The Price of Dissent
Testimonies to Political Repression in America
By Bud and Ruth Schultz
University of California Press
Bud and Ruth Schultz’s vivid oral history presents the extraordinary testimony of people who experienced government repression and persecution firsthand. Drawn from three of the most significant social movements of our time–the labor, Black freedom, and antiwar movements–these engrossing interviews bring to life the experiences of Americans who acted upon their beliefs despite the price they paid for their dissent. In doing so, they–and the movements they were part of–helped shape the political and social landscape of the United States from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century.
The majority of the voices in this book belong to everyday people–workers, priests, teachers, students–but more well-known figures such as Congressman John Lewis, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Abbie Hoffman, and Daniel Ellsberg are also included. There are firsthand accounts by leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World, active early in the century; Southern Tenant Farmers Union of the 1930s; Women’s Strike for Peace, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement of the 1950s and 1960s; and the Hormel meatpackers’ Local P-9 in the 1980s. Lively introductions by the authors contextualize these personal statements.
Those who tell their stories in The Price of Dissent, and others like them, faced surveillance and disruption from police agencies, such as the FBI; brutalization by local police; local ordinances and court injunctions limiting protest; inquisitions into beliefs and associations by congressional committees; prosecution under laws that curbed dissent; denaturalization and deportation; and purges under government loyalty programs. Agree with them or not, by dissenting when it was unpopular or dangerous to do so, they insisted on exercising the precious American right of free expression and preserved it for a new century’s dissenters.
“It is time we replaced the traditional heroes of our orthodox textbooks-the generals, the politicos, the industrialists-with those courageous people who fought for peace and justice, against great odds. This book goes a long way towards that goal, by letting us hear the voices of the great dissenters.”—Howard Zinn
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