Clio Logo
On October 15, 1969, the Vietnam Moratorium Committee organized one of the largest anti-war protests with 500,000 participants in Washington DC and numerous other protests in other cities. The Vietnam Moratorium parade in Austin had 12,000 participants according to the estimate of the Daily Texan, making it the largest in the state. Travis Burgeston, a 23-year old graduate student, organized the event with the help of a few others.

  • The November 1969 protest was followed by even larger demonstrations such as this May 8, 1970 protest. Image from The Rag, a leftist newspaper based in Austin

On Wednesday Nov 15, 1969, the classrooms were empty, but the streets were full. At noon, 4,500 students gathered at the West Mall to listen to speakers such as Dr. David Edwards, a government professor, who warned the crowd that “unthinking support of one’s country’s policies whether right or wrong is not patriotic.”[4] At 3:00 more students joined the other protesters and marched from the campus to the Capitol chanting “No more war, no more war,” but then switching over to softly singing the ballad: “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”[5]

The peaceful protest attracted a broad demographic. One student, Paul Spann, summarized the situation nicely: “Up to now, it seems like any attempt at a mass political movement has been associated with the radical fringes, and one of the reasons people have been afraid to take part is out of fear that they’ll be dominated by radicals… But for this Moratorium Day we have brought in all elements, including the radicals, and all of us are working together.” The march included sorority and fraternity members as well as student-athletes, professors, new mothers, working men, members of various clubs, and people of all races. Also in attendance were students who opposed the march, notably the UT chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom that was holding its own counter-demonstration near campus.  

[1] Doyle, Ruth. “Moratorium Day Activity Encompasses UT, Capitol.” The Daily Texan, October 16, 1969.

[2] “Austin in ’69 A News Review.” Austin American Statesman. December 28, 1969. AF Austin History 1960’s-1970’s A8500 (7), Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 7870.

[3] Morton, John. “I Don’t Care What Your Bag is on the War.” The National Observer, October 20, 1969.

[4] Doyle, Ruth “Moratorium Day Activity Encompasses UT, Capitol.” The Daily Texan, October 16, 1969.

[5] Doyle, Ruth “Moratorium Day Activity Encompasses UT, Capitol.” The Daily Texan, October 16, 1969.

[6] Armstrong, Katie. “Vietnam War Protests Galvanize University.” The Daily Texan, May 2006.

[7] “UT-YAF Reveals Riot-Control Plans.” The Austin American Statesman. October 4, 1969.