Courage to Resist is a proud sponsoring organization of the upcoming documentary film, The Boys Who Said NO!, a documentary film profiling the young men and women who actively opposed conscription in order to end the draft and the Vietnam War. The film shows how their personal and collective acts of nonviolent noncooperation with the draft, risking arrest and imprisonment for up to 5 years, were a critical part of the antiwar movement, intensifying opposition to the war and eventually forcing an end to both conscription and the war.

Many in our community are excited by this project. Here’s an update, shared by the co-producers, Christopher Colorado Jones and Bill Prince, on their progress:

We recently previewed the Fine Cut of the film developed by acclaimed editor Michael Chandler (four Oscar nominations) – who we were able to hire thanks to your support. It’s 93 minutes long and stunning! Michael has uncovered the film’s soul, showing us who resisters were, what they did, why they did it, and what happened as a consequence. These individual stories of conscience are woven together to show how the Draft Resistance Movement grew and the historic impact it triggered. Judith Ehrlich and Scott Walton are now refining the fine cut based on feedback from the film team and advisers. Next step: creating the final version of the film!

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, resistance to the American war in Vietnam grew substantially. Hundreds of thousands of draft age men refused to cooperate with the draft. Tens of thousands immigrated to Canada, Sweden and other countries. American soldiers in Vietnam increasingly refused to follow orders and risked court martial and prison for organizing inside the military. Claims for conscientious objector status soared to unprecedented levels. Millions marched against the war.

While an estimated 500,000 young men resisted, evaded or just refused to cooperate with the draft, overloading federal courts, just 10,000 were indicted and 4,000 were imprisoned for their beliefs. These young men were willing to serve long prison sentences on the basis of their beliefs that the war was immoral and human life was sacred.

The Boys Who Said NO! explores the influence of Gandhian nonviolence and the impact of the civil rights movement on Resistance members, a connection illustrated in footage of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. visiting and supporting Joan Baez and others jailed for blocking the Oakland Induction Center in 1967.

The film highlights the prosecution and trials of war resisters. Documentary and news footage capture anti-war demonstrations and marches, anti-draft meetings, and men, young and old, speaking out in support of the resistance movement. Smuggled film shows resisters serving time in Federal prison.

The Boys Who Said NO! is an overdue and definitive account of the principled and powerful nonviolent resistance to America’s most problematic war. These young men risked years in prison to challenge a war of tragic human proportions. Their leadership, personal sacrifices, and example had a direct effect on ending the war, and are an important example for today’s movements for social justice and peace.

Co-producers, Christopher Colorado Jones and Bill Prince recently shared:

Our goal remains to preserve and promote to a broad audience this little-known but powerful story of the Vietnam War, and through it to show the power of nonviolent resistance. The BOYS! film will be a bridge between two generations of resisters, encouraging effective social change strategies.