IN MEMORIAM

Christopher Colorado Jones
January 12, 1949 - June 29, 2019

 

Originator and visionary producer of The Boys Who Said NO!, Christopher Colorado Jones died tragically in an accident on June 29, 2019.

We are grateful that Christopher lived long enough to see the full, 90-minute fine cut of the film to which he passionately dedicated the last six years of his life. As the surviving members of his film team, we are committed to completing the film which is his legacy and distributing it as widely as possible.

Christopher had a fierce, life-long dedication to nonviolence and social justice, and believed that citizens need to resist a government in the wrong now more than ever. He hoped this powerful but little-known story of young people rising up to stop an unjust war would be both primer and rallying cry to those involved in today’s struggles.

This page is dedicated to his memory and includes his obituary as well as eulogies and poems presented at his memorial service in July 2019 by David Harris, Randy Kehler and Ellen Cooney.


We do not have far to go to complete the film and begin distribution.
Please help honor Christopher's work and vision with a donation.

OBITUARY

 

Christopher Colorado Jones, Peace Warrior 

 

San Francisco lost a dedicated fighter for peace and social justice on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. Christopher Colorado Jones died after a fall from a ladder he had scaled to adjust the Pride flag in front of his home. He was 70.


Born Christopher William Jones in 1949, he adopted a jailhouse nickname as his middle name. “Colorado” – “Red” in Spanish – was a better match for the 98 lb. young man with flaming red hair who had dared defy his government. 

His letter to his draft board declaring that he couldn’t register “for reasons of conscience” would land him in jail at Safford Federal Prison Camp (AZ), but first he found a community of activists near his Los Altos home and in the nationwide movement that erupted as thousands of young men chose to risk jail over waging war in Vietnam.

Expecting prison time, Christopher had deferred college and moved to San Francisco. There, he came out fully as a gay man, while battling the legal system in three felony trials. At Safford, Christopher documented prison life with a smuggled home movie camera, wiled away the hours drawing and painting and kept a diary on prison corruption. Upon release, he directed the Agape Foundation, Fund for Nonviolent Social Change for seven years.

Then came AIDS. Armed with a Masters in Public Health and Social Work from UC Berkeley, Christopher went to work for the Northwest AIDS Foundation and then for Washington State’s Governor’s Task Force on HIV-AIDS.

He met and made a home with his future husband, Bill Prince, in Seattle, returning together to San Francisco in 2012.

In 2013, Christopher organized a reunion of draft resisters that kindled a documentary film – The Boys Who Said NO! Draft Resistance and the Vietnam War - directed by Oscar-nominee Judith Ehrlich. He worked tirelessly on the film, raising money and organizing a team of advisers to support the still on-going production.

 

Bill describes him as “a live wire, a shooting star, a curmudgeon, a great cook, a disco dancer and a dear friend who will be dearly missed.” 

 

To keep Christopher’s dream alive, donations can be made to The Boys Who Said “NO!” at www.boyswhosaidno.com.

IN MEMORIAM
CHRISTOPHER COLORADO JONES
A Poem By Ellen Cooney

 

you burst into San Francisco like
a flash of lightning working tirelessly
for justice better wages and conditions
for the farmworkers then for peace
in Vietnam even standing up for your
beliefs to the Federal Government
resisting the draft and going to prison for it
not resting here you worked in Seattle
in public health against the spread of AIDS
you knew the ups and downs of
bisexuality with a girlfriend and later
with a husband with whom you returned
to San Francisco and bought and
renovated a house and traveled
the world not resting here you looked
back on your experiences during the
Vietnam War and in prison and
you wrote a memoir then decided
to make a film interviewing your
fellow peace warriors and
draft resisters and raised money
for it when you were on the ladder on
29 June the day before Gay Pride Day
your light suddenly went out
leaving us with your memory
and your inspiration.
 

Ellen Cooney • July 6 2019

EULOGY
BY DAVID HARRIS

If I try hard, I can still see Christopher Jones in 1967, walking into the commune on Cooley Street in East Palo Alto where a dozen of us were trying our best to spawn a moral uprising against the Vietnam War.  He was seventeen years old, but he could have easily passed for fifteen; a swarm of freckles occupied most of his face, his laugh was easy and frequent, accompanied by a smile that had “gee whiz” written all over it.  He introduced himself with an air of apology as though he had interrupted something more important than himself. 

This Christopher Jones in my memory was greeted as something of a miracle by those of us sharing that Cooley Street moment. 

Here we were—having wrestled through four years of college, beset with dilemmas as we calculated the moral arithmetic involved in our country killing millions of people for no good reason, and struggled to identify our own trajectory in that equation—and here he was, this high school kid who already had it all figured out.  We were sending our draft cards back but he was just refusing to get one in the first place, something none of us had had the insight or gumption to do when that moment came and went for us, several years earlier.  On his face, he seemed almost too good to be true.  But, of course, he turned out to be good, true, and then some.

“Hi,” he said.  “I’m Christopher.”

Fifty two years later, I remember that Christopher as my comrade, with whom I risked everything for the sake of what was right. Like many of you in this room, we were bonded together forever by the unflinching declaration of “No” that we exercised in common. He was a founding member of our fellowship of disobedience and refusal which faced the Evil being perpetrated in our name and stepped forward together to champion America’s better self and throw our lives on the cogs of the war machine, denying Evil the cooperation Evil requires in order to thrive.  

