18 jan 1968 & jan bailey
#OTD Thursday 18 January Jan Bailey, 25 years old and a SNCC member, held a press conference announcing that he was going to resist the draft. This was serious. While there had been some brazen burning of draft cards, most young men resisted much more discreetly: by manipulating deferments or by relocating to Canada or Mexico. They were discreet because failure to register for the draft could mean prosecution and prison. And here was Jan Bailey publicly announcing that he would resist the draft, becoming the first of the local male SNCC members to do so.
The press conference was held at the office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at 1234 U Street, NW, in anticipation of his scheduled induction hearing on Monday 22 January. Bailey (pictured above on the right) was surrounded by other SNCC members and supporters, including Stokely Carmichael and Lester McKinnie (DC SNCC chair), as television crews and reporters videoed the press conference and asked questions.
When asked why he was resisting the draft Bailey stated:
"I am historically, politically, psychologically, and morally unfit to serve in the armed forces. I have no anticipation nor expectations of saluting flags or officers, wearing uniforms, singing a national anthem or obeying orders from a supposedly superior beast. Frankly speaking, I see no place in Uncle Sam's army for this angry black man. Let me be plain. I will not support in any way such a brutal oppressive, arrogant, hypocritical, beastly, white imperialist and racist country. I am not for imperialism but against it; my allegiance with this country is to build it through change and self-determination for and by black people. We are related by blood, culture, and common experiences of hardship suffered by this racist system.
Blacks have been disillusioned, frustrated, humiliated, alienated and brutalized by white people, this is the issue I speak to. Following the dictates of my black consciousness, I have no alternative but to resist induction. I think it foolish to embrace a system that destroys laws, customs, and people of color for exploitative ends. Therefore it is conceivable that I, like a fool, go out and fight my brothers in China, Vietnam, Africa, Latin America and South America for the United States military establishment."
Your comments are welcome below. Do you remember Jan Bailey? Did you support him in dealing with the ramifications from choosing to resist the draft? Did you also resist the draft? You may also comment privately here.
There will more stories later in the year about Jan Bailey.
Photo source: Courtesy DC Public Library Special Collections, c1972. From right to left, Jan Bailey, Miriam Makeba and Stokely Carmichael. To see an image from the press conference, see Robert C. Maynard, "SNCC Workers Defies Draft Induction," Washington Post 19 January 1968. If you have a DCPL library card, you can get access here by plugging in your card number.
Author interview with Jan Bailey
Materials from Jan Bailey shared with author