"The Unfortunate Conflict in Far Off Asia":
Three Black Newspapers View the Vietnam War, 1967
Frank E. Fee Jr., Doctoral Student
School of Journalism & Mass Communication
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Frank E. Fee Jr.
4700 Highgate Drive
Durham, NC 27713-9489
Email: [log in to unmask]
A paper submitted to the History Division of the annual convention
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
America's wars have always posed special questions for black
Americans. To people who until the bugles sounded often lived with unrewarded
hope and little opportunity to share in the American dream, mobilization brought
expectations both from within their communities and from the mainstream, new
opportunities, and hopes that by participating in the wars they could gain
fuller participation in political and civic life when peace was restored.
The outbreak of war abroad often has highlighted a hard irony that
the risks for the black American soldier in battle sometimes were not that much
more serious than the risks he might encounter back in the nation for which he
was fighting. Moreover, that many of those wars were being fought on behalf of
the white-dominated society against other people of color was not lost on these
The black press arguments over participation in white America's
wars have reflected larger discussion of the role and future of the black
community, and whether blacks should seek fulfillment and equality through
assimilation into the mainstream; accommodate the status quo and accept
second-class citizenship; or seek liberation through some form of actual or
symbolic separation or nationalism. Each of America's wars has put the
discussions and the options in high relief.
As Clyde Taylor has commented:
African-American History ... has to be cut up, tagged,
and dated to the rhythm of American wars -- wars that Black
no voice in starting, or settling. ... The American Revolution
free Negroes in the North but constitutionalized slavery in the
The Civil War deconstitutionalized slavery and, in its
phase, established the dynamics of modern Black-white
imperialism of the Spanish-American War was the background to
segregation and a plunge into oppression so heavy that one
historian called the period "The Nadir." Out of World War I
urbanization, a new self-image among some Blacks and fresher
among some whites. World War II nationalized the ideology of
desegregation and integration.
In the Vietnam War, however, important variables were different. It
was the first war in which the black GI was not placed in segregated units, the
first in America's history to be opposed as vocally and actively by so many
citizens of all colors, and the first war in which America would not achieve
victory. Moreover, America's war abroad in what one African-American editor
called "the unfortunate conflict in far off Asia" took place as black
Americans at home were waging their most successful battles for civil rights.
Paradoxes in the African-American experience in the Vietnam era
further fuel interest. For instance, David Levy says that black people tended to
oppose the war "in greater than average numbers. ... According to the Gallup
poll, in March 1966, 53 percent of black men approved of the war compared to 65
percent of white men, and 43 percent of black women approved compared to 54
percent of white women." On the other hand, Jack Foner, among others, points
out that Vietnam era re-enlistment among blacks was "at least twice as high as
whites in the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, and about three times as high in the
Army." Thus, it is particularly ironic that virtually no scholarly attention
has been paid to the attitudes of the black press toward the Vietnam War in the
decade that also saw the race's greatest struggles and greatest gains in the
twentieth century. As Ernest Obadele-Starks and Amikar Shabazz, among others,
have suggested, "the history of blacks and the Vietnam War has barely begun to
unfold, and many aspects have yet to be explored." This paper begins to fill
that gap in the black press record.
For the black press, it was a very newsworthy year, but little
scholarly research has examined the work of those newspapers in 1967 or any
other year during the Vietnam era.
It was the year that Harlem's Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was ousted
from his seat in Congress and Thurgood Marshall was nominated to be the first
black U.S. Supreme Court justice. Black mayors were elected in Cleveland, Ohio,
and Gary, Indiana. The first black astronaut was chosen, only to die later in
the year when his jet aircraft crashed. In midyear, inner-city riots created
devastation and death in Newark, New Jersey, and Detroit, and smaller
disturbances in a number of other cities. In 1967, too, major changes and
schisms occurred in the civil rights movement's leadership, and the nature of
Black Power was hotly debated by powerful blacks.
Also in 1967, starting in February, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
made a series of appearances that for him fused the civil rights and peace
movements, bringing condemnation from others in the civil rights movement.
