The Impact Of The Counterculture And The Antiwar Movement

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The Vietnam War lasted from 1954 to 1975. The war was met by a mixed reaction from Americans, with the unpopular opinion being against the war. People of different race, gender and background went against the war and created a movement called the antiwar movement. This movement became one of the biggest social movements in U.S. history. How did the antiwar movement affect American culture? Established organizations had taken a stance against the war and some like SDS had become a major part of it. There was a division between the counterculture and the antiwar movement as there was a cultural difference. The Civil Rights Movement influenced many of the forms of protests and demonstrations. The antiwar activist sought to combine the two movements, …show more content…
Americans associated the counterculture with the antiwar movement. Many believed that creating a broad movement could stop the Vietnam War more effectively. Neither had a common ground and found it difficult to unite both the antiwar movement and the counterculture. Old Leftist, who were an important role in organizing antiwar protests, in organizations like the Socialist Workers party (SWP) and the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA) did not care much for the counterculture. Combining both could mean that the working class will not partake in the antiwar movement. Fred Halstead, an antiwar movement organizer, believed that the only way to keep the movement respectable and patriotic was to keep a distance from the counterculture. Some leaders of the New Left also felt weary of the counterculture. Tom Gitlin, once the president of SDS, felt that the counterculture did not care much nor do much for those that struggled in third world …show more content…
There were some who asked why they should fight in the war when they were denied all their rights as Americans. Martin Luther King gave a speech against the war in the Riverside Church in New York. There were more black Americans fighting in the war than there were white. In the beginning of the war there were about 20% of African Americans being drafted into the war when they were only 10% of the U.S. population. King and other activist argued that Johnson’s involvement in Vietnam was diverting away from political issues in the U.S. and also programs to fight poverty such as King’s Poor People’s Campaign. At first organizations like the NAACP and the National Urban League did not officially speak out against the war. They stated that if they were not with Johnson when it came to the war than Johnson will not support them when it came to civil rights. King tried “…to combine the peace and civil rights movements…”, the NAACP criticized King for trying to speak for the Civil Rights Movement. The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) became the first Civil Rights Movement organization to officially speak out against the war. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) soon followed SNCC. By 1969 both the NAACP and the National Urban League stated that the war needed to

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