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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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Moderates and the Vietnam War: All the Way with LBJ

Moderates and the Vietnam War: All the Way with LBJ

(p.213) 7 Moderates and the Vietnam War: All the Way with LBJ
Selma to Saigon

Daniel S. Lucks

University Press of Kentucky

The NAACP and the moderate wing of the civil rights movement embraced Cold War liberalism and distanced themselves from anticolonialism in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Their silence on U.S. foreign policy and economic injustice was rewarded with piecemeal progress on civil rights. By the mid-1960s, however, the passage of landmark civil rights legislation seemingly validated this tack. Their reluctance to criticize the Vietnam War was reinforced by their closeness to President Johnson. This chapter focuses on Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP; Whitney Young Jr. of the National Urban League; and Bayard Rustin, who shed his pacifist views during the height of the Vietnam controversy. Each of them believed that attacking LBJ on Vietnam would doom his commitment to civil rights. Rustin's case is emblematic of the dilemmas the civil rights movement faced after passage of the Voting Rights Act. The acrimonious debates tore the civil rights coalition asunder, but the departure of President Johnson and the ascension of Richard Nixon (whom most blacks despised) helped reassemble the fragments of the coalition.

Keywords:   Roy Wilkins, Bayard Rustin, Whitney Young Jr., National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Urban League (NUL), civil rights movement

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