Having read and pondered the lengthy memo from General Secretary Joyce Aljouny laying out the plans for the latest AFSC Restructure, I think I’ve figured out what’s going on there.
It has little to do with the current effort to stoke a staff rebellion, so we’ll deal with that only in passing. Its roots, I think, go back years before, fourteen in fact, to January 27, 2007, which is better remembered as, “The Day The Movement Died.”
I remember that day well, because I was there too.
Before dawn that morning I helped fill a bus in Fayetteville, North Carolina, headed north on I-95. We got off the bus near the Mall in Washington, and joined a big antiwar rally.
How big? One estimate said 500,000, another sniffed it was merely “thousands.” I don’t know, but it was big. There were banners and flags and speeches and music and all that. It was aimed at building pressure on Congress, newly taken over by Democrats, to stop the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The umbrella sponsor for the rally was, as noted by the Washington Post: “United for Peace and Justice, which describes itself as a coalition of 1,400 local and national organizations. Among them are the National Organization for Women, United Church of Christ, the American Friends Service Committee, True Majority, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Farms Not Arms, CODEPINK, MoveOn.org and September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
While AFSC was third among the groups listed above, it was among the top in UFPJ by internal weight. It had staff; it had money; it had a web of ten regional offices and thousands of contacts; and it carried an air of respectability which had been ratified by a Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.
While not large as Washington lobbies went, AFSC’s activist clout dwarfed that of most of the peace groups on the UFPJ roster. Further, AFSC had held this unofficial but key position for decades, ever since the national “peace movement” surged out of the civil rights struggles and onto the streets of Washington and New York in 1965, during the escalation of the Vietnam War, and then spread across the country.
Spirits were high that January 2007 rally day. Hopes also. Former U. S. Senate majority leader Tom Daschle told a reporter at the rally, “Its primary value is that it keeps up the pressure. There is a sense that by summer, a march like this will be two or three times as large.”
Our Fayetteville busload was hopeful too. In fact, we were planning to quickly ratchet up the pressure from our little base in flyover country, with a follow-up rally seven weeks hence, on the doleful anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Continue reading AFSC After “The Day The Movement Died”