College student leaders refuse military service: 1969
Roger Black, editor of the University of Chicago’s Maroon student newspaper, speaks at a press conference April 22, 1969 in the House of Representatives Agriculture room announcing that 250 college student body presidents and editors will refuse entry into the U.S. military until the war in Vietnam ends.
Black said, “There is a time when you have to stand up against what you believe is very gravely damaging to your country…In resisting the draft and refusing to participate in an unjust and immoral wear. I am taking that stand now.”
Black was one of eight student leaders who attended the press conference representing the 250 other signers of the declaration.
The press conference was organized by David Hawk, a staff member at the U.S. National Student Association (USNSA) offices in Washington, D.C.
Hawk would go on to be one of the key organizers of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee that led perhaps the largest anti-Vietnam War protest in October 1969 where upwards of two million people participated across the country.
George Curry (far right) of the predominantly black Knoxville College said, “After a thorough examination of my conscience. I had only one choice: complete refusal to enter the armed forces...under no circumstances will I enter. Given the choice of jail or war, I’ll serve my time in jail.”
The USNSA was in the process of undergoing a remarkable transformation from being a front for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in its international relations until its exposure by Ramparts magazine in 1967 to a leader in student opposition to the Vietnam War.
In May 1970, the group would issue a call for a national student strike against the war after President Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia in May 1970 and in 1971 lead negotiations for a People’s Peace Treaty with the students of North and South Vietnam and become itself a target of CIA spying.
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The photographer is unknown. The image is a United Press International photograph housed in the D.C. Library Washington Star Collection.