5. Vietnam: Kwame Nkrumah, Martin Luther King and Mohammed Ali - Part 2

Uploaded by cahEIU on 12.05.2011

(Denaye Wallace). Nkrumah also wanted to
equip Ghana with armed forces as well as introduce conscription.
This was just the beginning of Nkrumah's rise, not only as
Ghana's all-powerful, head-of-state, but he also
increasingly became the leading voice, speaking on behalf not
only of the entire African continent but also of
all of the newly de-colonized nations of the world,
inching towards the formal establishment of the
non-aligned movement in the alliance of Marshall Tito's,
following the latter's formal break from the Warsaw Pact.
Both of the African nations and the non-aligned nations
demanding in pursuit vigorous participation
and international politics.
While all of these demands were being made in Africa as well as
in other parts of the formal colonized territories around the
world, the debate over Vietnam and among African-Americans
in general and their leaders in particular
were also becoming a very difficult one.
To most African-Americans there were no obvious other paths for
Johnson to follow besides his war policy.
Furthermore, Johnson the same president who sent Americans to
fight and die in a war also championed the most
significant Civil Rights legislation in the century.
Yet radical African-Americans increasingly argued that
Vietnam had nothing to do with the black vote.
There were also still continuing lack of substantial civil rights
for African-Americans, even after the passage of momentus
[unclear audio] legislation just had a few months
before the full onset of slowly gathering
domestic storms over the entanglements in Vietnam.
Opposition to the Vietnam War began to unite
college campuses to the middle class suburbs.
Government institutions and labor unions all with the
common goal of opposing a U.S. anti-communism,
imperialism, and colonialism.
The first U.S. and anti-Vietnam war protest was
in 1962 led by Sam Marcy founder
of the Workers World Party.
By 1965, the movement began to gain national prominence gaining
momentum for Civil Rights Movement whose initial purpose
was opposing segregation laws.
Influential leaders and icons alike spoke out effectively
against the war.
Mohammed Ali, previously known as Cassius Clay before joining
the nation of Islam, refused to be drafted
in the fight with Vietnam.
He argued that his religious beliefs has procluded this.
Ali's stance cost him his heavyweight boxing title.
It was also a cost that was more than he could bear.
The domestic support through the war, still strong in the 1960s,
there was little tolerance for draft resistance.
However, the U.S. was finding it difficult to impose the wills
of the Vietnamese and the draft was called to expand.
The heavyweight champion of the world was classified
as a 1A, eligible for military service.
In Miami, Ali was told to report that he doesn't have
a quarrel with Vietkong.
With his refusal to fight in the war, Ali was arrested
and found guilty on draft evasion charges.
Boxing authorities stripped Ali of his title
and barred him from competition.
The government withdrew his passport, but the
mounting losses had no victory in Vietnam in 1967, and more
Americans grew pessimistic and turned against the war.
Though [unclear audio] not to join the
demonstrations against it.
Not after long following legal action taken by his lawyers,
Ali returned to the ring in 1970.
With his return, Ali began to understand that he was
accountable to a broader and international constituency of
the oppressed, and his new sense of accountability was to guide
him over the next turbulent decade.
For Ali, this new sense of enlightenment came
from the trip to Africa on October 30th of 1974.
One of the most memorable fights in history was
on May 20th in the stadium of Zaire.
Ali was up against George Foreman, a younger and
stronger opponent to regain his title as
heavyweight champion of the world.
He was viewed as very influential, a figure by the
inhabitants of Zaire who had come to
see the heavyweight championship.
After this fight, Ali announces that he is the
world's greatest and though his experience
publicly embrace his African patrimony.
In Ali's opposition to the Vietnam War, his newfound sense
of accountability was to the larger international
constituency that was preceeded by Martin Luther King's.
Continuously pressing his way for equality during the most
crucial time in the U.S., King began opposing
the Vietnam War at the time when the public opinion
had not yet turned against the Johnson administration.
For King, he earned his disapproval, not only of the
mainstream American society, but also that of the critical
sections of his own Civil Rights Movement.
