McComb MFDP Statement Against the Vietnam War
July, 1965

[This was the first civil rights movement protest of the Vietnam war. It was circulated as a leaflet in McComb, MS, and printed in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party newsletter of McComb on July 28, 1965. The leaflet was distributed after the Vietnam combat death of John D. Shaw, 23, of McComb, who had been a participant in civil rights demonstrations there in 1961.

The McComb position 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. Their 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."]

Here are five reasons why Negroes should not be in any war fighting for America:

  1. No Mississippi Negroes should be fighting in Vietnam for the White Man's freedom, until all the Negro people are free in Mississippi.

  2. Negro boys should not honor the draft here in Mississippi. Mothers should encourage their sons not to go.

  3. We will gain respect and dignity as a race only by 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.

  4. 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 get 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.

  5. 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.

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