David Goldberg interview, 15 June 2016

Dr. David Goldberg, professor of history at Cleveland State University, discusses his involvement in anti-Vietnam war protest activities. He talks about the activism on campus during his time at the University of Wisconsin - Madison from 1962-1966, including CIA Truth Teams, Socialist Club, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and other activist groups. He also relates his story of turning in his draft card, sending a letter to the government outlining his reasons for resisting the draft, and his eventual arrest. He provides information regarding the New Left movement in the United States during the Vietnam War. He also outlines his personal motivations and interest in the anti-war movement, citing an interest in William Lloyd Garrison and Abolitionism during the American Civil War. Dr. Goldberg relates his experience at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march in New York City in October, 1967, as well as his involvement and subsequent arrest as part of the demonstration at the draft board office in Whitehall, New York in December, 1967.

Participants: Goldberg, David (interviewee) / Randt, Naomi A. (interviewer)
Collection: Protest Voices
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Naomi A. Randt [00:00:02] My name is [Naomi A. Randt]. It's the 15th of June, 2016. We're here with Dr. David Goldberg at CSU Rhodes Tower. Do you mind stating your name for the record, please?

David Goldberg [00:00:12] David Goldberg.

Naomi A. Randt [00:00:15] We'll just start with a bit of, um, background info. Um. When and where were you born?

David Goldberg [00:00:23] I was born in Boston and actually December 7th, 1944.

Naomi A. Randt [00:00:31] What was it like growing up in Boston?

David Goldberg [00:00:33] Well, I grew up in Brookline, right outside of Boston, which is like a model suburb, had a streetcar line right there. So great public transportation close to Fenway Park. You couldn't grow up in a better place. I think a lot of other advantages growing up in Brookline.

Naomi A. Randt [00:00:49] Did you have any siblings?

David Goldberg [00:00:51] Yeah, I had a sister.

Naomi A. Randt [00:00:56] What did your parents do for a living?

David Goldberg [00:00:59] Well, my dad ran his own business. Both my parents had grown up kind of immigrant Jewish families, very poor. So my dad didn't go beyond the sixth grade my Monday and got me on a ninth grade. My dad was a very unusual individual, ended up starting his own business in a garment district, did very well with it. He died, though. Sixty five. And my mom actually started her own business. She was kind of a very independent woman. Also, actually, sewing clothing.

Naomi A. Randt [00:01:37] What was the nature of your dad's business?

David Goldberg [00:01:39] Well, he started his business really on his own. Kind of is like it's a very innovative individual, the kind of business you could start in back in this era. So he was what you call a wholesaler. He would buy clothing from clothing manufacturers and then sell them because... I actually worked for him for a year. But then I worked in other garment factories after that. So he would sell to stores that existed - independently owned stores - mainly throughout New England that existed at that time that don't exist today, because every town, small city had its own... this is women's clothing stores. And he started a business that was selling clothing that he bought up from the manufacturers – known as being a wholesaler.

Naomi A. Randt [00:02:31] What was your childhood like? Where did you go to school?

David Goldberg [00:02:34] Well, I went to grade school called Runkle School, then Brookline High. So it was probably a fairly typical 50s, I would say, childhood. So my mom was a stay at home mom at that time. With my dad working and he had done very well. So we were very comfortable. I was really into sports. So we played a lot of sports. Did the usual things you do when you were growing up around Boston, going to the beach, things like that. So I'd say it was a pretty typical 50s kind of growing up in a suburb. Except my dad was had a lot of different interests. So there were things about my family that were different also from the typical, you would say, suburban family.

Naomi A. Randt [00:03:19] What were some of those interests?

David Goldberg [00:03:20] Well, I would say the major thing is my dad developed an interest in art. He used... There were only two major galleries in Boston, and he knew both the gallery owners. He developed an interest, especially in artists from Boston, by the name of Hyman Blum, whose work is really fantastic, who also grew up with another famous artist by the name of Jack Levine and Blum stayed in Boston, Levin went to New York and became famous. Hyman Blum's work is superior, I think. They became very, very devoted friends. My dad became very well known in the Boston art community, which meant you were exposed to different kinds of people. My mother had interests like that as well as in film, music. They were kind of products of a really self educated Jewish immigrant kinda environment. But different than the typical 50s family, I would say, in many ways.

Naomi A. Randt [00:04:26] And you ended up going to college after high school?

David Goldberg [00:04:28] Yeah. I wasn't much of a student in high school. I was... Me, I'd rather goof off and then things like that. So you know that in Brookline High, there was a group, you know, real brains. And I certainly wasn't part of that. I hung much more with the jocks and anything like that. Really didn't like high school very much, but I always had an interest in history. So I ended up going to the University of Wisconsin beginning in the fall of 1962.

Naomi A. Randt [00:04:55] What was the University of Boston... Well, sorry, University of Wisconsin...

David Goldberg [00:05:00] Well, when I arrived in Madison, I just like for me was an overnight change. The courses I took were fabulous. Right off the bat. I mean, there are a few exceptions. Madison was a place that really prided itself even on full professors teaching undergraduate survey classes - something that wouldn't exist today. So I took classes from historians like George Mosse, Harvey Goldberg, - no relation to me - who are unbelievable. But I can remember courses in English literature, political theory, sociology there on a level probably above [anything] I could've gotten almost anywhere else at the time. It was a great place to go to school.

Naomi A. Randt [00:05:41] Was it an active campus?