Meanwhile, America's troop commitment climbed above half a million men in
Vietnam, nearly 56,000 of them black, and opposition to the Vietnam War
continued to mount. Bernard Nalty notes that with 295,000 black people serving
worldwide in the United States armed forces, "By 1967 the proportion of blacks
in the armed forces stood at 9.9 percent," and approached the proportion in
United States society overall. However, for a variety of reasons more blacks
were being drafted and the casualty rates among black soldiers in Vietnam were
reported to be higher. From 1961 through 1966, 6,644 service members died in
connection with Vietnam fighting, 1,060 or 16 percent of them black. In
1967, the death toll for black soldiers was 1,192, or 12.7 percent, of the 9,378
With a rising cost in men and resources, the risk that the war was
diverting funds and government and public attention from civil rights
initiatives at home alarmed many African Americans. Among those who disliked
the war policies were a handful of soldiers, several of them black, who during
the year went to prison rather than obey orders for duty in Vietnam. In the most
celebrated case, boxing champion Muhammad Ali, nee' Cassius Clay, refused to
report for military induction and was indicted and sentenced.
In order to begin filling in the record of the black press response
to the Vietnam War, this paper examines the editorial voices of three leading
black newspapers in this pivotal year. The three papers are the Chicago
Defender and the weekly Pittsburgh Courier, two publications with large
circulations and long histories of influence among black Americans, and the
weekly New York Amsterdam News. The News, described in 1982 by Arnold Gibbons
and Dana Ulloth as having "enjoyed a growing credibility that has led it to
acquire nearly national proportions," has been recognized as one of the most
influential black newspapers in the second half of this century and a leader in
black press activism. Just how these key black newspapers looked at the
Vietnam War offers insights into the state of the larger, continuing discussion
of black aspirations and identity.
The debates and the slogans associated with black participation in
-- and opposition to -- America's wars have always reflected a larger, intense
discussion among African Americans about their place in American society and how
to achieve it. Press themes starting with Frederick Douglass in the Civil War
promoted black participation in combat units as offering proof to whites of
black courage and manhood, and such action was seen as promoting acceptance by
whites and assimilation into the mainstream culture.
That argument would be continued by W.E.B. Du Bois in The Crisis
and Robert Vann of the Pittsburgh Courier in World War I, Du Bois urging in
his famous "Close Ranks" editorial that blacks put aside "their special
grievances ... while this war lasts" and Vann echoing Douglass that through
exemplary service, black soldiers could prove their worth and advance the race
on the homefront. On the other hand, the discrimination experienced by black
troops at the hands of the white military establishment, along with concern that
so many of America's wars seemed to target foreign people of color, led to
ambivalence and opposition in the black community to assisting in the war
efforts. Notable in this perspective are John Mitchell's opposition to the
Spanish-American War as one of imperialism against colored people in Cuba and
the Philippines, A. Philip Randolph's political opposition to World War
I, and the question in several black papers about war on the Japanese on
the eve of World War II. In the main, however, the black press has supported the
government's foreign policy and the country's wars.
In view of conditions in the United States and the nature of the
Vietnam War, the black press of the 1960s and early 1970s might reasonably be
expected to have been vigorous in speaking out against the war. Indeed, since
the black press agenda of previous generations as sometimes anticipated white
press initiatives, it might be expected that the black press of the United
States in the '60s would be in the vanguard of media criticism of the war.
However, the secondary record suggests otherwise.
Traditionally, the black press has been the principal chronicler of
African Americans in the United States military and during World War II, the
black press reached its peak circulation as black readers turned to black
newspapers for the only available news of the African-American war effort at
home and overseas.
With the post-World War II decline in black press circulation
influence, accelerated in part by the civil rights movement and urban unrest
that led to more coverage in the white press and the hiring of some of the top
black journalists for the white newspapers, the secondary sources on the
black press and America's later wars and military incursions disappear. From
what scholarly research exists on the black press during the 1960s and '70s, one
might suppose that the black press opinion was virtually exclusively turned on
the civil rights movement. In a bibliography of mostly popular-press
articles on blacks in the Armed Forces, Lenwood Davis and George Hill identify
virtually no editorials in the black press during this period. Other sources
talk little of the black press in general and not at all about the black press
and the Vietnam War.
Nevertheless, there was black protest of the Vietnam War. King's
April 1967 criticism of the war was a
particularly visible example of what for some time had been building
in the black community. But scholarly and popular attention suggests that
the protest was episodic. Melvin Small notes that while Coretta Scott King and
Ralph Abernathy spoke out at anti-war demonstrations, at some of the largest
protests "blacks were not involved in any great numbers." Small says that
had the black anti-war protesters joined the white protests, the presence of
Black Panthers and black nationalists could have hurt the anti-war movement.
