Protest movements in the USA, 1968–1973
Protests about the Vietnam war began almost as soon as the US became involved. The protests grew from 1968 onwards for a variety of reasons:
The Draft. The way in which the Draft worked was seen to be discriminatory. College students were able to avoid being called up which meant that the Draft was predominantly aimed at the poor and in particular the Black American populations.
Media Coverage. The changing way in which the Media reported the war and incidents such as the My Lai massacre angered many Americans. They saw many young men coming home in body bags, atrocities being carried out by US soldiers and the impression given by the media was that the war was unwinnable. People also questioned the need to be involved in Vietnam. Public Opinion polls conducted each month in America showed that public support for US involvement in the war dropped from 59% in March 1966 to 35% in August 1968 and just 28% by May 1971.
The protests took several forms.
Student protests. Several student organisations were established to oppose US involvement in Vietnam. These included Student Libertarian Movement, established in 1972. Student protests took the form of ‘teach ins’, marches and rallies.
Mass rallies and marches. Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement these saw large nmbers of people march in demonstration against the war. In 1967 over 400,000 people marched from Central Park to the UN headquarters to make their views clear. Details of other marches and rallies can be found on this page.
Music. Protests against the war were also influenced by many popular entertainers of the time. Music festivals often focused on the anti-war theme and many songs were written about the war.