As our movement grew, we became convicts together.  We had all anteed up years of our future to leverage the war in Indochina off its seemingly inexorable track, and we paid the price for that insurgency in each other’s company.  All our characters shared a common crucible: Since the Law was wrong, we all chose to be outlaws.  We counted on each other when there was nobody else to count on.  And those ties never wear out. 

Such was the Christopher I knew and cherished over all the years since.

Courage was required of us and Christopher Colorado Jones may have been the bravest of us all, game even when the stakes were high and the odds long.  Prison is a risky place for anyone, but especially risky if you were short, slight, young, and gay.

Devotion was essential to our success and our survival, and no one was more devoted than he, to cause and comrades both.  And, typically, it was Christopher who years later, without experience or money, rescued our mutual history from obscurity by becoming a movie producer and birthing “The Boys Who Said No,” showing soon at your local film festival.

Grit was a necessity as well in our circumstance and beneath those freckles and the “gee whiz” grin, Chris was tough as a badger.  He knew how to stand up when standing up was required and how to sit down when it wasn’t.  And he was relentless in pursuit of something or someone he cared about.

We will miss you, Christopher Colorado: little brother, insurgent prodigy, Gandhian warrior, incessantly Right when Wrong was the default position everywhere we turned. 

 

It is, of course, sad for the rest of us that your string ran out before we had a chance to share a proper good bye, but we have all been blessed by your visit among us, dear Christopher, and will always be grateful for the good you have left behind.

 

– David Harris     

EULOGY
BY RANDY KEHLER

In 1967, Christopher and I both took a brave step.  But Christopher’s was much braver than mine.  In 1967, I was a 23 years old college graduate, and I’d finally decided to cut my ties to the Vietnam draft by sending my draft card back to Washington.

 

A 17-year-old Christopher, still in his last year of high school, announced that he planned to refuse to register for the draft when he turned 18.

 

To make such a declaration at 17 and to follow through on it when he turned 18, knowing he would very likely be imprisoned, was unusually courageous. If Christopher was frightened by the prospect of imprisonment he never showed it, at least not that I could see.

 

So, starting off with our strong common bond as public draft resisters, Christopher and I immediately became good friends as well as faithful allies.  From the first moment we met, and ever after, I delighted in Christopher’s wonderfully playful, teasing sense of humor, as well as his always loyal and affectionate friendship. 

 

I ended up in prison before Christopher did, by about six months.  And it was our good fortune that we were sent to the same prison – “Safford,” a minimum security prison in the desert of southeast Arizona – where our good friend David Harris had been sent earlier.

 

Somehow I got word of the date of Christopher’s pending arrival at Safford, and thus made a point of hanging around near the prison entrance that day to greet him when he arrived.  I can still see his grinning yet understandably anxious face as he slowly came down the steps into the prison yard, and then his big, wide-eyed smile when he caught sight of me waiting to give him a hug.  I also seem to remember he momentarily paused before hugging me, rightfully dubious about men hugging each other in a hyper-macho environment that we both knew would be, and was aggressively homophobic.

 

It felt like re-uniting with a much-loved younger brother, someone I knew I’d be able to confide in, despite the strangeness of this far-away place.

 

Ever since our time together at Safford – now over 50 years ago – when we’ve reminisced about those days, Christopher has insisted, always with affection and gratitude, that I was his “protector” who allowed him to feel safe there. But the truth is that I never sensed that he needed a protector.  In fact, very soon it became obvious that he was easily making friends among the other prisoners and was perfectly able to be the same friendly, lively, often joking and laughing person we’d all known “on the outside.”

 

As it turned out, our time together at Safford was relatively short-lived, due to the fact that several months later I got in trouble with the prison authorities (who told me I had a, quote, “bad attitude toward prison”) and, like David, was “shipped out” to a higher security prison, outside of El Paso, Texas, known as “La Tuna.”  It wasn’t until much later, after we’d both been released and were back in San Francisco, that we were able to be together once again, until I headed back home to my family and friends on the East Coast. 

 

Yet, fortunately, thanks to long catch-up phone conversations every year or two, and occasional in-person visits, our close relationship and great affection for one another never waned.

 

If, at the outset of our friendship, I came to regard Christopher as a dearly loved younger brother, that feeling only grew stronger as the years passed.  And it was always a joy for me to know that he felt the same sense of deep kinship with me.  I especially loved the fact that in recent years,with reference to Betsy and my two grandchildren, Anneke and Aksel (whom he once met), he’d always ask, in his wonderfully mischievous, playful voice “So how are my little nieces and nephews doing?!”….. 

 

There’s so much more I could say about my friendship with Christopher – including helping him write his Safford prison memoir and, more recently, our conversations about his and Bill’s struggles and accomplishments regarding “The Boys” film (which we must all try our best to help finally bring to the glorious finish it so deserves.)

 

So I’ll stop here and just say, “Good-bye, Christopher, my dear, dear brother.  Wherever you are, please know that I will always love you.”

– Randy Kehler      

Christopher presenting a clip of the film at a benefit in Point Reyes, California

THE BOYS WHO SAID NO!

Draft Resistance & the Vietnam War

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© 2019 • The Boys Who Said NO!