From Protest to Resistance

This content contains scenes that may be too sensitive for some viewers.

About the film:

The antiwar, Black power and free speech movements came together in a broader effort of resistance against oppression. Focusing on three pivotal figures of the era – Stokely Carmichael, David Harris and Mario Savio – the film provides insight into their work in the context of their time.

Watch a clip:

In an informal setting, Stokely Carmichael talks about the fact that the diverse youth of America are beginning to question their country’s exploitation of other nations in the name of enjoying the good life. He then delivers a speech in which he declares that to look at the country’s history of colonialism and usury is to “charge America with genocide.”


[helicopter whirring]

- Jackals, everything, whatever you wanna call 'em

ladies and gentlemen.

The zoo came to me. I didn't go to the zoo.

Paid me 15 cents going to the zoo, but the zoo comes to me.

I'm gonna send you a napalm dinner tonight.

I hope you can enjoy it.

[upbeat folk music plays]

♪ Yeah, come on all you big strong men ♪

♪ Uncle Sam needs your help again ♪

♪ He's got himself in a terrible jam ♪

♪ Way down yonder in Vietnam ♪

♪ Put down your book ♪

♪ Pick up a gun ♪

♪ Gonna have a whole lotta fun ♪

♪ Can I get a 1, 2, 3 ♪

♪ What are we fighting for? ♪

[guns thudding the ground]

[upbeat folk music continues]

- Situation in Vietnam is that,

that there is an old American saying

that when the going gets tough

the tough get going.

So let no one doubt that we are in this battle

as long as South Vietnam wants our support

and needs our assistance to protect its freedom.

- [unison] No draft for Vietnam, no draft for Vietnam.

No draft for Vietnam, no draft for -

- Do you want to fight them over there or here?

- I don't believe we have to fight them.

I'm not gonna get in a fight about it.

- I did come back four days ago.

- Okay, I'm sorry.

- Your sorry? I've seen a thousand marines die

in the last five months, but I'll beat your [indistinct]

- Guys, come on. Guys, come on.

- Hey! Why don't they fight?

- Why fight for peace?

- Why don't they fight?

- [Narrator] In the last eight years,

a movement is grown up in America

to dramatize the key issues of the 1960s,

Vietnam and racism.

In the public mind, these young people were associated

with endless demonstrations, drugs, communism,

and ablate with violence.

These demonstrators reflected a national sense

of unease that was brought to a climax

by the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The black ghettos exploded in many cities

and more than 90,000 troops

and police were deployed to restore order.

The racial violence was preceded by the news

of Johnson's refusal to run again for president

and by the announcement of talks with North Vietnam.

Hundreds of thousands have plotted

the peace moves and publicly mourned the late Dr. King.

Members of anti-war and black power movements

parted to what they call the hypocrisy of America

and promise to continue the struggle for peace

and racial justice that began years before.

[crowd chanting]

- The movement as they call it

began as a protest by middle-class youth who believed

that their moral outrage was enough to force

the integration of Mississippi.

A law was passed, but the activists saw little change

in the quality of Negroes lives.

The Civil Rights Movement collapsed

and the activists turned their energy

to anti-war protests and black power.

They claimed that they were now revolutionaries

challenging the very axioms of American society.

This film is about three veterans of Mississippi

who have become key spokesmen

for the new opposition activity.

It traces their thought and action over the past year.

As they see themselves moving

from demonstrations to political organizing.

Stokely Carmichael speaks for black power.

David Harris for the non-violent draft resistance.

And Mario Savio for the new radical politics.

[melancholic folk music plays]

♪ Who am I? ♪

♪ Stand and wander to wait ♪

♪ For the wheels of fate ♪

♪ Slowly grind my life away ♪

♪ Who am I? ♪

♪ There was something that I loved one time ♪

♪ But the dreams are gone ♪

♪ That I thought were mine ♪

♪ And the hidden tears ♪

♪ That once would fall now ♪

♪ Burn inside at the thought of all ♪

♪ The years of waste, the years of crying ♪

- [Narrator] In 1964, Mario Savio returned

from Mississippi to the Berkeley campus

where he became the nation's most publicized descendant.

As leader of the Free Speech Movement,

Savio articulated student demands to end restrictions

on political activity and for educational reform.

To force the University of California President,

Clark Curry, to accept the demands,

Savio led some 800 students

into the administration building for a sit-in.

- I ask you to consider if this is affirmed

and if the Board of Regents or the Board of Directors

and if President Curry is in fact the manager,

then I'll tell you something, the faculty

are a bunch of employees and we're the raw materials,

but we're a bunch of raw material,

but don't mean to be have any process upon us,

don't mean to be made into any product,

don't mean, don't mean to end up

being bought by some clients of the university

be that of government, be the industry,

be the organized labor be that anyone.

We're human beings!

[crowd cheers]

- Savio and his wife Suzanne were among the 800 arrested.

Mario received the longest sentence.

Four months in prison.


- He felt that we would be [indistinct]

- Well, when I'm involved in some political activity

I really enjoy it and I throw myself into it.

Writing leaflets [indistinct]

It's the job to get done.

But when I contemplate going into some other such activity

I realize that I hate politics in a very deep way.

It really is an intrusion

on other things that I'd like to do.

I'd like to go back very much.

We'd like to have ourselves a little cottage.

We're sort of a little romantic.

And I guess in point maybe we'd like to raise

some flowers and vegetables.

There just isn't time.

