Call to ActionAll Exhibits
Dallas Peace Movement
Throughout the controversial Vietnam War, concerned citizens all across the country dedicated time and money to vocally opposing or supporting U.S. military involvement in the war. In most major cities—Dallas included—individuals took to the streets with signs and banners to express their beliefs with their voices and their actions.
Dr. Holbrooke Seltzer and his wife, Millie, both prominent members of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, began actively protesting the war in 1966. Dr. Seltzer and fellow peace activist Ken Gjemre founded the Dallas Peace Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Every Saturday, the group staged a one-hour silent protest in Dealey Plaza.
The Rev. Bill McElvaney, pastor of the Northaven Methodist Church, spoke out against the Vietnam War in 1967. He participated in a number of peaceful protests, including one significant rally in nearby Ferris Plaza across the street from the Dallas Morning News building. He and fellow activists spoke out against the proposed U.S. use of anti-ballistic missiles.
Retired General William Wallace Ford was the featured speaker at the demonstration, but chaos soon erupted when a group of neo-Nazi supporters came forward to heckle the speakers and disrupt the peaceful rally. One person threw red paint on Ford, McElvaney, the Rev. Richard Deats and others. Local photographers J R Compton and the Rev. Bob Smith captured images of the events in Ferris Plaza, including the paint-splattered organizers, after police had arrested those responsible.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), affectionately called “Snick” was a prominent organization during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The group began in April 1960 in North Carolina, and local SNCC chapters soon emerged across the country. The organization was committed to the use of nonviolent direct action to attack segregation and other forms of racism. SNCC played a key role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington, which culminated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In the late 1960s, SNCC shifted its focus to Black Power and openly opposed the Vietnam War.
Ernest McMillan, who had first joined SNCC in Georgia in 1964, started the Dallas chapter of the organization in 1967. In Dallas, the group held meetings, conducted rallies, organized the Texas Youth Conference in 1967 and published their own newspaper, the Black Disciple. In 1968, SNCC launched a boycott of the local OK Supermarket chain, insisting that the stores were exploiting and disrespecting the community.
McMillan and SNCC co-leader Matthew Johnson were arrested and charged with destruction of private property at a store where $211 worth of groceries had been damaged. Each man was sentenced to 10 years in prison even though the only direct testimony against McMillan came from the store owner's son who allegedly saw McMillan drop a bottle of milk.
Released on bond, McMillan left North Texas “illegally” to speak at an event in Connecticut. After evading authorities and traveling around the world for more than two years, he was arrested in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1971. He eventually served more than three years in federal and Texas state prisons and was released in 1975. Today, McMillan is CEO of the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, a nonprofit organization in Houston, designed to help boys become responsible members of their communities. He founded the organization in 1984.