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May ’68: Then and now

Latest update : 2008-05-14

The May ’68 revolution helped several political figures and celebrities gain wide recognition early in their lives and leave their mark on history.

The famed revolution of May ’68 really began in March. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, now president of the European Green Party, was thrust into the spotlight during the March 22 revolt at Nanterre’s University in western Paris. This was his first occupation of a university campus.

The events leading up to the May ’68 protests had their origin in Paris. The Sorbonne University was blocked by protesting students. A few students expressed opposition to this revolt, forming several extreme-right groups such as the Occident movement, which included political figures such as Patrick Devedjian, now secretary-general of the UMP, the ruling party of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

During this period, the poet Louis Aragon and his companion Elsa Triolet took to the streets with the protesters. Theatre artists and members of the ORTF (the French public television and radio broadcasting service) were also involved in the strike and called for freedom of press.

The Cannes Film Festival was cancelled in 1968 after some jury members resigned and certain films were withdrawn from the competition.

François Mitterand called for the resignation of President Charles De Gaulle and began to rise through the ranks of the Socialist Party. Jacques Chirac, then the junior minister of social affairs and protégé of Prime Minister George Pompidou, negotiated the Grenelle agreements, which helped diffuse massive protests that had left the entire country paralysed.

Date created : 2008-04-27