WRL Centennial History Blog

From North Carolina to the USSR: Direct Action against Nuclear Weapons

War Resisters League - One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance

A Durham, North Carolina newspaper article on War Resisters League Southeast staff organizer Steve Sumerford’s arrest in Moscow’s Red Square during a War Resisters League-organized banner-drop in support of ending the nuclear arms race in both the US and USSR. A sister action took place simultaneously in Washington, D.C., September 4, 1978 (pictured here). The banner, in Russian, read “USA-USSR Disarm!” 

Jessie Wallace Hughan and the Founding of WRL

Up until the first world war, peace and antiwar groups tended to be either religious (such as, AFSC and FOR) or women-only (Women’s Peace Society, Women’s Peace Union, Woman’s Peace Party, WILPF). Hughan sought to change that with the 1915 founding of the Anti-Enlistment League and its pledge to be “against enlistment” for war and against giving “approval to such enlistment upon the part of others.”


War Resisters League - One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance

“History is not a collection of dramatic dates of great leaps from oppression to liberation. It is more often seemingly endless night broken by dawn. History is made by people as ordinary as ourselves, but extraordinary in that they have been seized by a dream for which they are willing to struggle and to risk a great deal – and to go on struggling and risking without ceasing. And so the Walk began. A lesson and a test, a way of learning the patience needed.”


War Resisters League - One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance

As you know, the establishment of social justice in our nation is of profound concern to me. This great struggle is in the interest of all Americans and I shall not be turned from it. Yet no sane person can afford to work for social justice within the nation unless he simultaneously resists war and clearly declares himself for non-violence in international relations.”


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