Peace and Freedom: The Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements of the 1960s

By Simon Hall | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Black Power

The relationship between the genocide in Vietnam and the smiles of the white
man toward black Americans is a direct rehtionship.

Eldridge Cleaver

The embarrassing thing about the peace movement… is that it’s white.

a peace activist

Following a six-week pause instigated by LBJ, the American bombing of North Vietnam resumed on January 31, 1966, and the following months saw an intensification of the military campaign. Between January and July more than 50,000 people were killed, 2,691 of them Americans.1 At the end of December 1965, 180,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Vietnam; within two years the number would exceed 500,000. The $5 billion spent on the war during 1965 would become $10 billion the following year and, despite impressive Pentagon statistics, it soon became clear to the American people that the war would not be over quickly. Indeed, by the spring of 1966 the phrase “credibility gap” was widely used to describe LBJ’s tendency to mislead the public, and the president’s approval rating was falling.2 The pollster Louis Harris reported that “a sense of ‘travail without end’ ” was “straining both the patience and normal optimism of the American people.”3 Dissent from within South Vietnam itself by Buddhists, students, and even factions within the South Vietnamese military compounded the situation, and increasing numbers of Americans wondered whether their presence in South Vietnam was even wanted. As the military effort in Vietnam bogged down, domestic disquiet over the war increased.

Toward the end of 1965, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee began to consider adopting an official position on the Vietnam War. The organization had already begun to develop links with the nascent peace movement. During the April 1965 antiwar demonstration in Washington, for example, it had shared its office with Students for a Democratic Society. SNCC chairman John Lewis had signed the

-39-

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Peace and Freedom: The Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements of the 1960s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Organizing Tradition 13
  • Chapter 2 - Black Power 39
  • Chapter 3 - Black Moderates 80
  • Chapter 4 - Racial Tensions 105
  • Chapter 5 - Radicalism and Respectability 141
  • Chapter 6 - New Coalitions, Old Problems 167
  • Conclusion 187
  • Notes 195
  • Bibliography 235
  • Index 255
  • Acknowledgments 263
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