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Reginald Booker urges end to war in Vietnam: 1967 | by Washington Area Spark
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Reginald Booker urges end to war in Vietnam: 1967

Reginald Booker, an Anacostia organizer, speaks to the crowd at an antiwar rally on the Washington Monument grounds sponsored by the Washington Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam July 15, 1967.

 

Booker urged black families to have more babies to offset the killings of black people at home and in Vietnam.

 

Also shown from left to right are Dagmar Wilson, Women’s Strike for Peace; and Herb Kelsey, director of the Washington Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

 

Ray Robinson, a former boxer who headed a group called Soul Sessions, Inc., told the crowd of about 300 that the slow progress of black Americans has discredited non-violence and peaceful protest.

 

Wilson praised boxer Muhammed Ali who was then under sentence for refusing to serve in the U.S. Army.

 

“He is one of the great heroes of our time. His action may turn the course of history. He deserves two Nobel prizes,” Wilson said.

 

Robert Greenblatt, a co-chair of the National Mobilization, told the gathering that white college students should drop out of school in protest of deferments for the armed services for students, which he said discriminated against black Americans who lacked the opportunity for higher education.

 

“Take one or two courses if you want, but not enough to qualify as a full-time student,” Greenblatt urged.

 

Reginald Booker was a community organizer, antiwar activist and chair of the Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis (ECTC). Booker’s emphatic denunciations of freeways built for white suburbs at the expense of black residents in the city helped galvanize opposition to new roads.

 

Booker's in-your-face style was exemplified by his naming his Anacostia group "Niggers, Inc."

 

Booker co-chaired the ECTC with Sammie Abbott, an acid-tongued left-wing activist who got his start as a union organizer in the Buffalo, N.Y. steel mills in the 1930s. The two made a perfect pair.

 

The ECTC led a series of demonstrations and civil disobedience actions to halt the construction of freeways in the District of Columbia and instead provide funding to build the Washington Metro system in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

 

The group’s flamboyant actions played a key role in turning the tide of public opinion away from freeways and toward construction of Washington, D.C.’s mass transportation system.

 

For a detailed account of Booker’s activism, victories and defeats, see washingtonareaspark.com/2020/01/28/the-d-c-black-liberati...

 

For more information and related images, see flic.kr/s/aHskVENBnt

 

Photo by Schmick. The image is courtesy of the D.C. Public Library Washington Star Collection © Washington Post.

 

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Taken on July 15, 1967