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Selma to SaigonThe Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War$
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Daniel S. Lucks

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813145075

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813145075.001.0001

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Dr. King's Painful Dilemma

Dr. King's Painful Dilemma

Chapter:
(p.141) 5 Dr. King's Painful Dilemma
Source:
Selma to Saigon
Author(s):

Daniel S. Lucks

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813145075.003.0006

Martin Luther King's tortuous odyssey from civil rights activist to antiwar spokesman is explored in detail in chapters 5 and 6. Chapter 5 describes how LBJ's powerful and eloquent speech on the Voting Rights Act moved King and set the stage for his anguished response to the war. The narrative traces King's long-standing commitment to peace and his belief that the civil rights struggle was a global fight against colonialism and imperialism. The intent is to debunk the idea of King as a convenient hero. King was always a radical. A few weeks after the Watts riots, King spoke against the carnage in Vietnam and called for a cease-fire and China's acceptance into the United Nations. This provoked a fusillade of criticism from the liberal establishment. Reeling from these attacks, King confessed to his aides that he didn't have the stamina to be both a civil rights leader and an antiwar activist. Meanwhile, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI was wiretapping King's conversations, which only fed LBJ's paranoia that King was indeed a communist. For the next few years, King muted his opposition but continued to anguish over the war.

Keywords:   Martin Luther King Jr., Lyndon B. Johnson, civil rights movement, antiwar movement, United States History, 1961–1969, African American history

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