“What are we waiting for?”
—A.J. Muste, the MOBE founding chair
The National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (the MOBE) was a coalition of anti-Vietnam War activists established to help organize large-scale, anti-war demonstrations. The coalition first formed as the November 8th Mobilization Committee in the summer of 1966, during a national anti-war conference organized by the Inter-University Committee for Debate on Foreign Policy, with its first efforts focused on calling attention to the war prior to the 1966 political elections. The committee’s founding chairman was A.J. Muste, who passed away shortly after its founding. Other leaders included David Dellinger, Edward Keating, Sidney Peck and Robert Greenblatt.
After the elections, the committee became the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which organized major anti-war demonstrations that took place in April 1967. In New York City, 400,000 protesters marched from Central Park to the United Nations, with speakers including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael. 75,000 gathered for a similar rally in San Francisco.
In a conference following the demonstrations, the organization became a national group known as the MOBE, establishing its headquarters in New York City, opening offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco and appointing Reverend James Bevel as national director. The group focused on non-violent protest and the mass mobilization of anti-war and anti-racist action, striving to become a national coalition of the country’s peace organizations.
The MOBE organized a March on the Pentagon in October 1967, with 150,000 people (including the Yippies), gathering in Washington, D.C. to protest the war and the draft. The march drew further attention to and national sympathy for the anti-war movement, especially following 700 arrests and accusations of police violence. In 1968, the MOBE attended demonstrations during Chicago’s Democratic National Convention; the demonstrations turned into riots, resulting in the arrest and trial of MOBE leader David Dellinger.
In 1969, the MOBE staged an even larger anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. called the Moratorium rally, which was attended by more than 250,000 people. The march was generally peaceful, although the organization was beginning to show signs of strain. Remaining members of the coalition re-formed as the New Mobilization Committee to End the War, or the New MOBE, which was based in Washington, D.C. In 1970, this group split, some members becoming active in the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice and the National Peace Action Coalition.