Clyde Taylor says that the civil rights leaders feared fragmenting their
movement should the focus be expanded to discussions of the war. However,
David Levy says that a number of major civil rights figures were already
actively protesting the war:
Repeated complaints about the institutionalized racism
of American society tended to make some blacks more skeptical
to patriotism and calls to defend the flag. Influential civil
leaders -- Bayard Rustin, Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael,
others -- argued that young blacks should be fighting for
freedom in the
United States and not in Vietnam. Some in the movement also
the commitment in Vietnam was diverting scarce resources from
programs of the Johnson administration and that the war climate
inevitably strengthening those conservative elements in America
so often opposed civil rights for blacks.
The questions posed by these several analyses of the positions
taken by black editors on the war and the growing unrest on the homefront frame
the analysis that continues in the next section.
Throughout 1967, the Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier and New
York Amsterdam News regularly published news stories and photos of the Vietnam
War. They published views on the war of columnists such as Roy Wilkins, Benjamin
E. Mays, Whitney M. Young, Bayard Rustin, and Jackie Robinson, and, to a lesser
extent, expressed their own opinions relating to the war on their editorial
pages. As in previous wars, the black press coverage emphasized the
participation of black soldiers in the war effort and included a mixture of
success-and-example stories highlighting black accomplishments, features and
news items about individual black soldiers, and reports of discrimination
and unfair conditions encountered by the troops at home and abroad. The
Chicago and Pittsburgh papers published a comparatively large number of brief
stories based on military public relations press releases about local black
In contrast to the two Sengstacke publications, the New York
Amsterdam News had noticeably fewer stories from the military's "hometown news"
press releases, although some of these types of story still could be found.
Likewise, there was coverage of hard news events related to black solders and
Vietnam, including occasional stories of individual casualties and casualty
rates, but the coverage was sporadic. Late in the year, the newspaper
carried a front-page photo of a black soldier convicted of refusing to obey
orders and report for Vietnam duty, but the front page also accorded space
during the year for a story on two black cadets graduating from the United
States Military Academy at West Point. In sum, the Chicago, Pittsburgh, and
New York black press offered readers coverage that differed from the mainstream
press chiefly in that it focused on black people and was less given to
battlefield reports and body counts. By no means could it be described as
radical, by either contemporary or present standards.
In 1967, thirteen editorials about or referring to the Vietnam War
were published in the national edition of the Defender. In the four months
encompassing King's anti-war speech in New York City and the climax of Muhammad
Ali's draft induction case, the Daily Defender carried four editorials dealing
with some aspect of the Vietnam War. The Pittsburgh Courier carried twelve
editorials about or mentioning Vietnam during the year. Throughout 1967, just
six editorials in the New York Amsterdam News were about or referred to the
Vietnam War and the strongest of these was the front-page criticism of the Rev.
Martin Luther King's anti-war speeches in April.
Editorially, although quick to challenge racism in the
military, the papers supported the administration of President Lyndon B.
Johnson, including the Vietnam policy, throughout the year. "We have stood with
the president in his position to resist the spread of Communism in that part of
the world," the Courier said on August 26. "We continue to do so."
The administration's policies sparked events that raised much
debate among African Americans in 1967, in particular King's stand against the
war and the prosecution of Ali for refusing to report for military service. In a
series of appearances in March and April, King spoke out against the war on
moral grounds and also because of the apparent drain the war posed on America's
domestic programs and the disproportionate service of black troops whose own
homeland remained racked with racism. In spring 1967, Freedomways reprinted a
speech King had given April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church, New York City.
King had said of his not-all-that-sudden change in his activism that:
Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took
place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far
devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their
their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in
high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We
the black young men who had been crippled by our society and
them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia
they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.
All three newspapers opposed King's position. In a front-page
editorial, the New York Amsterdam News sharply criticized King. Acknowledging
and "upholding his rights to make any observation and proposal as an
individual," the newspaper nevertheless said "we do not think he should equate
civil rights and the war at the same time." The paper then set forth a list
of arguments against King's stand, including:
America is our country. We have no other and as
citizens we are going to sink or swim as America goes. ... The
form of government to date, democratic, independent and
still -- in our view -- the finest and has brought more
jobs, education, housing, justice and a higher standard of
any other country on the face of the globe. ... When our
country is in
trouble, or involved, we must join in the battle -- whatever
the cost --
since we share in all the benefits when the trouble is
Even now, over 11 percent of the American soldiers in Vietnam
Afro-Americans and 16 percent of them are dying or being
killed. We must
The editorial also stressed the efforts of President Johnson on
behalf of minorities, saying "he has done more to right the wrongs that exist
than any other president. And he has also tried harder." Moreover, in
closing the Amsterdam News strongly echoed Frederick Douglass' "Double Victory"
call to arms in the Civil War in declaring:
We must help our country fight this involved and tragic
war. By so doing we will have done our part, and we will have
battle when it is over in getting what is rightfully ours. We
expect to have rights without the responsibilities that go with
acquiring those rights.
