Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2000

U.S. Exile Granted Pardon

frican-American Preston King, who fled overseas in the early 1960s, returned to the U.S. in February after 39 years of exile.

Mr. King, now 63, is a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Lancaster in Britain. While a graduate student, the U.S. draft board granted him an initial deferment to complete his studies. But, after learning that he was black refused a further postponement, and began addressing him as Preston, and not as Mr. King. Faced with this racial discrimination, he refused to report for military duty and was arrested. In 1961 he was convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to 18 months in prison. While on bail, he fled the country.

Mr. King says he took that action "against the segregationist backdrop of the time." He refused to recognize the legitimacy of his civil disobedience charge and family members and supporters (including CAUT) have spent years trying to gain a pardon.

Although President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty in 1977 to all draft evaders who fled the United States during the Vietnam war, it was not a blanket pardon and did not cover Mr. King's conviction. In the eyes of the U.S. authorities Mr. King remained a convicted criminal, until President Clinton granted a pardon on Feb. 21.