Chronicles of a Two-Front War
Civil Rights and Vietnam in the African American Press
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Missouri Press
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On the morning of August 2, 1964, Captain John J. Herrick, skipper of the American destroyer Maddox, steered his warship to within ten miles of North Vietnam’s Red River delta on the western edge of the Gulf of Tonkin. The sea was calm and the day was clear, but Herrick was edgy. Before dawn his ship had encountered a flotilla of Vietnamese junks. Unsure of the enemy’s intentions, ...
1. Bringing the News Home
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Vietnam swarmed with reporters. Newspaper correspondents began filing stories from the combat zone early in the war. A few, like David Halberstam of the New York Times, became journalistic superstars who wrote compelling pieces that began to define the Vietnam story for millions of readers and to deepen hostility toward the media within the Johnson administration. After ...
2. Vietnam and the Great Society: The Two-Front War
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The black press frequently dealt with the competing demands of the Southeast Asian war and the Great Society as both clamored for the government’s money and attention. Lyndon Johnson pushed hard for an ambitious program of reforms designed to redress the centuries-old grievances of African Americans, even as he led the United States into an escalating war...
3. Fueling the Anger: The Draft and Black Casualties
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During the buildup of forces in Vietnam, the initial response of the black press was generally supportive of the draft. Sometimes the support was effusive. An editorial in the Baltimore Afro-American during the spring of 1965 saw the draft and the military service that followed as an engine of progress for the black community: “Whether they wanted to or not, millions of men...
4. African American Opposition to the War in Vietnam
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When Martin Luther King Jr. was released from jail in Selma, Alabama, on February 5, 1965, he confided to reporters that he would be meeting with President Johnson to urge the passage of strong voting rights legislation so African Americans like those in Selma, for whose cause King had gone to jail, would be guaranteed their rights as American citizens. The very next ...
5. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Globalization of Black Protest
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Martin Luther King Jr. had been conflicted for some time about how directly he should challenge American policy in Vietnam. For two years he had actively supported efforts to find a peace that could be secured within the framework of U.S. regional interests through negotiations. But such negotiations...
6. “We’re with You, Chief ”: The Black Press and LBJ
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Despite the increasingly sharp antiwar sentiments of certain African American leaders, most notably Martin Luther King Jr., and the parallel growth in opposition to the war among African Americans generally, political support for President Lyndon Johnson among blacks generally remained remarkably steadfast. Throughout his presidency he retained his personal ...
7. The Black Press and Vietnam in the Nixon Years
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With the notable exception of the redoubtably Republican Atlanta Daily World, African American newspapers generally viewed the election of Richard Nixon with sentiments ranging from disappointment to alarm. The Chicago Daily Defender, for example, greeted Nixon’s election glumly. On November 7, 1968, the paper published a cartoon that took up the entire front page of ...
8. Race Relations in an Integrated Military
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The black soldiers who fought through the sporadic firefights and long stretches of tedium were also foot soldiers in the larger battle for human rights in which all black Americans were desperately engaged. The risks the black soldiers endured, the wounds they suffered, and the deaths they died became part of the currency used to animate the rhetoric and purchase the ...
9. The Black Press and the Vietnam War
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The interplay of the war in Vietnam and unrealized African American expectations fundamentally defined the way the black press viewed the conflict. The war came to dominate the national agenda just as the civil rights movement appeared to be on the brink of realizing long-deferred black hopes for full equality. America seemed poised to yield, at long last, to the...
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Page Count: 299
Illustrations: 12 cartoons
Publication Year: 2012