The editorial responses to King in the Chicago and Pittsburgh
papers were respectful but opposed to his action. "We believe Dr. King is
sincere, but at the same time, we say that he does not speak for all Negro
America and besides he is tragically misleading them," the Courier declared.
Claiming King "denounces this country, and this country alone, in his
utterances," the paper invoked national honor in saying:
Certainly no sane person is for war. We are just as
sure that officials in Washington would like nothing better
than to have
an end to this conflict at the earliest possible time. Yet the
States cannot walk out of this matter in dishonor, or, as it
"abandon the schoolyard to the bully."
The Courier then spoke to the loyalty of black service members:
Negro boys on the fighting front are reportedly
dismayed at much of the draft-card burnings and other anti-war
in this country. There is hardly any one of them who would
rather not be
at home, but according to this newspaper's Ethel Payne
a man they are equally as determined to see this job
The editorial also dismissed the argument that the war was draining
millions of dollars that would otherwise be available to the domestic poverty
program: "To suggest that a cessation of hostilities would automatically make a
Congress, lukewarm to this domestic program, reverse itself is blatantly
A month later, the Courier developed its thesis that King was
hurting the civil rights movement by having created "a controversy of
unprecedented proportions since he switched
his emphasis from civil rights to the unfortunate conflict in far
off Asia." The paper admonished, "He must be mindful of his great
responsibility to the central cause of civil
rights," and decried King's criticism of other black leaders for
conferring with Johnson administration officials. "Would Dr. King have Negroes
turn down this excellent opportunity for Negroes to make known their aspirations
through direct dialogue at the seat of the nation's government?" the paper
The Courier argued for singleness of purpose from King, saying:
Our criticism of Dr. King is specifically because he
has mixed the matter of civil rights with the complex and
issue of foreign policy. And in so doing, he has caused some
the former, where the issue is so clear against the fuzziness
The Defender saw things similarly. Saying "there are duties higher
than personal inclination," the paper declared "Dr. King has swept aside this
consideration by an unwise insistence on identifying the war in Vietnam with the
struggle for civil rights at home." There is "glaring incompatibility
between two vastly disparate issues: civil rights and civil war," the paper
said, and King's "business is not to change America but to solve the problem of
living in it and save the black masses from prejudice and unwarranted
The editorial added, "The civil rights business is yet unfinished,
and there are too many unresolved phases of it for the leaders of freedom to
dissipate their energies on matters irrelevant and beyond their control."
As King's anti-war sentiments were coming to a head, so was the
collision of boxer Muhammad Ali and the Selective Service System. Ali, who went
from Olympic boxing medalist to heavyweight champion, had become a Muslim in
1964 and sought conscientious objector status, contending military service was
in violation of his religious beliefs. His comment that "I ain't got no
quarrel with those Vietcong anyway; they never called me nigger" may or may
not have influenced the rejection of his conscientious objector request, but
when Ali refused to report for induction, he was indicted, tried, sentenced to
five years in prison, and fined $10,000. As soon as Ali was indicted, the
World Boxing Association yanked his championship.
In the Ali case, the Sengstacke papers spoke with one voice,
sidestepping the fundamental morality of the war or a military draft but using
the case to argue for more black people on local Selective Service boards. The
editorial carried in both Chicago and Pittsburgh declared:
Clay, or Muhammad Ali as he wishes to be called, and an
increasing number of young men believe that the war in Vietnam
unjust. They have the option of going to jail in behalf of
convictions. Clay is willing to pay the price. Viewed from the
morality and personal conscience, the choice is scarcely
that faced by civil rights activists in their demonstrations
unjust laws upholding racial segregation.
The papers called Ali's opposition to the war "a question on which
there is ground for honest dissent," but they sharply criticized the hasty
revocation of his heavyweight boxing title:
The speed with which Cassius Clay was stripped of his
heavy weight title even before he was indicted by a federal
leaves no doubt but that the World Boxing Association and the
Boxing Commission were eager and glad to find an occasion to
crown from the brow of boxing's most colorful, and morally
since Joe Louis' days.
