United for Peace and Justice
Institute Screens Zinn Documentary
Institute Welcomes New Board Members
Update on Funded Projects
New Grants, Sept. - Oct. 2003
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November 23, 2003
We started this year with the largest peace demonstrations in recent memory as the United States prepared to launch the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, the mobilization of millions of people all over the world was not enough to prevent this tragic conflict.
Protests and actions continue in cities and communities across the country and around the world. The war drags on: soldiers and Iraqi citizens die and suffer daily, and the consequences of this criminal action reverberate across the Middle East. We are paying the costs, literally, of this war right here, as human services and educational programs are cut back to feed the rising demands of our military.
As we approach the end of 2003, you might feel discouraged by current events. Here at the Muste Institute, we are encouraged by the growing numbers of people who are joining forces to oppose this continuing madness. We are working hard to provide more funding and more support for these efforts. To paraphrase an ancient Chinese proverb, with danger comes opportunity. Please read this issue of Muste Notes and the enclosed letter to learn more about our work and how your contributions can help us build the movement to end this war, develop a new generation of activists and create new resources for nonviolence in today's world.
New Sponsored Group: United for Peace & Justice
The Muste Institute welcomes our newest sponsored organization, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). Formed as an umbrella peace coalition in the fall of 2002 as the U.S. government was preparing its war on Iraq, UFPJ now includes over 600 member groups nationwide. The coalition produces educational materials, maintains an active website and organizes marches and rallies, among other activities. On February 15, 2003, UFPJ made history by bringing 500,000 people to an anti-war demonstration near the United Nations in New York City, coordinated as part of a global day of protest. On March 22, just two days after the bombs began falling on Baghdad, UFPJ turned out 300,000 people for a march down Broadway.
In June, UFPJ held its first national conference, where over 500 delegates from 325 member organizations met, elected a national steering committee and set the direction and priorities for the work of the coalition during the coming year. UFPJ's primary campaigns involve continued efforts to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq, defense of immigrant rights and civil liberties, and making the links between movements opposing war and those demanding global economic justice.
UFPJ organized a bus to take New York area activists (including Muste Institute administrative assistant Jeanne Strole) to Miami for protests from November 19-22 against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a hemisphere-wide trade plan which the US government hopes will become an expanded version of NAFTA. Activists from New York, Ithaca, Boston and other northeastern cities were able to get to Miami thanks to UFPJ's coordinating and fundraising efforts. UFPJ offered bus tickets on a sliding scale to ensure that anyone who wanted to go to Miami to make their voices heard would have that chance.
The New York contingent joined other fair trade activists, union representatives, human rights and environmental organizers from around the country and from all over the western hemisphere, coming together to demand global economic justice at the 8th ministerial talks for the FTAA. The protests were generally peaceful. The week built up to a mass rally on November 20 around midday on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami, adjacent to the Intercontinental hotel where the trade talks were under way. Activists had planned a day of demonstrating and celebrating, but the festivities were cut short when police began aggressively breaking up the permitted protest march and rally. It became clear that Miami police chief John Timoney was not going to allow any peaceful demonstration to take place.
UFPJ was among the more vocal groups speaking out against the climate of repression fostered by Timoney and the Miami police. ``What we saw today on the streets of Miami was a military exercise against people who came to exercise their constitutional rights,'' L.A. Kauffman of United for Peace and Justice was quoted as saying in the Atlanta Constitution. "People who were exercising their freedom of speech were treated like enemy combatants."
For more information about United for Peace and Justice, see www.unitedforpeace.org/ or call 212-868-5545.
PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW EMAIL ADDRESS: [email protected]
Institute Screens Zinn Documentary
On the evening of November 12, 2003, more than 75 people gathered at the Puffin Room in lower Manhattan to attend the screening of You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train. The documentary chronicles the life and activism of "people's historian" Howard Zinn. The evening began with a few words from Puffin Room curator Carl Rosenstein, who gave some background on the current exhibit at the gallery, of drawings by Iraqi children. Then came a welcome from Muste Institute Executive Director Murray Rosenblith--a former student of Zinn's at Boston University--and an introduction by the film's co-director, Deb Ellis.
