In the early to mid-1960s, most of the country, including the news media, was supportive of America’s involvement in Vietnam. However, as years passed and fighting continued, some lawmakers and advocacy groups began to express doubts about the government’s justification and strategy in Southeast Asia.


Watch the clip from the 1965 US-government-produced news documentary Why Vietnam? and answer the questions below. Keep in mind that while this is an example of a US government explanation of the US presence in Vietnam, it is line with what much of the public and news media believed at the time.


The 1965 US-government-produced news documentary Why Vietnam? is part off WGBH’s Vietnam Collection. Permission has been granted for educational purposes only, courtesy of American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and Library of Congress)


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Ethel Payne, one of the country’s most well-known Black journalists, covered Vietnam for the Chicago Defender, a prominent African American newspaper. After decades of the news media ignoring stories about Black people, which led to the need for a Black press in the first place, Payne became the first female African American member of the White House Press Corps, and the first African American woman to become a television correspondent for a major news network in 1971.

Directions: Read both articles under the title “Two Views of the Conflict in Vietnam” in the Chicago Defender, utilizing the magnifier to help you. Then use the annotation tool to take notes on the following questions:

  1. What do you first notice about the tone and style of each article?
  2. How does Ethel Payne address the Defender’s audience in her article? How about Betty Washington?
  3. Do you think Payne’s personal perspective hinders or helps her readers’ understanding of the situation in Vietnam? Explain.
  4. Why do you think the Defender would publish two conflicting views of the Vietnam War?

Download the notes to share with your class.

Source: “Two Views on the Conflict in Vietnam”: “Payne Sees Yank Help Viet Village” by Ethel Payne and “Diane Bevel Calls US ‘Aggressor.’” Chicago Daily Defender. Jan 23, 1967. Permission has been granted for educational purposes only, courtesy of the Chicago Defender.

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