McComb MFDP Statement Against the Vietnam War
[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
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
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 Mississippi. Mothers
should encourage their sons not to go.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.