But with the oppression of Negroes in America

and with the rest of us in more subtle ways

and of Vietnamese and of the people

in other foreign countries who are the victims

of the American empire.

We really find that our consciences couldn't quite bear

our receding into private life.

Personally, more fulfilling life

and we can only forget the suffering people

on whom we turned our backs.

- We have discussions every day

about the war and about national politics. And -

- It's very difficult not to think of the war.

It's the biggest topic of conversation

that we have every day.

We turn on the radio, there's the war,

the newspapers and there's the war.

And when we see people having fun all around us

having their barbecues, going to the beach,

then maybe it's harder not to think of the war.

It seems to me that it should be impossible

to be a citizen of a country at war

and be able to go to the movies.

[melancholic folk music]

♪ Who am I? ♪

♪ And now my friends ♪

♪ We meet again ♪

- [Narrator] Stokely Carmichael

age 27 has built a large and militant following

among black high school and college youth.

Carmichael born in Trinidad and educated

at Howard University began his political career in 1960.

When he joined SNCC,

the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

After years of civil rights activity,

Carmichael and the SNCC veterans

concluded that protest changed little,

their new goal was black power.

The phrase that frightened many moderates.

Others dismissed black power as empty rhetoric.

For Carmichael,

it meant that integration into white society

was neither possible nor desirable.

- I was told all the time that I was an exceptional Negro.

I was an intelligent boy.

I had scholarships to go to all the Ivy league schools.

And that I could get into that society

if I played by their rules.

But that really bothered me because I found myself

becoming less free.

See, I think that the freest people in this society

are the people from Mississippi.

Because they have not been caught up

in the structure of watching your P's and Q's.

Has me worried about that.

So I wanted to go South just to see

how free they really were.

And what the threat was to the whole power structure.

I got caught up in the freedom line

and decided that Mississippi was where

I'd like to stay and work.

I learned from the people in Mississippi.

I learned from the people in Mississippi

what I never learned from the most brilliant professors

I've sat under.

They taught me how not to be ashamed.

They taught me how to say what you want to say

whenever you want to say it.

[melancholic folk music]

♪ Who am I? ♪

- We've been so littered and inculcated

with that American Dream nonsense

which we were never a part of

and can never hope to be a part of.

I think that's what the problem that America

is now facing with their youth

both Black and White, but we're all beginning to question,

why is it that she's the richest country in the world?

Is it that she exploits other countries?

Is it that she steals, murders, and plunders,

or is it that she's so smart that she can live

off her resources to yield the amount

of productivity that it does?

And I think that most of the youth are beginning to see

that the United States has been exploiting other countries

and that we have been enjoying that good life

at the expense of other countries.

That, when you match that with the American Dream,

which talks about honesty and equality in a fair shift

everybody to recognize that you talk that nonsense

at the expense of somebody

in Vietnam or South Africa or Latin America,

Asia or Japan just makes you sick to the stomach.

You want to puke.

- When we looked at all the acts of racist exploitation,

which this nation has committed,

whether in the name of Manifest Destiny

or anti-Communism

we saw it America with genocide.

- Our next speaker is David Harris

former Student Body President of Stanford University.

- The brutality in Vietnam is simply a reflection

of the brutality of American life.

If you want to make a statement against that way of life

then it's only when those draft cards that you all carry,

that pledge that you've made do America,

that you will do her murder when

and where she chooses

are floating in the sewers of America with this war.

It's only when those forces that seek

to make every young man in this country a murderer

are confronted with young men who will not murder,

that we can talk about building a world of peace

on the rubble of the American Dream.

Join us!

[crowd cheering and clapping]

- [Narrator] David Harris was elected

Stanford's Student Body President on an anti-war platform

that also included student rights

and legalization of marijuana.

He resigned his post after deciding

that he could be more effective

by organizing draft resistance.

He now spends his time as a full-time organizer

to the resistance

a long way from his father,

a Republican attorney in Fresno, California.

[melancholic folk music plays]

♪ Reminds me over and over of life ♪

♪ And promises ♪

- When you grow up in Fresno, California

and there's one place to go, if you can make it,

and that's Stanford.

- I came to Stanford right out of Fresno

with no conception of what radicalism even was.

I don't even know that I'd heard the word before.

I was kind of liberal Republican-Democrat

or something like that.

Well, you know, you got to Stanford

and it kind of threw off all your,

all your past and said,

well now, now I want to build myself a life.

And then Mississippi happened

and I went to Mississippi and there was American society

laid open on its back there and it sure was ugly.

You know, you decide what kind of life

do you want to lead in relation to that

and the initial feeling one gets is

wow whatever kind of life I lead,

I don't want to be part of it.

- No society that, that allowed Mississippi

to exist can really be trusted anymore.

I just see American society eating itself.

Like for 200 years, we've worked and worked and worked

to produce enough garbage to fill the country.

Now we've filled the country, the entire country

is going to devour its garbage,

which happens to also be itself.

It's frightening to go out

into downtown Palo Alto and watch America roll by.

And it seems to me we're really on the path

of complete self-destruction.

[ominous psychedelic rock music plays]

- All those forces in the society that control

and use people's lives for purposes

other than their own come together

in a very symbolic point, military conscription.

And we choose something like non-cooperation with the draft

because it's with the system like military conscription

that the lives of young people in this country are tied up.

We simply see it as making America pay a larger price.

If America continues to do this kind of thing,

which I'm sure they will

what they're going to have to do is

do it over the bodies of a lot of young people,

they're going to have to put them in jail,

they're going to have to keep them in jail,

they're going to have to realize

that they've got all these people in jail

because they're going to go along with that.

