1968: Columbia in Crisis

The Protests > The First Day - April 23, 1968

April 23, 1968 Crowd Sundial Rally

Crowds heading to Low Library from the SAS/SDS Sun Dial Rally, April 23, 1968  

Photo courtesy of Gerald S. Adler, photographer, 1968

Click here for item information

SAS had always operated separately from SDS, but the two organizations came together on the issue of the gymnasium.  Meeting on April 22, SAS president Cicero Wilson and SDS chairman Mark Rudd endorsed the Sun Dial Rally planned for the next day.

At noon on April 23, 300 people gathered at the Sun Dial. Both Wilson and Rudd addressed the large crowd that had assembled on Low Plaza.  The crowd attempted to enter Low Library to present President Kirk with a list of demands, but found the building locked and the steps in front of the building occupied by 200 anti-demonstrators.  The protesters then proceeded to the gym construction site, where they tore down the area’s protective fencing; police at the scene arrested Fred Wilson (CC 1969) in a scuffle.

At Rudd’s urging, the other protestors returned to campus and then made their way into Hamilton Hall, where they were joined by anti-protesters and by students attending classes. During their occupation, protesters restrained acting Dean Henry Coleman from leaving his office.  President Kirk, off campus for the afternoon, proposed calling in the police, but Provost David Truman and Dean Coleman advised against this for fear of a violent confrontation.

Meanwhile, SAS and SDS groups inside Hamilton formed two separate steering committees to consider further action. Several hundred students and three deans spent the night inside the building.  Members of the College faculty called for a meeting of the faculty for the next afternoon.






Circular:  Original calendar of events proposed by SDS for the week of April 22 to April 27, 1968.


"Tired? Tired? Tired?"

Circular: "Tired? Tired? Tired?"

Click here for item information







Students for Free Campus announcing their counter-protest to the SDS sponsored rally at the Sun Dial on Tuesday, April 23, 1968




"Defend the Right to Demonstrate"

Circular: "Defend the Right to Demonstrate"

Click here for item information





This SDS announcement of the April 23 Sun Dial Rally focuses on the fate of the "IDA Six", the right to indoor demonstrations and the right to free speech in response the administration's denouncing of Rudd's interruption at the MLK memorial service. SDS's early agenda did not prioritize termininating the Morningside Park Gymnasium construction.


Courtesy of Steve Ditlea '69C, photographer, 1968

Click here for item information



Protestors tearing down protective fencing at the gymnasium construction site in Morningside Park, April 23, 1968

"Our Demands"

Circular: "Our Demands"

Click here for item information






A  listing the six demands of the striking students who had occupied Hamilton Hall on the first day of the protests.

"Join Us!"

Circular: "Join Us!"

Click here for item information





Late in the day on April 23, Black and White students in Hamilton Hall listed their six demands and made reference to "a captive Dean Coleman."

Harry Coleman in Hamilton Hall

Courtesy of Gerald S. Adler, photographer, 1968

Click here for item information






Dean Henry Coleman speaking with the protesting students holding him captive in Hamilton Hall, April 23, 1968

Columbia University Libraries / Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5590 / rbml@libraries.cul.columia.edu