In New York, a similar perspective was taken in the Amsterdam News,
which editorialized against the inequalities of the draft boards and the speed
with which Ali's title was withdrawn -- "Ali earned his crown in the ring. It is
only there he can lose it" -- but did not make a judgment about the position
that led to Ali's indictment. "This is not to say the inclusion of
Afro-Americans on our draft boards will insure the life of some tan soldier in
Vietnam," the Amsterdam News said. "But at least it will give those who are
drafted a feeling that they were chosen on the basis of need and not of
Shortly afterward, the Courier reinforced its basic position: It
could support a Vietnam draft that was fair to the black race through the
administration of integrated local Selective Service boards. The Courier
endorsed the stand of Mississippi NAACP field secretary Charles Evers who, it
Is absolutely right when he maintains that Negroes have
no right to be sent off to the wars from boards where there is
representation. ... He refuses to link the draft with the
Vietnam, rather he avows that Negroes of Mississippi will
In 1967, President Johnson was many things to many people. To some
in the peace movement, he was the commander-in-chief in an immoral, unwinnable
war that was destroying America along with the Vietnamese countryside. To many
in black America, however, Johnson deserved gratitude and support as the
president who brought them the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights
Act of 1965.
The editorial voice of the Amsterdam News was squarely in support
of President Johnson at this time. "We believe those who spoke out against the
President [after his 1967 State of the Union message] were premature and illy
advised," the paper told its readers early in the year. "Stand by him. He has
stood for you." The editorial asserted "President Lyndon B. Johnson has been
responsible for the passage of more controversial progressive legislation than
any president in history. And this legislation has been for the benefit of
minorities, the aged, the sick, the underprivileged -- the forgotten." It added,
"All these programs, under the Johnson administration, were aimed towards
translating the long-held hopes of Negro Americans -- and other minorities --
into actual law." There was no mention of Vietnam.
In late November, the Amsterdam News again rallied to Johnson,
praising him for a strong stand on what were called "'storm-trooper tactics'
used by some Vietnam dissenters." The editorial declared that "Mr. Johnson
served notice that he is not intimidated by the growing hue and cry against how
we are conducting the war in Vietnam." The editorial concluded, "The President
was in rare form. We hope to see more of the same."
In 1967, when it appeared likely Johnson would seek re-election the
next year, the Defender predicted success that would come in part from the black
vote. "The Negro position in the American society has improved more under the
Johnson Administration than all the previous administrations in our history,"
the paper said. "And Negroes are neither ungrateful nor forgetful. The black
vote will be recorded with sufficient strength to insure Mr. Johnson's
re-election, if he runs again."
Even Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara received praise from the
black press. Calling him "a brilliant Secretary of Defense," the Amsterdam News
noted his efforts to create equal opportunity in military housing and skills
programs offered to service members that were "especially meaningful to black
military personnel, many of whom are in the services simply because America's
civil society has no place for them." Said the paper, "His leaving is a loss
factor to the black military man."
The Chicago Daily Defender also lavished praise on McNamara when
his resignation was announced. It called him "the most effective secretary the
Defense Department has ever had" and "a man with an educated social conscience"
who "has done more to desegregate housing accommodations for Negro servicemen
than any of his predecessors. ... No secretary before him has had the temerity
to stand up for the black soldier."
The Courier's editorial was more extensive than the Chicago or New
York papers had offered and its language was more restrained. "We do not intend
to debate the relative merits or demerits of Robert S. McNamara and his
departure from the government," the Courier said. "We do wish him well. ... We
are acutely aware of some of the programs he instituted during the seven years
he served the office." The initiatives it hailed included affirmative action
programs in the military, ending discrimination in military housing, skills
programs for service members, and expanding minority opportunity and advancement
in the services. In the selection of a successor to McNamara, the Courier said,
"The programs involving Negro Americans serving their country, limited as they
may be, must not be allowed to falter."
Analysis and Conclusion
Examination of the Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier and New
York Amsterdam News for 1967 dispels the notion that the black press may have
been silent about Vietnam in their editorial pages during the war. Besides news
coverage and syndicated black columnists, opinion and analysis were carried as
editorials at various times and in varying frequency by the three newspapers
throughout the year studied. Consequently, it is reasonable to expect editorial
comment continued as the issues became more acute in the ensuing years of the
Vietnam era. However, the content of these 1967 editorials is anything but
strident and by no means could they be called unilaterally anti-war or even in
opposition to the United States government and its policies.