And I think when we get out

we're in a kind of position

that we can really start building a new society from.

- I don't relish living without women

for two to five years, or relish being locked up.

The act of going to prison is

it can be done for no other reason

than simply wanting to preserve one's own honesty.

[ominous psychedelic rock music continues]

- We don't think of non-cooperation as going to jail.

We think of it as non-cooperation with the draft.

One of the results of that,

one of the prices you're going to pay for that

is you're going to be sent to jail.

But the important thing is not worrying or lamenting

the fact that you're going to be sent to jail,

it's how you go to jail and how you worked

before you're in jail that really matters.

We've got one rule, which is that before you go to jail

you'll leave two people to do your work.

And that constantly you understand you know, yourself

and what you're doing in terms of that larger thing,

that thing that exists so much beyond us.

- Once you're in prison -

- [Narrator] The war led to an increase

in the number of conscientious objectors.

Now more than 20,000, who regularly meet for advice

from older draft projectors

on the law and on life in prison.

Conscientious objectors and drafts resistors

are a growing minority of those called to serve.

In 1966 and '67 almost 1,200 draft evaders were convicted.

Thousands have cases pending.

- I'll tell you as somebody who was in prison

for a little while the other day

because of the poor Chicago incident,

and he said, you could see a difference

between the older prisoners and the younger prisoners.

The older prisoners thought you could beat the system.

And the younger prisoners just wanted to blow their mind.

- Just looking at the vast numbers of people each day,

and wondering exactly what they think,

I do feel somewhat alone in my convictions.

- What's been bothering me is,

isn't the loneliness, in itself.

I mean, it's lonely, but it's not too serious,

but I really need someone to come across to

some older person I think mainly.

- I think one of the things that you have

to watch out for with something like this is

you start feeling that you were so much better

than the guy in the street, because you're going to jail.

The problem is not people proving their moral superiority

over other people.

I mean, the problem is people finding answers

to the conditions of their lives.

I don't know that, that jail

is the only option for those conditions.

I just know from my life, you know,

the whole fall and splitting when things get hot,

really it is not my line.

I just see it as a much more healthy way to live

to take whatever it is you got in jail

and to the cross border watching

the world go down a large drain.

[melancholic music playing]

- I just don't see going to Canada as an answer.

If I in fact really wanted to quit America,

then I'd have really no qualms about going to Canada

but this looks more and more

that there's no place to run to.

The rest of the world is becoming

more like America every day.

So if you're going to have to fight a dragon

you might as well fight them where they live.

- [Narrator] The number of draft dodgers in Canada

is estimated at anywhere from four to 15,000.

Canada is a safe refuge since Canadians

do not extradite men for draft evasion.

If the young men returned to the United States voluntarily

they would face trial and long prison terms.

- Well, as soon as you step across that border's

perspective just [indistinct]

everybody seems to get this.

- It's like tons of pressure just released

walking right out of the United States

and coming across the border.

[melancholic music playing]

- And I've become rather extremely bothered

by comparisons between World War II Germany

and in the present U.S. situation.

And I sit and think of parallels

and these upset me no end.

And finally it got to the point where

I had three choices,

coming to Canada,

go to jail

or go out and fight for something

that I've been protesting against for,

you know, the better part of two years.

And I just couldn't see myself doing the latter.

And Canada seems like an awfully nice jail.

[crowd laughs]

- Well, I think it took more guts to come here,

you knew it was a decision

are you going to chicken out

between going out and getting drafted.

That was the whole thing.

Cause I mean, I was, I knew

that's why I didn't, that's why I'd be a murderer.

If I went out there and did those kinds of things.

No question about it.

- As far as making up my mind

the main reason was general dislike

of the racism in the States, which is tremendous.

I'm from Texas. So I'm in a lot of it.

I had quite a religious hangup.


The country's equality with God and patriotism

and I thought I was patriotic and moral, but I wasn't godly.

And when the draft came by, it was mainly just,

are you going to sell out?

And go and kill and be a part of insanity?

Or are you going to stick by what you know is right?

Though which is harder than hell to do

and go to jail or cut out.

And I had to really work myself up emotionally.

I didn't want to fight it at all.

So I said to hell with it, I'll go to jail.

So by my report date,

I think the day after my report date

I accidentally spotted a piece

in the paper about Canadian draft dodgers.

It just gave me the idea that I might come up here

and be free.

And my father didn't want to fight.

He says, you can't beat city hall.

You're not going to beat the U.S. government.

They're going to get you.

He's an informant for the military in Dallas.

He makes good money and it's all of his individual effort

but he's had to sell out a lot,

compromise a lot to get there.

And he's life's based on that

and he doesn't see fighting it.

He thinks that you just get in and just get what you can.

I think it's gotta be better than that

or it's not worth living at all.

- I was thinking very seriously about going to prison.

And then I just thought you're going to be squashed

like a damn bug and you're not going to,

you're not going to be a damn thing,

once you get out you're going to have also a prison record.

It's going to be hard to get a job.

- I want my friends out

and that's what I'm going to try to do

two or three good friends.

I'm going to try and get them out.

- [Narrator] In several Canadian cities

groups were formed to aid

the American draft dodgers

to adjust to life in exile.

Sociology Professor Lewis Feltheimer

of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver

is a Canadian member of one of the committees

that has assisted the young Americans.

- What I'm trying to point out

is that the people who are coming up here

to evade the draft

superficially, would appear to be

people who are rejecting American culture.

