Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors

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The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) was a United States nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people avoid or resist military conscription or seek discharge after voluntary enlistment. It was active in supporting conscientious objectors ("CO's"), war resisters and draft evaders during the Vietnam War. Founded in Philadelphia in 1948 and dissolved in 2011, CCCO emphasized the needs of secular and activist COs, while other organizations supporting COs principally focused on religious objectors and/or legislative reform and government relations.

CCCO's founders including such notable mid-20th Century American pacifists as David Dellinger, A.J. Muste, George Willoughby, James E. Bristol,[1] John Mott,[2] Bayard Rustin, and Harrop Freeman.[3]

During its heyday between about 1966 and 1971, CCCO maintained regional offices and staff in Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and San Francisco, in addition to the national office in Philadelphia. It published multiple editions of a Handbook for Conscientious Objectors, the looseleaf (and frequently updated) Draft Counselor's Handbook, and Advice for Conscientious Objectors in the Armed Forces (authored by Robert Seeley), and distributed long-time Executive Secretary Arlo Tatum's authoritative Guide to the Draft (Beacon Press). CCCO staff trained hundreds of volunteer "draft counselors" throughout the United States to give informed and non-directive advice during the Vietnam era to as many as 10,000 young men exploring their choices in the face of the draft, including such well-known COs as Muhammad Ali and Arlo Guthrie.[4] CCCO also offered counseling to military members opposed to current wars as well as civilians faced with decisions regarding legal requirements for Selective Service registration.

CCCO Western Region, based in San Francisco, was the last regional office to remain open as the organization scaled back after the end of the Vietnam War, and as draft registration without active conscription became the norm in the U.S. after 1980. The Philadelphia office closed in about 1994, having transferred national control of the organization to San Francisco in 1989. In CCCO's final years, the office moved to Oakland, where activities focused on counter-recruitment activism through its "Military Out of Our Schools" program, and production of a youth magazine, AWOL! Youth for Peace and Revolution, in collaboration with the War Resisters League. CCCO's "Third World Outreach Program" focused on the issue of the "poverty draft," viewing impoverished young people, disproportionately people of color, as effectively coerced into military service by a lack of viable options in the civilian economy.

Before its demise, CCCO served as the clearinghouse of the national GI Rights Network, which includes the operation of GI Rights Hotline. Its former counseling role was inherited by the GI Rights Hotline and by the Center on Conscience and War (formerly NISBCO, the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors).

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  1. ^ "James E. Bristol," The King Encyclopedia (Stanford Univ.)
  2. ^ Hugh Barbour, et al., "Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings" (Syracuse Univ. Press, 1995), p. 307
  3. ^ Memorial Statement for Harrop E. Freeman, Office of the Dean, Cornell University (1993)
  4. ^ https://www.swarthmore.edu/library/peace/DG051-099/dg073CentralComm(CCCO)/dg073CCCO.html Swarthmore College Library Peace Collection, CCCO

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