This was the New York area debut screening of the film, which chronicles the evolution of Zinn's life, work and political perspective from his early experience as an industrial worker and then as a bombardier in World War II (and his resultant awakening to the horrors of war), to his early activism on the faculty at Spellman College (where he encouraged his students' involvement in the civil rights movement), to his work at Boston University against the US war in Vietnam.
The documentary lays out Zinn's life and work as an inspiring example of how people can make change, and successfully captures his contagious enthusiasm for nonviolent activism. The film got an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the audience, which included Puffin Room regulars, Muste Institute board members and supporters, and students and activists of all ages.
The screening was a benefit and outreach event for the Muste Institute, as well as an attempt to promote the film. The Muste Institute contributed to the creation of the documentary with a $1,000 grant last December. The Puffin Room donated its space for the screening; the Puffin Foundation, which is linked to the gallery, also helped fund the film.
The Muste Institute thanks Deb Ellis, the Puffin Room, and all our supporters who participated in this debut screening. If you live in the New York City area and missed the event, but would like to see the film, please contact us about possible future screenings.
Institute Welcomes New Board Members
The Muste Institute is pleased to introduce the newest members of our Board of Directors:
James Cole works as a teacher of science, math and geography at Crossroads Middle School, a small, progressive New York City public school. He was formerly dean of students at the school and currently serves on the Personnel and Professional Development Committees. He is a longtime environmental educator who has organized youth and adult programs and activities in a number of settings. Jim brings to the Board a wealth of knowledge and experience in environmental issues and education.
Melissa Jameson worked for two and a half years as the office director at War Resisters League; from 1993 to 2000 she served on WRL's Executive Committee while working as an advocacy counselor at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a settlement house in Manhattan's Upper East Side. She is also active locally with Kairos/Plowshares NY, a Muste Institute sponsored group, and has been a volunteer at the Catholic Worker community.
Nina Streich has been an activist for over 30 years in disarmament, social justice and environmental movements on a local and national level. She is the founder and creative director of Albot and Albot, a public relations and special events company which has worked on many progressive campaigns. Nina also volunteers her services as a public relations expert and fundraiser for activist events, including this year's February 15 anti-war march in New York. She specializes in film and video work, and is also a board member of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), public access TV.
An Update on Projects Funded by the Muste Institute
Brandywine Peace Community, a Philadelphia-based pacifist organization which received a Muste Institute grant in 1998, helped organize a successful Veterans Day memorial peace demonstration in Philadelphia on November 11, 2003. The event began with a moment of silence in memory of all victims of war, followed by a rally in front of Philadelphia's City Hall which featured speakers including young conscientious objector Diedre Cobb and Linda Dann, mother of a U.S. Army reservist and member of Military Families Speak Out! Then 200-plus marchers wound their way through the center of Philadelphia for an interfaith ceremony at the 30th St. Bridge, where participants cast ashes (symbolizing war and its devastation), stones (symbolizing societal hardness of heart) and flowers (representing commitment to peace) into the waters. The demonstration was pulled together by a local network of veterans' groups, unions, religious organizations and pacifist groups-including another former Muste grantee, SOA Watch Northeast, as well as the local Philadelphia branches of War Resisters League and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. As we go to press, Brandywine is preparing to protest Lockheed Martin, the world's largest weapons corporation, with "LOCKHEED-VILLE"--a pre-Thanksgiving shanty vigil on Nov. 26 at the company's Valley Forge, PA headquarters. Also in the works is a December 4 demonstration in support of activists facing trial for civil disobedience at a Philadelphia anti-war action last March 19 (as the US bombardment of Iraq began). www.brandywinepeace.com/
