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Interpreting the Evidence

Flyer Produced by the Juan Farinas Defense Committee, 1972

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Civil Rights

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Flyer Produced by the Juan Farinas Defense Committee, 1972 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Flyer Produced by the Juan Farinas Defense Committee, 1972 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Flyer produced by the Juan Farinas Defense Committee, 1972.
Historical Context
The arrest and conviction of Juan Farinas occurred at a time in America when citizens conducted large-scale protests against the Vietnam War. The Vietnam struggle began in the 1950s as the government of South Vietnam defended itself from a takeover by the communist regime of North Vietnam. At first the U.S. only served as military advisors to the South Vietnamese. U.S. involvement escalated, however, after North Vietnamese PT boats opened fire on a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2, 1964. This event resulted in a congressional resolution that gave President Lyndon B. Johnson authority to wage full-scale war against North Vietnam, without first obtaining a formal declaration of war from Congress.

The numbers of U.S. troops serving in Vietnam grew rapidly in the years following the Tonkin Resolution. At home, television coverage of the war gave Americans the opportunity to view the horrors of war. Images of bloody U.S. soldiers and body bags came into the living rooms of American families, along with a daily tally of U.S. deaths and civilian casualties. This had an effect on the citizen protests that had first begun with college students and youth. Many young men, enlisted for military service by the Selective Service, burned their draft cards in protest of the war. Protesters were arrested for peaceful demonstrations, draft-card burning, and sit-ins at sites like induction centers and colleges. As time went on, public-opinion polls revealed that a majority of Americans held opinions against U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  

Juan Farinas was arrested in 1968 for attempting to pass out anti-war literature to fellow inductees, as he was being processed at the Whitehall Induction Center. He was tried and convicted on several counts, including his refusal to stop passing out the leaflets and speaking out against the war, interfering with the Selective Service System, and refusing to report for and submit to the draft. Many labor unions, including Local 1199, helped to raise money for his trial defense and appeal process and also conducted letter-writing campaigns and public relations efforts on behalf of Mr. Farinas. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and Juan Farinas served his jail sentence.
Essential Question
How does war affect the civil rights of the citizens?
Check for Understanding
Identify the main idea of this pamphlet and explain the impact of war on an individuals civil rights.
Historical Challenges
Using the resources below, learn more about the Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) Supreme Court case. Compare and contrast the facts of the Clay case to the Farinas case, using a graphic organizer like a t-chart or a venn diagram.
Using the resources below, read the primary documents on the Tinker v. Des Moines Supreme Court case that was decided on February 24, 1969. Compare and contrast the Tinker case to the Juan Farinas case. Why do you believe the Supreme Court heard the Tinker case but refused to hear the Farinas case?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Language Arts: Write testimony and prosecution/defense questions for a staged mock trial of the Farinas case.
Art: Create posters both supporting and opposing Juan Farinas.
Math: Locate statistics concerning minority participation in the Vietnam War. Create a bar graph.