The Peacemakers were the most active and influential nonviolent direct action group in the United States for almost a decade, from its founding in 1948 on into the mid-1950s. For decades later, the Peacemakers would remain a steady ally of other peace activist organizations, many of which had been founded by members of the Peacemakers themselves. This was the case in 1960, when the Peacemakers moved their annual summer nonviolent direct action training from their headquarters in Pennsylvania up to the New London area of Connecticut in order to support the Committee for Nonviolent Action’s Polaris Action campaign there; as the CNVA organized and demonstrated in dramatic public actions to raise awareness of the dangers of the US nuclear strategy, the Peacemakers would train new activists to join these actions and get immediate firsthand experience.
While largely unknown today, the Peacemakers were rather well-known in certain circles at their peak. On the Faculty list for the 1960 Peacemaker Training in New London several famous names jump out. To name just a few: Anne Braden, the renowned civil rights activist; David Dellinger, one of the Chicago Seven; Eroseanna Robinson, the athlete-activist imprisoned for war tax resistance; and Fred Shuttlesworth, legendary cofounder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
In the brochure, the 16-day Program is divided into four parts: (1) An Introduction to Nonviolence, (2) A Consideration of Violence, (3) Resistance to the Old Society, and (4) The Development of Free, Nonviolent Relationships. What’s noteworthy is the breadth and depth of the Peacemaker vision. The Peacemakers were not simply resisting injustice, but attempting to transform lives and perhaps society itself. And as a fundamentally anarchist organization, they questioned many of the fundamental assumptions of mainstream society all the way in 1960: “What is violent about an employment relationship?” “Can advanced technology exist in a nonviolent society?” “What is [sexual] ‘normality’?” “What is ‘crime’ or ‘criminal’?”
Also notable is the flexibility for anyone to participate regardless of ability to pay or stay for the entire duration. Travel costs, lodgings and food, and even childcare were provided. All efforts were made to ensure that folks of all walks of life would attend. And judging by first-hand accounts, those efforts successfully brought in a great diversity of individuals.
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The CT Committee on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons organizes pro-disarmament demonstrations throughout the year. To participate in these demonstrations against nuclear arms and in support of the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, please get in touch with us on Facebook at facebook.com/voluntownpeacetrust or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“Important Notice! Peacemaker Training in Nonviolence has been Moved to New London, Connecticut.” Peacemakers, 1960.
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