Thursday, 28 October 2010

Vietnam War Protestors Mass at U.N.

Phil Ochs, former Ohio State student, entertained the marchers with anti-war and anti-draft songs.By DONNA J. PLESH
Lantern Staff Writer

April 17, 1967

NEW YORK, N.Y.--An estimated 100,000 to 125,000 anti-war demonstrators marched through the streets of midtown Manhattan Saturday.

Then they gathered near the United Nations Building to hear speeches against U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said, "I would like to urge students from colleges all over the nation to use this summer and coming summers educating and organizing communities across the nation against war.

"I would like to urge students to continue to pursue the path of alternative services and accept the role of conscientious objectors as many are doing."

Student Action Called For

Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, also called for more student action against the war.

"We must move our war to the high schools, and we must begin to organize anti-draft groups in the high schools," he said.

"Our position on the draft is very simple and crystal clear. Hell no, we ain't going," Carmichael said. He then led the crowd in the chant, "Hell no, we ain't going."

The New York Police Department estimate of the crowd was much lower than that of the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, the group that organized the march. A spokesman for that group estimated the crowd at over 250,000.

OSU Students Gather

The marchers gathered for the demonstration early Saturday morning in the Sheeps Meadow area of Central Park. Members of the Spring Mobilization group had set up alphabetical divisions for those marching. An estimated 200 Ohio State students massed in section F with others from the Midwest.

The march was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., but was delayed until 12:15 p.m. by late arrivals.

Leading the marchers along the estimated two mile route were King, Dr. Benjamin Spock and singer Harry Belafonte. Carmichael led a group of marchers from Harlem who joined the main group in the midtown area.

At 1:15 p.m. the first group of marchers arrived in the United Nations Plaza area, where the speakers platform had been set up.

Crowd Is Entertained

Before the speeches started, and while thousands of other marchers were winding their way to the Plaza area, the crowd was entertained by a host of prominent folk singers including Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, The Freedom Singers and Peter Seeger.

Seeger led the crowd in a song which began, "One, two, three, four. Stop this lousy war."

Peter, of Peter, Paul and Mary, told the crowd, "The senators and congressmen should not stand in the halls. And I hope that they will not turn their heads or their eyes or close their ears to what's happening here."

Spock Voices Opposition

The first speaker, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Cleveland baby doctor, said, "We oppose this war because we love our country. We oppose this war because we believe this war is damaging our country in every way. America is now scorned and hated by millions of people of its former a small helpless country."

But it was King's 35-minute speech that the crowd had been waiting to hear.

"I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America," he said. "I speak out not with anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart. And, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world."

At 5 p.m., a heavy rain began falling and some marchers began leaving. A few minutes later the speeches ended.

Mrs. King Speaks

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, another anti-war demonstration was still in progress.

An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people marched through downtown San Francisco to protest the war in Vietnam.

Later, San Francisco police estimated that 50,000 people gathered in Kezar Stadium to hear Mrs. Martin Luther King Jr., Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, who recently returned from a visit to North Vietnam, and State Rep. Julian Bond of Georgia, speak against U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

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