Mainstreaming Peace & Justice
by Sharat G. Lin, president of the Coordinating Council of the San Jose Peace & Justice Center
Since the beginning of 2010, several initiatives have been taken to "break out of the box" of our traditional peace and justice activism.
We have joined in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebrations, spearheaded by the MLK Library and the African American Faculty and Staff Association (AAFSA). This was possible by recognizing that we must rediscover the true Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To honor him for advocating "non-violence" is to vastly understate and misunderstand his true contribution to social justice and peace. Our involvement in these activities has intruduced us another realm of local social justice activism in the African American community.
Gertrude Welch Peace and Justice Award
After much delay, we have initiated the Gertrude Welch Peace and Justice Award -- honoring pioneers of the Free Gaza Movement. The award and the award ceremony have prompted local politicians to jump on the opportunity to make connections with SJPJC -- most notably Milpitas Vice Mayor Pete McHugh and Congressman Mike Honda -- by awarding their own letters of commendation. More would have joined if we had had more time to plan. We started small and will build this award into bigger affair next year.
We have established a connection with an influential section of the Afghan community that would like to see Afghani Americans lead the drive to tell President Obama and Congress to end the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan. These are mostly local small businesspersons who have not previously been involved in anti-war activities. I met many of them after taking questions following a showing of the film "Rethink Afghanistan" at a Rotary Club in Hayward.
We are playing a key role in the March 4th actions to protest the endless cutbacks in education, public health care, and state services. This statewide mobilization offers an unprecedented opportunity to unify public workers, teachers, students, parents of students, workers in general, immigrants, and the peace and justice community in a common struggle. The goal of many to develop this into a general strike that can demonstrate the political power of this coalition, and rattle Governor Schwarzenegger, the state legislature, and Federal government. The demand must be not only "no more cutbacks" or "schools not prisons," but to the Federal government "Bail out states, not Wall Street!" March 4th should be given as much (or even greater) priority as March 20th.
IWD on March 6th
International Women's Day turns 100 on March 8th. But we will celebrate it on March 6th. The importance of this event is not only in reviving a day and a struggle that must not be forgotten (though it seems to have faded in the last few years), but in building community partnerships across diverse issues.
SJPJC will be co-sponsoring together with the MLK Library an exhibition of historical posters, "The Art of Protest," to unfold in two phases in the MLK Library beginning in April and ending in August. Some of the posters are currently on display in SJPJC. An Opening Ceremony will take place at both venues on May 4th, the 40th anniversary of the Kent State massacre.
These and future new types of activities will serve to bring peace and justice to the mainstream, i.e., "Mainstreaming peace and justice."
The possibilities are limited only by our creativity and energy. We need your support -- ideas, labor, financial. But most of all we need people to volunteer to help. Please contact Smriti, Joan, or Charlotte.
True Strategic Planning
The future direction of SJPJC should not rest on the ideas and initiatives of a few leaders or even the Board. We would like to involve supporters of peace and justice to participate in a true stategic planning to be held in the summer. It will not address long-term planning of activities, but rather true strategic planning which aims to set future directions and methodologies for action.