David Goldberg [00:05:49] Well, I assume you mean was it a politically active campus? One of the things that made matters unusual was I arrived there in fall of 62. And also I already had some political consciousness because even when I was a senior in high school, I started to go into something that's called a community church where they would have speakers on Sunday mornings. So I remember especially hearing some speakers, one who was opposed to the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was a big issue at the time. Also, another member named William Worthy, African-American, I think he had gone to Cuba and got in trouble with the State Department. So I'd already been exposed to that when I went to Madison. So I had an interest in political issues and then being in Madison only increased that because even arriving there in 1962, was somewhat unlike what would have been true in other campuses. There had always been a left community in Madison. It was evident in 1962. There was a socialist club. I remember going to their meetings. You could hear a wide range of speakers in the evenings, something that would be available. So there was even a small active community there in the fall of 1962. There's an important publication in the history of the New Left called Studies on the Left that was published in Madison for a number of years. A lot of graduate students who were involved. Also fall 1962 was the Cuban Missile Crisis. So I remember going to a demonstration around that also at that time.

Naomi A. Randt [00:07:20] What was that like being part of the [inaudible] Cuban Missile Crisis?

David Goldberg [00:07:23] Well, it wasn't a big thing. I mean, because, I mean, maybe there are 100 people there. And if I look back on it, I'm not even sure what we were demonstrating about other than there was a real threat of nuclear war. What people forget is football stadiums were still packed right in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. People who teach and write about it, I don't think realize that, but pretty much American life went on as normal so... I remember we had a demonstration. I don't even remember what our particular position was. I don't have a leaflet to read to refresh my mind about that.

Naomi A. Randt [00:07:57] What were some of the other speakers?

David Goldberg [00:08:01] Well, that's interesting question, I haven't thought about that. But UW in Madison, which I think was a very, very unusual campus at the time, I think almost literally you could go hear a different speaker every evening that was being sponsored by some organization or maybe least two or three times a week. So besides the classroom, which was fantastic, you got exposure to a lot of different ideas, especially, again, mainly coming from the left, questions being raised about U.S. foreign policy, but on other topics as well. They also had a fabulous film society. So I got exposed to a lot of international film, stretchy Italian neorealists, who I really, really liked a lot, and kind of the of angry filmmakers that came out of England at the time also. So I remember that exposure also having an impact on me in terms of the importance of film.

Naomi A. Randt [00:08:55] Was that also informed by the fact that your parents were involved in the arts too?

David Goldberg [00:08:58] Not particularly because my dad was pretty apolitical. I mean, he was interested in art, but he wasn't particularly interested in politics at all? My mother was more what you may be called just a conventional liberal. Kind of. I'm sure she voted Democratic, whatever, but not in being particularly political. But I think again, what was unusual about them was the interest in art, and becoming friends with so many art artists. It wasn't typical growing up.

[00:09:23] The invasion of the Dominican Republic happened while you were in Madison as well, correct?

[00:09:46] Yes.

[00:09:49] Was there activism on campus at that time?

[00:09:52] Yes. Well, you mentioned the invasion of the Dominican Republic, April 1965. That actually I think a lot of people always from my perspective, being on the campus in Madison was an important event because by the spring of 65, those of us who identified what you might call the new left at the time were becoming increasingly concerned with the Vietnam War, of what that represented, kind of the dangers and the threat posed. And by 1965, that spring, there were a couple of crucial events where you began to see a growing anti-war movement in Madison. One is we had a very successful teach-in. First teach-in was in University of Michigan and then we had one in Madison. And this is where a number of professors from a number of different departments spoke. We didn't go to classes that day. One element to that is those of us who were opposed to the war in Vietnam had really begun to educate ourselves on the history of Vietnam, how the French had returned in 45, the war the Viet Minh had fought against the French, how the French had been defeated, how the U.S. again had violated the Geneva Accords and so on. The teach-in was devoted to that. It was devoted to other international issues. So it was a kind of learning experience of different aspects of U.S. foreign policy. I'll tell you it was highly successful in Madison. You know, this is a period when those opposed to war were kind of educating themselves. So that was a focus. Then in spring 1965, the State Department, reflecting when the Johnson [administration] was becoming concerned about growing opposition to the war. They actually sent around to campus like Madison, but they called a truth team. That's what they called it. I think about 300 of us gathered there, just barraged them with questions. And really, they gave up that idea of having truth teams very soon after that. I think Madison was one of three campuses where they came and they really had a difficult time. And then in the midst of that, there was growing concern about the war in Vietnam, came the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic. That was in the end of April, 1965, U.S. sent 40,000 troops to the Dominican Republic to prevent Juan Bosch, a leftist, from assuming power. That I think really played a role in kind of escalating concerns about U.S. foreign policy making connections between Vietnam, Dominican Republic, other places in Central America, Caribbean, Latin America, where the U.S. had intervened. And I do remember very well the demonstrations we had on campus against the invasion of the Dominican Republic. There were more people there than had been at any previous demonstration.

Naomi A. Randt [00:12:49] Can you speak a little more about the truth teams and what their mission was?

David Goldberg [00:12:52] Well, the truth teams, as far as I can recall someone in the State Department got the idea that there was a growing opposition to the war in Vietnam on college campuses. So I guess they just felt, well, if you send some representatives around and we can speak and explain what the U.S. position in Vietnam is, then somehow that will help deflate the opposition to it. But again, it had the opposite result. It only stirred more opposition.

Naomi A. Randt [00:13:26] What was it like being part of the opposition [inaudible]?

