Re: Re: Civil Rights Movement

dh111 (
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 13:45:51 -0400

I agree that the civil rights movement was the central social movement of the
sixities; it clearly shaped and influenced all that came after it, as well
as giving a focus to the white backlash that had begun in the north when
white neighborhoods resisted integration.

I am working on a dissertation about the anit-apartheid movement in the 50s,
60s, and 70s. The early outcry against apartheid came from civil rights
activists involved with CORE and liberals interested in Africa. SDS
protested Chase Manhattan's loans to South Africa before they protested
against Vietnam.

Terry Anderson posits in his recent book "The Movement and The Sixties" that
the sixties wouldn't have been the sixties without Vietnam - that it would
have been another era of liberal-progressive reform. I think that's wrong:
the civil rights movement challenged the structure of American society at
its core. Vietnam, an inevitable outcome of cold war policy in my opinion,
attracted much of the political energies unleashed by the civil rights
movement. While positive changes and movments continued beyond the era of
the anti-war movment, that fundemental divide - were you for or against the
war? - "rends us still" as George Bush, in one of his few true and coherent
statements, put it in his inaugeral address. But the racism that was
embedded in the Constituion when the nation was founded also divides us:
thus the legacies of the sixties continue and we are far from MLK's mountain

Anderson asks the wrong question. The sixites would have been the sixties
without Vietnam, but not without the civil rights movement. Thus the
important question to ponder is: Would there have been an anti-war movement
without the civil rights movement?