- I just got off the phone with Laro Nicol. We were scheduled to meet this
evening to discuss some technical aspects of his defense. He said he had
to cancel the meeting. He informed me that Roger Axford died today in a
Phoenix-area hospice due to complicatons of renal failure.
I first met Dr. Axford in 1986 when I was an undergraduate student at
Arizona State University, where he was then a professor of secondary
education. I was never his student, rather I met him in his capacity as
faculty sponsor for the Coalition for World Peace. Regretably I have not
seen him for a few years.
I have had my political differences with Dr. Axford, but I must say to his
credit that he was a lifelong dedicated activist for world peace and justice,
even when it was very unpopular, and even when it meant prison time for him.
In 1942 he was a Methodist minister, and as a member of the clergy was legally
exempt from conscription, but in addition to preaching from his pulpit against
American participation in the war, he sent back his draft form and refused
to either claim his clergy exemption or to submit to military service. He
spent three years in prison for that. Even while he was in prison, he
continued to fight for justice for his fellow prisoners. He met Elijiah
Muhammed, who was also sent to prison on a false charge of refusing
conscription (he was 43 years old and overage for conscription, but he was
sent for saying that African-Americans had no interest in fighting a white
man's war), and he taught him grammar lessons. A prison guard paid him
the highest compliment when, in exasperation, he said, "I'll be glad when
this war is over, and all you consciencious objectors are gone and we can
get some plain ordinary crooks in here!" He was a man of conscience in a
world of opportunism, and he will be missed.