It’s often asked by peace activist organizations – “Where are the young people? Why aren’t they speaking out for peace and justice?”
Responding to an invitation from Adelphi University Professor Deborah Little, five members of the Granny Peace Brigade traveled to the University and met with students from the Women, Peace and Justice Project seminar. We spoke about issues the GPB is working on and described direct actions to effect change. We hoped presenting the Grannies’ message and activism would serve as a model for college students. We were not disappointed!
Over 100 students from the Sociology and Political Science Departments attended the seminar. Each Granny spoke about an event or issue of current importance and relevance to the students. Molly Klopot spoke of how women activists from several peace groups united in an action which resulted in founding the GPB. Phyllis Cunningham introduced the legislative committees’ action issues, Eva-Lee Baird explained the Phone-A-Thon project and materials. After viewing a video of a phone-a-thon action at Columbus Circle, a student volunteered to call her representative as everyone listened and applauded. Activism 101!
Barbara Harris discussed the prevalence of military recruiters in the schools as well as in targeted neighborhoods, what the GPB is doing to counter the recruiters’ aggressive tactics and misleading promises, what needs to be done, and how college students can get involved in this effort. Nydia Leaf explained the call for abolition of all US military bases on foreign soil, the current situation surrounding the presence of such bases including Guantanamo, and the geo-strategy and economic interests which guide US policy.
Most gratifying to us from the hour spent with the students was their obvious interest in the issues, their receptiveness to our information and respect for our experience, the understanding that each has a responsibility to act, and their desire to learn how to become more active in the peace movement.
One hour for the seminar was far too short, but at the Q and A several students asked questions ranging from personal concerns about patriotism and a family tradition of military service, to media control of information and political actions, to the pervasiveness of violent video games. The final question was straightforward: A student wanted to call Senator Schumer with a message loud and clear – “End the occupation, Bring the troops home now – and I will forgive you for the Mukasey vote.”
Several students remained to share experiences with us such as the young man with years in JROTC and preparation for military service, who finally realized he wanted a different choice for himself –a college education and a path to community service. A young woman wanted to know how her grandmother could get in touch with us.
We all agreed this opportunity to speak with and learn from college students was very fruitful outreach. They have energy, know-how, and an interest in ongoing education for peace. We offered the impetus and example to just do it.
The GPB plans to pursue academic outreach and present similar seminars in order to continue a dialogue with student groups.
– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade