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

By Simon Hall | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Racial Tensions

Black people are in no mood for marching to [the Pentagon] and listening
to folk singing.

Omar Ahmed, 1967

The rain that fell intermittently on the morning of Saturday April 15, 1967 did not deter tens of thousands of Americans from taking to the streets of San Francisco to protest against America’s ongoing involvement in Vietnam. About 30,000 gathered at the foot of Market Street, and walked four miles through the heart of the city to Kezar Stadium, at the edge of Golden Gate Park. As the sun came out, the crowd at the afternoon rally swelled to 75,000—a record turnout for a West Coast antiwar protest. The main speakers in the packed stadium included civil rights leaders Coretta Scott King and Julian Bond, as well as Robert Vaughn (star of television’s Man from Uncle). One journalist noted that the civil rights movement was “represented more conspicuously than before.” Coretta King told the crowd that “freedom and justice in America” were “bound together with freedom and justice in Vietnam,” while Georgia legislator Julian Bond attacked the “growing cancer” of American militarism. He urged that the “screams of the children in Harlem and Haiphong” be replaced with “cheerful, loving laughter.” TV star Vaughn asked, “Haven’t enough men been killed, enough women slaughtered, enough babies burned?” The National Guardian commented on the demonstration’s countercultural flavor, explaining that participants left the stands to hand out daffodils and paper flowers, while artists including Country Joe and the Fish provided musical entertainment.1

In a show of solidarity it also rained in New York, where tens of thousands of Americans filtered into Central Park. At Sheep Meadow, at 11 a.m., a group of around 100 people gathered to burn their draft cards. By the time the twenty-block march to the UN plaza began shortly after noon, some observers estimated that about 400,000 Americans had turned out. The demonstrators came from all walks of life—there were blacks, whites, and native Americans; children and grandparents; hippies

-105-

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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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