Historic MU protest was a birthday to remember

Sunday, May 4, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Susan Marshall sits on the grass of the Francis Quadrangle, where she participated in the MU protests of the Vietnam War on May 11, 1970, which was also Marshall's 19th birthday. Marshall said it was terrifying participating in the demonstration in the wake of the Kent State protests, especially when MU police came to the quadrangle.

Susan Marshall was on her way to class at MU in the late afternoon of May 11, 1970, when some of her classmates flagged her down.

“Come join us,” she remembers them saying.

And why not? It was her birthday, after all.

Marshall ended up marking her 19th birthday on the grass of Francis Quadrangle outside of Jesse Hall with 3,000 or more of her peers, getting sunburned on what would become a historic day at MU, protesting the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings.

She remembers wishing she had a hat because of the intense afternoon sun. She wore a T-shirt, jeans (because that’s what she wore every day) and leather boots with brass buttons. She was a student in the honors program.

As classes were canceled, including hers, more and more students joined the crowd.

“It was small at first, and then it got bigger and bigger,” Marshall said. “There were people singing and speakers, and then, after a while, police came.

“They started arresting people, and I got pretty scared. My thought was: What would my parents think? I had never been in trouble before.”

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