LULAC, Mexican Americans, and National Policy

By Craig A. Kaplowitz | Go to book overview

5
Between Chicanos and Republicans

On January 30, 1968, on the first day of Tet, the Vietnamese holiday celebrating the new lunar year, National Liberation Front forces attacked the American embassy in Saigon and sites in major cities throughout South Vietnam. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces staged a successful counteroffensive, but the enemy’s surprise attack, which came at a time when Americans believed the war to be nearly over, suggested that the end was not in sight. The Tet offensive in January marked a troubling start to a most turbulent year. The war in Vietnam contributed to Lyndon Johnson’s poor showing in the New Hampshire primary in March. Johnson received only 49 percent of the Democratic turnout, while peace candidate Senator Eugene McCarthy captured 42 percent and won more delegates than Johnson to the Democratic National Convention. With his popularity waning and the war consuming his time, Johnson announced on March 31, at the end of a nationally televised speech about Vietnam, that he would not accept the Democratic nomination for president. The man who so resoundingly won the presidency only four years earlier took himself out of the race as the campaign began.

Four days after Johnson’s announcement stunned the nation, an assassin’s bullet killed Martin Luther King, Jr., badly damaging hope for nonviolent racial reconciliation. Urban riots erupted across the country. In Washington, D.C., rioters started over seven hundred fires, and on Chicago’s west side twenty blocks were consumed by riots and fires. All told, after one week more than twenty thousand federal troops and more than thirty thousand national guardsmen had been mobilized to contain the rioting and looting. Forty-six people died, over three thousand suffered injuries, over twenty thousand were arrested, and property damage was estimated at $45 million. Later that month, students at Columbia University registered their frustration with the university administration by seizing five buildings. They held the buildings for six days, after which police ended the demonstration without using much restraint. More than one hundred Columbia students were injured, and police arrested 692 people. In May, black leaders led a Poor People’s March on Washington, an event endorsed by King before his assassination, which escalated minority protest against the faltering Johnson administration. In June, another assassin’s bullet took the life of a national leader committed to racial reconciliation—Robert Kennedy. In August, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago broad-

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LULAC, Mexican Americans, and National Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1- A League of American Citizens 11
  • 2- Immigrants, Citizens, and Stakeholders 36
  • 3- The Paradox in Domestic Policy 62
  • 4- Stepchildren of the Great Society 91
  • 5- Between Chicanos and Republicans 122
  • 6- Policies for the Spanish Speaking 156
  • Conclusion 186
  • Notes 207
  • Index 249
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