Thus, of the three traditional perspectives reflected at various
periods in the black press in America -- assimilationist, accommodationist or
isolationist/emigrationist/nationalist -- the three influential black papers
demonstrated primarily an assimilationist focus. They argued, as the black press
in America invariably has, for an end to discrimination and racism on the
homefront and in the military and held out the hope that full and honorable
black participation in war would facilitate full participation in an American
society at peace. Notwithstanding alternative discourse available to them and
their readers in other black publications and in the streets, these
newspapers remained supportive of the government and, either directly or by what
they did not say, stood behind its foreign policy during this period. In
steadfastly backing President Johnson and his defense secretary, Robert
McNamara, and even in editorials supporting the national draft -- so long as its
local boards were integrated -- the black press of 1967 showed a conservatism
and acquiescence bordering on accommodationist. Nevertheless, the predominant
call in these editorials was for fairness and the opportunity of the black race
to participate fully and equally in American life, even if it included the
ultimate test: going into battle and facing death. The assimilationist finding
is strengthened by the fact that it was the combination of social and economic
opportunity offered black people in the military and the overriding concern for
the civil rights movement's success that provided their stated justification for
the newspapers' editorial opinions at this period.
Chester Pach says, "Throughout 1967 more people had disliked
[President] Johnson's war policies than endorsed them." That clearly is not
true of the black editorialists studied here. If there actually were a
disconnection between the editorial positions on the war and anti-war sentiment
in the community, it may be that the black press of the Vietnam era was simply
out of step with its intended audiences. For instance, Charlotte O'Kelly noted a
growing separation between black press conservatism and black militancy in the
early 1970s, the period that saw the culmination of the Vietnam War era.
Certainly there is some evidence in 1967 that many black citizens did not share
their newspapers enthusiasm for the war, the president, or the costs of
Perhaps as interesting is an examination of the editorials of the
three newspapers for what they don't say, the so-called strategic silences.
During the Civil War, Frederick Douglass argued the need for a double battle:
against the Confederacy to free the slaves, but also against racism in the North
and for enfranchisement of all African Americans. The theme was revisited in
World War II, when "V" symbolized victory over the Nazis and Fascists. The black
press took up the "Double V" to symbolize victory over the foreign enemies, but
also victory over racism at home in the United States. Unlike the "Double
Victory" and "Double V" perspectives, in the Vietnam era what's missing from the
black editors' assertions of support for the administration and participation in
the war effort is a sense of winning anything on the battlefield. It is this
that separates the editorial opinion of 1967 from, say, Frederick Douglass'
"Double Battle" call or the Pittsburgh Courier's World War II "Double V"
position, and may have presaged a change of heart as the war dragged on.
 Clyde Taylor, "Black Consciousness in the Vietnam Years," in
Vietnam and Black America: An Anthology of Protest and Resistance, ed. Clyde
Taylor (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1973).
 "Dr. King's Inherent Rights," Pittsburgh Courier, 27 May
 David W. Levy, The Debate Over Vietnam (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1991), 111.
 Jack D. Foner, Blacks and the Military in American History
(New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974), 204.
 Ernest Obadele-Starks and Amikar Shabazz, "Blacks and the
Vietnam War," in The Vietnam War: Handbook of the Literature and Research, ed.
James. S. Olson (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993), 319.
 Stewart Burns, Social Movements of the 1960s: Searching for
Democracy (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990), 72.
 Romero, Patricia W., ed., In Black America. 1968: The Year
of Awakening (Washington, DC: Pioneer Paperbook, 1969), 530.
 Bernard C. Nalty, Strength for the Fight: A History of Black
Americans in the Military (New York: Free Press, 1986), 289.
 Although many critics agree generally on the percentages of
black GIs involved, the interpretations vary. James S. Olson notes that black
men were drafted beyond proportion and had higher casualty rates "during the
early years of the war." The Vietnam War: Handbook of Literature and Research,
ed. James S. Olson (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993), 34. Mark Salser puts
the percentages at 16 percent of draftees but only 11 percent of the population,
"primarily due to the inability of many blacks to receive deferments and the
under-representation of blacks on local draft boards." Unskilled draftees were
more likely to be assigned to infantry units and therefore incur higher
casualties. Mark R. Salser, Black Americans in Defense of Their Nation
(Portland, OR: National Book Co., 1992), 73. Bernard Nalty and Morris MacGregor
call "widely held, though statistically erroneous" the notion "that the number
of blacks dying in Vietnam was out of proportion to their number in the army or
the general population. In fact, the Vietnam conflict was a poor man's, rather
than a black man's, war." Bernard C. Nalty and Morris J. MacGregor, Blacks in
the Military: Essential Documents (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc.,
 Romero, 530.
