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David Harris : Author, Journalist, Political Activist

David Harris : Author, Journalist, Political Activist

 

 





Introduction to David Harris.  2:41 min.   Interview: Raymond Elman. Editing & Production: Sabrina Rubinstein. Music: Daniel Estrada. Recorded via Zoom, Mill Valley, CA. 2:40 min.

 

 

DAVID HARRIS is a fourth generation Californian.

In his sophomore year at Stanford University, he left school for a month to join the civil rights movement’s Mississippi Project, conducting voter registration with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Quitman County.  Harris marched in his first demonstration against the Vietnam War in late 1964, upon his return to Stanford from Mississippi.  He was elected Stanford Student Body President in 1966 on a “radical” platform calling for student control of student regulations, equal rights for men and women students, and an end to University cooperation with the War.  He was also an honors student in Social Thought and Institutions, a winner of the Stanford poetry prize,

Upon leaving Stanford, Harris became an organizer in the antiwar and draft resistance movements, publicly refusing to cooperate with military conscription and organizing others to do likewise.  He was ordered to report for military duty in January,1968, refused, and was almost immediately indicted on felony charges.  Harris married folk singer Joan Baez in March,1968 while out on bail and was placed on trial for his draft refusal that May, convicted, and sentenced to three years in Federal prison.  His and Joan’s son, Gabriel, was born five months after the commencement of his 20-month incarceration.

Harris continued to organize against the war until peace agreements were signed in March,1973.  Now divorced from Joan Baez, he began his career as a journalist at Rolling Stone magazine after writing Stone’s founder and publisher, Jann Wenner.

Harris’s last significant episode as a political organizer came during the 1976 national elections when he won the Democratic Party nomination for Congress in California’s 12th Congressional District, representing most of what is currently known as Silicon Valley.  After losing the general election to the Republican incumbent, he returned to journalism full time.

In 1977, Harris married New York Times correspondent Lacey Fosburgh.  Their daughter and only child, Sophie, was born in 1983.  Harris began an almost ten-year tenure at The New York Times Magazine in 1978 after being recruited by legendary editor Arthur Gelb. Then, having already written five books, he moved to writing books exclusively—except for an assignment with The New Yorker and a return stint at Rolling Stone during 1996 and 1997.  Lacey Fosburgh died of breast cancer in 1993.

Harris’ career as an author began in 1970 with the Richard Baron Press’s publication of Goliath.  Edited by E.L. Doctorow, Goliath is a rumination by Harris on America and his own work as an organizer, written during the last few months before he was sent to prison.  It was published while he was incarcerated.  Harris went on to write ten more books.

The videos below were recorded via Zoom, are organized by Success Factor and run between 28 seconds and 5:29 minutes. Click on any video. You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.

 

CRITICAL THINKING: 3:11 min.





David, what are your thoughts about the social and political awareness demonstrated in 2020 by people less than 40 years old?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION: 1:44 min.





Another thing that’s remarkable is the new awareness of Black history that is spreading through the White community.

 

EMPATHY: 4:57 min.





Where did you grow up and how would you describe the politics of your youth?

 

DEVELOP A VOICE: 1:10 min.





Was there an element of adventure and excitement in your motivation to become a Freedom Rider?

 

CRITICAL THINKING: 1:40 min.





How long did it take you to transfer your primary focus from the Civil Rights Movement to resisting the Vietnam War?

 

BREAKS THE RULES: 2:26 min.





Was the indiscriminate drafting of college students a huge factor in attracting people to the war resistance movement?

 

DEVELOP A VOICE: 1:14 min.





Was there a common denominator for people who were brave enough to burn their draft cards and risk going to prison?

 

OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO SUCCEED: 2:45 min.





Two things the government did — initiate a draft lottery system and eventually end the draft — reduced the number of people who felt compelled to resist the war for self-protection.

 

CREATES A UNIQUE PERSONAL BRAND: 0:28 sec.





What are you working on now?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION: 2:09 min.





Who are some of your primary role models and influencers?

 

CRITICAL THINKING: 0:37 sec.





In his book about the Dulles brothers, “The Brothers,” Stephen Kinzer describes how John Foster Dulles willfully avoided an opportunity to bring peace to Vietnam before America became involved. Can you imagine the impact of NOT engaging in that war?

 

OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO SUCCEED: 5:29 min.





To what extent did involvement in the draft resistance movement derail people from the life they had intended?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION: 0:43 sec.





Where were you when Lyndon Johnson said he wouldn’t run for re-election for president, and what was that moment like for you?