Last week, we marked two annual celebrations: the one-year anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons coming into force, and the 46th anniversary of the start of the Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice. As we watch with anxious anticipation the current rising tensions between the United States-led NATO and the Russian government over Ukraine, it is a fitting time to be reminded that, as of January 22, 2021, nuclear weapons are illegal under international law. But most people still don’t know that, and besides, it has always taken massive dramatic efforts to educate the public about the true dangers of nuclear weapons and our country’s nuclear strategy. Therefore, it is also a fitting time to look back on one of the most dramatic actions to educate the public and voice opposition to the US nuclear strategy in the last fifty years: a project that saw thousands of activists and regular people participate in a months-long cross-country trek to spread the message of peace and justice.
(See our post from last year for an overview of the Continental Walk and its connections to VPT, including VPT members’ direct participation in the Walk: http://www.voluntownpeacetrust.org/a-peace-of-history-blog/san-francisco-to-moscow-walk-for-peace
Also see our post from last week about the origins of the Walk: http://www.voluntownpeacetrust.org/a-peace-of-history-blog/organizing-the-continental-walk-for-disarmament-and-social-justice-1976)
Organizing a walk crossing 8000 miles through 34 states over 20 routes took an immense amount of effort. As the excerpt below outlines, a dozen organizers rotating in and out of the main office in NYC worked for over a period of more than 18 months, starting long before the first walkers commenced the journey and ending well after the Walk was completed. They had to arrange routes, permits, and rally sites; raise funds and coordinate with speakers for events along the Walk; process t-shirt orders and bills; write up and print manuals, newsletters, leaflets, and other literature; design bumper stickers, posters, and other advertisements; send out press releases and maintain media coverage; and more.
Our own organization has a few deep connections to the Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice. Long-time VPT member Rick Gaumer and VPT Board Chair Joanne Sheehan were two of the dozen main national organizers of the Walk. Additionally, when trainings for the long distance walkers were held, VPT hosted the major New England training. As a founding member of the CT Committee on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, VPT continues this legacy of resistance to nuclear arms and to the flawed military strategy that justifies their continued existence.
(Click the image below to download the PDF version of the original clipping)
To celebrate the one-year year anniversary of the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the CT Committee on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has organized a demonstration in New London, CT for Friday, January 21, 2:45-4:00pm. Folks will line up along Howard St with signs and banners provided by the Committee. For more information including how to participate, please get in touch with us on Facebook at facebook.com/voluntownpeacetrust or email us at email@example.com
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Leonard, Vickie and Tom MacLean, Ed. The Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice. Continental Walk for Disarmament and Social Justice, 1977.
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