David Harris, leader of the Vietnam Draft Resistance Movement, dies at 76

But when he learned that some of the students were planning to return to Mississippi for another round of organizing, he signed up immediately. Within three days, he was on the ground in Lambert, a Delta town about 75 miles south of Memphis.

The experience electrified him. He returned to school later that fall and immersed himself in the budding Stanford movement against the Vietnam War. He spent long nights in his room with his dorm mates, listening to music (including records by Joan Baez, long before he met her) and debating the morality of America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia. East.

He attended its first demonstration in March 1965. The experience, he wrote in his book “Our War: What We Did in Vietnam and What It Did to Us” (1996), “felt like an emergence, from the darkness in the light, from the forest to the clearing.

He centered his activism on resisting conscription because, he said, it was a way for him to make a personal, concrete difference — and, perhaps, a sacrifice. In 1966 he returned his draft card to US Selective Service, writing that he would refuse to wear it and refuse to serve if drafted.

“I sealed the envelope, walked down the block to the mailbox and put the envelope in,” he wrote. “I remember that summer afternoon, the dirt on the road nearby, and I remember feeling like I could have flapped my arms and gone home if I had wanted to. I felt like my own man for the first time in my life.

A gifted orator, Mr. Harris was quickly in demand as a speaker at anti-war rallies across California. Along the way, he met Ms. Baez, who had founded an organization called the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence, in Carmel, California. One day, Mr. Harris drove there in search of a grant.

“He was just this lovely cowboy,” Ms. Baez said. “And that was my introduction to what resistance was. I mean, I knew a little, but he was definitely the best rep to have.


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