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50 Years of Resistance

by Mike Rhodes
This is a radio show I produced about the 50 Years of Resistance event held in Fresno in June 2019. The show features several speakers, including David Harris, Vince Lavery, Sandra Iyall and Don Teeter talking about the anti-war/Draft Resistance movement in Fresno in the late 1960’s and early 70’s.
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Bringing the struggle back home…

Fresno’s 50th anniversary of the Draft Resistance and peace movement during the Vietnam War got started because Joel Eis who was writing a memoir of his organizing days met up with all his old pals from the Resistance. In their little get-together, the idea for this event came up.

In the 1960’s, Fresno was a political “ground zero” of far more importance than anyone could have predicted. The Grape Strike and national boycott was here. The internationally known political theatre company El Teatro Campesino was here. One of only three Army Inductions Centers was here, and because the leader of the National Draft Resistance David Harris and his partner internationally known singer Joan Baez were connected here, the Draft Resistance Community basked in the light of press coverage and government scrutiny far out of proportion to our numbers.

Our campaign to end the War in Vietnam was virtually welded to the Black/Latino struggle in those times. It was about the disproportionate percentage of non-white young men that became cannon fodder or returned to a racist society in which the "freedom" they were fighting for was for whites, not for them.

Additionally, Fresno State College became the epicenter of a protracted battle between conservative administrators and progressives or ethnic minorities on the faculty with over two dozen summary firings. These were hard times, trying times, radical times.

We became the people our parents had warned us against.

This event in 2019 brought together surviving members of the politically active community who struggled against the injustices of those times. Many of these folks had not seen each other in decades, and so the event was wonderfully heart warming. More importantly, the fire in many of us was rekindled by the connection. Many have rededicated themselves to become more active in these trying times. This compendium from the event is more than just a snapshot of the attendees. It is a call to arms for those who were not there.

The following people/organizations made this event possible: Mike Rhodes for doing all the heavy lifting and keeping me cool, Angela Price from Fresno Center for Nonviolence, Ken Hudson from Peace Fresno, Su Kapoor of the Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley, Unitarian Church for the use of the hall and their Staff sound person, The Community Alliance newspaper, Gerry Bill of Peace Fresno, Alex Vavoulis And KFCF 88.1 FM – Fresno Free College Foundation, Sandy Iyall, WILPF, Doug Rippey for coming doing the slide show and video, Kayla Moon for making this DVD and Vince Lavery for making this an international conspiracy.
by Mike Rhodes
by Mike Rhodes
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