David Goldberg [00:13:31] Well, it wasn't... I would say when we had the truth team, it's something that really stands out in my mind because there was growing militance in the anti-war movement. I would say the event with the truth team stands out because that was a sign of growing anger on the part of those who opposed the war in Vietnam. In other words, more visceral than I can recall occurring. This coming spring, 1965, and then followed by the protests against the invasion of the Dominican Republic.

Naomi A. Randt [00:14:10] Was it just like a verbal anger toward the truth teams or did it get...?

David Goldberg [00:14:12] No, no. There was no... In fact, generally I don't like the idea of disrupting speakers, but these were representatives of the US government. So it was more, you know, kinda just people constantly standing up. Mild form of harassment, I would say, making it very difficult for them to say anything. They are getting frustrated, but no violence or anything like that.

Naomi A. Randt [00:14:37] Was that the beginning of the... did the activism get more from there... is that kind of where it started?

David Goldberg [00:14:46] Well, there was always an ebb and flow to activism in Madison. In some ways it was more active in the spring than at any other time. But then people disperse in the summer. I, like others, had a summer job in a factory. So you weren't in Madison during the summer then. You were kind of. And this is beginning by 65, then you would begin to see, you know, still not a lot of protests on campus, but there would be a kind of revival of activity when people came back with classes, let's say, in the fall of 65.

Naomi A. Randt [00:15:21] Was there any, sort of, pro-Vietnam activity?

David Goldberg [00:15:27] I don't have any recollections specifically of people being in favor of the war. That's an interesting question, because I think one of the aspects of the Vietnam War is there never was much of a pro-war movement. What a lot of historians have noted is there was more of an anti-anti-war movement. In other words, people hated the protesters, despised the protesters, without ever really being in favor of the war, because a lot of people, I think, who might have favored the war never really understood what it was about. That was an advantage, I think the anti-war movement had. Those of us who were active in it, really knew much more about the history of Vietnam, especially the French aspect, which is critical. You can't study the modern history of Vietnam without being aware of what happened with the French Geneva Accords. I always thought we had a big advantage that way because when you argued about Vietnam, the role the US had played in Vietnam, we, I think, had really educated ourselves about what the history was.

Naomi A. Randt [00:16:40] Were you ever accosted by those anti-anti-war [protestors]?

David Goldberg [00:16:43] No. Madison was a kind of a safe haven. Madison is a very liberal community. The University of Wisconsin has a strong progressive tradition. So there was no particular hostility that you would face demonstrating against the war on a campus of the University of Wisconsin... during the time I was there. There would be... Let me just add to that there would be hostility from other places in the state of Wisconsin that you would learn about. People who really disliked the anti-war protestors, but not particularly in Madison itself.

Naomi A. Randt [00:17:42] Was there a particular group on campus? You had mentioned the one group on campus, the socialist club.

David Goldberg [00:17:52] Yeah. Yeah. When it came, there was a socialist club. By 1965 and 66, there were a growing number of organizations. There was even this Marxist Leninist group, the Young Socialist Alliance, which is affiliated with the Socialist Workers Party. But the group that came into existence that I remember the most was an ad hoc group called the Committee to End the War in Vietnam. And actually, there were a lot of history graduate students who were involved in the left at this time. So it wasn't just a war, but other questions about U.S. society. And they played an important role in the committee to end the war in Vietnam that they began to stage protests, have speakers. A lot of speakers just kind of that people would attend about the war. And then the next phase, for me, was gonna be in the spring of 1966. That's when they announced a program where universities are going to be required to have the students take exams that would be used in evaluating who would get a student deferment. And that led to the next stage of protests in Madison.

Naomi A. Randt [00:18:59] Can you speak more about those exams?

David Goldberg [00:19:02] Yes, what happened... I forget exactly how this was gonna be done, but they actually announced... Because students at this time had a deferment, known as a 2S deferment, that because of the growing manpower needs, because of the escalation of the war in Vietnam, they were actually going to have these exams that were going to be offered in campus where your eligibility for the draft would be determined by how you scored on those exams. I think they were actually administered and not used. I can't remember. So, SDS, actually, which I was not a member of, but, you know, had an active chapter in Madison along with other SDS chapters. They organized a major protest. And here the issue was, should the university be complicit with exams that were going to send students who didn't do as well off the war? And SDS did something very creative. They created their own exam, a counter exam. All these questions about Vietnam and the history of Vietnam, I remember passing that out. And then at that stage, we reached the new stage in Madison because we were so opposed to the administration cooperating with the exam. We had a sit in. That was the first time I participated in a sit in. We occupied the major administration building, Bascom Hall, that was a new level of protest. Eventually, I think after 24 hours – it was kind of a real bonding experience... I don't know, maybe five hundred of us occupying a hall, sitting down – and they reached some kind of compromise, so the police were never called out. We were disappointed by the final outcome of that. But these protests reached many other campuses at this time. This idea of holding these exams then was disbanded. So we had to sit in. It was a tremendous experience. But again, we didn't have a satisfactory outcome of that. But they never had those exams again. And they dropped that idea because of the level of protest.

Naomi A. Randt [00:21:14] What would have been the outcome you would have wanted?

David Goldberg [00:21:18] Well, at that point, our outcome that actually we got is that no university should cooperate by having their students take exams to determine who should be drafted. It was really a question of university complicity with that idea. And those protests occurred a number of campuses in the spring of 66.

