Mobilization to Stop Mass Murder in Vietnam

Title

Mobilization to Stop Mass Murder in Vietnam

Subject

Anti-Vietnam War Movement

Description

During the summer of 1966, the Inter-University Committee for Debate on Foreign Policy held a national conference for opponents of the War in Vietnam in Cleveland, Ohio. Activists at that meeting formed the November 8th Mobilization Committee to raise awareness about the increasingly brutal war in Southeast Asia during the fall election cycle and cultivate a broad-based national antiwar coalition that could mobilize large-scale anti-war demonstration in the U.S. Longtime pacifist and anti-war activist, A.J. Muste, was elected founding chairman of the group, while other notable anti-war figures also played leadership roles, including Dave Dellinger, the editor of Liberation magazine, and Robert Greenblatt, a professor at Cornell University. According to the organization’s newspaper, The Mobilizer, Muste was chosen because he “earned the respect of virtually every sector of the social protest movements in this country, displaying leadership in his work as a pacifist, radical, labor and civil rights [activist.]” Muste was particularly adept at synthesizing the competing philosophical and strategic approaches of individual groups within the broader coalition.

Following the November 1966 elections, the organization changed its name to the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, often referred to as “The MOBE.” The Spring Mobilization Committee was a broad anti-war coalition made up of students, unionists, progressive religious leaders, civil rights and black power groups, women’s organizations, Third World communities, and other members of “oppressed” constituencies, and was tasked with organizing massive demonstrations in New York City and San Francisco on April 15, 1967. Civil Rights and anti-war leader, Rev. James Bevel, now led the organization following the death of A.J. Muste in February of 1967. The April 15 protests attracted an estimated 500,000 participants (400,000+ in New York and 75-100,000 in San Francisco), marking the event as one of the largest days of anti-war protest of the Vietnam War era. The organizers of the Spring Mobilization Committee sought to combine mass action with local community organizing. Each participating group had distinct interests, spurring a variety of internal challenges and sometimes conflicts, which reveal many of the important fault lines within the New Left of the late-1960s.

The April demonstrations were peaceful, with only five recorded arrests, all of people who opposed the demonstration. During the event in New York, Martin Luther King, Jr. Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael and Dr. Benjamin Spock all gave speeches in front of the United Nations critiquing U.S. involvement in the war as well as the socioeconomic politics of the draft. Prior to the march, young men burned nearly 200 draft cards in Central Park. At the San Francisco event, Black nationalists led a march of mostly white demonstrators.

At a conference in the wake of the April demonstrations, the group again changed its name, this time to the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which functioned as a permanent national organizing committee to bring together existing anti-war groups, spur the creation of new ones and develop strategies to promote the anti-war movement among everyday Americans. The National Mobe, which adhered to a non-violent philosophy at a time when a growing number of other anti-war groups were questioning the effectiveness of non-violence, had headquarters in New York and San Francisco, as well as an office in Los Angeles.

Between 1967 and 1969, The MOBE continued to play a central role organizing and participating in several important anti-war actions. In October of 1967, MOBE participated in a protest at the Pentagon, which attracted more than 150,000 people and resulted in more than 700 arrests and numerous claims of police brutality. This effort to “confront the warmakers” was notable for the presence of anti-war activists and counter-culturalists, particularly the Yippies, who sought to “levitate” the Pentagon. In April 1968, MOBE supported SDS’s “Ten Days of Protest” and that August, MOBE had a significant presence at the anti-war protests that rocked the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In January of 1969, the organization, now called the New Mobilization Committee to End the War, or New MOBE, participated in the anti-Nixon demonstrations that took place during his inauguration in in Washington, D.C. And on October 15 and November 15, 1969, MOBE organized the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. The October event attracted hundreds of thousands of participants to demonstrations and “teach-ins” in cities across the country and beyond, with the largest gathering taking place in Boston, where more than 100,000 listened to anti-war Senator George McGovern. The November event drew more than 500,000 anti-war supporters to Washington, D.C., including a number of celebrities and performers. MOBE also coordinated a national anti-draft week between March 16 and March 22, 1970, but by that time, the group had begun to lose strength and ultimately dissolved, with some members drifting into the People’s Coalition for Peace and other joining the National Peace Coalition.

Here is a news footage of the April 15, 1967, march in New York:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18&v=40m5gBgwjQE

Creator

National Mobilization Committee to End the War

Source

Roz Payne

Publisher

Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Date

April 15. 1967

Format

Button

Type

Physical Object

Collection

Citation

National Mobilization Committee to End the War, “Mobilization to Stop Mass Murder in Vietnam,” Roz Payne Sixties Archive, accessed October 23, 2020, https://rozsixties.unl.edu/items/show/161.

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