chapter  1
11 Pages

The Movement’s Origins

At noon on Saturday March 25, 1967 the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.—the nation’s foremost civil rights leader and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate-led a march of 5,000 people “through throngs of Easter shoppers” in Chicago to protest against the war in Vietnam. According to the New York Times the marchers-black and white, and including “members of peace, student and civil rights groups”—“wound their way down State Street carrying signs urging ‘No More War’ and ‘Education, Not Escalation’.” At the conclusion of the march, the protesters gathered at the Chicago Coliseum for a rally that was sponsored by the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE). In his speech, King told the “cheering crowd” that the war was a “blasphemy against all that America stands for,” and that the United States stood “before the world glutted by our own barbarity.” He argued that, in seeking to “perpetuate white colonialism” abroad, the United States was headed for disaster at home as the war destroyed “the dream and possibility for a decent America.” That same day, about 20 antiwar protesters joined a picket outside a military recruitment center in New York’s Times Square, to protest the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the case of David H. Mitchell, who was serving a five-year prison term for resisting induction into the armed services.1