Naomi A. Randt [00:21:40] And you were a member of the SDS?

David Goldberg [00:21:41] No, I never joined SDS for whatever reason.

Naomi A. Randt [00:21:47] Were you a member of any of those groups?

David Goldberg [00:21:50] Well, you know, the way the left organized at that time is... You know, being a member, what does that mean? I don't think, you know, this is not like they were that organized. So the group identify with the committee to end the war in Vietnam, which was an ad hoc group. I don't really remember how they structured themselves. I do remember, though, at the time of the draft, we had mass meetings. That was it was a more hopeful period in the new left. So very democratic in the sense anyone could get up and say something. It was huge amount of participation. People making different arguments, presenting different kinds of positions. That was part of ... it was part of a whole week, really, of protests that focused on the exams and the war.

Naomi A. Randt [00:22:39] You speak more about that week of protests?

David Goldberg [00:22:43] I don't know if I have that much more to add about the week of protest, other than it was what you would see as a steady escalation of activity, on campus in Madison and also on other campuses as well. I would say there was a growing anger by the spring of 66 over the war and the escalation of the war by the Johnson administration. And like I said, a very democratic procedure that allowed a lot of people to participate in, kind of, discussions and debates about what kind of action we should take. It was very open at that point.

Naomi A. Randt [00:23:22] How did you feel about being involved?

David Goldberg [00:23:24] Well, that felt good. I mean, it was like, you know, I was absolutely 100 percent opposed to the war in Vietnam. Determined that it was totally an immoral war, unjust war, a war the United States should not be fighting. So I was glad to see more people getting involved in the anti-war movement.

Naomi A. Randt [00:24:19] That was 1966?

David Goldberg [00:24:20] Yeah. Spring of 1966, which is when I graduated.

Naomi A. Randt [00:24:23] What did you do after you graduated?

David Goldberg [00:24:28] Okay. After I... Well, let me just add, when I was a... I graduated spring of 66. My last semester in Madison, I took a course. It was a senior honors seminar in history that was only open to certain students. And by that time I had gotten really interested in abolitionism and I did a long research paper on William Lloyd Garrison and the abolitionists. So I kind of developed this interest in kind of like a movement, like abolitionism that's not fighting for something that affects people where they live, but outside. So I saw a lot of analogies between the abolitionism and an anti-war movement. So I was thinking about this intellectually as well as kind of being active in it. So the research actually influenced me and actually I had become close with one history professor in particular at Wisconsin, who helped me. So that time, I mean, I had been accepted at Columbia for a PhD program, though, that summer I still went back and worked in a factory because I did that every summer.

Naomi A. Randt [00:25:32] What was the name of the factory?

David Goldberg [00:25:36] Oh, Richard Sewell. S-e-w-e-l-l.

Naomi A. Randt [00:25:44] What were some of the analogies you saw with abolitionism?

David Goldberg [00:25:53] Well, I really became fascinated by the abolitionists and, you know, especially Garrison and how you can begin as a small minority, which they were. In fact, they were subject to a great deal of attacks, even in Boston, in the early 1830s. How you begin to raise an issue and get under people's skin. The idea of the abolitionists was, you don't let people live their lives as normal when you're fighting a moral cause. I was very fascinated by that. Some of the tactics they used, even disrupting church services, and Garrison burning a copy of the Constitution. Kind of how they played a role in making people think about slavery. You know, there's a lot of debate among historians about the impact of the abolitionists. I have no doubt they got a lot of people thinking about it who wouldn't have thought about it otherwise. And again, it's not like a union movement where you're trying to involve workers in something that's going to help themselves. They're trying to deal with something that's external, that doesn't affect people immediately. So I saw a lot of analogies between the dilemnas of a social movement like abolitionism and an anti-war movement, as opposed to what you might call a self-interested social movement.

Naomi A. Randt [00:27:18] Was that a pretty common view, among the anti-war [potestors]... Seeing it as more of a moral issue that didn't directly affect them?

David Goldberg [00:27:23] No, I think my own analysis was informed by my interest in history. I don't think people in the anti-war movement thought that much about those kinds of connections as I did. I think that's probably pretty unusual that way because I was really interested in the history in U.S. history and abolitionism. There were a lot of growing debates by the spring in 1966 about what the best strategy was to oppose the war. So that was becoming a major issue. It was never a united the anti-war movement. So there were always these debates, discussions and divisions about people opposing the war, about what they actually should do.

Naomi A. Randt [00:27:58] What did you feel was the best course of action?

David Goldberg [00:28:01] Well, at that point – this will change later on – it just seemed you were holding demonstrations. And there also had been something that was called Vietnam Summer that was modeled on Freedom Summer. Freedom Summer taking place in Mississippi, summer of 64. Freedom Summer, if I recall correctly, was the summer of sixty five and was kind of modeled on people going back into their communities. That's when the people were more hopeful trying to educate people. I didn't participate in that because again, I always did factory work in the summer. But I think the idea of Vietnam summer was pretty good in terms of that was a point in which you were trying to kind of just get people to understand why the U.S. had begun being involved in Vietnam and why it was wrong.

Naomi A. Randt [00:28:49] So that point was more about educating?

David Goldberg [00:28:52] Educating and demonstrating at that point.

Naomi A. Randt [00:28:53] And then in the fall of 1966 ...

David Goldberg [00:29:06] Yeah, fall in 1966, I began to PHC program at Columbia University.

Naomi A. Randt [00:29:10] Was there a similar... did your activism continue?

