First Published: Guardian, May 3, 1972.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Nearly 40,000 people demonstrated here April 21 in “a visible show of outrage and opposition to the recent escalation of the war and specifically to the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong.”
The sponsoring Bay Area April 22nd Coalition developed from planning by the Bay Area Anti-Imperialist Coalition. The coalition grew to 150 participating organizations without compromising its anti-imperialist thrust.
Demands set forth in the printed program were: “(1) An end to U.S. aggression in Indochina and support for the Provisional Revolutionary Government’s seven-point program for peace in Vietnam; (2) An end to U.S. interference in the internal affairs of any country; (3) An end to Nixon’s policies of political, economic, racial and sexist repression. ”
Speakers made much of their claim that this was the first public gathering in the country to back the seven-point program. Another “first” was a format for active participation by supporting organizations. This was a “People’s Exposition” – some 150 displays outside Kezar stadium, where the speaking program took place, with each organization relating its special interest to the overall purpose of ending the war in Indochina.
There were films, dramatic skits and music. The march was less-than a mile, the speakers few and relatively brief.
By telephone from Paris, the meeting heard the voices of Mme. Nguyen Thi Binh, foreign minister of the PRG, and Nguyen Minh Vy, negotiator for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Accepting the call were Le Anh Tu, a Vietnamese woman living in the U.S., and Delia Alvarez, whose brother is a POW in North Vietnam. A taped message from Angela Davis was introduced by her sister, Fania Davis Jordan. The entire program was heard in Paris by telephone.
Hank Reichman, speaking for the Bay Area Anti-Imperialist Coalition, said that “revolutions against the United States” are going on in other places as well as Indochina: in Africa, where people’s armies are fighting U.S.-supported Portuguese imperialism (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea- Bissau), in Chile, Uruguay, Guatemala. Nixon’s criminal bombing of Vietnam, he said, is triggered by desperation because “U.S. imperialism can’t afford to let the people of the world see that they can win.”
“Follow the example of the Vietnamese people,” he urged. “Don’t be fooled by the seeming power of the U.S.”
Dolores Huerta, vice president of the United Farm Workers, was represented by Fernando Chavez, son of Cesar Chavez. He explained that Huerta was in Washington, lobbying against a bill to take away the right to boycott. Chavez bitterly condemned the wage freeze as well as the war. Both, he said, come down especially hard on Chicano workers.
Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther party, was the lead-off speaker. The same people, he said, the imperialists, are polluting the environment, polluting the quality of human life, and killing the people of Indochina.
Dick Gregory was the only speaker quoted extensively in the news media. Just a year ago, he said, he had gone on a liquid diet for the duration of the war as a protest. Now, he said, he was going on a complete fast for 40 days, and he gave his listeners that long to get the war stopped. The way to do it, he said, is by boycotts that would force leaders of industry to demand an end to it – boycotts of chicken and turkey, of Standard Oil and General Motors.
“The president of GM wouldn’t have to go to Washington and lay down in the middle of the street to get Nixon’s attention. He would bust into the White House in the middle of the night, throw Pat Nixon out of bed, get Nixon up and tell him to end the war.”
Jane Fonda, the actress. told the audience they must not be discouraged. She had recently been on three other continents. She had recently been on three other continents, she Said, and “every time we in the U.S. do something to demonstrate against imperialist aggression we give new hope and courage” to people around the world who are fighting the same forces.
“We are moving from an antiwar to an anti-imperialist movement,” Fonda said.
Le Anh Tu was joined on the platform by a dozen other Vietnamese, who sang fighting songs of their people.
After the speaking program of less than two hours, there was entertainment by the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the Red Star Singers and Country Joe Me Donald. Films shown in Kezar pavilion were “People’s War.” “79 Springtimes.” “Only the Beginning.” “The Women’s Film” and “EI Pueblo se Levanta.”
There were noticeably more blacks on the march and in the audience than in past peace demonstrations here, and a larger percentage of the middle-aged and older. There was little of the exuberance seen at some peace marches, but rather a feeling of grim intensity.
Organizations sponsoring exhibits ranged from the Sierra Club to the Union for Radical Political Economics, from McGovern and McCarthy for president to the Marxist political parties. They included several artists’ communes, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Liberation Support Movement, defense funds for Angela Davis, Ruchell McGee and others, Asian Students’ Union, Worker-Student Alliance, U.S.-China Friendship Assn, Medical Committee for Human Rights, with an exhibit on acupuncture.
The Bay Area Anti-Imperialist Coalition includes the following: Revolutionary Union, Red Family, Bay Area Liberation Support Movement, the Anti-Imperialist Coalition of UC Berkeley, Iranian Students, Arab Students, Ethiopian Students (all of UC campus), Red Sun Rising, Berkeley Tribe. This coalition had organized as a contingent of previous demonstrations: it became the prime mover for this one.