At the beginning of the 1960’s the nation was on the verge of entering the Vietnam War. The Civil Rights movement was emerging, and the student counterculture was rising. By the end of the 1966 school year, protests against the war became larger and more frequent. As pictures and coverage of the Vietnam War became more public, student protests increased.
Addressing the campus need for a designated soap box, the class of 1968 erected a Freedom of Speech Platform at the main entryway of the EMU as a legacy gift to the student body. The platform, which now stands in the center of the amphitheater, was quick to prove its usefulness. On any given day, students, faculty and community members would swarm the courtyard outside the Fishbowl, sometimes by the thousands, to hear guest lecturers, to speak out about civil rights, and to support the poor people’s movement for economic and human rights.