Working for Peace on Earth and Peace with Earth since 1952
March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993
When he was ten, his family lost their farm and became migrant farmworkers, forcing him to quit school to work in the fields. In 1952 he became an organizer doing social service work for migrant workers. After reading Gandhi’s autobiography, he became a vegetarian and was drawn toward ascetic ways. In 1962, he co-founded became the United Farm Workers (U.F.W.) to address the terrible working and living conditions imposed on farmworkers. Produce growers refused to recognize the U.F.W., which called a strike. After five union members were murdered on the picket line he initiated a nationwide produce boycott. At its height, 23% of consumers had stopped buying California grapes, lettuce, and wine. After five years of the strike, the union had nearly 200 contracts. In 1977 the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act was passed and U.F.W. membership peaked at over 100,000. When California Republicans returned to power in 1983, many of the gains were lost and membership dwindled. Mr. Chávez initiated another boycott in 1984, turning from picket lines to direct mail to garner support. In 1988 Mr. Chávez imposed a water-only fast on himself for 36 days to protest the indiscriminate uses of pesticides and to focus on the suffering of the poor; thousands nationwide fasted with him. In the ’80s, growers hit the U.F.W. with a series of lawsuits that sapped its resources. During grueling testimony for one trial in 1993, 35 miles from his birthplace in Arizona, he died in his sleep. President Clinton posthumously awarded him the Medal of Freedom. The suits against the U.F.W. were eventually resolved in its favor. He told thousands of audiences, “The work for social change and against social injustice is never ended.
Dr. Daniel Ellsberg (07 Apr 1931 – )was a former Harvard professor and a principal author of the top-secret study, History of U.S. Decision-Making in Vietnam, 1945-1968, later known as the Pentagon Papers. Completed in January 1969, the study examined the U.S. role in Southeast Asia and revealed repeated miscalculations, bureaucratic arrogance, and an insistence on imposing desirable scenarios over reality. It disclosed a widespread system of deception and conspiracy to conceal the extent of U.S. military involvement and the brutality of U.S. tactics. And it exposed the consistent lack of success in winning Vietnamese hearts, minds, and territory to the objective of “pacifying” Vietnam under a U.S.-controlled regime. Dr. Ellsberg found that he could no longer continue participating in that conspiracy. Working secretly, he photocopied the study in 1971 and gave copies to major newspapers throughout the country, which published significant segments despite threats and suits from the Nixon administration. He was indicted for espionage, theft, and conspiracy. After over two years of trial procedures, all charges were dismissed on the grounds of numerous violations of law committed by the executive branch of the U.S. government. Several crimes related to efforts to discredit Dr. Ellsberg were traced directly to President Nixon, forming an important part of the impeachment case that led to his resignation in 1974, and leading to the conviction of several of his major aides. Since the end of the trial, Ellsberg has testified before Congress on the risks to democracy of the secret national security system, cooperated with the Special Prosecutor’s office in the Watergate, impeachment, and C.I.A. investigations. In the fall of 1974 he delivered a series of lectures for the Indochina Peace Campaign. Since then he has lectured widely on campuses in support of peace and democracy issues. Just before the Award ceremony, he was a leader of the 1976 Continental Walk against nuclear weapons. He is a Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
“There has never been a greater need for such civil courage in our citizenry and officials. Will it, can it be evoked in time? To have a basis for hope, we must speak and act as if it can. That is what my life and work are about.”
(Novembere 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) Dorothy Day was the second woman to receive the Award. Born in 1897, she began a journalism career as a teenager with socialist and communist newspapers. She was arrested at the White House with other feminists, and again in 1922 in an “anti-red” raid. She worked for newspapers in Chicago and New Orleans, sold an autobiographical novel to Hollywood, and became a single parent. While pregnant with her daughter she experienced a spiritual conversion. Seeking a vocation combining her political and religious convictions, she served on the staff of F.O.R. and in 1933 co-founded The Catholic Worker as a newspaper to promote pacifism and social justice, with the aim of uniting intellectuals and workers. She expanded it into a movement based on the literal interpretation of the Gospel, combining religious dedication and progressive action. She fed and clothed the hungry while educating the masses, attracting thousands of like-minded idealists to her operations in New York City. She preached simplicity, renunciation and service; she once said, “The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.” She never joined any political party. Often imprisoned for her peace, civil rights, and labor activities, she was jailed in 1973 after she was arrested with farmworkers led by César Chávez [gpa ’89] struggling to win a union contract. She died in 1980