Old News: Vietnam War Teach-Ins

Maeve Plunkett, staff reporter

In April, South students from STAND for Peace held teach-ins, public information sessions, for all freshman history classes about topics ranging from freedom of speech to the contested genocide in Burma as well as the refugee crisis that overtook Europe this fall. These teach-ins began during the Vietnam War, which was one of the most largely protested events in United States history.

Thanks to the war video footage shown on television, more information about the war was available than ever before. Atrocities were broadcasted across the world, causing Americans to question the validity of the U.S.’s involvement in Vietnam.

In an effort to understand the full scope of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, universities organized teach-ins to educate students and faculty. The largest reported teach-in was at the University of California in Berkeley from May 21 to 23 in 1965.

Teach-ins usually featured speakers from a range of occupations, including authors, professors and government officials. The faculty at Berkeley attempted to get representatives from the State Department to present their views on the war to students but none attended.

Around 20,000 students went to the teach-ins and developed views they would express across the country for the duration of the war. Also at Berkeley, students protested by burning draft cards and launching the Free Speech Movement, motivated by increased world knowledge, whether simply about the war or human rights overall.

Teach-ins offer a non-violent and educational alternative to other forms of activism. They have opened up dialogues around the world and advanced the cause of justice.