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Peace and Freedom

The Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements in the 1960s

By Simon Hall

Publication Year: 2011

Two great social causes held center stage in American politics in the 1960s: the civil rights movement and the antiwar groundswell in the face of a deepening American military commitment in Vietnam. In Peace and Freedom, Simon Hall explores two linked themes: the civil rights movement's response to the war in Vietnam on the one hand and, on the other, the relationship between the black groups that opposed the war and the mainstream peace movement. Based on comprehensive archival research, the book weaves together local and national stories to offer an illuminating and judicious chronicle of these movements, demonstrating how their increasingly radicalized components both found common cause and provoked mutual antipathies.

Peace and Freedom shows how and why the civil rights movement responded to the war in differing ways—explaining black militants' hostility toward the war while also providing a sympathetic treatment of those organizations and leaders reluctant to take a stand. And, while Black Power, counterculturalism, and left-wing factionalism all made interracial coalition-building more difficult, the book argues that it was the peace movement's reluctance to link the struggle to end the war with the fight against racism at home that ultimately prevented the two movements from cooperating more fully. Considering the historical relationship between the civil rights movement and foreign policy, Hall also offers an in-depth look at the history of black America's links with the American left and with pacifism.

With its keen insights into one of the most controversial decades in American history, Peace and Freedom recaptures the immediacy and importance of the time.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Politics and Culture in Modern America


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pp. vii

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pp. 1-12

In February 1966, world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was in Miami, training for his title defense against Ernie “the Octopus” Terrell. One afternoon a television reporter sought Ali’s reaction to the news that the Louisville Draft Board had upgraded his draft status from 1-Y to 1-A, thereby making him eligible for immediate induction into the United States Army. Ali’s retort, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet...

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Chapter 1. The Organizing Tradition

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pp. 13-38

Toward the end of the summer of 1964, civil rights workers from all over Mississippi traveled to Neshoba County to attend a memorial service for James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman. These three civil rights activists, who had been working in the Magnolia State as part of the “Freedom Summer” project, had been abducted and brutally murdered on June 21 after traveling to Longdale, near Philadelphia, to...

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Chapter 2. Black Power

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pp. 39-79

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...

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Chapter 3. Black Moderates

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pp. 80-104

On Tuesday April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr., launched a powerful attack on America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia. Speaking from New York City’s historic Riverside Church, the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader condemned the Vietnam War for undermining the war on poverty and for disproportionately taking African Americans to die in Vietnam for freedoms that they did not yet enjoy at...

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Chapter 4. Racial Tensions

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pp. 105-140

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...

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Chapter 5. Radicalism and Respectability

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pp. 141-166

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,...

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Chapter 6. New Coalitions, Old Problems

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pp. 167-186

The winter and early spring of 1970 was a particularly low period for the antiwar movement. The April antiwar demonstrations, sponsored by the New Mobe and the Vietnam Moratorium Committee, although widespread, were relatively small. Richard Nixon’s policy of Vietnamization, leaving the South Vietnamese to do most of the ground fighting while the U.S. increased its bombing campaign, commanded wide public support...

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pp. 187-194

Although every major civil rights group would come to oppose the war in Vietnam, they did so at different times and for different reasons. Understanding the reasons behind the contrasting response of black groups to the war helps to sharpen our perceptions of the civil rights movement itself. When, in January 1966, SNCC bitterly denounced the war in Vietnam, they were not merely subscribing to leftist...


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pp. 195-233


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pp. 235-253


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pp. 255-261

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pp. 263-267

This project would not have been possible without the financial support of the Arts and Humanities Research Board, for which I am thankful. Further vital contributions came from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library (a Moody Research Grant), the Sara Norton Fund (Cambridge University), and Sidney Sussex College. The incredible generosity of Joseph Carrere and Alison Barbour Fox enabled me to spend...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812202137
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812219753

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Politics and Culture in Modern America