King believed that the North Vietnam did not send men or
supplies until Americans started sending more troops over.
The war required money and resources that should be used to
support the social welfare, and the speech of reflection of
King's involvement in political advocacy in his later years,
which paralleled the teachings of the progressive
highlander research and education, the center
in which King was affiliated.
King's eagerness to speak out against the war began
to stir up some more suspicion nationwide,
especially in the government sectors.
The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
J. Edgar Hoover, was beginning to raise questions
about the influence of communism and
the social movements like the Civil Rights Movement.
It was believed that King was working with communists
and the Bureau began surveillance of King.
In efforts to humiliate and marginalize him by collecting
and threatening the evidence depicting King
was engaging in several extra marital affairs.
This encouraged several prominent officials
to make further remarks on King's lifestyle.
President Lyndon Johnson let it be known that
he was considered King as a hypocritical preacher.
King denied being a part of communism.
And in an interview, King stated that there were as
many communists in this freedom movement
as there were eskimos in Florida.
King also countercharged declaring that Hoover was the
following the path of appeasement of
political powers in the South, and that his concern for
communism infiltration of the Civil Rights movement
was meant to aid and abet the claims of the
southern racism and the extreme right wing elements.
Hoover didn't believe King's innocence.
Hoover replied by saying that King was
the most notorious liar in the country.
After King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, the FBI
described King as the most dangerous and
effective negro leader in the country.
King was the last, not the only, ineffective or effective negro.
As the conflict in Vietnam escalated, Nkrumah was sent
envoy to President Johnson on an urgent message about Vietnam.
Ghana's foreign minister, Alex Sackey, who was also at the time
the president of the United Nations general assembly will be
at the envoy as well as Nkrumah's emmissary to Johnson.
Sackey's diplomatic visit with Johnson followed
by the return of [unclear audio] the leader of
Nkrumah's special mission to the north.
For four days, [unclear audio] conferred with North Vietnamese
leader, President Ho Chi Minh, Nkrumah's continuous
communication with the North Vietnam leaders that coincided
with the escalation into the anti-Vietnam protests.
Nkrumah's idea was to find a means for promoting negotiations
to end the war, but President Johnson [unclear audio] to
Nkrumah, welcomed anything that the Ghana president
might have to do and to also help to bring an
end to all the aggression in Vietnam.
Johnson also promised Nkrumah that he would be free of danger
in the U.S. air crafts on any peace mission
to the North Vietnamese capital.
Johnson asked Nkrumah to tell him that the American military
action would end when the Vietkong aggression ends.
On February 24th of 1966, as President Nkrumah was on a
layover in Beijing on his way to north Vietnamese,
his government was overthrown by a coup.
Nkrumah himself implicated the U.S. in his overthrow
in the dark days of Ghana, which he wrote,
"An all out offensive is being waged against
the progressive independent states.
All that has been needed was a small force of discipline meant
to seize the key points of the capital city until they
arrest the existing political leadership.
It has been one of the tasks of the CIA and other similar
organizations to discover these potential traitors in our midst
and to encourage them by bribery and
the promise of political power to destroy the
constitutional government of their countries."
These key figures, Martin Luther King Jr., Kwame Nkrumah, and
Mohammed Ali succeeded in linking the struggle for
substantial Civil Rights for African-Americans and other
disadvantaged groups in the United States and internal
peace of the anti-Vietnam War protests by this also led on
their loss of favor with the Johnson administration.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s criticism of the United States'
involvement in Vietnam resulted in his becoming persona non
grata in the eyes of the Johnson administration.
This may very well also have something
to do with his assassination.
Nkrumah's involvement in the United States [unclear audio]
into Vietnam contributed to his overthrow as
a president in Ghana on February 24, 1966.
Mohammed Ali's refusal to the constriction to fight in the
Vietnam led to his loss of the heavyweight boxing title.
Evidently, the criticism of the United States-Vietnam relation
during the LBJ Administration became an important stumbling
block in the path of the Civil Rights movement and the critical
damage the United States standing in war affairs.
[audience applause].
♪ [music playing-- no dialogue]♪♪.