We must indeed resolutely refuse to be tempted to violence: that is the short cut which invariably turns out to be the blind alley. But if we leave it at that, then, in effect, as our critics have pointed out, the disinherited are condemned to the choice between acquiescence in tyranny or resorting to violence. We pacifists must go on to show that evil can be overcome and a new order built in the spirit by the method of nonviolence
(from The World Task of Pacifism, 1941)
New Grants, September-October 2003
COMMUNITY ALLIANCE OF LANE COUNTY (CALC)
Eugene, OR: $1,500
In January 2003, CALC joined with Eugene PeaceWorks to form the Committee for Countering Military Recruitment, with the goal of educating students about the realities of military service and alternatives to it. This grant goes to the Committee's efforts to get counter -recruitment materials in as many Lane County high schools as possible, and to get school districts to do a better job of protecting students' privacy from military recruiters. www.progressiveresponses.org/
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
Chiang Mai, Thailand: $3,000 (INTF)
This grant from our International Nonviolence Training Fund (INTF) went for the Southeast Asia Regional Women's Active Nonviolence Social Action Training, held Oct. 28-Nov. 11, 2003, with 20 participants from Thailand, Burma in exile, Tibet in exile, Cambodia, Indonesia and East Timor. The goal of the training was to help participants understand the definitions, principles and strategies of active nonviolent resistance to apply in local activism in their communities. The project also seeks to prepare workshop participants for a future training for trainers, and to help build a regional network of grassroots women activists.
LEHIGH-POCONO COMMITTEE OF CONCERN (LEPOCO)
Bethlehem, PA: $1,500
Founded in 1965 to oppose the US war in Vietnam, LEPOCO now has more than 500 members, most of them residents of the Lehigh Valley area in eastern Pennsylvania. This grant goes for the Youth and Militarism Project, reaching out to local high school students and their families to educate and inform them about the realities of military service and the availability of career, education and civil service alternatives. www.lepoco.org/
NICARAGUA SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE
Chicago, IL: $1,500
The Nicaragua Solidarity Committee founded the Labor Rights Task Force in 1995 as part of a nationwide effort by the Nicaragua Network to redirect activist resources built up during the 1980s into new efforts to connect local labor struggles with those throughout the world. This grant goes for the Task Force's high school and college outreach project, started in 1999. The project seeks to strengthen progressive movements by helping students in the Chicago area to develop their activist skills and leadership abilities, encouraging them to examine the role of multinational corporations in the U.S. and abroad, and getting them involved in organizing efforts.
STUDENT COMMITTEE AGAINST LABOR EXPLOITATION (SCALE)
New York, NY: $1,500
SCALE was founded six years ago by high school interns at the National Labor Committee who wanted to create a space for students to organize against sweatshops. This grant goes for the Second Annual Northeast Regional High School Anti-Sweatshop Conference, hosted by SCALE in New York Oct. 25-26, 2003. The conference focused on building ties among high school activists, educating students about sweatshop issues and teaching organizing skills. www.nlcnet.org/scale/main.htm
SYRACUSE PEACE COUNCIL
Syracuse, NY: $1,500
Syracuse Peace Council is a community-based, autonomous organization founded in 1936 to carry out anti-war and social justice work in central New York. This grant goes for a weekend nonviolence "training for trainers" workshop, organized in conjunction with other upstate New York peace and justice groups. The workshop will prepare a group of nonviolent activists from across central New York to facilitate nonviolence training sessions for future actions. www.peacecouncil.net/
THOMAS MERTON CENTER
Pittsburg, PA: $1,500
The Thomas Merton Center has been linking domestic and international issues since 1972, when it started out helping organize local efforts against the US war in Vietnam and working with a human needs coalition on issues of racism and poverty. This grant goes for the Peace Mobilization Campaign, mobilizing and organizing people in the Pittsburgh area to take part in interfaith vigils, rallies, teach-ins and other activities promoting peaceful solutions to world conflicts. www.merton.org/
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups doing nonviolent organizing for social change. Our next deadline for proposals is February 27, 2004. To read our grant guidelines, click here.