March 12, 2007
Thanks to your generous support, we’ve expanded our programs tremendously over the past three years. We found ourselves running out of room in the newsletter. Clearly, you value the information in Muste Notes, and we want you to know how your contributions are helping us grow.
So, you will notice that this issue of Muste Notes is a little heavier. Our spring and fall editions will now have six pages instead of four. Adding two extra pages will allow us to bring you more information about our grantmaking programs, including the Counter- Recruitment Fund, NOVA Fund and International Nonviolence Training Fund.
Your response to our recent letter from five World War II resisters who support the Muste Institute (www.ajmuste.org/November2006appeal.htm) has put us in good shape for the new year. If you did not get the opportunity to send a contribution before, it’s never too late! Please write a check now and send it in. The Iraq war rages on, the occupation of Palestine continues and injustice remains rampant at home and abroad. We need your continued support so we can extend needed resources to grassroots movements engaging in nonviolent struggles for justice throughout the globe.
An Update on Projects Funded by the Muste Institute
Arlington West Film and Speakers Program received a grant from the Muste Institute last September to organize screenings and discussions using the film “Arlington West” at high schools which are heavily targeted by military recruiters. As part of the presentations, an Iraq war veteran and a family member of a soldier speak to the students. Free DVD copies of the film are handed out after the screening to students who have been considering signing up for the military, or have friends or family members considering military service. At recent presentations in the Los Angeles area, students were also encouraged to join other volunteers in setting up crosses at the Arlington West Memorial for fallen soldiers, on the Santa Monica beach. The program has reached over 1,800 students so far, and more than 400 copies of the film have been distributed to interested students. For information, send an email message to [email protected] or see their website: http://www.arlingtonwestfilm.org
Student/Farmworker Alliance has announced a series of upcoming events to support struggles for labor justice. The 8th Annual Student Labor Week of Action will take place March 28 through April 4, 2007, at hundreds of campuses around the country, demanding access to affordable education, respect for campus employees and corporate accountability in addressing sweatshop conditions in the fields. Then on April 7, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers launches its McDonald’s Truth Tour, including a major mobilization on April 13 and 14 in Chicago. Part of the Campaign for Fair Food, the tour will step up pressure on the McDonald’s corporation to end the exploitation and abuse of field workers who pick tomatoes for its fast food restaurants. The Muste Institute gave $2,000 to Student Farmworker Alliance in September 2004 for the “Boot the Bell” campaign, which successfully forced the Taco Bell chain to address the conditions of tomato pickers. Now the students are again teaming up with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to get McDonald’s to follow suit. “We are tired, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, of ‘relying on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us,’” the Coalition warns. For details, see www.sfalliance.org
Meeting Face to Face is a documentary about the June 2005 Iraq-U.S. Labor Solidarity Tour, in which six senior Iraqi labor leaders spoke at events in 25 U.S. cities. By highlighting the voices and perspectives of Iraqi labor activists, the film serves as an educational resource for labor, peace, religious and classroom settings, and for anyone concerned about war and occupation. The Muste Institute supported promotion and distribution of the film with a December 2005 grant to the Center for the Study of Working Class Life. To order the DVD, learn more, and find or host screenings, visit the film’s website, MeetingFacetoFace.org
by Marjorie Swann Edwin
I was deeply involved in planning and carrying out the 1963 Quebec-to-Guantanamo Walk, which started in Quebec City in May of 1963 and was organized by the Committee for Nonviolent Action, then chaired by A.J. Muste. When JFK was killed, in November of that year, I was in Macon, Georgia. The Walk had stalled there because all the walkers were in jail. (Macon city officials didn’t want an inter-racial walk connected with Cuba going down their main street.)
Everyone except Barbara Deming was fasting. There was a lot of support from the Black community; A.J. was staying at the Black church where the walkers had stayed when they first came to town. A.J. asked me to come down and help with press and public relations.
Elaine Weinberg and I went down on the bus. On November 22, I’d been invited to go to the local TV station for an interview, but during the morning I was on a picket line with members of the Black community in front of Macon City Hall.
Suddenly a car came by, stopped, and the driver yelled, “Kennedy’s been shot!” We kept on walking, not knowing if it was a hoax to get us to leave, but a few minutes later another driver yelled “Kennedy’s dead!” We collected our posters and the rest of the group went back to the church, while I went to the TV station. The man who was to interview me filled me in briefly and said, “Of course we can’t do the interview now, but if you want to stay and watch the dispatches coming over the ticker-tape and what’s being reported on TV, you’re most welcome.”
Of course I stayed, and he showed me the ticker tapes as they came off the machine, and we watched the national reporting. The first report naming Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin said he was the National Chairman of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (an activist group founded in New York in 1960 to push for normalized U.S. relations with Cuba). Then his position was reduced to the Louisiana Chairman, and finally he was described as just “a member.” After two or three hours, I went back to the church, and told A.J. where I’d been and what the news was reporting. “Something’s fishy, A.J.,” I said. He replied, “I know, Marj, but I don’t know what it is yet.” (There has been much speculation that the Fair Play for Cuba Committee was heavily infiltrated by the FBI and the CIA, and that Oswald was part of that infiltration effort.)
The Macon authorities were now in a big hurry to get all the walkers out of jail and out of town. Church people picked them up and brought them to the church, where we all stayed overnight. Months later, I learned that church members with guns stood outside all night, fearful that the church would be burned down with all of us in it.
The next day, several trucks and cars took us with all the gear, posters, etc. back to Atlanta. We went in a roundabout way because no one wanted to drive back the route they had walked—through Griffin, where they had been cattle-prodded and thrown in jail.