David Goldberg [00:29:15] Yeah, I mean, strangely enough, I think I ended up with two the most active campuses during the decade, 1960s, just the way things worked out. There was quite a bit of anti-war activity, a very active SDS chapter at Columbia when I got there in the fall 1966. But I did note one significant difference. Of course, this is something that affected the movement by 66. At Wisconsin, a lot of the left and anti-war activity had been led by the graduate students, especially in history, but other fields as well. At Columbia, the chapter of SDS was led by, I guess, Mark Rudd, other people. I wasn't exactly impressed by the intellectual understanding that they had. I just remembered my own reaction that SDS was beginning to move into eventually what will become a more radical revolutionary direction. And I wasn't particularly impressed by kind of their thoughtfulness or a kind of reasoning behind some of this stuff. They were even doing by the fall of 66.

Naomi A. Randt [00:30:25] What were some of those things?

David Goldberg [00:30:25] Oh, just the same thing that was going on in other campuses. Protests were beginning not just against the war, but also university complicity with the war. Which to me was never a major issue. I didn't care that much if universities cooperated with the war or not. I just wanted to get involved in anti-war movement off campus. So SDS at that time was focusing much more on issues on campus. I was much more concerned with how you can get involved in anti-war movement off campus, but at the same time I was beginning a PhD program and somewhat overwhelmed just by the amount of work you had to do at that point.

Naomi A. Randt [00:30:59] Just for the record, can you define SDS for us?

David Goldberg [00:31:10] Well, SDS is Students for a Democratic Society, which was a new left organization.

Naomi A. Randt [00:31:38] Were there other groups you were involved with off campus?

David Goldberg [00:31:42] Well, I wasn't involved that much off campus. I mean, I loved being at Columbia because of New York City. New York City can be a bit overwhelming because there were so many different organizations. So at that point, I was mainly if there was a demonstration going to the demonstration. Nothing beyond that. And then, of course, the move beyond that. As the Johnson administration continue to escalate the war, I would say there was a new stage of protest in regard to involvement that came in the spring of 1967, because in spring of 1967, that's when I think was the most. There were all these organizations that came and went. They were organized by far the largest protest that had been seen against the war in Vietnam. This was in spring of 67. This is when Martin Luther King came out against the war, gave his speech at Riverside Church, which is right close to the Columbia campus. And then we had spring of 67 this unbelievably massive demonstration. By far the largest demonstration I've ever seen. I think there might have been four hundred thousand people who marched from the upper west side of New York to the United Nations. And that's where Martin Luther King gave his speech. Thing I remember most vividly about that is this is before the upper west side of New York became gentrified, which it is today. It was mainly a Puerto Rican neighborhood. We march down Amsterdam Avenue. I mean, you're talking about hundreds of thousands of people and everything that went along with the demonstration at that time. The chants, the excitement, the banners, all of that. And there were all these people on Amsterdam Avenue – because it was mainly a Puerto Rican working class neighborhood – cheering us on, waving things like that. So it's kind of an exhilarating experience. And that was part of some other, you know, protests in other cities in the spring of 67. So as the war escalated, the anti-war movement was getting more people involved as well.

Naomi A. Randt [00:33:39] What was that like? Just being part of that?

David Goldberg [00:33:43] Well, you know, participation in a demonstration. It was both exhilarating – because just the numbers of people, the sheer numbers of people, you realized how many people were going to come to a demonstration – but there also could be a tremendous letdown afterwards because the war would just continue and the next day. Where are you? And that became a dilemma for the anti-war movement.

Naomi A. Randt [00:34:07] Can you speak a little bit more about that, these protests and the sort of hangovers you got?

David Goldberg [00:34:13] Well, just that you began to realize that if you just have one of these demonstrations every six months, it's not gonna have any impact. So that's why a new stage was reached the fall in the fall of 67. By a fall of 1967, an organization by the name of The Resistance had come in to existence and there were a lot of people who were beginning to say you have to move from protest to resistance. And that's something I absolutely agreed with. I already knew by the fall of 67 that demonstrations weren't going to have any impact on a war. So the goal to me should have been – or was – you had to disrupt American society. Say to American society you can't function normally if you continue with this war. That was my basic position. So I was really glad when this organization The Resistance came along because the resistance said, this is what you've got to do. You've got to raise the stakes. You have to say to the country, you can't function normally if you are going to continue raining bombs down on Vietnam to continue a war of this type. I was 100 percent in support of that position. And the resistance then began to argue for something that I also then came to strongly favor, [which] is that people should refuse to cooperate with selective service. And that appealed to me on a number of different grounds because I was already convinced the 2S deferrment was wrong. It was a class privilege. This war is being fought by those who are poor and working class. And that was possible because of the 2S deferment. And so the resistance gave me an opportunity to do something personally about the 2S deferment. It also gave me an opportunity by taking individual action and say, I don't care what other people are going to do, I'm not going to cooperate with the U.S. government. So it gave you a chance to act individually. But as a well, as opposed to opposing this class privilege, it presided the opportunity for massive civil disobedience. So the argument of the resistance was very appealing to me that you get enough people who refused to cooperate with active service, they'll have to indict you, they'll have to put you on trial. They can't put thousands and thousands of people in prison. They just. That was their argument. The resistance. You can't do that. That was very appealing to me. So I remember I turned in my draft card at a rally in New York City at town hall to the poet Grace Paley on October 16th. But beyond that, I then wrote a letter to my draft board saying, I'm not going to cooperate with you people any longer. If you just turn down your draft card. Nothing was going to happen. But I wrote a letter to my draft board saying we're not gonna call. I don't want anything more to do with you.

