The World March for Peace & Nonviolence passed through the US this week, and events were held in support of the March in 15 cities, including Orlando, Honolulu, and Las Vegas. The marchers themselves visited 6 cities: New York, Washington, San Francisco, Red Bluff, Los Angeles, and San Diego
The base team arrived from Dakar in the morning of November 30th, their first stop in North America. Despite heavy rain and cold temperatures, 1200 people joined the team in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to New York City Hall. More than half of those marching were youth, and the participants also included representatives from peace and social service organizations, unions, universities, and religious and cultural groups. At City Hall, the base team was greeted by city council members and presented with a proclamation. [video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05ThF5exJFA]
A celebration was held in the evening at Riverside Church, where 42 years earlier Martin Luther King gave his historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech, linking together racism, poverty, and war. The event was part of a 2-part (continued in Washington) homage to King and his example of nonviolent action. In addition to a presentation by Rafa de la Rubia and the marchers, and talks by spokespersons Tomy Hirsch and Chris Wells on the theme of nonviolence in today’s world, those gathered were addressed by Bernard LaFayette, a leader in the American Civil Rights movement, a close colleague of King’s, and a lifelong nonviolence activist and educator. LaFayette told the base team that he was “inspired” by their actions.
The next day the marchers participated in a Ceremony of Reconciliation at Ground Zero, honoring those who died on September 11th, 2001 and all civilians who have died from war, terrorism, and other acts of aggression, and calling for reconciliation instead of revenge. The event was co-sponsored by family members of those who had died on 9/11. [video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfGRdi06w10]
In the afternoon, a delegation of marchers met at the United Nations with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who offered his support for the March, calling it a “noble” effort. Mr. Ban was presented with a copy of the Charter for World Without Violence, and the World March agreed to adopt his 5-Point Plan for nuclear disarmament as one of its official documents.
After NY, the base team divided and traveled to Montreal, Washington, San Francisco, Red Bluff, and Los Angeles/San Diego.
The marchers also met in the US Capitol with Congressman Dennis Kucinich and aides to Reps. Keith Ellison, Maine Waters, and John Lewis, the only surviving organizer of the 1963 civil right march on Washington.
The activities began with a school assembly at Marin Academy in San Rafael where Takashi Tanemori—a Hiroshima survivor – spoke of his experiences after the bomb and his path towards reconciliation. The assembly was attended by 500 high school students, followed by a march to the central plaza in downtown San Rafael. The marchers then boarded a “cable car caravan” that visited the Golden Gate Bridge and other San Francisco sites, including the Gandhi Statue, the Marin Luther King memorial and UN Plaza. There were 65 riders in all for the entire day, many of whom represent various peace groups throughout the Bay Area. A the end of the ride, the Marchers met with Supervisor Mirkarimi in City Hall, where they presented him with Charter for a World without Violence as a gift for having helped passed the City of San Francisco Resolution in support of the World March.
At First Unitarian Church, inspiring and moving speeches, poems, music and song along with personal testimonials given by Luis, Sandro and Bhairavi from the Base Team were heard by approximately 120 participants. The Charter For a World Without Wars was also presented to those organizations that had endorsed and supported the World March from its inception.
A celebration was held on the Capitol Steps in Sacramento with about 150 participants including 37 local high school students. The program included music, poetry, dance, street theater, artwork, inspiring speakers, and a joyful, spirited march around the Capitol calling out "We Want Peace on Earth!"
Contribution By Laura Uribe, Woodland High School student
In Red Bluff Park, local World Marchers Charles Lasater and Synthia Penn brought the World March close to home with their stories. 80 people attended and heard speeches by peace activists, a high school student, Democratic Party representatives, war veterans, and others. Numerous newspaper articles, radio interviews the local TV channel nightly news covered the event.
Event tied to worldwide peace march held in Red Bluff - Press-Telegram Long Beach, CA (12/6/2009)
The marchers had a full day in Los Angeles, beginning with a morning Proclamation at City Hall, followed by a blessing from the Tongva Nation, and a march with 500 people down Wilshire Boulevard led by actor Martin Sheen. In the evening, hundreds gathered for a Peace Concert at Immanuel Presbyterian Church for music, dance, speeches by Blasé Bonpane, David Krieger and others, and testimonials from the marchers.
A bus and car convoy took the marchers from San Diego to the Tijuana, Mexico border, where a ceremony and press conference were held, addressing the violence of economic disparity and discrimination against immigrants. [Video: http://www.cbs8.com/Global/story.asp?S=11620297]
The binational "We Are One-Somos Uno" events in San Diego-Tijuana issued a call for a "zone of nonviolence" at the border and an end to walls in a statement "Overcoming the Walls that Block Humanity's Path to the Future". The early afternoon Thursday outdoor event was held within sight of the infamous border wall that 5,000 people have died trying to cross. There were about 60 people, with speaker Tony Robinson from the World March team and Tomás Hirsch, along with well-known immigration and peace activists, high school and UCSD students, and other Askings and testimonials, There was good TV coverage from CBS, CW, and Univision (Spanish), links below. We marched to the border and crossed into Tijuana in a symbolic act of connecting as human beings across the wall. The binational event in Tijuana was amazing, with more than 500 people and a very warm and profound city-wide welcome for the World Marchers, all major media in Tijuana covered the event before and after. There is a great desire in Tijuana and here to continue cross-border initiatives. The tone was excellent and a long-time activist sent a note saying she was "inspired" by the event. Links to TV and other news coverage of San Diego World March events:
SanDiego 6 News http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfxqhT64ZQ4
Univision (Spanish) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tDxdtKYjXs
Article in DiarioSanDiego http://diariosandiego.com/bin/articulos.cgi?ID=81004&q=1
Article in Counterpunch http://www.counterpunch.org/green12042009.html
Tema Musical y videos Marcha Mundial Puerto Rico (Music and videos)
Marcha por la Paz del Recinto Universitario de Humacao (Photos - World March at University of Humacao)