The Green Feather movement started in the campus of Indiana University when five “Merry Men” students covered the campus in green chicken feathers, tacking one to every bulletin board on campus, as a protest to McCarthyism and in response to an Indiana Textbook commissioner, Mrs. Thomas White, calling Robin Hood a communist.
In the Cold War era, the Indiana State Textbook Commission had recently raised arms against the Robin Hood legend appearing in schools for its communist undertones in the "rob-the-rich-give-to-the-poor" theme. The students saw the Robin Hood fuss as the epitome of McCarthyism pushed too far. They found their symbol and were ready to run with it. They would call it the "Green Feather Movement" with the five involved standing as "Robin Hood's Merry Men."
Only two days pass before the entire state is involved in the controversy. Word spreads through the Midwest, and news organizations from Louisville to Indianapolis start taking sides. One Bloomington newspaper goes so far to say that the students are acting on behalf of the adults on campus who lack "courage of their conviction."
The Green Feather movement consequently spread to the Universities of Michigan, Illinois, and to Purdue and other universities across the country. Even Harvard University announced in May 1954 that a chapter would be formed on their campus. The movement was discontinued after McCarthy’s censure in December 1954.
(Sources for this article include www.thecrimson.com and www.idsnews.com)