David Goldberg on Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War

This story clip can be aligned to the following Ohio Department of Education Social Studies Standards:

  • American History Content Statement #31: Political debates focused on the extent of the role of government in the economy, environmental protection, social welfare and national security.
  • Contemporary World Issues Content Statement #6: Effective civic participation involves identifying problems or dilemmas, proposing appropriate solutions, formulating action plans, and assessing the positive and negative results of actions taken.




Protests against the Vietnam War took place across the United States, and especially on college campuses, starting in 1965. While several large demonstrations occurred, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967 and the march that followed, these protests did very little to influence American involvement in Vietnam. Dr. David Goldberg participated in a number of these anti-Vietnam war demonstrations during his time at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Columbia University. In this story clip, Dr. Goldberg discusses the shift in focus among anti-war activists from demonstration to resistance against the war. He discusses the emergence of the group known as The Resistance in 1967. The Resistance advocated individual action against the war by not cooperating with the Selective Service program, i.e. the Draft. Dr. Goldberg includes the story of turning in his own draft card on October 16, 1967, as part of the larger draft card turn-in effort organized by the Resistance. Afterwards, he sent a letter to his draft board, which outlined his feelings on the draft and why he chose not to cooperate. This letter ultimately led to the loss of his 2-S student deferment and his conviction and incarceration as a draft resister, for which he served 19 months in federal prison. Dr. Goldberg’s Letter to the Draft Board

Potential Classroom Uses:

Dr. Goldberg discusses his commitment to opposing the Vietnam War and his willingness to go to jail for it. His writing of the letter to the draft board further signifies this commitment. Teachers could use this clip to introduce a unit on civic participation and political debates. Students could develop their own debate topics or look at the issues that surrounded the Vietnam War, delving into the Dr. Goldberg’s rationale for his opposition to US involvement. Other portions of the interview deal with his personal motivations and philosophy behind resisting the draft. Students could take a closer look at civil disobedience throughout US history and draw connections between opposition to the Vietnam War and current situations related to climate change, or other current problems and dilemmas. Students could then formulate a course of action, and assess the potential results of said action, in much the same way Dr. Goldberg did when he decided resisting the draft was worth the possibility of prison.

Follow this link for the whole interview: David Goldberg Interview, 15 June 2016

Photo credit: UW Digital Collections – Student protesters marching down Langdon Street, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6329684

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