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Traveling and Thinking out Loud with the People's Pastor

Sunday, June 12, 2022 Global Symposium

Sunday, June 12 from 12pm - 4pm EST on Zoom was the final day of the weekend commemoration of the largest peace/nuclear disarmament/human needs demonstration in history. I could feel the weight rolling off my shoulders and a serenity eased across my mind. An overwhelming feeling of gratitude to all the people who worked with us to make this year’s June 12th a great success. And I especially want to thank God who made it all possible.

The day's event consisted of three panels, each panel had four presenters and a moderator and each panel was assigned the subjects: Race, Class, and Nuclear Weapons: Links in the Same Chain; It Starts in the Classroom: The Importance of Education in the Nuclear Disarmament Movement; Climate Change, Nuclear Weapons and the Future of the Planet with breakout rooms for Q&A and further participation.

When I read Professor Vincent Intondi’s book, “African-Americans Against the Bomb” I began to wonder if the format that he had adopted helped him in writing his next book. I must say however, that his book was very interesting and informative. I’d like to share significant references from the book. In the introduction he lays out a brief overview of what his objective was in writing the book. He underscores, contrary to the opinions held in some places by some people, African-Americans were in the peace movement or the nuclear disarmament movement for a long time. Their involvement did not start in 1982. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Nagasaki African Americans immediately reacted.

From 1945, there were many in the African American community who were zealously supporting nuclear disarmament. Even when others no longer were a part of the movement, during the MacArthur year, Blacks were still on the battlefield. Professor Intondi pointed out that as a result of others leaving the fight this allowed the struggle to abolish nuclear weapons to reemerge powerfully in the 70s and beyond. He writes:

“... Black leaders never gave up the nuclear issue or failed to see its importance; by so doing, they broadened the Black Freedom movement and helped to define it in terms of global human rights.” Further he writes, “While African Americans immediately condemned the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not all of the activists protested for the same reason. For some, race was the issue. Many in the black community agreed with Langston Hughes’s assertion that racism was at the heart of Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons in Japan. Why did the United States not drop atomic bombs on Italy or Germany, Hughes asked.

Black activists’ fear that race played a major role in the decision to use atomic bombs only increased when the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons in Korea in the 1950s and in Vietnam a decade later. For others, mostly black leftists ensconced in Popular Front groups, the nuclear issue was connected to colonialism. From the United States’ obtaining uranium from the Belgian-controlled Congo to France’s testing a nuclear weapon in the Sahara, activists saw a direct link between those who possessed nuclear weapons and those who colonized the nonwhite world. However, for many ordinary black citizens, fighting for a nuclear disarmament simply translated into a more peaceful world. The bomb, then, became the link that connected all of these issues and brought together musicians, artists, peace activists, leftists, clergy, journalists, and ordinary citizens inside the black community.”


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