In June 2023, the first modern protest ship, the Golden Rule, will visit southeastern CT on its Great Loop journey. In past decades, this ship inspired many groups to use ships for political direct action – most famously Greenpeace. We have written much about VPT's connections to the Golden Rule and the team from the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA) who first sailed the important ship (see our previous posts: "The Golden Rule", "The Forbidden Voyage of the Phoenix"). We have also shared stories about the Reynolds family, who completed the Golden Rule's original mission when the Golden Rule could not continue, and especially Earle Reynolds who captained the replacement ship, the Phoenix. But it was Barbara Reynolds who went on to become an even more important peace activist.
From 1951 to 1954, Barbara lived in Hiroshima while her then-husband Earle conducted a study on radiation-affected children for the United States government. There, she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of nuclear war including the hibakusha ("blast-affected people"), survivors of the atomic bombings who had been disfigured from the attacks. From 1954 to 1960, Barbara and the family sailed around the world, during which time they met the
crew of the Golden Rule in Hawai’i and decided to take on the mission to disrupt the US nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific.
Soon after the family returned to Hiroshima, Barbara and the rest of the family made a similar protest on the Phoenix, this time in Soviet territory. Then, in 1962, Barbara organized the Peace Pilgrimage to educate the world about the bombs. She accompanied two young hibakusha women, Miyoko Matsubara and Hiromasa Hanabusa, around the world to demand “no more Hiroshimas.” Two years later, Barbara would organize the World Peace Study Mission — a similar but even bigger world tour.
Below is a report about the 1962 Peace Pilgrimage from Barbara Reynolds herself. In it, she discusses the challenges and the rewards of such a venture. Her words reveal a sensitivity to people’s needs, strong strategic thinking, and a little bit of humor. For those of us who have seen hatred stoked so easily, Barbara’s reflection on the Peace Pilgrimage’s warm reception in Hawai’i is especially gratifying.
We at VPT are planning for the arrival of the Golden Rule in New London, CT in June. As the world’s first modern protest ship and a vessel originally operated by the CNVA, the Golden Rule has strong historical ties to VPT. To stay in the loop about these events, sign up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Oqf99
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Reynolds, Barbara. “Report of Peace Pilgrimage,” San Francisco, 1962. https://digital.opal-libraries.org/digital/collection/p17342coll11/id/5/rec/27
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