Vietnam War Activism to a shot at the White House

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Malcolm X at NYC Rally (1964)

Malcolm X at NYC rally

Malcolm X is pictured at the microphone during the NYC rally which called for a boycott of public schools. Most public schools acted in a slow manner to integrate after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v  Board of Education. The boycott of the public school system ended up being very successful and more than 450,000 boycotting school for a day. Malcolm X had radical views that went against the views of the NAACP. Malcolm X called for blacks only school that celebrated the African American heritage as opposed to integration. When asked about the Vietnam War, Malcolm X was the first Civil Rights activist to denounce the war and others soon followed. Malcolm X was so opposed to the war, he suggested that African Americans migrated to third world counties to have a fresh start. In 1967, 64 percent of eligible African Americans were drafted compared to only 31 percent of whites. As a whole, African Americans collectively opposed the Vietnam War, however, the difference came in the way leaders opposed the war. Malcolm X was radical and outspoken, almost every time he took the mic he made headlines.

Muhammad Ali, leaves the Armed Forces induction center (1967)



Ali is remembered as one of the greatest heavyweight boxing champions, however, his biggest fight was outside of the ring. Ali is seen leaving the Armed Forces introduction center after he was drafted to the Vietnam War and refused to serve. Ali would be arrested and lost the prime years of his boxing career. Americans who did serve were dying by the hundreds, protesters were burning draft cards, and others flew to Canada. The anti-war movement started primarily on college campuses through the organization SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). A majority of Americans supported the war, however, the minority who opposed made their voice heard. The war did not makes sense to Ali, he only saw discrimination, lynching, and segregation in America. Ali did not understand why he had to go fight for a country when the real war took place at home. Ali did not fear jail time and his Muslim beliefs refused to let him fight in Vietnam. Ali was later sentenced to five years in prison, fined 10,000 dollars, and banned from boxing. For Ali it was simple, stand for something or fall for anything. Ali had no true intentions to become an activist, he just wanted to fight and be the heavyweight champion of the world. Ali’s form of activism is truly amazing considering he sacrificed everything in order to prove his message.


Shirley Chisolm for President (1972)

Chisholm for PresidentShirley Chisholm was the first African American women in Congress and would go on to be the first African American women to run for President. The campaign poster above has Chisholm’s campaign slogan, “Unbought and Unbossed”. The slogan represented her fight for women and minority rights throughout her seven terms in the House of Representatives. When Chisholm ran for President, she was not allowed to participate in televised debates. Chisholm challenged her discrimination from being left out of the primary, won her case, and was able to give one televised speech. Women across the country were still fighting to be treated as equals and Chisholm’s campaign was a symbol for change. Minorities, women, and students were the main followers of Chisholm, yet it was not enough and she would lose the democratic primary election. Chisholm had a very successful political career and was able to combine the feminist and Civil Rights movement. Just about 100 years ago, African Americans were fighting Jim Crow Laws, fast forward to 1972 and an African American women was in the running for the most powerful position in the world. Chisholm might not have won the election, yet won so much more.