The days following the 1970 Kent State shootings saw student protests on college campuses across the country.
In response, President Richard Nixon held a conference with eight university presidents, including UNC's William Friday. According to Friday, "...we had rallies on all our campuses, ranging from 6,000 at Chapel Hill to three or four hundred on the smaller campuses, where there was no violence..."
On May 8, protesters gathered in Washington and San Francisco, and 4,500 students marched to the capitol in Raleigh.
The students marched to the Capitol, 20 abreast with arms linked, in a column that stretched down Hillsborough Street for five blocks.
The marchers, who were orderly and well-behaved throughout the demonstration, included students from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, East Carolina University, Wake Forest University, Shaw University, St. Augustine's College, Meredith College and St. Mary's college.
Major H. T. Bailey of the Raleigh Police Department estimated 4,500 students and others participated in the march. "They were very orderly, well-behaved and appeared to be well-organized," Bailey said. "There were no violations observed and no arrests were made."
As the students marched from N. C. State University behind American and peace flag, they shouted, "Join Us! Join Us!" to workers and businessmen who came out of their offices along Hillsborough Street to watch.
Above Capitol Square the students looked like a sea of flailing arms waiving the two-finger peace sign beneath the Capitol oaks and magnolias.
"I'm here to give my two cents while I'm still a free man," said Lee Baker of Rocky Mount, who will be drafted on Thursday.
The giant march on the Capitol was organized on the various campuses earlier this week after (Governor Bob) Scott's support of Nixon's action in Cambodia had been announced.
There were approximately 400 student marshals from N. C. State and other colleges and universities keeping order during the march.
Raleigh police accompanied the students as they marched the two miles from the N. C. State campus to the Capitol down half of Hillsborough Street.
The students began organizing at about 11 a. m. and the march began shortly after 2 p. m. when a 400-car motorcade of students arrived from Chapel Hill.
Before leaving State campus, march organizers cautioned the students that "everything depends upon our remaining peaceful" and led the students in singing the national anthem.
The march was greeted by onlookers along the route, both supporters and detractors.
In the 1000 block of Hillsborough Street, a middle-aged lady stood stern-faced on the porch of her sedate residence. She observed the bobbing heads of long hair, the sandals, the bell-bottom trousers and the gaudy shirts and occasional broad ties and she said, "I wish they were mine ... I'd go out there and wring their necks ... I don't like war, but we've got our leaders ... They're (the students) not capable of leading themselves."
As the marchers passed the cylindrical Holiday Inn, from a high balcony two women wearing hair curlers and apparently night gowns waved and gave peace signs. -- The News & Observer 5/8/1970
The purpose of the march was to convince Governor Bob Scott to withdraw his support of Nixon's decision to send troops to Cambodia and to promise not to use National Guard troops on NC campuses. While Governor Scott expressed appreciation for their concerns, he did not agree to their demands. In response, student leaders at NCSU called for a class boycott.
Cathy Sterling, president-elect of the NCSU student body, called the strike Sunday. "The response from Gov. Scott, while it was more than expected, still is not enough." Miss Sterling said in a statement. "More can be done.
"I am calling for a general strike of the University as an extension of the march Friday," she said.
Later, Miss Sterling changed the wording of her statement so that, she said, it would not seem she was calling for the closing of the university. She changed the words "general strike" to "peace retreat." -- The News & Observer 5/11/1970
A similar strike was underway at UNC-CH, but classes continued at Duke, ECU and Wake Forest. ECU students had demanded that the American flag on campus be lowered to half-mast in memory of the Kent State students. After a three-hour confrontation with university administrators and police, the flag was lowered. At Duke University Law School, a portrait of Richard Nixon that hung in the school's moot courtroom, was removed to a "safe place."