The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center
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Archive

Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft Records

Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft Records

1979-2021 Bulk: 1980-1987
5 boxes 4 linear feet
Call no.: 1156

Carol Jankhow, COMD member, at a Stop the Draft rally, ca. 1979

Formed in 1979 in the wake of a congressional vote on reinstating the draft, the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD) was formed by San Diego-based anti-war activists Bill Roe, Hoppy Chandler, Norm Lewis, Fritz Sands, and Rick Jahnkow. Originally a chapter of the national Committee Against Registration and the Draft (CARD), the group formed as a grassroots effort to defeat draft registration legislation, organize opposition to future drafts, and expand the network of anti-draft/militarism work. Early successes included organizing around legislation proposed by President Jimmy Carter to begin draft registration in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, leafleting high schools over military recruiting, and supporting draft resisters, including Ben Sasway, a college student from North San Diego County who was among the first indicted for violating the Selective Service Act since the Vietnam War.
   
In addition to fighting prosecutions of draft resisters, S.D. CARD focused its efforts on counter recruitment campaigns in and around local high schools. In 1983-84, S.D. CARD began to broaden its focus beyond draft work to include the anti-nuclear movement, U.S. military involvement in Central America and the Caribbean, immigration, the militarism of the U.S./Mexico border, discrimination in the military, military impacts on the environment, and other militarism-related issues to become a more inter-sectional organization. This prompted the group to change their name to the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft and to joining other coalitions such as the San Diego Military Toxics Campaign, a coalition of groups educating the public on nuclear-powered aircraft carriers docked in San Diego, and the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY). Today the group continues to fight state, local, and federal legislation related to the draft, including legislation in the 2020s that would expand draft registration to include women. COMD has also called for Congress to eliminate the Selective Service System and discontinue draft registration entirely.
  
This small collection consists of a run of COMD’s newsletter, Draft NOtices from 1979 to 2021 as well as clippings, photographs, circular letters, fliers, legal documents, press releases, correspondence, minutes, and pamphlets primarily from the 1979-1987 period. The material documents COMD’s campaigns, including the Ben Sasway campaign, as well as administrative material illustrating the inner workings of the group. There are also many newspaper clippings that document the national debate around the draft as well as COMD’s activities during this time.

Gift of Rick Jahnkow

Subjects

Draft registation--United StatesDraft resisters--United StatesMilitarismMilitary spending--United StatesUnited States--Armed Forces--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.United States.Army.Junior ROTC

Contributors

Rick Jankhow

Types of material

Clippings (information artifacts)CorrespondenceFliers (printed matter)NewslettersPamphletsPhotographs
Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris Collection

Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris Collection

1973-1983 Bulk: 1974-1979
5 5 linear feet
Call no.: 1171

Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris pamphlet

Administrative records of the Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris, which supported efforts to free Imani (aka Johnny Harris) from death row in Alabama in the late 1970s early 1980s. Originally sentenced to five life terms for 4 small robberies and an alleged rape in 1970, Imani was eventually given the death penalty under Alabama’s capital offenses law due to an inadequate defense by his court appointed lawyers. Harris was put in the brutal Atmore Prison, where he experienced extreme racism, poor medical care, overcrowding, and slave wages. In 1972 the inmates organized a group called Inmates for Action (IFA) and led a work stoppage of over 1,200 prisoners. The prisoners were beaten by guards and the strike leaders were placed in isolation. Two years later, in 1974 an IFA member was beaten to death by guards. The prisoners reacted by capturing a cellblock and taking two guards hostage. In the ensuing take-back by the prison, a guard and IFA leader were killed. Harris and others were charged with the guard’s death. Imani was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.

The Committee worked throughout the 1970’s and 1980s for Harris’ freedom through endorsements, fundraising, and networking to national and international groups. Thanks to the participation of Amnesty International and other groups, Harris’s murder conviction was dismissed in 1987 after a new trial and he was given parole.

The records reflect the dedicated work of Tom Gardner, a civil rights and union organizer/journalist, and others on the Committee who tirelessly toiled on behalf of Harris to secure his freedom. Contained in the collection are the fruit of those efforts, including: fliers, clippings, correspondence, photographs, donor appeals, posters, buttons, legal documents, and additional administrative records of the Committee as well as material from Inmates for Action.

Gift of Tom Gardner, 2022

Subjects

African American prisonersDeath row inmatesPolitical prisoners--United StatesPrisoners--United StatesPrisons

Contributors

Johnny Imani HarrisThomas N. Gardner

Types of material

CorrespondenceFliersMailing listsPamphletsPosters
David Seager New Left and Anti-War Academic Repression Collection

David Seager New Left and Anti-War Academic Repression Collection

1971-1994 Bulk: 1993-1994
2 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: 1168

David Seager’s 1995 PhD history thesis, “Repression in Academia: New Left and Antiwar College Teachers and Political Dissent in the Vietnam War era, 1964-1975” is one of the few in-depth studies of academic repression during the Vietnam era. Besides Ellen Schrecker, who has written extensively on academic freedom and repression in higher education, there has been a dearth of material written about the personal and career consequences faced by American college and university teachers who spoke out against the Vietnam War. For his thesis, Seager did extensive primary and secondary source research and directly interviewed 35 instructors and corresponded with 38 additional ones throughout 1993 and 1994.
               
