formally came out against the Vietnam War in the beginning of
1966 as a result of pressure from northern supporters and from
members working on the southern projects.
instance, the McComb, Mississippi project went as far as releasing
its own antiwar pamphlet. Such events may have pushed SNCC towards
releasing an official opinion, but the murder of Sammy Younge
was the catalyst. Younge was a SNCC worker and a Tuskegee Institute
Student who lost his kidney in Vietnam. He was murdered by a white
gas station attendant for trying to use the white restroom.
to the war's escalation in 1965 SNCC had very little to say about
the U.S. government's foreign policy. Soon, however, SNCC began
to feel that African-Americans were just one of many groups around
the world under the boot of U.S. government oppression. As a result,
members of SNCC began to identify with the struggle of the Vietnamese
people. Both African-Americans and the Vietnamese people were
poor and non-white, and SNCC felt the United States had demonstrated
a distinct lack of respect for the lives of both groups.
linked the ruthless bombing of Vietnamese citizens to the U.S.
government's frequent failure to bring the murderers of black
people to justice. Also, the destruction of Vietnamese village
life in the name of "pacification" was comparable to the destruction
of African culture during the period of slavery. Thus, SNCC challenged
the U.S. government's "benevolent intentions." The group did not
believe that the government would create a truly democratic society
with free elections abroad, when such rights and structures were
not provided for a large percentage of the population at home.