As the pro-Palestinian protests on colleges and universities across the United States have spread, some commentators have taken to comparing current events to the late 1960s. It’s a tempting analogy: protests in an earlier era, often defined by violent clashes with police; and the same thing today. History is simply repeating itself.

No. The recent demonstrations are nothing compared to what happened in the 1960s, when sustained, mass protests — powered by a formidable alliance of increasingly radical activist groups — convulsed colleges and universities across the United States for nearly 10 years. Confusing a few weeks’ worth of protests with the events of an entire decade is not only bad history, but could well lead to needless tragedy.

The student protests of the 1960s arguably began off campus a decade earlier, when Martin Luther King Jr. and other Black leaders launched the Civil Rights Movement. Their efforts, which ranged from boycotts to marches to voter registration drives, attracted intense, violent resistance in the South.