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Students Stage Vigil At Burruss To Honor King

 Bob Clegg
A group of students staged a peaceful demonstration on the steps of Burruss Hall Friday after the announcement of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King.

By Lucy Minogue

"Tech" News Editor
Virginia Tech
April 10, 1968

Virginia Tech had more excitement than it originally bargained for during CONFLICT '68 week. A small group of students displaying black arm bands staged a sit-in at Burruss Hall, beginning only a few hours after the death of Negro peace leader Dr. Martin Luther King.

King was assassinated in Memphis Thursday evening. During the weekend, riots broke out in Washington, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Chicago.

A group of demonstrators approached Burruss Hall Friday at 6:15 a.m. after the flag detail had raised the U. S. and Virginia flags to full staff. The demonstrators lowered both flags without resistance.

Everett Hogg, one of the demonstrators, explained that they had begun their vigil "out of respect for King as a leader of the Negro people. We remained around the flagpole so that we could discuss the ideals of Dr. King's life. Race hatred is a problem in this country that can't be ignored, and we felt that we had a moral responsibility to talk to people about King's nonviolent beliefs." Hogg was quick to point out that the greatest by-product of the demonstration "was the thinking and talking that we have caused.

The students here are finally beginning to think."

A large group of students entered the picture after noon and demanded that the flag be raised. After some pushing and shoving, the flag was returned to full staff.

Shortly after 1 p.m. President Johnson ordered that flags be flown at half mast in memory of King.

William Anderson, a sophomore in psychology, felt that the murderer had done a disservice to all facets of the society because "he had taken away a man who was keeping the (civil rights) movement peaceful and within he principle of democracy."

When asked about the future of civil rights, Anderson, a Negro, answered, "My own desire is that we continue to use non-violent means in trying to get equality among men in this country and that we stop manipulating minority groups. There are those who have been so frustrated in efforts to gain recognition of basic equality that they no longer feel that they can endure the degradation often imposed by middle class America."

Many students that surrounded the flagpole by late afternoon were not in full sympathy with the demonstrators. Ed Brown, a junior in psychology, felt that no minority had the rights to "dictate that we should mourn Dr. King."

Note: article is reproduced as it was printed in the Virginia Tech

Linda Edmonds' thoughts on the death of Dr. Martin Luther King

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