Students marching in an anti-American protest in South Vietnam, in 1965.
“The year 1967 was a watershed for antiwar protest in the United States, from bold statements like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Riverside Church speech in April to the March on the Pentagon in October. Equally noteworthy, but less well known, is the student protest movement that emerged in South Vietnam. Vietnamese youth, of all political orientations, played an active and critical role in the politics of South Vietnam, at times acting like the official opposition with the ability to shape events on the national stage. And just like in the United States, 1967 was a momentous year for the movement. On April 30, 1967, a few weeks after King’s speech, the Saigon Student Union election ushered in a slate of antiwar, left-wing leaders. Under the new union president, Ho Huu Nhut, and three subsequent presidents (Nguyen Dang Trung, Nguyen Van Quy and Huynh Tan Mam), the student union and its headquarters became the hotbed for antiwar activities. The Saigon Student Union was only one of many radicalizing campus organizations, including the Hue Student Union, the Van Hanh Buddhist University Student Association and the Saigon Confederation of High School Students. Under the influence of antiwar leaders, students staged rallies, marches, school boycotts and hunger strikes to protest the war, American intervention and various policies of the South Vietnamese government. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of students participated in the events. Considering the brutal impact of the war, it is not surprising that youth, especially those of the draft age, wanted to see its end. At the same time, while they might have opposed the war, for the most part youth did not want to see the destruction of South Vietnam. Like most students in the United States, most South Vietnamese students only wanted the violence and fighting to stop. But a small minority of South Vietnamese students did not share this perspective. Some student leaders were actually working covertly for the National Liberation Front (also known as the Viet Cong) and the Lao Dong Party, the official name of the Vietnamese Communist party during the war. As the party was outlawed in South Vietnam, these student leaders had to operate clandestinely; some managed to keep their Communist affiliation secret until the end of the war. …”
NY Times: When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam
The Nation: Why Is There No Massive Antiwar Movement in America?
The Atlantic: Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War – Story by Martin Luther King Jr.