1943 September 29

Six Conscientious Objectors Begin Hunger Strike in Lewisburg Penitentiary over Censorship of Reading Materials


Six conscientious objectors, in prison for refusing to cooperate with the draft during WW II, began a hunger strike on this day to protest the censorship of mail and reading material in prison. The strike ended in December 1943. James V. Bennett, head of the federal Bureau of Prisons, ended the censorship but retained the right to open and read mail for security purposes. One participant in the hunger strike, David Dellinger, in the 1960s became a leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement.

A separate hunger strike by conscientious objectors during World War II challenged racial segregation in the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. That hunger strike began on August 11, 1943, and ended with the elimination of segregation in the prison on December 23, 1943.

Learn more: Cynthia Eller, Conscientious Objectors and the Second World War: Moral and Religious Arguments in Support of Pacifism (1991)

Read: David Dellinger, From Yale to Jail: the Life and Times of a Moral Dissenter (1993)

Watch an interview with Dellinger about his career as an activist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCmQseL5a9c

Learn about the rights of COs today at the GI Rights Hotline here.

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