Tag Archives: Activism

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

Published September 27, 1962

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

Love of Nature

Rachel Carson grew up in rural Springdale, Pennsylvania.  She graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) in 1929, studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.

During the Depression, the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries hired her to write radio scripts. In 1936 she began a fifteen-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor. She eventually became the Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

Writer

Carson also wrote articles for outside publication: “Undersea” (1937, for the Atlantic Monthly), Under the Sea Wind (1941). In 1952 she published a prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us and in 1955 The Edge of the Sea.

After leaving government service, she wrote articles designed to teach people about the wonder and beauty of the living world, including “Help Your Child to Wonder,” (1956) and “Our Ever-Changing Shore” (1957). The theme that ran through her writings was that humans are a part of not apart from Nature.

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

Post WW  II

After World War II, the use of chemicals to solve problems became increasingly commonplace. The pharmaceutical sector of the economy grew as well as other chemical-related industries.

Because the immediate benefits of such widespread chemical use were so obviously beneficial, society and science ignored or at least did not consider its long-term impact.

On September 27, 1962 Houghton Mifflin published Silent Spring. In it Carson argued that the long-term impact of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was disastrous to the environment, particularly the egg production of birds in the wild.

Luckily for Carson, the bald eagle is the national bird of the United States and America’s sense of patriotism outweighed even the chemical industries outcries.

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

Gradual ban

In 1967 Environmental Defense Fund [EDF] formed from a grass roots effort to ban DDT from Suffolk County, NY. The organization brought lawsuits against the government to “establish a citizen’s right to a clean environment.” By 1972, the EDF and other activist groups succeeded in securing a phase-out of DDT use in the United States.

Carson died on April 14, 1964 before she saw the success of her environmental urgings. (NYT obit)

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

Rachel Carson Silent Spring 1962

1965 Sing-In For Peace

1965 Sing-In For Peace

September 24, 19651965 Sing-In For Peace
1965 Sing-In For Peace

Protest the immoral

On Friday evening September 24, 1965 at 8:30 PM there was a Sing-In For Peace. The program stated that “The undersigned are gathered for one purpose: to protest the immoral, irrational and irresponsible act of war which are government carries out in Viet-Nam in our names. The folksinger, like the poet, artist, and writer everywhere must be in touch with what is human in himself as well as those around him. He responds to life, and expresses his dismay at death-ward motions of every kind…”where have all the flowers gone?” While he does not necessarily consider himself a political being, he asks serious questions…“what heave they done to the rain?” And while the government need not fear the musician and the poet when he raises his gentle weapons of sanity, it cannot deny his questions, for “the answer is blowing in the wind.”

Irwin Silber, editor of Sing Out!’ magazine, Barbara Dane, and Pete Seeger, and other folk musicians organized “Sing-In For Peace.”

Obviously the concert did not end the war. Or did it? What weighs more, a ton of feathers or a ton of steel. The answer, of course, is both weigh the same and this concert was one of the many feathers that collectively helped educate other Americans to the the horrors and immorality of the Vietnam.

1965 Sing-In For Peace
Concert Across America to End Gun Violence

Sing-In For Peace

In 2007, Congress designated September 25 as a day of remembrance for murder victims. September 25, 2016, marked the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Across the United States  in more than 300 venues hundreds of musicians will perform for a cause: end gun violence.

While American soldiers are today still stationed across the world and many in harms way, another war is happening. A war on ourselves. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show that on an average day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. There are nearly 12,000 gun murders a year in the U.S. – and despite falling crime rates, that number has barely changed since the late 1990s.

If the media’s enthusiastic and over-the-top coverage of the far less lethal zika virus was as intense regarding gun violence, perhaps we’d realize that gun violence is far more dangerous to Americans than any mosquito.

The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence may only be a feather, but it will, like the Sing-In for Peace, be part of an increasing activism on the part of all citizens to stop the madness.

1965 Sing-In For Peace

Women Strike for Peace

Women Strike for Peace

photo credit: The New York Historical Society

As the nuclear arms race escalated in the mid-20th century, so did the number of groups who protested that expansion. And as the US participation in Vietnam’s civil war increased, the same became true.

Abzug & Wilson

Bella Abzug (left) and Dagmar Wilson (right) founded Women Strike for Peace on November 1, 1961 when they organized an anti-nuclear weapon protest.


First Conference

At its first national conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1962, Women Strike for Peace adopted the following declaration: “We are women of all races, creeds and political persuasions. We are dedicated to the purpose of general and complete disarmament. We demand that nuclear tests be banned forever, that the arms race end and the world abolish all weapons of destruction under United Nations safeguards. We cherish the Historical Introduction right and accept the responsibility to act to influence the course of government for peace. We join with women throughout the world to challenge the right of any nation or group of nations to hold the power of life and death over the world.” (from >>> Swarthmore edu)

Women Strike for Peace
Dorothy Marder

Dorothy Marder

From the same site:  Dorothy Marder (1926-2007), was a social realist photographer active during the politically energetic 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.  In her photography Dorothy Marder captured the peace, anti-nuclear, social justice, women’s liberation, lesbian/gay pride, and disability rights movements, especially in New York City and Washington, DC.  For many years, she was the photographer for the women’s peace group, Women Strike for Peace.  Marder’s work has appeared in numerous alternative-press publications, as well as in books, and even a documentary film.  Dorothy Marder was not only a photographer, but also a self educated artist and dedicated activist, whose strong passionate for life was reflected in her art.

Long after the 60s

From WikipediaWSP remained a significant voice in the peace movement throughout the 1980s and ’90s, speaking out against U.S. intervention in Latin America and the Persian Gulf states. On June 12, 1982, Women Strike for Peace helped organize one million people who demanded an end to the arms race. In 1988 they supported Carolyna Marks in the creation of the Unique Berkeley Peace Wall, as well as similar walls in Oakland, Moscow, Hiroshima and Israel (a joint Jewish and Palestinian children’s Peace Wall). In 1991, they protested the Iraq-Persian Gulf War; afterwards, they urged the American government to lift sanctions on Iraq. In the late 1990s Women Strike for Peace mainly focused on nuclear disarmament.

It was on this date, March 26, in 1969 that Women Strike for Peace demonstrated in Washington, D.C., in the first large antiwar demonstration since President Richard Nixon’s inauguration in January.

More important was the fact that Paul Findley, a Republican from Illinois, had inserted into the daily Congressional Record the 31,379 names of the United States dead in Vietnam.  [NYT article]

WSP remained active through the 1990s.

Women Strike for Peace