1965 - The nation-wide Vietnam Day demonstration on October 15, 1965 were the larges mass protests in U.S. history
On October 15 and 16, 1965, The Vietnam Day Committee (VDC) organized an anti-war protest that saw over 5,000 people, mainly students, march from the UC Berkeley campus to the Oakland border. The march was scheduled to proceed to the Oakland Induction Center, but the organizers had no permit to enter Oakland, and the crowd was stopped at the Oakland border by four hundred Oakland Police. The pictures presented here were all taken on October 15 and 16. The next day, October 16, another march was held along a different route, but was also stopped at the Berkeley/Oakland border.
The VDC was founded by Jerry Rubin, of "don't trust anyone over thirty" fame, and Professor Stephen Smale, of UC Berkeley's Mathematics Department. Prior to the October and November marches, the VDC had put on a "teach-in" on the UC Berkeley campus on May 21 and May 22, 1965 that attracted upwards of 35,000 students to learn about the U.S. government's plans for a war in Southeast Asia to "stop the spread of "international communism."
Berkeley's teach-in created the momentum for the October march and was just one of many such teach-ins at U.S. colleges and universities held in the Spring and Summer of 1965. The fire of protest that the FSM at Berkeley had started the year before was spreading to universities such as the University of Michigan and New York's Columbia University, to name two.
A second march was held by the VDC on November 21, 1965. This time The Berkeley VDC had obtained the necessary permits and was successful in crossing into Oakland and reaching it's rallying point in Defremery Park. The crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 was even bigger than that of October 16. I do not have photographs from the November 21 march.
The Berkeley VDC and other VDC anti-war groups across the country came up with the concept of the "International Days of Protest," of which the teach-in and the marches were to be a part. The "Days of Protest" idea was designed to encourage anti-war protests around the globe. This emphasis on coordinated international protest was successful on a small scale, and diluted the effectiveness of the VDC in future planned actions. I could not find any reliable studies about the VDC on the internet.
The VDC did not attempt to create a national anti-war organization. Rather, they were bent on organizing large mass demonstrations that would draw thousands and garner maximum publicity. I don't doubt that founder Jerry Rubin contributed to this policy, since sensationalism and drama were his stock and trade. The VDC's big demonstrations did little to educate those outside the cloistered walls of the universities about the Vietnam War, which the public overwhelmingly supported. he VDC could not maintain a sustainable movement, partly due it's lack of democratic leadership and decision-making. It dissolved within three years, giving way to local groups organizing their own campaigns, based on the needs in individual communities.
VDC volunteers canvassed Oakland to generate support
Marchers gathered at UC Berkeley in the dark
That's Jack Weinberg (his dramatic "sit in" in the police car on Sproul Plaza sparked the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in 1964t) on the sound truck that led the march to the Oakland border
The marchers reach Stuart and Shattuck Streets in Berkeley.
Oakland police are there to stop the march at the Oakland border on Telegraph Avenue
Jack Weinberg made the wise decision to turn the march around, back into Berkeley
Peace, joy and love were in the air when we marched again the next day, on October 16, 1965. This time our route was along Adeline Street. This photo was taken as we approached Ashby Avenue.
Who doesn't love a parade?
Oakland police stand ready at the border
The standoff at the Berkeley-Oakland border
The crowd at the Berkeley-Oakland border was huge and peaceful
"We shall not, we shall not be moved, just like the tree that's standing by the water, we shall not be moved"
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Here comes the cleanup crew
Cleanup is a chore, but necessary