The project was fully self-funded by Seager who had very little financial support. Early in the research project, his advisor passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. He worked with a competent replacement, but they were not involved with the original concept and Seager was, in a sense, orphaned. Seager planned to expand the thesis with additional post-graduate work, but he was instead caught in a desperate financial bind with no help from a true mentor, a growing pile of job rejections, and a need for income, so the project ended with the thesis.

Subjects

Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Contributors

Seager, David R.

Types of material

Audiocassettes
Restrictions: none none
Eric Goldscheider Collection of Benjamin LaGuer

Eric Goldscheider Collection of Benjamin LaGuer

1983-2009 Bulk: 2000-2009
8 6.83 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1176

2006 Valley Advocate article on LaGuer written by Goldscheider

Collection of material on Benjamin LaGuer, a Bronx-born, Puerto Rican resident of Leominster, Massachusetts who was arrested for raping and beating his elderly neighbor there in 1983. He maintained his innocence, rejecting a plea that could have released him after a couple of years. His case went to trial, and he was convicted in 1984 by an all-white jury. He was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after fifteen years. LaGuer fought to prove his innocence and while in prison, earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. LaGuer and his case brought together a diverse group of supporters, including Leslie Epstein, John Silber, Noam Chomsky, Ellen Story, and Deval Patrick, whose support was used against him when he ran for Governor of Massachusetts.

Eric Goldscheider was an instructor and freelance journalist who wrote for the Valley Advocate, Greenfield Recorder, Springfield Republican, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, and several university publications. Goldscheider met LaGuer when he taught a Journalism 101 class at North Central Correctional Institute in Gardner, MA in the early 2000s. They remained in close contact after the class and Goldscheider took an increasing interest in LaGuer’s case and wrote several articles advocating for his release.

LaGuer was denied parole several times because he refused to admit guilt, and passed away from liver cancer on November 4, 2020, alone in a prison hospital. Goldscheider passed away 18 months later on May 9, 2022.

The collection consists of material that Goldscheider amassed on LaGuer’s case throughout their 20+ year friendship. It contains correspondence, legal documents, clippings, and audio-visual materials, including several dozen phone conversations between Goldscheider and LaGuer recorded on compact cassette.

Gift of Eric Goldscheider

Subjects

Prisoners--Massachusetts

Contributors

Benjamin LaGuerEric Goldscheider

Types of material

Compact CassettesCorrespondenceLegal documentsPhotographsVideotapes
Restrictions: none none
Karen Lederer Political Button Collection

Karen Lederer Political Button Collection

1978-2018 Bulk: 1980-1998
1 .05 linear feet
Call no.: 1167
Assortment of buttons from the Karen Lederer Political Button Collection

Collection of 38 political buttons donated by Karen Lederer, UMass Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Department faculty member, covering several social change issues including: gay rights, political candidates, unions, anti-nuclear activism, women’s rights, campaigns at UMass, racism, anti-war movement, AIDS, single payer health care, the environment, domestic violence, the Equal Rights Amendment, and other assorted events in Western Mass.

Gift of Karen Lederer, July 2022

Subjects

Anti-nuclear movements--MassachusettsGay Liberation MovementLabor unions--Massachusetts

Contributors

Karen Lederer

Types of material

Buttons (information artifacts)
New York Anti-Klan Network Records

New York Anti-Klan Network Records

1977-1983
4 boxes
Call no.: 1160

Sandy Smith, one of the Communist Workers' Party activists killed at the Death to the Klan March, Nov. 1979

The National Anti-Klan Network (NAKN) was founded in Atlanta, Georgia by Rev. C.T. Vivian and Anne Braden in 1979, following attacks by armed members of the Ku Klux Klan during a march organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Decatur, Alabama, and the murder of five demonstrators of the Communist Workers Party in Greensboro, North Carolina in November 1979. The organization grew throughout the 1980s, working with other anti-Klan organizations to spread awareness of the continued violence and growing influence of the Klu Klux Klan.

In 1984, NAKN leadership began examining and reconsidering what the organization stood for, trying to ensure it was focused on working to end white supremacy. In 1985, after this year-long reassessment, the National Anti-Klan Network changed their name to the Center for Democratic Renewal to articulate their broader goals towards fighting racism.

This small collection contains correspondence, contact lists, anti-Klan handouts, and sources of information used by the New York chapter of the Anti-Klan Network, some of which pertain to the NAKN. It also includes newspaper clippings documenting KKK activity and other examples of racism in the early 1980s, and numerous reports of KKK activity and newsletters from other anti-klan groups. There is also a series of color slides used as part of an organizing slide show entitled “Greensboro Massacre – Turn the Country Upside Down to Avenge the CWP5” that documents the Greensboro murders of the Communist Workers’ Party activists and anti-racist/labor organizing.


              

Gift of Jeff Perry, 2021.

