Scope and Contents
The records of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, hereafter called the Mobe, include scattered minutes (September 1966- December 1968) of its administrative and working committees, as well as other smaller committees. There are releases and mailing from both the National and regional Mobes, covering the entire span of their existence and also domestic and international correspondence (1966- 1969). Material pertaining to specific Mobe events includes proposals, packets, publicity, texts of speeches, reposts, and memos. A Reference section contains topical information of interest to the Mobe and there is mail received by them from other organizations. There are newspaper reports and editorials from all parts of the country, mostly describing the Mobe's mass demonstrations held in 1967. There are also 25 sound recordings.
Correspondents include James Bevel, Dave Dellinger, A.J. Muste, and Sidney Peck.
The National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam was a non-exclusionary conference of groups opposed to the United States' involvement in Vietnam in "its illegal and immoral interference with the lives and fortunes of a people ten thousand miles away from America". This groups began during the summer of 1966 when an intercollegiate faculty group known as the Inter-University Committee for Debate on Foreign Policy who had organized the first campus teach-ins on Vietnam in 1965 called a national conference on the war's opponents on September 10 and 11 in Cleveland, Ohio. At this conference, the November 8th Mobilization Committee was created. The committee served as an ad hoc national group which planned to focus attention on the increasingly violent and brutal war during the pre-election period that fall. A.J. Muste, who died several months later, was the founding chairmen with leadership support from Dave Dellinger (editor of Liberation), Robert Greenblatt (Cornell professor and member of the inter-University Committee for Debate on Foreign Policy), Edward Keating (publisher of Ramparts), and Sidney Peck (Western Reserve University professor and also a member of the Inter-University Committee).
Following the November 1966 elections, at a meeting on November 26, the November 8th Mobilization Committee formally organized into the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, commonly known as "the Mobe". Its major undertaking at that time was to organize a mass rally on April 15, 1967, both in New York City and in San Francisco. Following that rally, the group changed its name to the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. The Mobe initially had two main offices: one at 857 Broadway in New York City and the other in San Francisco, with a regional office in Los Angeles. In 1968, the New York headquarters were moved to 5 Beekman Street until March 1969 when the group was asked to vacate that office. The Reverend James Bevel was its national director.
The Mobe's chief aim was to mobilize public opinion against the Vietnamese War and against such other injustices of society as black inequality. It sought to weld a coalition of existing peace groups and to spark the formation of new action groups across the country. It did this by organizing mass rallies of protest in major American cities, sending a delegation directly to President Johnson, distributing leaflets to Congress in a non-violent direct action campaign, supporting draft resistance programs, and calling for black liberation. A.J. Muste concluded one of his pleas for resistance against the war with the question, "What are we waiting for?" This became the Mobe's motto.
The Mobe was most active during the year 1967 when it organized two major rallies. The first mass demonstrations were held on April 15, both in New York City where 400,000 protesters gathered in Sheep Meadow in Central Park and walked to the United Nations, and in San Francisco where 75,000 supported the rally. Speakers in New York included Dr. Benjamin Spock, Stokely Carmichael, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On October 21, 150,000 gathered in Washington D.C. to "Confront the Warmakers". The parade marched to the Pentagon amidst 2,500 federal troops and marshals and 700 arrests, with charges of police brutality by the peace groups. All of these events received nationwide press coverage, heightening awareness of the growing antiwar sentiment.
In 1968, the Mobe proposed to change "from dissent to resistance". President Johnson's announcement in March to drastically reduce bombing North Vietnam produced a temporary holding pattern in actions of the Mobe and other peace groups. In April, the Mobe cooperated with Students for a Democratic Society in "Ten Days of Protest". In August, they took part in the Chicago demonstrations centering around the Democratic National Convention which resulted in three days of riots between the marchers and Mayor Daley's police. As a result, Mobe leader Dave Dallinger was indicted early in 1969 and charged with conspiring to cause the Chicago riots. The Mobe urged an election strike campaign in November, arguing that none of the presidential candidates (Nixon, Humphrey Wallace) was a true peace candidate.
In January 1969, the weakened Mobe took part in Inaugural Demonstrations as Nixon was sworn into the office of President. That summer, remnants of the Mobe reconstituted themselves in the the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, headquartered in Washington D.C. This group divided during 1970 with some members joining the National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) and others the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice (PCPJ).
Like many of its fellow peace organizations during that troubled period, the Mobe was charged with harboring Communists and hippies. It tried to support both war protest and black liberation without compromising either. Its emphasis on non-violent protest was often undermined by press coverage that focused on acts of violence which occurred during the mass protests. The Mobe succeeded, nevertheless, in showing Americans the growing hostility against the war among both civilians and GIs and in giving support to increasing the rights of African Americans.