Reporting the War

Thomas A. Johnson

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Source: Johnson, Thomas A. Whitney Young, Ending Silence, Condemns War. New York Times, October 14, 1969. P. 24. Johnson, Thomas A. "Whitney Young, Ending Silence, Condemns War." New York Times, October 14, 1969. P. 24.

Whitney Young, director of the National Urban League, who had previously refrained from taking a stand against the war (citing African-American soldiers accomplishments towards fighting for equality through their show of patriotism) came out against the war in 1969 using words that echoed the concerns of Martin Luther King two and a half years earlier:
"I am totally convinced that this war has an extra dimension for black people that it does not have for many whites. We are suffering doubly. We are dying for something abroad that we do not have at home. At the same time, we are victims of backlash among the white majority -- a backlash greatly sharpened by the tensions of the war. By a strange twist of human folly, the groups that are most at odds in our country today -- whites and blacks from working class and poor families -- are those whose young men are dying in disproportionate numbers in Vietnam."
Elsewhere Whitney Young (who had twice traveled to Vietnam himself, once to visit African-American troops and another time to monitor elections) stated that the United States must end the war if it is:
"to win credibility as a democracy in the eyes of the world -- especially the nonwhite world. The agony of Vietnam has twisted America's soul. It has created a disastrous drain on our national resources -- economic, human and spiritual. Millions go to bed hungry in America every night. Our black ghettos are wastelands. The urgent needs of our rural black people remain shamefully neglected. Our young people -- black and white -- are in revolt. We must turn away from Vietnam. We must terminate this war as soon as possible. We must pour our vital resources back into our own land, our own cities, our own people."
Roy Innis, director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) when told of Young's change of position was quoted as saying, "Welcome home, baby."

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