What I am trying to suggest is

that these people are not rejecting American culture,

these people are the final, absurd product

of American culture.

Now I'm not condemning them as a particular group.

These are typical Americans,

typical in a sociological general sense.

They have absolutely no conception

that freedom is a social construct.

That the kinds of things that they want

involve their behavior every day

in a very direct way with the society.

These people are looking, what are they looking for?

They'll tell you again and again

they're looking for direction.

They're looking for self.

They want to get out of a thing called the rat race.

They've got all the words right.

They've got all the word right

but they don't have a clue to what it means.

- These people were not politically motivated.

These people had no conception of political action.

They are members of American society.

And all they do is get up and say, well

I believe in the American ideals

of individualism of brotherly love of moral tolerance.

And I see a lot of things about me that contradict that.

So I quit.

- I think people coming to Canada creates

an environment of doubt

on the part of the older generation in America.

I don't see how it could be any other way.

- This is the final, final protest we have

Just leaving.

- The numbers are increasing all the time.

There isn't much you can do by carrying a plaque,

or people kind of ignore you now.

- Well the political scene in the United States

is ridiculous.

And it's a waste of time.

Radical politics is playing silly games.

They're not going to change anything

because it's going to take a social revolution to do that.

And the United States just isn't going to go that far.


[upbeat folk music plays]

- [Narrator] In April of 1967,

and again in 1968, hundreds of thousands

of Americans demonstrated in New York, San Francisco,

and elsewhere, in the spring mobilization for peace.

These were the largest American demonstrations

of anti-war feeling.

The organizers hoped the government would notice

the numbers who publicly showed their anti-war stand,

listened to their pleas and change its policies.

[folk music continues]

♪ And it's 1, 2, 3 ♪

♪ What are we fighting for? ♪

♪ Don't ask I don't give a damn ♪

♪ Next stop is Vietnam ♪

♪ And it's 5, 6, 7 ♪

♪ Open up the pearly gates ♪

♪ Well there ain't no time ♪

♪ To wonder why ♪

♪ We're all going to die ♪

[upbeat folk music continues]

♪ Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba ♪

♪ Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba ♪

♪ Ba, ba, ba, ba ♪

♪ La, la, la, la, la, la ♪

♪ La, la, la, la, la, la ♪

♪ Well come on to Wall Street ♪

♪ Don't move more, I ran to the war ♪

♪ Go, go, go ♪

♪ There's plenty good money to be made ♪

♪ By a slimy army with its rules of prey ♪

♪ Let's hope and pray that if they drop the bomb ♪

♪ Drop it on the Viet Cong ♪

♪ Yeah, 1, 2, 3 ♪

♪ What are we fighting for? ♪

- [Narrator] In San Francisco in 1967

the parade ended at Kezar Stadium.

The long list of speakers included

Georgia State Representative Julian Bond,

Actor Robert Vaughn,

and California publisher,

and unsuccessful candidate for Congress,

Edward Keats.

- America's militarism is the world's spreading cancer cell

and we have to work to eradicate it.

The disease of racism infects our bodies

and we, Black and White, together must wipe it out.

- We talk so fervently of fading faith

without realizing that faith already has been lost.

It has been lost irrevocably step-by-step

as we had been talking peace while escalating wars.

- The answer lies with you the people of this country.

And peace depends upon the people.

- It is preposterous having to walk

four and a half miles and sit for four hours

listening to a lot of speakers

that have absolutely nothing to say to them,

which means not going through all the garbage of

trying to make some kind of big political show

to show how many people you've got recognizing

that the people who really understand this war

aren't that large in this country and that you can't get

to them by having that kind of thing.

- Although I was one of the sponsors

in the call for the conference that resulted

in the spring mobilization,

when it finally came time for the mobilization.

At one point, I didn't want to go.

I'm tired of being mobilized.

- A lot of us expecting to go together easily.

There were clear injustices we could see,

and if only we would protest them,

other people would be drawn to see the injustices

and they would just set them right.

That's the idea of a protest.

Walk a picket line, and there will be moral recognition

on the part of the people who see you going

and well, it didn't take long

for us to learn that that was a lot of nonsense.

Those people who went South

to take part of the Negro struggle down there,

they learned it very quickly if they didn't know it

before they went down.

We learned that at the University of California,

even for people who just

lately have joined the peace movement

in the United States, the proof was

in the recent mobilization.

So, people march, we went to a stadium

and a lot of us got around and talked to one another.

And some people said some more angry things

and then there it was all over.

And the war goes on and we'll drop some more bombs.

Protest doesn't work.

And that's something which is very clear now.

- There is no long tradition of leadership -

- [Narrator] History Professor William Appleman Williams

at the University of Wisconsin

is one of the intellectual mentors of the new radicals.

He is the author of several books,

including The Tragedy of American Diplomacy.

- Is proof positive.

See, they're looking for a tradition now

in the middle of the protest

rather than having come to the protest out of the tradition.

To me, it'd become more and more apparent

that there isn't any tradition

of radical politics in America.

There isn't any tradition of how you stand outside

the accepted framework of the consensus

and still stay in the society

as an equal member and exert pressure.

- So once you sort of get sucked into full-time opposition

really, you have a very empty sort of life

because you don't see your actions bearing fruit.

It's very difficult to advance

from one action to a more sophisticated one

because you seem to be unable to get beyond protests.

And you're always living in the awareness

that it all may be over tomorrow.

I mean, you're not part of this society

because there are no opposition institutions.

