It is our pleasure to introduce a new chapter in the Colin Edwards audio collection. Our catalog now contains dozens of reels recorded during anti-war protests, taken primarily from the Stop the Draft Week mobilizations in 1967 and 1968, outside of the Oakland Induction Center. The Oakland Induction Center served as a delivery point for draftees of the United States Armed Forces and would become a lightning rod that drew massive numbers of demonstrators who looked to disrupt the murderous cycle that fed the armed invasion of Vietnam. As a street reporter, Colin Edwards offered us not only a detailed visual of what these protests looked like, but a multitude of perspectives from individuals who made up the demonstrations themselves, through speeches delivered at rallies, interviews or simply recording the sights and sounds of chants, songs and observations made by onlookers. The power of these reels lies in this wealth of firsthand accounts, and the decision to record on the ground and allow the events to tell the story offers a glimpse into a tumultuous time period that is often opined over and criticized, but very rarely experienced in its actuality.
The reels also paint a picture of anti-Vietnam War efforts beyond the Oakland Induction Center, covering a wide array of protests, rallies, mill-ins and interviews around the San Francisco Bay Area, in locations like the campuses of UC Berkeley Campus and San Francisco State, the Alameda Court House, and Port Chicago in Concord (a large munitions plant).
The audio on the reels themselves not only show the lengths demonstrators went in order to disrupt an unyielding war machine with risk to life and limb, but also the different conversations that took place between various organizations and voices within the movement, in order to halt the senseless violence. Rather than romanticize anti-War efforts, Colin’s reels show insight into what kind of practical and theoretical labor sustains such a movement. Beyond the rhetoric or generalized explanations others might provide for the motives of these protesters, in their own words you hear why they took to the streets in favor of direct action. Beyond the charismatic figureheads that often grow to represent whole movements, Colin’s interviews bring to the forefront individuals who history has a way of leaving out, and elevate voices that might not have ever been heard, offering a wide array of experiences, insights and reasoning for objecting to the Vietnam War and the draft process. From concerned parents and citizens to college students, musicians and clergymen, the range of people who protested at the site of the Oakland Induction Center is well represented.
For those looking to enhance their knowledge of the efforts against the Vietnam War and the draft, these reels are vital. The interviews are informative and thought provoking, while maintaining a level of accessibility and basic language that makes it easy to jump in and follow the thoughts and philosophy behind their efforts. The reels also contain a variety of different tactics employed against “the establishment”, such as the occupation of a campus lab in protest of the CIA’s presence at UC Berkeley, or the mill-in that was held in the Dean’s office to protest administrative actions against student protesters. I hope that these works are as informative for those who do decide to come check them out as they have been for me.