Published March 10, 2023
Quakers feature prominently in the new film about the movement against the Vietnam War that premieres on PBS/American Experience at 9 PM on Tuesday, March 28th.
The MOVEMENT and the “MADMAN” tells the little-known story of how in the fall of 1969 two massive antiwar demonstrations caused President Nixon to abandon his secret, self-described “madman” plans for a massive escalation of the war, including the possible use of nuclear weapons. At the time, protestors had no idea of their impact, or the countless lives saved.
The two demonstrations depicted in the film are the nationwide Moratorium on October 15, 1969, in which more than two million protesters in more than 200 cities and campuses marched and rallied against the war. The Mobilization a month later saw a half-million war opponents come to Washington, DC, and another quarter-million in San Francisco. At the time, they were the largest political demonstrations in US history.
To tell the story, the film uses interviews with former Nixon/Kissinger aides, antiwar organizers, Congress members, and historians as well as extensive archival footage and music of the era. The film has the air of a political thriller, alternating between inside the White House with what was happening on the streets.
One of the key figures in the film is David Hartsough of San Francisco Meeting. He describes his work with FCNL at the time as well as A Quaker Action Group’s demonstration on the Capitol Steps of reading the names of the war dead. Many other Quakers are shown in their roles as key organizers of the demonstrations, particularly the March Against Death on November 13-14, 1969, where some 45,000 people marched from Arlington Cemetery to the Capitol via the White House carrying the signs of American soldiers who had died or Vietnamese villages that been destroyed.
The film’s Executive Producer is Robert Levering of Santa Cruz Meeting.
from Robert Levering, Santa Cruz Meeting