to divest from Israeli companies. 

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