When: Spring 1968

Where: Universities in the USA, France and Germany.

In Spring 1968, protests began to erupt at Columbia University in New York in retaliation of the university and institutions’ general support of the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War and continued segregation of university property. These protests were violently dismantled by New York City Police officers. Further protests and vigils occurred following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., at university campuses across the United States demanding an end to racial discrimination, among other issues.

Meanwhile in Paris, seven weeks of protests erupted through demonstrations, strikes and the occupation of universities and factories in opposition to capitalism, American imperialism and was led by students in violent protests against police, especially in Paris’s Latin Quarter. On May 29, De Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly and called for parliamentary elections in June 1968 which stopped the violence.

In West Germany, students organized in rejection of traditionalism and German political authority that still included former Nazi officials and formally began after the attempted assassination of student activist leader Rudi Dutschke.


Further Reading:

Slonecker, Blake. “The Columbia Coalition: African Americans, New Leftists, and Counterculture at the Columbia University Protest of 1968.” Journal of Social History 41, no. 4 (2008): 967-996.

Kutschke, Beate and Barley Norton. Music and Protest in 1968. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.