Disclaimer: We are sharing a wide range of perspectives and opinions on the history, legacy and lessons of the Green Corn Rebellion, hence, it is important to note that views expressed in content published/linked on this website do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or supporters of this website.
Also we have barely scratched the surface on the wealth of writings on the GCR, so please check back soon for more updates.
- “How War Horse Skips Over the Greatest Moral Drama of WWI: The film had a disappointing night at the Oscars. It also leaves out the anti-war history of World War I” by Adam Hochschild in Mother Jones (Feb. 27, 2012)
Yet curiously, for all the spectacle of boy and horse, thundering cavalry charges, muddy trenches, and wartime love and loss, the makers of War Horse, Downton Abbey, and—I have no doubt—the similar productions we’ll soon be watching largely skip over the greatest moral drama of those years of conflict, one that continues to echo in our own time of costly and needless wars. They do so by leaving out part of the cast of characters of that moment. The First World War was not just a battle between rival armies, but also a powerful, if one-sided, battle between those who assumed the war was a noble crusade and those who thought it absolute madness.
The war’s opponents went to jail in many countries. There were more than 500 conscientious objectors imprisoned in the United States in those years, for example, plus others jailed for speaking out against joining the conflict. Eugene V. Debs had known prison from his time as a railway union leader, but he spent far longer behind bars—more than two years—for urging American men to resist the draft. Convicted of sedition, he was still in his cell at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta in November 1920 when, long after the war ended, he received nearly a million votes as the Socialist candidate for President.
One American protest against the war turned to tragedy when, in 1917, Oklahoma police arrested nearly 500 draft resisters—white, black, and Native American—taking part in what they called the Green Corn Rebellion against “a rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.” Three were killed and many injured.
War resisters were also thrown in jail in Germany and Russia. But the country with the largest and best organized anti-war movement—and here’s where the creators of those film and TV costume dramas so beloved by Anglophile American audiences miss a crucial opportunity—was Britain.
The main reason opposition to the war proved relatively strong there was simple enough: In 1914, the island nation had not been attacked. German invaders marched into France and Belgium, but Germany hoped Britain would stay out of the war. And so did some Britons. When their country joined the fighting on the grounds that Germany had violated Belgian neutrality, a vocal minority continued to insist that jumping into a quarrel among other countries was a disastrous mistake.
- “Call For a Conference on Creating a New Green Corn Alliance: Transformative Organizing for a new Red State” by Roberto Mendoza (July 29, 2012)
“What we urgently need are impassioned discussions everwhere, in groups large and small, where people from all walks of life are not only talking but also listening to one another”, Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution.
We can start by calling for local dialogues/discussions leading up to a conference on creating a New Green Corn Alliance: Transformative Organizing for a new Red State. This will be statewide, multi-class, multi-racial, across age and gender lines, building on the inspiration of the original Green Corn Rebellion. It will also reclaim the radical history of early Oklahoma, a necessary step in building a new radical movement for the 21st century.
The Conference will feature workshops on topics discussed in the Call for Local Dialogues. It will feature speakers like Roxanne Dunbar-Otiz, Food Sovereignty and Native American Activist, Ben Yahola and possibly regional activists like Grace Boggs and Native American land activist Winona LaDuke. Hopefully a new statewide Green Corn Alliance can result from this effort. Joining together the stuggles of Native Americans, African Americans, European Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Arab Americans would create a powerful force for positive change in the new Red State of Oklahoma. Let us begin the first steps in this new direction. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us.