We arrived at Mennonite House in Atlanta, run then by Vincent and Rosemarie Harding, a Black Mennonite couple, who welcomed us with open arms. We were given permission to use an old “tenement” across the street from Mennonite House, so we cleaned it up somewhat and a number of us slept there on the floor.
After hearing Lyndon Johnson call for calm and nonviolence, we conceived the idea of having a walk to a downtown park and a vigil supporting the call for nonviolence. Three of us went to the police station and told someone—an assistant chief, I think it was about our plans, and assured him the whole thing would be completely nonviolent in support of the President’s call. We planned to do it on the following Sunday, the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The next morning, as we were cleaning our quarters after breakfast at the “tenement” across the street, several policemen arrived, including the Chief. He grabbed A.J.’s arm and said, “Get across the street, old man. I want to talk to all of you.” The other cops pushed on some of the rest of us, but we stayed calm, and gathered in the living room of the Mennonite House. Without any niceties, the Chief said, “You are not to go to the park and demonstrate—get that?” A.J. said politely, “We aren’t going to cause any trouble; we’re just supporting the President’s call for nonviolence.” The Chief replied: “There will be no demonstration! Period!” and turned around and walked out.
After a few minutes consultation, A.J. called Dr. King and told him what had happened. Martin said, “Just sit tight. I’ll get back to you.” After a while he called back and said to A.J.: “Here’s what we want you to do. My congregation is worshiping with Ralph Abernathy’s congregation at his church on Sunday. We want you to come to church with us, I’ll introduce you and you can introduce the walkers and explain the Walk and your planned demonstration, and we think everything will go okay.”
So the following Sunday we were all in Ralph Abernathy’s church, with our signs and leaflets (we’d made special ones for that day). Martin preached a powerful sermon. Then he introduced A.J., who explained the purpose of the Quebec-to-Guantanamo Walk, and talked about the walk and vigil we planned to do that day. After the service, all the church members lined up on the steps and sidewalk and greeted us and gave us good wishes. Then Ralph and Martin walked one or two blocks with us toward the downtown park and dropped out.
We completed the walk and vigiled for about three hours. We got a lot of thumbs up and warm greetings and almost no nasty responses (I actually don’t remember even one). Of course we were fully prepared to be arrested. To our amazement, we never saw one policeman or even a police car the whole day. Whatever magic Martin and Ralph worked—it worked! A couple of days later, the walkers went back to Macon, resuming the walk near the edge of town and heading on out to the highway.
In January 1964, the march got stuck in Albany, Georgia, where an intense civil rights struggle had been going on for two years. Fourteen marchers and many supporters were jailed, and many of them refused to cooperate. In February, the local police chief finally let the integrated group of marchers walk through town, and the march continued to Miami, facing harassment along the way. From there the walkers planned to go to Cuba, to call attention to the narrow escape from nuclear war in the fall of 1962 during the “Cuban missile crisis,” and to emphasize the necessity for total nuclear disarmament universal if possible, unilateral on the part of the U.S. at least. To that end, CNVA purchased a boat, which Brad Lyttle, coordinator of the Walk, deliberately named “The Spirit of Freedom.” The walkers intended to sail it to Cuba, then walk through Cuba with the same disarmament message carried through the U.S. However, the boat was seized by the Coast Guard and the walkers were all arrested, this time by the federal government. The resulting court case was titled “U.S.A. v. the Spirit of Freedom.” The walkers did not receive sentences or pay fines, but they did not get the boat back, and the Walk was over.
FOR ACTIVE NONVIOLENT EDUCATION
JK EDUCATION COUNCIL
MOVIMIENTO POR JUSTICIA
FOR CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS
OUT OF THE
BLUE PRODUCTIONS, INC.
This grant goes for editing and outreach expenses of The Good Soldier, a feature-length documentary by Lexy Lovell and Michael Uys exploring the journey of five US veterans from different wars as they sign up, go into battle, and change their minds about war. The film is currently in post-production, and is expected out in the Fall of 2007.
The NOVA Fund at the Muste Institute, which has supported active nonviolence in Latin America since 1999, has launched a special grantmaking program in 2007 to help grassroots groups in Latin America send member-activists to regional gatherings where they can share organizing strategies, build networks and plan regional campaigns. The NOVA Travel Fund was born from a desire to encourage more grassroots participation at such gatherings, to ensure they are not dominated by paid staff members from well funded institutions. The new program was made possible by a generous $50,000 contribution from the anonymous donor whose ongoing gifts sustain the NOVA Fund. Grants of up to $1,500 will be provided to pay travel expenses of activists to get to regional gatherings. A committee of six seasoned activists from the region will review proposals and make grant decisions six times a year (deadlines are set for the first day of February, April, June, August, October and December). Applications can be received in Spanish, Portuguese, French or English. More details and an application form in Spanish are available on the Muste Institute website at www.ajmuste.org/novaintro.html
* * *
NOVA Fund Grants 2006
Civil Centro Esperanza:
Nacional dos Seringueiros (CNS):
Comunitario Yach’il Antzetic:
* * *ajmuste.org/counter-recruit.htm.
for Change (New
Parents for Peace (New York, NY):
Rising Up and Moving (New York, NY):
Island Counter Military Recruiting Committee (Huntington, NY):
Committee for Conscientious Objectors (Oklahoma City, OK):
OPTIONS (Silver Spring,
Counter-Recruitment Coalition (Raleigh, NC):
Youth against War and Racism (Renton, WA):
Area Truth in Recruiting (Bellevue,WA):