Luther College Moment in History #98

The Anti-War Movement, combined with Civil Rights concerns, at Luther as elsewhere, encouraged an activist response from students, a revolutionary urge to turn the world on its head. One recalls the distrust of institutions, of the older generations generally— the “don’t trust anyone over 30” stance. It was a difficult period, for it led to a decline in self-confidence— self-doubt— on the part of those older generations. Aggressive critique, repeated regularly over time, is difficult to shuck off. There were anti-war marches, demonstrations on campus, and a lot of discussion. Many faculty members agreed with the students politically and joined their marches and demonstrations. These phenomena of the 1960s lasted well into the 1970s at Luther.

Another major episode of collective action occurred on April 5, 1973. A group of students occupied Main Building for an entire day, preventing business as usual. The reasons given were vague. Some members of the group reported that they didn’t all share the same complaints, but that there was a wide variety of issues with administrative policies. There was no direct connection with either the Civil Rights Movement or the Anti-War Movement, except that they provided the context for such direct political action. One could argue that it was difficult to sustain the fervor of protest by 1973, since the students abandoned the occupation of Main in time to attend a scheduled Duke Ellington concert in the Field House that evening.

This image from the 1970 Pioneer shows a day of protest in 1970 where students at Luther and on campuses across the country placed fields of crosses on campus in protest of the Vietnam War.