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105 Paris Student Uprising

In 1968, the war in Vietnam, United States imperialism, and the racial divide were all part of the impetus that saw students raising their voices in protests, rallies, and demonstrations around the world. Predating NPR, PBS, and modern public broadcasting, Pacifica Radio was there to record and document the experiences and philosophies of these young people during this tumultuous year. In this episode of From the Vault, we revisit the May 1968 student protests in Paris, France through archival recordings recently digitized from the Pacifica Radio Archives collection.

It began in March of 1968, when students at the University of Paris (among other schools in France) spoke out against class discrimination in French society and the bureaucracy of University funding. By May, in hopes of quelling the student unrest, university officials made moves to close the school — and ordered a massive police mobilization on campus to help see this through. It had quite the opposite effect, as over 20,000 highly-charged students, together with the teachers’ union and other supporters vigorously marched to the school to protest the university’s abrupt closure. A riot ensued as police attacked the advancing protesters with batons and tear gas, and the protesters retaliated by throwing rocks and bottles — setting the stage for a series of events that would nearly bring the French government to its knees.

Today, we feature historic recordings of participants and eyewitnesses to the 1968 Paris student uprising, like National Secretary of the Young Socialist Alliance, Mary Alice Waters; chairman of the student Communist Revolutionary Group, Jean Dube; and student leader Yves Salesse. Also, we’ll hear an interview with French artist and poet Jenny Batlay, who discusses the 1968 dynamic between artists and their turbulent environment; and the recollections of longtime Pacifica producer and National Correspondent Larry Bensky, who was living in Paris at the time of the student uprising.

From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project.

Archival recordings used in this week’s episode, Paris Student Uprising:

BB3547 Mary Alice Waters: Reporter for the Militant and Young Socialist MORE INFO

BB3536 Jean Dube MORE INFO

BB1770 Interview with a French Student Leader / Yves Salesse MORE INFO

BB4517 Jenny Batlay / Interviewed by George Cleyet MORE INFO

Click here to purchase a copy of this program or learn more about and purchase copies of the historic archival recordings used within this episode. To purchase a CD copy of this program by phone, please call Pacifica Radio Archives at 800.735.0230 x 262.

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