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

By Simon Hall | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Radicalism and Respectability

Actions around racism must be forthcoming if the white anti-war movement
expects to have any validity to the black anti-war movement.

Gwendolyn Patton, 1968

By branching out into the question of racism … we will end up in a
diffuse fog.

Bill Rothman, Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee, 1968

The years between 1968 and 1970 saw some important victories and bitter disappointments for the peace movement. In the spring of 1968, for instance, it seemed that a major breakthrough had been made, as Lyndon Johnson announced a bombing pause and a push for negotiations to resolve the Vietnam conflict. To many Americans, it looked as though the nightmare in Southeast Asia might soon be over. The war, however, would continue for four and a half more years. A few days after Johnson’s policy shift, tragedy struck in Memphis as Martin Luther King, Jr., in town to lead a garbage workers’ strike, was felled by an assassin’s bullet. In response, America’s cities erupted in bitter violence—twenty blocks of Chicago burned, while more than 5,000 troops were needed to restore order in the nation’s capital.1 Then, just two months later, Robert Kennedy—standard bearer of American liberalism—was gunned down hours after winning the crucial Democratic primary in California. When the Democratic Party national convention became engulfed in riot and anarchy in August, the country seemed to be teetering on the brink of an abyss.

The mobilization of antiwar dissent within the Democratic Party, followed by Richard Nixon’s election and his subsequent escalation of the war, energized the liberal wing of the peace movement. At the same time, more radical antiwar groups continued to struggle with the problems of multi-issuism and attracting black support.

The debate over “multi-issuism”—whether the antiwar movement should concentrate its efforts solely on ending the conflict in Southeast

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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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