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Sunday, December 5, 2021

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San Diego State student Ed Cherry is pulled off of George Rockwell. San Diego State student Ed Cherry is pulled off of George Rockwell.
 


Decades Ago at San Diego State

Special Collections and University Archives takes a look back at a "near-riot" when George Rockwell visited campus in 1962.
By Robert Ray
 

The SDSU Library's Department of Special Collections and University Archives presents the weekly series "Decades Ago at San Diego State." Special Collections and University Archives staff members collect articles and photos from archived issues of The Daily Aztec, providing a glimpse of the university's past and its memorable events, people and programs. 

George Lincoln Rockwell, self-proclaimed leader of the American Nazi party, spoke to San Diego State College students on March 8, 1962, at the Open Air Theater.

Sponsored by the Committee for Student Action, Rockwell’s appearance was part of his Southern California tour to spread the word about the National Socialist Party of America. In a March 6 “emergency session,” the Lectures and Concerts Board cautioned the CSA to “take the proper steps to protect against any outbreak of violence.”

Nevertheless, violence did break out when a San Diego State student climbed on stage and “slugged” Rockwell as he was speaking. After the melee, Rockwell was quickly escorted to the offices of The Daily Aztec where he gave a press conference before leaving in his car for another speech at Pomona College.

The March 9, 1962, issue of The Daily Aztec reported almost exclusively on the Rockwell “ruckus,” with photographs of the incident and Rockwell’s departure, Aztec staff opinions, letters to the editor, reactions from students and statements issued by campus groups.

Coverage also included Rockwell’s press conference, comments from local Congressional candidates, editorial cartoons and even bomb threats. On March 12, 1962, SDSU administrators temporarily banned open lectures and assemblies while the Lectures and Concerts Board reviewed policies and procedures governing open assemblies on campus.

The Rockwell incident and his press conference were recorded and reported on by KEBS radio. The original recording is held by University Archives in Library and Information Access.

For more information on the SDSU Library and Information Access Department of Special Collections and University Archives, visit the website.

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