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Rodney Coates in Military.com: ‘A Lesson on Dissent from a Vietnam War Protestor who Joined the Military, and Faced Execution’

Coates dropped out of Southern Illinois University and enlisted in the Army Security Agency. He would learn later that his ‘protest against the Vietnam war – and appreciation for U.S. democracy – had only begun.’

Voices

Rodney Coates in Military.com: ‘A Lesson on Dissent from a Vietnam War Protestor who Joined the Military, and Faced Execution’

Rodney Coates, professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, specializes in the history of race and racism in the U.S. He was a college during the late 1960s, when protests against the Vietnam War erupted across the country, and “college campuses emerged as places of more than intellectual debate over U.S.  foreign policy and the country’s deeply racist history,” he writes. 

“Unlike the protesters against the Israel-Hamas War, many of the college-age demonstrators back then faced the very real possibility of being drafted by the U.S. military and forced to serve in what they considered an unjust war. I was one of the fortunate young Black men who had a deferment that enabled me to avoid compulsory military service because I was enrolled in college.”

Coates dropped out of Southern Illinois University and enlisted in the Army Security Agency. He would learn later that his protest against the Vietnam war – and appreciation for U.S. democracy – had only begun.

When he returned to Southern Illinois in 1976, the , but the racial unrest on college campuses and cities had continued.

Read his article, originally published in The Conversation May 30.