 This concern emerged in many of the discussions and news
coverage of debates among civil rights leaders. See, for instance, Robert S.
Browne, "The Freedom Movement and the War in Vietnam," in Clyde Taylor, ed.,
Vietnam and Black America: An Anthology of Protest and Resistance (Garden City,
NY: Anchor Books, 1973), 67.
 For this study, the weekend (national) edition of the
Defender was examined for the entire year, and each daily Defender was examined
for March, April, May, and June 1967.
 In 1966, John H. Sengstacke, owner of the Defender,
purchased the Courier, and Sengstacke's group in this period was the largest of
the black chains in number of papers and in circulation, according to Roland E.
Wolseley. However, the Pittsburgh paper can be studied separately because it
generally carried separate editorials from the Defender for the months studied
here. Several times when the same editorials were used, the Courier ran a fuller
version than appeared in the Defender. In the 1960s, both newspapers tended to
be moderate to conservative in their editorial positions, Wolseley says. Roland
E. Wolseley, The Black Press, U.S.A. (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1971),
 R. Arnold Gibbons and Dana R. Ulloth, "The Role of the
Amsterdam News in New York City's Media Environment," Journalism Quarterly 59
(Autumn 1982): 451-455.
 See, for instance, Julie Sullivan, "How Frederick Douglass
Saw the Great Emancipator," Media History Digest 6.2 (1986): 56-61.
 Philip B. Dematteis, "Robert L. Vann," in Dictionary of
Literary Biography, Vol. 29, ed. Perry J. Ashley (Detroit: Gale Research, 1985),
 J. William Snorgrass, "W.E.B. Du Bois," in Dictionary of
Literary Biography, Vol. 91, ed. Sam. G. Riley (Detroit: Gale Research, 1990),
 Dematteis, 354.
 Willard B. Gatewood Jr., "A Negro Editor on Imperialism:
John Mitchell, 1898-1901," Journalism Quarterly 49 (Spring 1972), 43-50.
Gatewood points out (p. 45) that "once war was declared ... Mitchell himself
became, for the moment, at least, less vocal in his opposition." Under the
banner of "No Officers, No Fight," however Mitchell created a national campaign
to put black troops under the command of black officers (p. 46).
 Harry Amana, "A. Philip Randolph," in Dictionary of
Literary Biography, Vol. 91, ed. Sam. G. Riley (Detroit: Gale Research, 1990),
 See, for instance, Lester Jones, "The Editorial Policy of
Negro Newspapers of 1917-18 as Compared With That of 1941-42," Journal of Negro
History 29 (January 1944): 24-31.
 Patrick S. Washburn, "The Black Press; Homefront Clout Hits
a Peak in World War II," American Journalism 12 (Summer 1995): 359-366.
 See, for instance, Henry G. LaBrie III and William J. Zima,
"Directional Quandaries of the Black Press in the United States," Journalism
Quarterly 48 (Winter 1971): 640-655; Henry G. LaBrie III, A Survey of Black
Newspapers in America (Kennebunkport, ME: Mercer House Press, 1979).
 See, for instance, Charlotte G. O'Kelly, "Black Newspapers
and the Black Protest Movement, 1946-1972," Phylon 41 (Winter 1980): 313-324.
 Lenwood G. Davis and George Hill (comp.), Blacks in the
American Armed Forces, 1776-1983: A Bibliography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press,
 In reporting results of an extensive Gallup poll of black
Americans, Newsweek magazine reported, "The black backlash against the war is
one of the most striking turnabouts since the 1966 poll: the notion that blacks
ought to oppose the war because they have less freedom in the U.S. -- a 35
percent minority slogan then -- has become a 56-31 majority sentiment today.
"Report From Black America," Newsweek 30 June 1969, 20.
Melvin Small, Covering Dissent: The Media and the Anti-Vietnam
Movement (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994), 97.
 Ibid., 98.
 Taylor, 68.
 David W. Levy, The Debate Over Vietnam (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1991), 112.
 Among other coverage, Sengstacke newspapers reporter Ethel
L. Payne spent nine weeks in Vietnam and produced a series of reports on black
service members that were carried in the daily and weekly editions of the
Defender. Some of Payne's work also appeared in the Courier.
 See, for instance, "Gets Bronze Star: Tan Major Is Honored
for War Efforts," Pittsburgh Courier, 18 November 1967, 2.