Naomi A. Randt [00:37:04] Can you speak more about the draft card turn-in on October 16th?

David Goldberg [00:37:12] My memory of the draft turn-in. I actually have a good friend who, after... Remember, it was Grace Paley I turned in my draft card to. I just remembered it was a big rally in town hall. There were people, a number prominent individuals, who were encouraging draft resistance at this time. You know, people for, you know, who are prominent intellectuals, I would say. So there's quite a good turnout in a lot of people turned in their draft cards at that time on October 16th.

Naomi A. Randt [00:37:38] And how did you feel?

David Goldberg [00:37:47] That basically felt good. I said, you know, I again, I think goes back to that, my being influenced by the abolitionists. And even if you're not being effective in a lot broader kind of way, I like the idea of just taking an individual stand. Also going on my Jewish family, I always remember hearing about the good Germans. What didn't people do anything? So I thought I was important just to take an individual stand or action. But it also presented the opportunity to take an individual stand in a collective way. So it had a dual advantage that way.

Naomi A. Randt [00:38:31] What motivated you to write the letter after?

David Goldberg [00:38:34] Well. Why did I write the letter to the draft board? I think I realized if I wanted to follow through on this, turning your draft card in probably wouldn't result in anything, that I just had to let them know that I wasn't going to cooperate with them in applying for a 2S deferment. So you had to apply for a 2S deferment every year. And I just wrote a letter to say I'm not going to do this any longer.

Naomi A. Randt [00:38:59] Were there any repercussions?

David Goldberg [00:39:01] Yeah, I got drafted. [laughs]

Naomi A. Randt [00:39:02] How did you feel about getting drafted?

David Goldberg [00:39:11] Well, how I feel about being drafted kind of jumps a bit ahead because of your interest in my involvement in the anti-war movement. Just thinking of how you're reaching a new stage. And I was again convinced that having these ordinary protest wasn't going to do much good. I was really exhilarated by the protests at the Pentagon, which I went down [to] with some friends. It's chaotic, disorganized and all that. But it was more that kind of thing I thought we needed to do. So the Pentagon protest was October 1967. That's also when they had protests out in the West Coast and Berkeley, stopped the troop trains. So this idea of moving from protest to resistance really seemed to be taking hold in October 1967. And then along with that, I remember the first time I got arrested, we organized a sit in at Whitehall, which is where inductees were being taken for their physicals and then to be inducted. So I got arrested in New York in December 1967, got taken to the tombs [which] is just, you know, where they put you in jail until they let you out. So I was really beginning to see an escalation of kind of this idea moving from protest to resistance. But for, you know, early went to 67.

Naomi A. Randt [00:40:37] Were you very active in trying to get other people involved as well?

David Goldberg [00:40:40] I don't think I was ever that active other than you're giving out leaflets. I think that was a dilemma for the anti-war movement. How did you get other people involved? So I think some people are more active than I was, but I was still going to graduate school this whole time.

Naomi A. Randt [00:40:53] You mentioned the Pentagon protest. What was that like?

David Goldberg [00:41:07] Well, the Pentagon protest was part of this moving from protest resistance, doing something beyond an ordinary demonstration. What I remember about it is we went there and we march at the Pentagon. Nobody had any idea what you're going to do once you got there. And I kind of liked that chaotic aspect that wasn't like.... We weren't really sure that never been a protest in U.S. history at the Pentagon. And you arrive there and, you know, there was all these top brass on the top at the Pentagon and all these troops with bayonets facing you. And so it was the scene like you can't imagine. And then there were these people who were sticking flowers in the soldiers guns and all that. And it was mass chaos when you got there. Nobody had, you know... They had the speeches, you marched there. Nobody knew what else you were going to do there. So I stayed with my friends until about 1:00 a.m. and, you know, even when you went to a protest like that from New York to D.C., you know, they organized buses you've got on my bus. We just got on any bus going back. I mean, it was mass chaos. But in some ways, it seemed like fairly creative in terms of raising the stakes of what the war was about. There was some violence there. I didn't actually see that much violence there, but there were some people beaten, attacked, whatever.

Naomi A. Randt [00:42:32] What was the response from the troops who were there?

David Goldberg [00:42:33] Well, the troops who are there and my memory is kind of vague on that. I don't think there was any angry, hostile response from those troops who were lined up. And you can see photos I think still today of troops with the bayonets facing the crowd. Really right in front of them. I don't remember them as being particularly angry or hostile. We were just milling around, you know, people singing, you know, smoking dope, whatever. You know, these are kind of things that did at an anti-war demonstration, having all kinds of banners. You might have offended what we called affinity groups at that time. People you hang or hung with.

Naomi A. Randt [00:43:05] Affinity groups?

David Goldberg [00:43:08] Yeah, they were called affinity groups, and so people, you know, you would be supportive if somebody got hurt or something like that.

Naomi A. Randt [00:43:17] How was the protest ultimately...?

David Goldberg [00:43:22] Well, I don't know, I left at 1:00 a.m. and I think some people stayed there all night and I think they just eventually left. That was it. So it ended. It was kind of a historic protest, I think, in kind of, you know, again, this idea of raising the stakes of what's involved in a war.

Naomi A. Randt [00:43:42] And with the raising of those stakes. Did you see start to see any sort of reaction?

