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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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Vietnam and Civil Rights: The Great Diversion, 1965

Vietnam and Civil Rights: The Great Diversion, 1965

(p.73) 3 Vietnam and Civil Rights: The Great Diversion, 1965
Selma to Saigon

Daniel S. Lucks

University Press of Kentucky

Chapter 3 focuses on the simultaneity of the Johnson administration's escalation of the war in Vietnam and passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act, marking the end of de jure segregation. While the African American public and the mainstream civil rights movement were delighted with the end of segregation, the war in Vietnam gripped SNCC and other militants from the beginning. They were struck by the administration's hypocrisy: it was willing to send troops to faraway Vietnam but reluctant to send federal marshals to protect civil rights workers in the Deep South. For a brief moment in early 1965, the civil rights and antiwar movements overlapped at the SDS march on Washington. By the end of the year, the passions unleashed by the Vietnam War were displacing civil rights as the nation's most pressing problem. As Johnson militarized the war, the riots in Watts erupted, antiwar dissent grew, and SNCC debated whether to formally take a stand against the war. The war in Vietnam diverted attention from the civil rights movement, and dissent and debate over the war aggravated preexisting generational and ideological schisms in the movement. It was a harbinger of future strife.

Keywords:   Vietnam War, civil rights movement, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), United States history, 1961–1969, Lyndon B. Johnson, New Left, Voting Right Act of 1965

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