You're not building anything.

You're really not building anything.

- If some kind the viable political alternative

if some alternatives for rational reasoned

deliberate political action to change the system

do not develop I really think that

the new radicalism which has begun so promisingly

may become excessive, self-indulgent, self-destructive,

resentful and hateful.

The thing that maybe is most fearful about

it is that in our society

where economic lines are also racial lines

we might find that what began naively

as a movement to change the heart of White America

might end up in very grim race war.

I used to think that there was a clear dividing line

between rage and outrage,

and I've come to feel

that distinction doesn't exist in me,

but I have to watch carefully my reactions

to events to be sure that my reaction is not excessive

That I'm not letting that part

of all anger, which is hatred,

get the better of me.

A case in point

on the occasion of Parker's firing,

I responded much more, much more

of by an expression of hatred

than in any sober reasoned way.

I was under great stress at the time.

But that helped reveal to me that

we've all been affected by the plague

and that even those who are trying to do good

have a great deal of evil in them.

I am suggesting that the politics

of White middle-class radicals

often does have morbid origins,

or at least in part.

I think that the bad effects of those morbid origins

would be reduced if there were more real possibilities

for serious political action.

But in the absence of those

it's altogether too easy to be pushed back

into yourself and to act out the absurdity

of your own personal situation and your politics.

I suppose it's true of me anyway.

If my life, over a long period of years,

became built around crisis-oriented politics,

I would become not just once in a while hysterical

the way I am now, but chronically hysterical.

And I think it would have a bad effect on my politics

while I might start organizing guerilla bands

in the United States.

But sometime in the future that might be appropriate.

But if we did it now, I think it would just be a way

of acting out deep resentment against society,

that deny us the chance to lead full lives.

This is really a great danger

when your whole life becomes bound up in combat

against a beast so much more powerful than you are.

[crowd chanting in unison]

- Stop the draft now, Stop the draft now.

Stop the draft now, stop the draft now.

Stop the draft now, stop the draft now.

- [Narrator] Oakland, California, October 16th, 1967,

Stop the Draft Week.

The object, to prevent the orderly induction of recruits.

Thousands of young people from all over

the San Francisco area came.

They knew that this would mark the end

of the nonviolent demonstrations.

They came to confront the police, to tie up intersections,

to show that they were powerful.

After a week of demonstrations in October,

including a violent clash at the Pentagon,

many in the movement began to think about

where they were going.

- It really hurt them. They beat up this poor man

who was standing there on the sidewalk.

He was just standing there.

He didn't think it was his thing.

So he didn't move and they just beat him up.

- I believe that now it's time for new tactics

in the anti-war movement.

To mobilize all the support we can against the war.

- It's come to this.

There's nothing else to do.

The picketing and all of that it just,

wasn't working, it's time for confrontation

and the whole thing and it's working now.

- The violence in these demonstrations

didn't spring out of any consciousness of the society

they were dealing with it all, but rather the fact

that they all felt impotent

and they had to act all that impotence out

I don't think those demonstrations have a future

except as a repetition of themselves.

They'll probably be more demonstrations like them.

I don't think they'll build anything more

than they've built thus far.

I think what they'll be is the continual kind

of repetition with the same theme,

the theme we are powerful, we are in the streets

when in fact they are in the streets,

but they aren't at all powerful

and have no conception of political power at all.

And it's not a revolution unless you can

liberate the police also.

And all the people that identify with the police

which is most of this country.

[crowd chanting in unison]

- Hell no, we won't go!

Hell no, we won't go!

- I think that there's room for disruptive demonstrations

but where that becomes one of the key points,

so maybe the center of one's political program,

then, at best,

one succeeds in frightening the population

and giving an excuse for further repression.

And since for the majority of Americans

it's very hard to see what's wrong with the country,

it's very easy for the majority of Americans to be convinced

that we're the enemy.

- Personally, I think it's terrible.

While my husband's over in Vietnam right now

and he's fighting for his country

and I don't see why they can't fight for theirs.

- Well, I think if they want to do this

I think they should just ship them on a bus

and take them over there.

'Cause they're not getting nothing done this way.

- You're absolutely right.

And I think if they'd all go home and take a nice clean bath

and clean themselves up they'd have a different outlook

on this whole thing.

- They're not men as far as I'm concerned.

- Well, I don't like the war, but I think

there's really nothing that we can do about it

except go over there and fight.

Because we have to win against the Communists.

- Are you standing here to block the car?

- Yes.

- Can you tell me why?

- Move, I got to go to work.

- Hey, there's a war!

- I don't care-


- Because I believe in -

the anti-draft movement.

I was up all night.

- Sorry about that,

just some of my people don't understand either.

- I support the bombing in Vietnam.

- What for? Then go up there and [indistinct]

- As an intelligent American I support it.

- It's absurd for people to have to go to a war

that they think is morally wrong.

And boys are being drafted.

- It may be a little thing to do,

but I mean what can people do to protest the war?

- They're very confused

and their leadership is really groping

and they don't know where to go

and they advocate one hand, big demonstrations

and they didn't openly advocate violence,

but they call for massive defensive measures.

And all they did was they succeeded in provoking the cops,

through massive display of force.

- I think what we're doing is wrong.

I think killing is wrong.

For any reason.

For any reason.

- In the Oakland demonstrations,

the people who began saying

we've been non-violent long enough

and now we have to be prepared at least to protect ourselves

and to defend ourselves is a personal stand also,

it has the stand of the doctrine of pacifists.

