The Whole World Was Watching
an oral history of 1968
Civil Rights

There are many veterans who have... very strong feelings about the rightness of that endeavor and I could never pick that up... [the Vietnamese] people were our victims of our racism, you know, and if you're trying to save people you don't look down on them. - Cleveland Kurtz

You would have had to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to know there were gross inequities. And they became heightened as... they needed more, you know, war soldiers and more fodder [in Vietnam]. And certainly with Martin Luther King, and his efforts in the south with voter registration. With Rosa Parks and breaking up the segregation on the buses, the segregation in the lunch rooms. All of those boycotts were happening throughout the south and throughout the area. So you know that there were gross inequities between the races. It was in your face everyday. - Marsha Aaronson

...Martin Luther King was assassinated...the entire west and southwest sides of Chicago had flared up in riots...That was really scary, just seeing the west side of Chicago up in smoke, and people running around, and hearing the crackling of gun fire, just so, you know, that was incredible ...It was sort of like the whole world order was beginning to crumble. - Kathy Spoehr

Well everybody was moved by Malcolm X's rhetoric and a lot of people liked the Panthers because of their kind of confrontational tactics. And of course every kind of leftist inclination--at the time the Panthers had kind of this blend of Marxism and nationalism, and their ideology that was very appealing to people like myself. In fact I even though about joining. - Rhett Jones

[After Martin Luther King was assasinated], I felt like the light had gone out of the world, and that it was like darkness creeping in. Here was a man who had stood for beauty. He stood for everybody. He didn't just fight for blacks, he fought for anyone who needed rights. - Naomi Craig

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