David Goldberg [00:43:50] No, I. The only reaction I got, I ended up getting drafted. And I can't remember when I got drafted. And then of course, I was at Columbia and the Columbia protests occurred in the spring of 68. I ended up getting arrested even though I wasn't that involved in it. In spring of 68, when some 700 Columbia students were arrested and there was so much going on in 68 that it's almost, you know, they say about the 60s, if you remember, you weren't there. It's almost hard to remember that kind of order of events. But I got drafted and I refused. I went on my own. I gave out a leaflet, actually refused to take the physical. I did it on my own because by that time, the resistance really had begun to dissipate. But I remember the FBI visiting my mother. I think she served them coffee and cake. My dad had passed away by that time but the FBI visited my mother and you know, the only purpose of that was harassment because what are you going to ask her about.

Naomi A. Randt [00:45:11] And this was after you were arrested for the second time?

David Goldberg [00:45:12] Well, no. I was arrested I would say at a protest at Whitehall. That was December 67. And then I was arrested at the protest at Columbia. And then that summer after the protest at Columbia, that's when I refused. Actually, technically, I refused to take the physical, which, you know, is what I got indicted for doing.

Naomi A. Randt [00:45:42] Can you speak a little bit more about the whole process of being drafted?

David Goldberg [00:45:50] There weren't that many steps. I mean, I wrote the letter to the draft board saying I wasn't going to cooperate. I then got drafted and they give you a date when you have to report. And that was July, I think, of 1968. And like I said, by July 1968, the resistance for various reasons had pretty much fallen apart. Which is really, really disappointing to me. So it left you, by that time, even July 68, as kind of just an individual – other people were doing this, by the way – but without a lot of collective support. And that didn't bother me all that much because I was determined to follow through with it. So I can say when they give you a place, you have to report the Army base in South Boston. I was nervous going down there, but I prepared this leaflet that I gave out to all of those people who were being inducted that day. And I got driven off the army base by these soldiers who were sort of nervous about that. But I survived that experience. And then at that point, once you've taken that action, you just wait to be indicted.

Naomi A. Randt [00:46:57] What were some of the reasons for the collapse of the resistance?

David Goldberg [00:47:09] So, you know, the resistance was disappointing and it's that it only really lasted a year, and they began with a great deal of promise. And I think that the resistance probably collapsed for a couple of reasons. One is it was asking too much of people to risk going to jail. There were only a limited number of people willing to do that. So it never got quite as much support as I thought it would. I mean, it's taking a risk and there are only so many people willing to take that risk. On the other hand, there were people on the left who really objected to the idea of the resistance, because they said you were giving yourself up to the government. That would have been the SDS position. So they basically opposed the resistance, saying, you know, SDS had to me some off the wall analysis like, you know, U.S. is a fascist government and things like that. So they would argue you shouldn't give yourself up to the government. I was never a pacifist, but I was only attracted to people on the pacifist end rather than people in the SDS who were moving more into violence. But they made those kinds of objections. You couldn't get enough people to do it. It was difficult to do. And then I actually think a real crushing blow to the resistance was when Dr. Spock and four other people got indicted. I thought that was a fabulous opportunity. I said, go into court, make a political statement, say what you did, which was encourage people to resist. You'll probably end up going to jail, which is tough when you're old, by the way. Much easier to time when you're young, then when you're old. But that was asking a lot of them. But that was a real opportunity. I thought that trial really could have been used. And they ended up making this real technical defense that they really deflated the resistance. Had a major impact that way.

Naomi A. Randt [00:48:56] Who was Dr. Spock?

David Goldberg [00:48:59] Well, he was a famous baby doctor, as he was known. In the 1950s, I mean, his book, Baby and Child Care was the book that every middle class suburban family read. Praising kids. So he actually had been in Cleveland for a while, at Case, and he was indicted along with four other individuals for encouraging resistance to the draft.

Naomi A. Randt [00:49:21] Was there a particular event surrounding their indictment?

David Goldberg [00:49:28] No, they were just indicted. The indictment was handed down and they were gonna be responsible for their defense. And now that defense was conducted, the five of them. I can't recall exactly – boy, I should know – that was that probably in the spring of 68, I think? That's when the trial was, but I'm not sure about that.

Naomi A. Randt [00:49:51] You thought they could have done more at that time?

David Goldberg [00:50:20] Oh, I thought I got it done much more. I thought the Spock trial was the opportunity at the time really to raise the stakes. Go into court, try to present all – it's difficult to do this in court because a judge will prevent you, so you have to be somewhat disruptive – just saying we're going to say this war has to be stopped and we're willing to take the risk to stop it. But they again, took a technical defense.

Naomi A. Randt [00:50:45] How did you feel after that?

David Goldberg [00:50:55] Well, I don't want to exaggerate this right away after that. Mainly I was a bit disappointed that the resistance hadn't gotten this support we expected. I was in New York and we would go down to Whitehall supporting people who were refusing induction. There were people refusing induction for various reasons. I remember you get up at 5:00 a.m. and go down there and support them, have demonstrations. But by the spring of 68, it was clear to me that the resistance wasn't going to get the support expected. Because 68 was a very chaotic time. So especially with groups like SDS, who were moving into this more revolutionary left position under the impact of events. So they were beginning to... Again, I mean, I don't think they ever attracted that much support. But there were always these divisions in the anti-war movement. It was never a unified anti-war movement. So the resistance ended up being a kind of organization that basically lasted a year as part of the history of the anti-war movement.

