Green Feather Movement

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The Green Feather Movement was a short-lived college protest fad directed against McCarthyism. It began on March 1, 1954 with five college students at Indiana University who surreptitiously tacked a green feather to every bulletin board on campus. The gesture was inspired by Mrs. Thomas White, a member of the Indiana school textbook commission who had expressed her desire to see Robin Hood banned from the grade school curriculum because of his supposed Communist connotations. Blas Davila, later a psychology professor at the University of Indianapolis, was one of the five undergraduate students who came up with the plan.[1] They called themselves Robin Hood's Merry Men and circulated an anonymous protest against McCarthyism, owning up to the deed in a letter to the student paper. They explained that they wore a green feather in sympathy with Robin Hood, whose Merry Men wore (according to them) a green feather in their caps.

Students at other colleges learned of their activities and contacted them to order literature, protest buttons and feathers, and in the course of a few weeks the protest mushroomed into a nationwide campus movement, starting with chapters in Wisconsin and Michigan and spreading around the country. By May 21 the Harvard Crimson was reporting that a Green Feather club had formed at Harvard and was seeking recognition in order to distribute Green Feather buttons in the dining halls.[2] A Green Feather march held at UCLA drew 500 participants; according to Maurice Isserman the march organizers were an unlikely coalition of campus Communists and Shachtmanites.[3] The Green Feather movement lasted through two semesters and came to an end after Sen. McCarthy was censured by the US Senate in December, 1954.[4]


  1. ^ Branigin, John, "What Did it Matter: The Legacy of Protest," Indiana Alumni Magazine, March-April 2001. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
  2. ^ " 'Green Feather' Asks Recognition", Harvard Crimson, May 21, 1954. Retrieved Nov. 29, 2009.
  3. ^ Isserman, Maurice, If I had a hammer: the death of the old left and the birth of the new left (Basic Books, 1987), p. 63.
  4. ^ Clark, Thomas D., Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer (Indiana University Press, 1977) vol. 4, p. 232-238.

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