Our Brief History and Background

The majority of this piece was written for the San Jose Peace & Justice Center’s 50th Anniversary in 2007. The last few paragraphs were added to update the piece to represent 10 years later in our 60th Anniversary.

The Peace Center was founded in 1957 by individuals profoundly concerned about peace and justice issues, especially the growth of nuclear arsenals and atmospheric nuclear testing. The Peace Times newsletter  began publication in the 1950s and has been published consistently since then.

With the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and the expansion of the war in Southeast Asia, the Peace Center spearheaded local efforts to end the war in Vietnam. With seminars, flyers, TV appearances, and op-ed pieces in the newspaper, ads in newspapers, vigils in downtown San Jose and protests at recruitment centers, Peace Center volunteers mobilized public opinion against the war.

A major component of the anti-war work in that era  was draft counseling, which was offered at local schools and colleges and at the Peace Center on a regular basis every week. The San Jose Peace Center was also instrumental in assisting peace center start-ups in other communities, such as Berkeley, Modesto, and Santa Cruz.

Before and after the Vietnam war, the Peace Center made nuclear disarmament and the training in nonviolence its primary concerns, with many Peace Center members taking part in protests at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and at the Nevada nuclear test site. Activists were also involved in the Civil Rights Movement, support work for Native American struggles and support for the Farmworkers Movement. Anti-militarism and environmental concerns converged in the struggle against rocket maker United Technologies, a producer of ozone-depleting rocket motors which was burning waste solid rocket fuels in burn pits. Protesters had he goal of converting the facility to nontoxic, non-military production and succeeded in shutting down several of the burn pits. International issues such as apartheid in South Africa and the U.S. wars in Central America were also a focus.

Meeting first in a living room, next in a basement, then a second-story room, for several years in a rented office at 235 North First St.and then in an office at Grace Baptist Church, the Peace Center was finally able to buy the house at 48 S. 7th St. in 1985  On August 5, 1990, The Peace Poles, donated by the City of San Jose, were installed in front of the Collins House to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and the Peace Center’s dedication to ending war.  The house on 7th St. is named after peace activists George “Shorty” Collins and his wife Evelyn, who were among the founding members of the Peace Center.

In 2007, the Center served as an umbrella group and a meeting space for a number of peace and justice groups, and putting an emphasis on ending the war in Iraq and preventing an attack on Iran, the Peace Center continued its efforts to educate and engage the South Bay community around critical issues of peace and justice.

Throughout its 50-year history, the Peace Center has been a consistent voice for alternatives to the ever-increasing violence and militarism in this country and the world. We look forward to continuing that work as long as it is necessary. Please join us in this vital effort.

On our 60th Anniversary, we continue to serve as a resource for progressive activism in the South Bay.We seek to contribute toward building a just and sustainable society in which the gross and obscene concentration of corporate power and personal wealth is overcome by the achievement of basic economic rights for all.

Social justice, not inequality
Peace, not war
Plant justice, grow peace
Create an inclusive community
Innovate for positive change

Elsa Crumpley: Must learn from events of last century

Opinion: Friday January 21, 2011

Must learn from events of last century
Elsa Crumpley – My Word
RECENT EVENTS in Tucson, Ariz., recall for me some of the most terrifying events in my life.
From 1932 to 1936, as I attended Brooklyn College in New York, students learned current history from the live world developments resulting from World War 1 and the Depression that followed. We watched, and we worried.
Germany, having lost the war suffered demands and restrictions imposed by the loss, which brought a complete breakdown to its economy and the basic needs of the people could not be satisfied. The government was inadequate to find a proper solution
The years that followed saw the rise of the fascist movement brought about by Adolf HItler, who built his power by manipulation unsubstantiated fears, thus generating hatred prevailing in Germany
Acceptance of the lies and misrepresentations enabled Nazi control of thinking and actions of the public to bring about domination of fascist leadership of the country. The big factor in achieving this control lay in active pursuit of anti-Semitism and anti-labor publicity and activity.
Ever-increasing activity and violence in the 1930s by Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist Party destroyed freedom of thought in Germany, and more than 6 million Jews lost their lives. Hitler’s party achieved power, and fascist control and fear led to a loss of democracy and to World War 2.
There is no doubt that the campaign was brought about by a constant repetition of lies and abuse and destructive activity that forced acceptance by the people. Democratic elements who objected were suppressed.
Increasing political activity in our country has become abusive and violently dangerous. It is unacceptable. An atmosphere of hatred and intolerance has led to violence that we do not tolerate.
The longer the lies and insults are allowed to continue, the closer we get to losing democratic control, making way for special interests to increase power.
When active elements and the media concentrate on negative and destructive tactics, a neutral balance is destroyed and we lose sight of truth and democratic power.
Above all, we must maintain an atmosphere of courtesy and respect, a willingness to listen to others, accept different opinions and make joint decisions.
Our strength lies in democratic control and decisions. Let us strengthen the power of the United Nations. Let us assert our will and determination to maintain a strong democracy through individual and joint action.
Let us learn by experience of the world’s people.