Naomi A. Randt [00:52:02] Is there anything more you can say about those divisions in the anti-war movement?

David Goldberg [00:52:25] Yeah, well, the divisions in the anti war movement aren't particularly surprising because one of the dilemnas the anti-war movement had is when it emerged there was no organized left in the United States and hadn't been for a while. So everything that was gonna be done was gonna be done ad hoc by new organizations coming into existence. So first of all, you had these Marxist-Leninist groups and they – actually, the Socialist Workers Party, they had their own strategy and they had actually some degree of influence. You had the pacifist influence groups who were the ones I like the most, especially a leader by the name of Dave Dellinger, I think, who was kind of far... he had been in prison himself during the Second World War and some of the other pacifists who played a very important role in the anti-war movement. Then you had SDS and those who are more leftist in orientation. So there were just these divisions that existed and people would, you know, come together in certain kinds of [coalitions]. Organizations would come and go. So if you look at the major demonstrations between 65 and 71, they were all organized somewhat by different groups that would pop up at different times, but there would be these divisions and debates within the anti-war movement.

Naomi A. Randt [00:53:42] Let's go back to when you were indicted for refusing to be drafted. What happened after that?

David Goldberg [00:54:04] Well, after I was indicted, nothing particular happened because there is a period of time between your indictment and when you're scheduled for trial. So I was scheduled for trial for June 1969, which is a year after I had refused. Meantime, I actually taking my orals at Columbia, which is part of the program for the PhD and spent a lot of time on that. So my trial was set for June 1969. I remember that four or five months before my trial, I didn't feel like doing anything, so I didn't do much. But I had some good friends still out of Madison. And I remember May 1969, there was a group called the Milwaukee 14. They were a group of a combination Catholic priests, community organizers. I think they destroyed draft files in Milwaukee and I went out for their trial. Stayed in Madison because you can drive between Madison and Milwaukee very easily. They were tremendous. I almost wish I had been part of a group like the Milwaukee 14 because they got a lot of support in the city of Milwaukee, partly because some of them were Catholic priests. They'd been organizing in the community. They were the most effective anti-war group I'd ever seen. They went to prison, but they actually rallied a lot of support in Milwaukee in their favor. And I was really impressed. That trial, I think, was May 1969, just a month before mine.

Naomi A. Randt [00:55:32] [inaudible] about the trial?

David Goldberg [00:56:04] Well, I went to trial, June 69, but my mom insisted I get a lawyer. Which I wish I didn't do – she says Boston, I was in New York – so I was trying to debate how to handle it. At that point, I didn't even care about getting organized and a lot of support. It wasn't gonna make any difference because the resistance had fallen apart. So what I decided to do is I pled guilty and gave a kind of... delivered an address to the court before I got sent by the judge.

Naomi A. Randt [00:56:33] What was in your statement?

David Goldberg [00:56:36] My statement was all the reasons you should oppose the war. And also I included – actually if I read it, it sounds almost academic – why civil disobedience played an important role in U.S. history going back the American Revolution, the abolitionists, the sit down strikes, the civil rights movement, and how much had been achieved by civil disobedience, and said I was part of that tradition.

Naomi A. Randt [00:57:01] Was there any sort of reaction?

David Goldberg [00:57:06] Yeah. Judge said two years.

Naomi A. Randt [00:57:07] Did you end up serving the whole two years?

David Goldberg [00:57:13] Well, when you go to prison, you actually get time off. That's kind of automatic. I lost some days out of a protest in prison. So I ended up serving 19 months, which would be normal.

Naomi A. Randt [00:57:26] What was that like?

David Goldberg [00:57:27] Wow. In how many months there, what was the prison experience was like. I don't know. I mean that would be a little difficult to summarize. But some of the things I thought about when I went to Danbury, that's where I went. First of all, you're held for two and a half weeks in a holding cell, because when you sentenced by the feds, they don't send you to federal prison right away and they have working agreements with other jails that hold federal prisoners until the feds decide where you're gonna be sent. It's not clear where you're going to be sent. They have to decide that because there are federal prisons throughout the country. So I was actually taken to Norfolk County jail. I actually had a fortunate experience because I had a cellmate – and it was a small cell too – but he had done time. And hey, obviously, I was kind of nervous. Well, what's it like to do time? And he told me a lot about things to look out for in jail. That was actually helpful, the way it was. So I was held there for two and a half weeks and you only got out of the cell for an hour and then, you know, U.S. marshals pick you up. I remember they handcuffed. There were two other people going down to be picked up by the U.S. Marshals. They handcuff us together. Of course, the marshal jokes. You say we're taking you to Atlanta, which you don't want to go to Atlanta. So we went down to Danbury. So I arrived in Danbury, I think it was – Danbury was the correctional institution – probably early July 69. To be honest the prison experience is a little difficult to go into in a brief kind of thing unless you want details on it or what? I don't know. There'd be a bit too much.

Naomi A. Randt [00:59:20] That's all I have for now... thank you very much.

David Goldberg [00:59:37] Sure.

Protest Voices

The "Protest Voices" series is a collection of oral history interviews with activists in Northeast Ohio. Interviews were conducted during the Protest Voices: Using Activist Oral Histories to Teach Historical Thinking Undergraduate Summer Research Award in 2016, focusing on Anti-Vietnam protests and Catholic activism surrounding US- involvement in El Salvador in the 1980s. Clips were then associated with Ohio Department of Education Social Studies Content Standards at…