Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This Day in 1989: April 21, Students Organize and March into Tiananmen Square

The stirring passion of the last few days ignited by Hu Yaobang's passing continued to develop on April 21, 1989. Seeing the courage of Wuer Kaixi at Xinhuamen, Liu Gang sought him out this morning to discuss the formation of a city-wide student leadership organization. They reached a general agreement.

Also on this day, some intellectuals joined in the fray and published open letters of their own to petition the government.

But the main action continued to be the students. In the late afternoon, thousands and thousands of them, from about twenty colleges in Beijing, gathered at Beijing Normal University. Wuer Kaixi displayed his natural leadership skills and guided the huge crowd into tight formations. He made a speech to proclaim the foundation of a "Beijing Provisional Student Union," which did not yet exist at the time, and led the students out of his campus toward Tiananmen Square. The demonstration surprised and delighted city residents who cheered them along the way.

The students reached Tiananmen Square around midnight. They settled down in front of the Great Hall of People, where Hu Yaobang's state funeral would commerce the next day. The area was scheduled to be closed in the morning for the occasion. But these tens of thousands of students made their claim. They would spend the cold spring night in the Square so that they could be a part of the funeral.

Days of 1989

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