A military analyst with the RAND Corporation and employee of both the Defense and State Departments, Ellsberg became an opponent of the war in Vietnam and came to national attention in the late 1960s for his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers. In 1980, Ellsberg came to UMass Amherst at the invitation of the university’s Distinguished Visitors Program to speak in support the Nuclear Freeze initiative on the state ballot.
A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times, David Halberstam was renowned for his coverage of the Civil Rights Movement and the War in Vietnam. Halberstam was invited to campus as part of the Distinguished Visitors Program in 1976, discussing the impact of science and technology on American politics and foreign policy.
One week after the massive No Nukes concert in New York City sponsored by Musicians United for Safe Energy, Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda came to UMass Amherst to deliver a fiery speech opposing nuclear energy and the political power of oil and gas corporations, and discussing the future of alternate energy. Hayden delivered the talk in Amherst.