 See, for instance, Michael Williams, "A Plea From Vietnam,"
Defender, national ed., 20-26 May 1967, 1; "In Negro's Case: Services Still not
'Perfect'," Pittsburgh Courier, 16 September 1967, 1.
 See, for instance, "Private Joseph Army Signal Student,"
New York Amsterdam News, 12 August 1967, 44.
 See, for instance, "Staff Sergeant Reed Gets Silver Medal,"
New York Amsterdam News, 11 November 1967, 8. It may have been intentional that
the headline omitted the salient fact that it was a posthumous award, although a
photo cutline at the bottom of the story was captioned, "Honored in Death."
 See, for instance, "Three More Die in Vietnam," New York
Amsterdam News, 18 February 1967, 1.
 "Army Days. Disobedient GI Convicted," New York Amsterdam
News, 18 November 1967, 1.
 "2 Graduate at West Point," New York Amsterdam News, 3 June
 See, for instance, "Private Housing for the Military,"
Pittsburgh Courier, 12 August 1967, 6; "Wanted: Negro Generals," Pittsburgh
Courier, 28 October 1967, 6; "McNamara On Race Bias," Daily Defender, 13
November 1967, 13.
 "Reason for Pause," Pittsburgh Courier, 26 August 1967, 6.
 Robert W. Mullen notes that "Many blacks compared the two
billion dollars spent each month on the war with the small sums of money spent
on the black community." Mullen, Black Americans/African Americans: Vietnam
Through the Gulf War (Needham Heights, MA: Ginn Press, 1991), 2.
 Martin Luther King, Jr., "A Time to Break Silence."
Freedomways, 7 (Spring 1967): 103-107.
 Adam Fairclough, among others, has pointed out that King's
anti-war position did not spring full-blown in 1967. He noted that King "by 1965
... already had made up his mind that American policy in Vietnam was -- and had
been since 1945 -- morally and politically wrong." See, Adam Fairclough, "Martin
Luther King, Jr., and the War in Vietnam," Phylon 45 (Spring 1984), 21.
 King, "Break Silence," ibid., 105.
 "Where We Stand," New York Amsterdam News, 15 April 1967,
 "Dr. King's Tragic Doctrine," Pittsburgh Courier, 15 April
 "Dr. King's Inherent Rights," Pittsburgh Courier, 27 May
 "Dr. King's Leadership," Chicago Defender, national ed.,
22-28 April 1967, 10.
 Jack D. Foner, Blacks and the Military in American History
(New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974), 203.
 Levy, 112.
 Ali's conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in
 Foner, 203.
 "Cassius Clay's Case," Chicago Daily Defender, 15 May 1967,
13; "Cassius Clay's Case," Pittsburgh Courier, 27 May 1967, 6.
 "Still Champion," New York Amsterdam News, 13 May 1967, 16.
 "Something Else," New York Amsterdam News, 13 May 1967, 16.
 "Defiance of the Military Draft," Pittsburgh Courier, 20
May 1967, 6.
 "Unwarranted Attacks," New York Amsterdam News, 21 January
 "A Strong LBJ," New York Amsterdam News, 25 November 1967,
 "Will Negroes Fail LBJ?" Chicago Defender, national ed., 28
October-3 November 1967, 10.
 "Good Man Gone," New York Amsterdam News, 16 December 1967,
 "Robert S. McNamara," Chicago Daily Defender, 30 November
 "McNamara's Leaving," Pittsburgh Courier, 9 December 1967,
 The magazine Liberator, for instance, kept up steady
criticism of the war throughout the period, as did the quarterly Freedomways,
among other publications. See, for instance, Donald Jackson, "Unite or Perish,"
Liberator, February 1967.
 The Defender, in fact, ran two stories reporting black
opinion on the war. Although the data's statistical precision is unclear, the
first indicated "a small majority of Negroes are in favor of pushing the Vietnam
War -- but ... a large minority have misgivings." Sam Washington, "Should We
Stay in Asia? How Negroes Feel," Chicago Defender, national ed., April 1-7,
1967, 1. Later that month, the paper reported a second survey, in which black
opposition to the war was said to be much higher. Sam Washington, "Negro Opinion
on Vietnam. Majority Favor Pull-Out," Chicago Defender, national ed., 22-28
April 1967, 1.
 Chester L. Pach Jr., "And That's the Way It Was: The
Vietnam War on the Network Nightly News," in The Sixties ... From Memory to
History, ed. David Farber (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
 O'Kelly, "Black Protest Movement, 1946-1972," 324.
 Washburn, "Double V Campaign," 73.