Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. "The War on Vietnam: A McComb, Mississippi,
Protest." In Joanne Grant (Ed.) Black Protest: History, Documents, and Analyses,
1619 to the Present. 2nd ed. Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett, 1974. P. 415-416.
This was the first civil rights movement protest of the Vietnam War. It was circulated as a
leaflet in McComb, Mississippi, and printed in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
newsletter of McComb on July 28, 1965. The statement was criticized by Southern Congressmen
as an indication of the lack of patriotism of the MFDP. Lawrence Guyot, chairman of the MFDP
executive committee and Rev. Ed King, a member of the executive committee, issued a statement
on July 31 pointing out that the leaflet did not represent the position of the MFDP since policy
was made only by the MFDP executive committee and not by local branches of the party. The
statement said, however, that "it is very easy to understand why Negro citizens of McComb,
themselves the victims of bombings, Klan-inspired terrorism, and harassment arrests, should
resent the death of a citizen of McComb while fighting in Vietnam for 'freedom' not enjoyed by
the Negro community of McComb." The leaflet had been circulated after the death of John D.
Shaw, 23, of McComb, who had been a participant in civil rights demonstrations there in 1961.
"The War on Vietnam: A McComb, Mississippi, Protest."
Here are five reasons why Negroes should not be in any war fighting for America:
- No Mississippi Negroes should be fighting in Vietnam for the White Man's freedom, until all
the Negro People are free in Mississippi.
- Negro Boys should not honor the draft here in Mississipp. Mothers should encourage their sons
not to go.
- We will gain respect and dignity as a race only be forcing the U.S. Government and the
Mississippi Government to come with guns, dogs and trucks to take our sons away to fight and be
killed protecting Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana.
- No one has a right to ask us to risk our lives and kill other Colored People in Santo Domingo
and Vietnam, so that the White American can gfet richer. We will be looked upon as traitors by
all the Colored People of the world if the Negro people continue to fight and die without a cause.
- Last week a white soldier from New Jersey was discharged from the Army because he refused to
fight in Vietnam; he went on a hunger strike. Negro boys can do the same thing. We can write and
ask our sons if they know what they are fighting for. If he answers Freedom, tell him that's what
we are fighting for here in Mississippi. And if he says Democracy, tell him the truth -- we don't
know anything about Communism, Socialism, and all that, but we do know that Negroes have caught
hell right here under this American Democracy.