Politics in action

Bruce Dancis book reading

Former Sacramento Bee entertainment editor Bruce Dancis came of age amid the social upheaval of the '60s, but his commitment to fostering change started early.

As a preteen, the Bronx-raised son of young socialists regularly argued with teachers about the civil-rights movement, and in 1963, when he was just 15, he walked as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Dancis (who, full disclosure, was once this writer's boss) continued his activism at Cornell University, participating in sit-ins, protests and rallies. He destroyed his draft card—the first at Cornell to do so—and later took a leave of absence from school to work full-time as an activist.

His work—which included a 1967 protest on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the Pentagon alongside Abbie Hoffman—landed Dancis on the FBI's radar, and he eventually spent 19 months in federal prison, convicted on charges related to evading the draft.

Dancis (pictured above, far right) writes about these experiences in his memoir Resister: A Story of Protest and Prison During the Vietnam War (Cornell University Press, $29.95). The book recounts Dancis' history, written in a clear, unsentimental and engaging voice.

“I don't compare what I did in going to prison with the courage it takes to be in combat,” Dancis writes. “I've never experienced warfare so I can only imagine how I would have reacted to a life-or-death situation.”

Dancis will discuss his experiences on Wednesday, April 30. No cover, 7 p.m. at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st Street; (916) 447-5696; www.timetestedbooks.net.