Preston King vs Draft Board Racism
Dennis Roberts

I finally got around to reading the file in Preston King's case. Preston is C.B. King's youngest brother, an extremely brilliant guy who was offered scholarships all over the world after he graduated from Fisk University. He finally went to the London School of Economics and got his masters degree.

He wanted to go on and get his doctorate (which he would have completed before he was 23) but the draft board started to write him. Their initial correspondence to him had been written, "Dear Mr. King" but after they discovered he was a Negro the letters were "Dear Preston." He also got a letter from his mother telling him that the Draft Board called his home to find out his address and was into that first name crap with Mrs. King too.

So he wrote them a nice letter telling them that he didn't feel that there was any reason for the intimate form of address as he didn't know the lady who was writing to him, and that he felt that an agency of the Federal Government should not display this sort of racism, and that therefore he would disregard my further communication to him which wasn't properly addressed.

So the bastards back-dated his notice to report for a physical and he was declared delinquent before the letter reached him. He kept up correspondence with various officials in the Army meanwhile but when he came back to the US a few months later on a speaking tour sponsored by an Afro-American association he was arrested and tried for draft-dodging.

The transcript reads like a comedy script and would be funny if it weren't such a tragic loss. He was convicted and decided it just wasn't worth staying around to fight this kind of idiocy in the "land of the free," so he went back to England, got his doctorate and is now a full professor at the University of Ghana.

Copyright © Dennis Roberts

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