It's another reaction a person can have to a perception

of the violence that he has within himself.

Concerning pacifism, pacifism embarrasses me,

I think in part,

because I'm a bit of a pacifist myself.

I think as a pacifist,

represent themselves very much as something they're not.

As often as not

a doctrinaire pacifism my friend

masks a fear of one's own violence.

When we see a policeman beating someone over the head

it's a quite natural reaction

to want to beat up on the cop.

There's something wrong

with the pacifism politically as well,

it gives the illusion of being a political program

when it isn't.

Nothing that they're doing really affects the war

in any way at all.

The net result of sitting in that way

calmly and being carried off is that

it costs you money and time.

You have to get a lawyer

you're going to go to jail.

It may be that you'll be in jail for a long time.

And then what effect will you have had?

Well, by allowing yourself to be taken out of the society

in that way, you may be leaving the society worse

than it was before you left it.

Those points of view are a little bit hung up on violence.

That's not the issue.

The issue is political power.

They're not exactly the same thing.

[soft psychedelic rock music plays]

- We may as well be in Germany in 1940.

We cannot allow that to happen.

[crowd applause]

- [Narrator] The year of nonviolence

that began with the late Dr. Martin Luther King

and carried over into the anti-war demonstrations

had come to an end for many of the young activists.

Some began to talk about the late Che Guevara

and guerrilla tactics,

but ideas about how to change America

and what kind of society they wanted for the future,

remained a disturbing and confusing subject.

At the University of California,

after the Oakland confrontation with the police,

most of the students felt bitter and angry.

Moral protests, they concluded it was no longer

a sufficient reason to be arrested or clubbed.

Many began to think about an ideology

that would build a political organization.

The University of California Philosophy Professor

Herbert Marcuse, author of One Dimensional Man

has been one of the movement's theorists.

- Dare you to take a strong stand

on what enables the whole country to continue as it is.

- The main enemy today [indistinct]

the main enemy isn't the [indistinct]

it isn't the Pentagon.

No that's not true!

- A function of the radicalism

is to make that position untenable.

- But radicals start choosing issues

that completely alienate their potential constituents.


- They are good people.

- No! - You're saying that

you're better off having them

than having somebody worse.

- To what extent can the system afford

to do without those people.

- If we were in a pre-revolutionary situation

you may be right in fighting the liberals

but damn it we are not in this country

in any pre-revolutionary situation whatsoever.

- I think the frustration leaves the activism

without any particular organization or direction.

There are many different groups

and they tend to be off doing their thing

and to get them coordinated and to get a consensus in,

in the resistance or the protest is very difficult.

It's kind of eerie.

There's a group of people who sincerely

are concerned to change the society for the better.

And in many ways they're acting as individuals

and they're defining the problem as individuals.

So I think there's one important exception at this point.

I think that's the black problem.

The black problem has more sense of community,

more sense of cohesion, solidarity

whatever you want to call it,

than the white students in particular.

I think that is very striking.

- Individualism is a luxury that we can no longer afford.

Definition for black power is the coming together

of black people to fight

for their liberation by any means necessary.

[crowd cheering]

- You are so simple and idiotic!

You sit down and you let White people

tell you what to do.

You use your mouth for two things,

to eat and to say "Yessir".

[crowd murmuring]

It's time that you used your mouth to say "No".

And begin to use your knowledge for the good

of Black people who surround your campus.

- For once they get someone who's speaking

directly to them, who's beginning to challenge

what has been defined as such and such program

in their current campus.

Deep down they've always felt this,

but they haven't been really sure how to express it,

because they're afraid they might be called racist,

or Black Nationalists.

They finally begin to see that they have that release

for the [indistinct] the catharsis there,

that there's an awakening and they're beginning to rethink

what success is all about.

- To bring one who has been involved in the struggle

for quite a long time.

[crowd cheering]

Stokely Carmichael!

- [Narrator] Black power emerged from

the collapse of the integration movement.

The Whites who had supported SNCC were repelled

by the new separatism that Carmichael advocated.

That he claimed that he was no longer talking with Whites.

Many young Blacks, North and South, paid close attention

to the new philosophy of race.

Black power has become a new organizing theme

that has spread fear in many White circles

and pride, excitement, and violence

into the Black ghettos of large cities.

- In this country you were to think that

White people were God, that they had the right

to give us our freedom and so what we had to do

was to beg them or to act the way they want us to act

before they gave us our freedom.

We must stop seeking to imitate White society.

We must create for ourselves to save our very humanity.

Because the fight for black power in this country

is indeed a fight to civilize a barbaric country,

the United States.

[crowd cheers]

We have to be able to gather the strength,

you must be able to get the guts as the intellectuals

of the black society to say, we are black.

Our noses are broad, our lips are thick,

our hair is nappy and we are beautiful!

And we are beautiful!

[crowd cheering]

And we are beautiful!

And we are beautiful!


[crowd continues cheering]


- I think that Black students never heard anyone

tell them that they're black and beautiful.

- White people like Negros, but they have a role for them

they like them like maybe they like their pet dogs.

But they like them to that extent.

Now they have that role,

now when they break out of that role

there's a threat, I guess the sociologist

would call that a threat to status

or what have you, but there is that threat

and then they have to react to that.

But that isn't just in the South

I mean it's in the whole country,

it's in the whole country.

You ought to tell them, Claire!

If you don't want any trouble,

keep your filthy White hands off our beautiful black skin.

[crowd cheers]

Keep them off, keep them off.

