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GET UP, STAND UP: The Story of Pop and Protest Flash Points
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About the Program
Revolutionary Music
Flash Points
Resources
Intro
Great Depression
U.S. Labor Movement
Civil Rights
Vietnam War
Birth of Bangladesh
Apartheid
Central American Wars
Ethiopian Famine
War in Iraq
Vietnam War

Watch the video (Anti-Vietnam War protesters)
When the Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam won its independence from French colonial rule in 1954, it was divided between the Communist north and non-Communist south. In 1956, the U.S. government, under its Cold War policy of containing the spread of Communism, supported the South Vietnamese government's decision to cancel elections, which might have unified the country under the Communists, and started sending in military "advisors" to train troops. By the mid-1960s, this support had turned into full-scale military involvement, with the U.S. troops doing much of the fighting against the Communist rebels (the Viet Cong). All young men in the United States at the time were subject to a draft; this, along with the difficulties of fighting a guerrilla war, rising casualty rates chronicled nightly on television, young people's new sense of empowerment stemming from the civil rights movement, and the growing sentiment that the war could not be won, heightened opposition to the conflict. Mass demonstrations were held and many songs written by artists in a variety of genres -- folk, rock, soul, reggae -- calling for an end to the war.

Soldier playing guitar, Kent State shooting, and bombing of Vietnam

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(Photos: National Archives [bottom left and right])

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