Protesting from the page to the streets

Black and white photo of Richard Branson laying on the floor during a Vietnam protest
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Richard Branson's signature
Published on 6 August 2015

When we started Student magazine, we were keen to give young people a voice to express their views on all sorts of issues. One that we felt particularly strongly about was the Vietnam War, and our protests spilled from the pages of the magazine to the streets of London.

Black and white photo of Richard Branson as a student, sitting on the arm of a chair looking at the camera
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This picture was taken in the very early days of Student. Above my head is another picture of a policeman chasing me during a demonstration against the American Embassy to protest the Vietnam War.

Vietnam demonstrations

Vanessa Redgrave, Tariq Ali and myself had walked together leading thousands of protestors. Things got a little out of hand and truncheons came out. Fortunately the sprint was my strong point at school and the bobby never caught me. I believe the photo ran in Paris Match, and we were able to get a little more attention to the Stop The War efforts.

Meanwhile, in the pages of Student magazine, we were inviting debate about the Vietnam War, and the nature of protesting.

The renowned journalist James Cameron shared his own advice on protesting, suggesting that “you’ve got to know exactly what you are protesting against”.

“It’s really difficult to make protests for peace in Vietnam effective, because the establishment has always got you by the short hair by saying ‘OK, what are you going to do about it and how are you going to solve it?’

A cutting from Student Magazine
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“Perhaps writing is the best form of protest. After all, it was a decent journalist who got the troops taken out of the Crimea’ but whether the methods applied in those splendid old days will last, I don’t know.”

I’ve been looking back on the Vietnam War’s prominence in Student in particular, as I am planning to visit the country for the first time in the coming months.