[cheering continues]

- We want to talk about this thing called violence

that everybody is so afraid about.

Here you are talking about you afraid of violence

and the hunky drafted you out of school

to go fight the Vietnam.

[crowd screams]

You go sit in front of your television sets

and this is the LBJ tell you that violence

never accomplishes anything my fellow Americans.

This is the most violent society there is.

I think that the society is just,

is just headed towards suicide.

And I really don't think that,

that America could ever,

that America could share in the guilt.

I don't think we could ever see ourselves a country

and that people have to see themselves as individuals.

And that's particularly true I think for White America.

That you must see yourselves as individuals.

That's the death trap for most liberals.

You know, the first thing they say to you is that

well I'm not like the rest of them,

that's their first phrase to you

because they recognize for them to share

in the collective guilt,

they would just have to drink themselves to death.

And I think that, that people who even just touch

on the collective guilt of White America

must drink themselves to death.

They have to.

Because what if you just woke up one morning

and said, you know, for any reason at all

you were burning babies

and you had anything to do with it, man

for any reason at all, you know, burning babies

even to stop Communism, burning babies, man, you go crazy.

You go on and blow your mind.

- Vietnam?

- [indistinct]

- What happens if maybe you don't come back from Vietnam?

- [indistinct]

- I wish you the best of luck, I hope you come back

but as far as I'm concerned,

I hope you fight that war and it fails,

you know what I'm saying?

- We are not only opposed to the war in Vietnam,

we are opposed to compulsory conscription,

we are against the draft.

Now we're against the draft for anybody.

Black or White.

When you are called to serve, you have a choice.

Either you say no and face the possibility

of going to jail,

or you become a hired killer,

you inflict suffering on somebody.

It is more honorable to suffer.

We must save our humanity.

We cannot allow ourselves to be used

as the black mercenaries in that war.

You should join the greatest Mohammed Ali and tell them

Hell no! I ain't going!

Hell no! We ain't going!

[crowd cheering]

- Hell no, hell no, hell no, hell no, hell no.

- We ain't going, we ain't going, we ain't going.

- [Narrator] Stokely Carmichael and other

black power leaders provided the slogan

for a resistance against the draft.

But one of the most active anti-draft groups

retained pacifist principles.

David Harris was one of the leading spokesman

for the non-violent resistance.

In October, 1967, he called for a mass turning in

of draft cards at the San Francisco federal building.

Several hundred people attended.

- What's come about here is a basic understanding

people have gained about their own lives.

And that is that the assumptions

that selective servants make about us

and the the assumptions that the American States makes

about the young people of this country

and that those young people will be the bricks upon

which they'll continue to build an empire,

is an assumption that comes into a fundamental contradiction

with the way we understand our own lives.

And that the choice we've all made

is a choice for life in America, rather than death.

And that the struggle that we've all jumped into today

continues until there is no instrument

of military conscription in this country.

And there is no such thing as an American empire.

- Well, you plant seeds is what you do.

And I look upon the whole last year

of my life as going to various places in the country

you know tossing the seeds out like that.

And they'll grow. Some will grow.

There's no such thing as success and failure.

In a certain kind of sense.

People have to understand their success

is in doing it and then you think that,

you say, what is it that got us in, you know,

into the kind of mess that America is in now?

You can't use the same mode of thinking

that got America to this position

to get it out of this position.

That it is really called for a transfer

to a whole new concept of a way of living.

- I see the political goals of the resistance

as being those of beginning a whole new kind of politics,

which means it's going to develop

a whole new route for power.

I mean, if the power that exists in the society today

is based off certain kinds of assumptions about people

and those assumptions about how people can live together

are exactly the things that we're trying to destroy.

The conception of man as essentially an animal,

as essentially as base.

Calling upon those as the worst its instincts

and calling upon a society with power

to control the worst of those instincts and rather

what we want to build as a society based on the best

of those instincts.

I mean, a society built on man's capacity

to love other men.

If you talk about why someone like myself

is non-violent or would be described as non-violent

is that I see that as the only hope

of building a new kind of power in this society.

And we're engaged in two kinds of tasks

and the first task, I think is the destruction

of the American state as it now exists and the destruction

of the mechanisms that have maintained that state.

And at the same time through that way of life

that we establish in our attack upon American militarism

in all the forms of American society

we build that new society.

We establish commune, communal living situations,

and in that situation attempt to develop

new forms for the society.

And that's just the first step.

People are just as interested in the fact

that I live in a commune as they are in the draft.

Perhaps if you can give people that assurance

that there is hope for life outside the context

of American society.

It's a question of forming community,

which really has to begin

in the individual sense of oneself.

It can't begin talking about community in the situation

of a large number of emasculated people.

The first thing people have to be given

as a sense of their own strength in the particular.

And from that has to I think build

a sense of, you know, a sense of movement,

a sense of revolution of people,

of people merging together

in some kind of common understanding to build

for some kind of common cause of humanity.

- Basically what we've done is broken a certain kind

of paralysis of fear and uncertainty

out of a political situation where everyone

was feeling very, very impotent and very unsure

about where to go

and very cautious in the face of large risks.

The group of people just stepped out and said, well

we're doing it, I mean, we're going to go off and do it.

- And what we say to a society of murder and racism

is a very simple no.

No, with the complete context of our lives.

And what we say to our brothers around this country

and around the world is a very simple word.

That word is resist.

[crowd cheers]

- One thing we've learned is that there were

a lot more people at risk of non-cooperation

than we originally ever thought.

