It has taken me all summer, about 15 weeks, but I have finished a three volume biography of Martin Luther King/history of the Civil Rights Movement. What an amazing era. The trilogy covers 1954 - 1968; the last volume, At Canaan's Edge, 1965-68.
The Vietnam War leaves its mark all over the last volume. It dominated those three years, from the date the first ground troops hit the beach until the night King was struck down by an assassin's bullet. It split King from LBJ as it divided the country. King saw peace in Vietnam, peace on Earth, as inextricably linked with the struggle for equal rights, and had to speak out. Johnson saw King disloyally turning on him, the best, most powerful friend the Civil Rights Movement ever had.
Despite this split, both men achieved much in those three years, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in August being the culmination of a concerted years long effort. Both men then turned their focus to LBJ's War on Poverty though both faced major distractions, Johnson with escalation in Vietnam, King with internecine movement politics and an expansion into the north, especially Chicago. King was to lead a second March on Washington in the Spring of '68; Johnson was pushing Congress to build his 'Great Society.' Instead a summer of bloody chaos began with King being shot to death in Memphis where he had gone to support striking sanitation workers. There was no second, peaceful march on Washington. Instead there were riots in 110 cities the night King was killed, and many more throughout the summer, including the chaos in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention.