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Interpreting the Evidence

Protesting the Vietnam War

  • Historical Eras:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil Rights

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load My File Upload - January 28, 2021 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load My File Upload - March 15, 2021 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Topics: 1960s Anti-Vietnam War sentiment, Draft   

 Skills: Compare/contrast, Perspective taking, Argumentative writing

This document shows the anti-war movement included and wanted to reach all Americans, even non-English speakers. The two languages, English and Spanish, show the importance of the message “Bring Them Home!” It also shows an Invitation to an anti-Vietnam War rally hosted by the women of Williamsburg and provides statistics of the negative impact of the Vietnam War on the daily life of civilians and soldiers.

 ​​​​​​​Historical Context: This program and rally from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, written both in English and Spanish, reflects the growing, anti-war movement spreading across the entire country as the war deepened and casualty rates mounted. A divide was spreading between “hawks” and “doves” as controversies concerning the conduct of the war, the draft, the credibility gap after the Tet Offensive, and the societal impact of what Walter Cronkite dubbed the living room war

Although there is no indication of the year this rally was held, the students can determine the approximate date by using other clues in the narrative, such as the mention of President Johnson and the number of servicemen who had died. The draft lottery of 1969 was a response to the disproportionate number of minority casualties, but it did not solve the problem.

Essential Question: Why do citizens protest government actions?

1.      Have students read the document. Using text-specific language, clarify why the rally was being held. (For the drafting of minorities, the war was not in the national interest, discrimination issues).

2.      Compare the local rally with events happening all over the country. (What are the similarities, what are people protesting, why are the rallies happening, is this in line with what is happening in the rest of the country)

3.     Project chart of minority casualties during the war so far and have the students validate or refute the claims made in the rally flyer. (Minorities were drafted and suffered a disproportionate number of casualties that other segments of the population)

4.     Revisit the essential question: Was it fair for these groups to hold protest rallies? Was it fair of them to go against what the American government supported? Pass out the 3x5 index card and tell the class they must fill up one side of the card indicating whether or not they tend to support the protest groups’ ideas or whether they believe the accusations of them being “unpatriotic” or “un-American.”

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Optional Extension Activity

The following activity could be completed in order to extend students’ thinking and encourage them to make connections:

1.      Assign each student one of the following:

a.       Write a speech for the March 1st rally in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Have each student select a persona and write the speech from that person’s viewpoint.

b.      Write an open letter from the opposite point of view about the reasons why the war in Vietnam should be supported.