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Eyes on the Prize
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The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement (1967-68)

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Supporter of the Vietnam War holding a "No Surrender" sign, 1972.

On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at Riverside Church in New York City in which he called for a unilateral end to the American military involvement in Vietnam. The timing of his oration reestablished King as a radical in American society. Although there had been protests against the war on college campuses, most Americans supported the war in Vietnam as part of the struggle against Communism. A New York Times editorial called the speech an "error" and the NAACP agreed, calculating that merging the peace movement with the civil rights movement would only weaken both causes.

However, the coming year would bring the Tet offensive and the My Lai massacre, both of which began to turn the tide of public opinion, and by 1968 mainstream journalist Walter Cronkite was asking if the war was winnable. Civil rights movement groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had come out against the war earlier and organized against the draft. Later, the National Welfare Rights Organization and the Black Panther Party would oppose the war as destructive and racist.

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