David McReynolds, Socialist Activist Who Ran for President, Dies at 88
David E. McReynolds, a pacifist, socialist and sometime political candidate whose activism spanned many decades, died on
Friday in Manhattan. He was 88.

The War Resisters League, where Mr. McReynolds had been a staff member, confirmed his death. He was taken to Mount
Sinai Beth Israel hospital after falling in his Manhattan apartment, a friend, Bruce Cronin, said.

Mr. McReynolds was best known for his demonstrations against the draft during the Vietnam War, his advocacy of
pacifism and denuclearization, and his two bids for president in 1980 and 2000 as an openly gay man running on the
Socialist Party USA ticket.
“He’ll be known for the lifetime of leadership and the pacifist movements that, to a large degree, he defined in the post-
World War II, Cold War era,” said Professor Cronin, the chairman of the political science department at City College of
New York. “But what I think helped to define him was that he was as much a humanist as he was an activist.” He had met
Mr. McReynolds at a denuclearization rally in the 1980s.

Mr. McReynolds spent almost four decades as a staff member for the War Resisters League, a pacifist organization based
in New York City. His activism took him around the world for demonstrations and meetings as a member of delegations in
Libya, Japan, Vietnam and other countries.

“There were all these things that made him a giant in antiwar and civil rights and social justice,” his cousin Dusty Kunin
said on Friday.

He was also a photographer, a writer and a music aficionado who regularly hosted friends at his home for discussions about
art, life and politics.

David Ernest McReynolds was born on Oct. 25, 1929, in Los Angeles. He was raised as a Baptist and was once affiliated
with the Prohibition Party, he told The Village Voice in a 2015 interview.

Mr. McReynolds, who was the oldest of three children, described his childhood as “pretty protected.” His father’s job as
head of the local water reserve and his family’s access to his grandfather’s farm and livestock helped insulate them from
the worst effects of the Great Depression, The Voice reported.

By the time he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, in the early 1950s, he had become an active socialist and
an ardent pacifist.

This was during the era of McCarthyism, and the government took notice of his activities. Mr. McReynolds would later
write that the F.B.I. had compiled hundreds of pages of files on him, which he obtained through a Freedom of Information
Act request.

His work spanned myriad issues. He demonstrated in favor of civil rights and against the Korean War in the 1950s, so that
by the time widespread antiwar sentiment had gripped young activists during the 1960s and ’70s, he was an experienced

Mr. McReynolds was known as a mediator with a human touch, and much of his organizing work took place behind the
scenes. But he occasionally appeared in news reports, including the time he publicly burned draft documents during
Vietnam War protests in 1965.