And then in a very bumbling completely unput together way

we made it that much more difficult

for that great institution of war to continue going.

Or I don't know if it was lucky, but we coincidentally are

in a point of history where American society

is breaking up with or without the Vietnam war.

- The fact that large numbers

of among the most privileged youth in this society

White college students are engaging in acts

of disruption against the society

is a clear sign of considerable instability.

Also, it's becoming clear that

we can't have such a war abroad

and have a continuous expansion of affluence at home.

The Vietnam War has made clear

to many people who hadn't seen this before

that the government lies to us.

That -

Many important decisions

concerning life and death,

concerning a studying of economic priorities,

are not made at all with,

regard to the needs of the bulk of the population.

We have the task, not of allowing people

to carry us off to jail, nor of fighting the cops

we have the harder task of beginning to organize millions

of Americans who have no political power.

- [Narrator] Many in the movement began to think in terms

of winning political power, rather than simply protest.

New politics became the phrase and in California

a Peace and Freedom Party arose and won a place

in the 1968 ballot by registering

more than 100,000 voters in two months.

Inside the Peace and Freedom Party

an uneasy alliance developed

between the Black power advocates and the Whites.

The party chose Bobby Seal of the Oakland Black Panthers

as one of its candidates for Congress.

- But meanwhile, back in the ghetto,

we get down to nitty gritty

and I don't jive myself with Black people.

I don't go down the block talking to Black people

a bunch of,

due to the stimulating processes

of basic socio-economic structure in the political

socio-economic industrial complex

with all that, the brother don't want to hear that

man, how can I get some bread.

Maybe you can expect me with many poor Whites.

[crowd applauding]

- [Narrator] Mario Savio became one of the new party's

candidates for State Senate.

- And I'm sure familiar to many of you,

a well-known inarticulate student

at the University of California,

a commanding voice at a very crucial time

a couple of years ago

and who is candidate for the nomination

for state Senator from the 11th district. Mario.

[crowd applauding]

- The day of reckoning has come,

Dean Russ tries to frighten America with the prospect

of one billion Chinese armored nuclear weapons.

He should try and he should be frightened.

For on the ground in Vietnam we are losing

against the brave people with a history of throwing out

foreign thieves and murders.

[crowd applauding]

I'd say, I'd like to see us get out

but that can't be arranged so quickly,

I want to see them win, that's the point.

We must proceed in two ways.

First, we must work to break up the present majority

of White people and White interests.

Second, we must teach the people

that something better is workable and sound.

- You've got to find ways of convincing people

that they would like to make the decisions

that affect their lives.

There's the very real likelihood

that when the war is over, so will the White movement.

We right now have an alliance developing

in the country between movements for Negro liberation

and the anti-war movement.

But until we have a movement for White liberation

in this country,

we will have at best, only very transitory

and unstable basis for taking power in United States.

- Most of the people of the Earth already accept

that in any conflict between the rights of property

and the demands of human dignity,

property must give way.

Today the United States is the single greatest obstacle

to fulfillment of the deepest desires

of the world's wretched and oppressed people.

We've stand at a great watershed

in the history of the human race.

Our people are productive and intelligent.

Our land is rich.

America has the unique opportunity

to help usher in a golden age of peace and freedom.

On the other hand, America can insist

on the rights of her empire.

In this election year

we can help the American people

to begin making this choice.

We can begin in this election year

the great turning of America and the whole world.

Away from empire and disaster and toward peace.

[audience applauding]

- [Narrator] The movement is a long way

from political power.

The entrance of McCarthy and Kennedy

into the presidential race.

Johnson's refusal to run again and the beginning

of talks with North Vietnam have caused confusion

in the anti-war movement.

And some of the peace activists have rejoined

the liberal wing in the Democratic Party.

Movement leaders believe that none

of the major party candidates can solve the problems

of U.S. involvement abroad and racism at home.

But the movement thus far remains as a descending minority.

It has not yet developed positive ideas

and political actions

that serve as alternatives to the major party.

It is groping toward program and organization

but its future will depend not only

on the movement's quality of ideas and action,

its future will also rest upon the ability

of the American system to deal successfully

with the war, racism, and the other issues

which gave birth to and continue

to feed this opposition movement.

[helicopter whirring]

- [Narrator] This has been N.E.T. Journal,

a weekly look at the events, issues, and people

of the world today.

- This is N.E.T.

The National Educational Television network.

More From Legacy Archive Project

July 13, 2022 | Legacy Archive Project
With hate crimes and antisemitism on the rise, marginalized groups under attack, draconian laws in place restricting the right to vote, and the rescinding of human rights by the Supreme Court, this moment demands a close examination of how our nation reached this point, and where we go from here. 
February 7, 2022 | Legacy Archive Project
A treasure trove of 50 archival documentary films, series, and rare interviews. Focused on the Black experience, indigenous rights, and antisemitism, the Legacy Archive Project includes conversations with civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Baldwin, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and many more.
February 7, 2022 | Legacy Archive Project
Broadcast in 1969, 11 men and women from Black and Jewish communities gathered for a rare and candid conversation about racism, antisemitism and how they see one another. Passionate and at times combative, their frank discussion ranges from education to housing to their experience and understanding of oppression.
February 7, 2022 | Legacy Archive Project
A group of 12 college students from various ethnic backgrounds, religions, and geographic locations live together for six days and six nights to determine where prejudice is within America. The Director of the Boston University Human Relations Laboratory worked and lived with the students as well so as to encourage the group to become aware of their attitudes and express their views.