The Anti-War Movement
At home, one of the most important aspects of the Vietnam War was the anti-war movement. Conscientious objection was not uncommon during other American wars, but the level of visible opposition to the war in Vietnam was unprecedented. In this module, students will examine the motives of anti-war protestors by examining the primary source texts of The Catonsville 9, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Kerry.
Why did many Americans oppose the Vietnam War?
- 5.E.1.d. Objective: Describe the actions the United States took to withdraw from the Vietnam War, including the policy known as “Vietnamization.” How did these actions affect the Vietnamese people?
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1 : Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information. (Grades 9/10)
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2 : Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas. (Grades 11/12)
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7 : Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. (Grades 11/12)
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8 : Evaluate an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information. (Grades 11/12)
- D2.His.1.9-12: Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by the unique circumstances of the time and place, as well as by broader historical contexts.
- D2.His.4.9-12: Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspective of people during different historical eras.
- 8.1 The United States responded to an uncertain and unstable postwar world by asserting and working to maintain a position of global leadership, with far-reaching domestic and international consequences.
- United States policymakers engaged in the Cold War with the authoritarian Soviet Union, seeking to limit the growth of communist military power and ideological influence, create a free-market global economy, and build an international security system.
- Post-war decolonization and the emergence of a powerful nationalist movement in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East led both sides in the cold war to seek allies among new nations, many of which remained nonaligned.
- Cold War policies led to public debates over the power of the federal government and acceptable means of pursuing international and domestic goals while protecting civil liberties.
- Americans debated policies and methods designed to expose suspected communist within the United States even as both parties supported the broader strategy of containing communism.
Tips for using this module in your classroom
As students watch the film clip, have them record notes on:
- How were veterans of the Vietnam War treated upon returning to the United States?
- Why were some veterans treated poorly?
- How did it affect them?
Interview transcripts: Bob Cook, Randy Elliot, Lou Reymann, Charles Wright
Close Reading Primary Source Analysis
Conduct a close read of the Catonsville 9 statement . Ask students the following text-dependent questions:
Conduct a close read of the speech Muhammad Ali gave after he was drafted into the military .
- For what reasons does the author oppose the war in Vietnam? Cite at least three pieces of textual evidence.
- Why is the point of view of the author important to consider in this source?
- What may be the author’s purpose in using this type of language in a court trial?
- For what reasons does e Muhammad Ali oppose the war in Vietnam? Cite at least three pieces of textual evidence.
- How do Ali’s claims compare to those of other sources?
- Why is Ali’s point of view important to consider in this source?
Conduct a close-read of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech . Ask students:
Conduct a close-read of John Kerry’s “Winter Soldier” speech before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- What are King’s reasons for opposing the war in Vietnam? Cite at least three pieces of textual evidence.
- How do King’s claims compare to those of other sources?
- Why is King’s point of view important to consider in this source?
- What are Kerry’s reasons for opposing the war in Vietnam? Cite at least three pieces of textual evidence.
- How do Kerry’s claims compare to those of other sources?
- Why is Kerry’s point of view important to consider in this source?