Subjects

Activists--United StatesCivil rightsGreensboro Massacre, Greensboro, N.C., 1979Political activists--United StatesRacism against Black people

Contributors

Speigel, Mike

Types of material

Color slidesCorrespondenceHandbillsNewslettersNewspaper clippingsOfficial reports
Restrictions: none none
Paul, Ellen, and Michael Connett Anti-Fluoridation Collection

Paul, Ellen, and Michael Connett Anti-Fluoridation Collection

1950-2016 Bulk: 2000-2015
6.5 8 linear feet
Call no.: 1170
"Fluoride, Don't Swallow It" bumper sticker
Fluoride Action Network bumper sticker

In 1996, Paul Connett was persuaded by his wife Ellen to investigate the controversial practice of water fluoridation. In 2000, he was one of the founders of the Fluoride Action Network which he directed for 15 years (2000-2015). In 2003, Paul gave an invited presentation to a panel appointed by the US National Research Council, which published a landmark review of fluoride’s toxicity in 2006.

In 2010, with two other authors, James Beck, MD, PhD and Spedding Micklem, DPhil (Oxon), Connett published The Case Against Fluoride (Chelsea Green 2010).

Paul Connett is recognized as one of the most important anti-fluoride activist of the early 21st century. The collection consists of material generated during his work with the Fluoride Action Network, which includes the contributions of his wife Ellen and their son Michael. Michael is now a lawyer who has brought a case against the EPA over fluoride.

The collection contains newsletters, correspondence, scientific papers, legal documents, clippings, publications, photographs, audio and video recordings, and a collection of 3/4″ videotaped oral histories with leaders of the anti-fluoridation movement. Also contains material from Paul and Ellen’s involvement with Work on Waste, USA, the environmental group opposed to municipal solid waste incineration (see MS 767, Work on Waste USA, Inc. Records).

Gift of Michael Dolan, December 2021

Subjects

Antifluoridation movementWater--Fluoridation

Contributors

Connett, EllenConnett, Paul, 1940-

Types of material

CorrespondenceNewsletters
Restrictions: none none
Weather Underground Collection

Weather Underground Organization Collection

1918-1978 Bulk: 1973-1978
5 boxes 2.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1145

The 1960s and 1970s were decades rich with activist organizations intent on radically transforming U.S. politics and society as well as striving to end racial and gender inequality. One such group was Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Launched in 1962, with the infamous Port Huron Statement, SDS helped the nascent anti-Vietnam war movement gain traction in 1965 by organizing the first national demonstration in Washington, D.C. Over the course of the next four years, the organization grew at a rapid pace, claiming over 300 chapters under its moniker. Arguments over tactics and strategy culminated during an eventful national convention in June of 1969 in which three factions, all claiming to represent “the true SDS”, split the organization apart.
               
The most notorious of these factions was the Weathermen, (later renamed the less patriarchal Weather Underground Organization [WUO]). The WUO aimed to spark revolution in the United States, initially, through the use of targeted political bombings, political communiques, and support of Black liberation movements. Following the March 1970 accidental self-bombing of three of its New York collective members, Ted Gold, Diana Oughton, and Terry Robbins in a New York townhouse owned by Cathy Wilkerson’s father, the organization opted to conduct more targeted bombings where no one would be hurt.
               
After two-to three-years of high-profile bombings, including the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, corporate buildings, and law enforcement institutions, with minimal impact, the organization began to consider how to regain influence with the greater Left. This began WUO’s “inversion” phase which included the publication of a book/manifesto titled Prairie Fire, the establishment of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, and a periodical, Osawatomie. The WUO’s Central Committee believed that this inversion strategy would allow them to influence and lead the greater anti-war/anti-imperialist movement.

The inversion strategy did not spark the all-encompassing revolution imagined by the WUO and members slowly began to surface, breaking apart the organization in the mid-late 1970s. While the WUO did not accomplish what they set out to do, their extreme tactics and notoriety with the FBI left lasting impressions on American society and the history of activism in the 1970s.
     
This small collection of materials donated by a member of the WUO includes books, pamphlets, manuscripts, notes, military manuals, maps of correctional facilities, and correspondence between members from 1973 to 1978, many of them coded through the use of letters replacing names. It also holds papers critical of  the WUO written by its own members between 1976 and 1978. This represents the period when Clayton Van Lydegaf gathered members in his “Cadre School”, to rigorously analyze and document how the organization fell apart, including a transcript from a recorded interview session in which Bernadine Dohrn repudiated all methods and practices of the WUO. These papers reflect the power struggle seen later within the WUO, as well as the contempt that many of its members grew to nurture for the organization as it strayed from its original purpose.

The collection also contains many political papers on subjects such as women and their place within the WUO, the anti-fascist movement, Black liberation movements, imperialism, and the origins of fascism. It also holds accounts of the WUO’s history, along with critiques, notes, and adaptations for their manifesto, Prairie Fire.

Gift of Jeff Perry, 2021

Subjects

FeminismImperialismRevolutionariesWeather Underground Organization--History

Types of material

CorrespondenceManuals (instructional materials)Notes (documents)Pamphlets