Black Power and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement

Authored by: Simon Hall

The Routledge History of World Peace Since 1750

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138069138
eBook ISBN: 9781315157344
Adobe ISBN:


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On August 8, 1966, Robert F. Williams, the Black Power icon and former NAACP leader from Monroe, North Carolina, gave a speech in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, where he was living in exile. Standing before a 10,000-strong audience that included Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, Williams declared that Black Power was a “dissident force challenging the racist white power structure” that was “so heinously exterminating the people of Vietnam.” 1 Condemning the “racist white man’s war of imperialism” in Southeast Asia, he denounced America’s “vicious crusade to dehumanize, emasculate, and enslave the great Vietnamese people.” 2 These were strong words, but Williams was just one of many Black Power leaders who were sharply critical of America’s military involvement in Vietnam. In fact, a strong antiwar stance was virtually de rigueur among Black Power activists. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, all of the major Black Power groups—including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panther Party, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Republic of New Africa, and the “US” organization (as in “us” black people as opposed to “them”, the white oppressors)—denounced America’s military intervention in Southeast Asia. 3

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