7 thoughts on “United States ‘War on Poverty’ during the Vietnam war

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  4. 50 years ago: First US demonstration against Vietnam War

    Handbill for Vietnam War protest

    On April 17, 1965, the first mass US demonstration against the war in Vietnam was held in Washington, DC, organized by the liberal Students for a Democratic Society. In line with their orientation to appealing to the Democratic Party and the Johnson administration, march organizers prohibited banners demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops.

    Protesters carried signs calling for a negotiated settlement in the war of national liberation being waged by the Vietnamese workers and peasants against US imperialism. They picketed in front of the White House before marching to the Washington monument to listen to speakers, including Democratic Senator Ernest Gruening of Alaska and liberal journalist I.F. Stone.

    Gruening, one of the two US senators who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, called for a cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam. The marchers later walked to the Capitol to deliver a petition to Congress.

    The protest march was far larger than organizers expected, reflecting the radicalization of layers of students as US imperialism escalated its intervention in Vietnam. SDS had supported the election of Lyndon Johnson in 1964 as the candidate of “peace” against Republican Barry Goldwater.

    In 1962 the organization, which evolved out of the League for Industrial Democracy, a right-wing social-democratic grouped backed by a section of the trade union bureaucracy, adopted a reformist platform authored by Tom Hayden calling for the formation of a “New Left.” It explicitly rejected the revolutionary role of the working class in favor of middle class radical protest.


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