Saturday, March 26, 2011


As part of the week-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire of March 25, 2011, the first Clara Lemlich Award was presented to thirty older women on March 21 in a ceremony at the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. Three of the recipients are members of the legendary anti-war group, the Granny Peace Brigade. The Award was given "in celebration of unsung activists."

The members of the Granny Peace Brigade receiving the Award were Marie Runyon, 96; Lillian Pollak, 95, and Joan Wile, 79. Another Granny Peace Brigader, actress-activist Vinie Burrows, presented the Awards.

The Granny Peace Brigade came to the forefront of public awareness on Oct. 17, 2005, at which time 18 women were arrested and jailed at the Times Square recruiting center when they tried to enlist in the military as a means of replacing America's grandchildren in harm's way. The grannies felt they had been privileged to live long lives and didn't want young people denied that privilege because of a war based on a lie.

The grandmothers were on trial for six days at the end of which they were acquitted of the charge against them -- blocking a public entrance. Each of the 18 women were given the opportunity during the trial to express their reasons for engaging in civil disobedience and were, in essence, therefore able to turn the tables and put the war on trial.

Marie Runyon, one of the 2005 arrestees, was honored for her life-long work as a housing activist; Lillian Pollak for her years of activism and recent publication of a novel, "The Sweetest Dream," a historical novel about the radical politics of the 30's; and Joan Wile, also an arrestee, for founding Grandmothers Against the War in 2003 which led to the formation of the Granny Peace Brigade. Vinie Burrows, another one of the "Times Square 18,"
in addition to her internationally acclaimed reputation as an actress-playwright, is also known for her role as Permanent Representative for the U.N. Women's International Democratic Federation.

Clara Lemlich was a young woman garment worker who, after the fire, successfully organized women workers in the industry to go on strike for better, safer working conditions. Her organizing was the basis of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU).

"We are very honored to be chosen for this significant award," said Ms. Runyon, "particularly in view of the fact that so many of us Granny Peace Brigaders are among the recipients. Three out of thirty is pretty awesome.
And, I hope we inspire elderly people with our ability even at our ages to continue contributing to peace and social justice."

Friday, March 11, 2011


It's encouraging to see the people uprisings abroad and in our own country. The Egypt revolt really sparked something, and, on its revolutionary heels, the workers of Wisconsin came to life and fought Gov. Walker's efforts to strip them of their rights. People in other states being subjected to the same onslaught rose into action, also. It seems as if we might be on the cusp of meaningful fightback in the U.S. against the new robber barons who don't give a damn about you and me but are only interested in swelling their over-bloated portfolios to even greater obscene proportions.

This is a supremely opportune time to apply this welcome surge of People Power to the anti-war movement. We in the peace movement who have been conducting our futile struggle for almost 8 years to prevent, then end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, must grab this moment to pursue our cause with greater force. This does not take anything away from the battle to protect workers rights -- to the contrary, it is a wonderful support. Bring the troops and the war dollars home, and fix our broken economy. Remove all justification that way for cutting benefits and salaries -- then, the greedy scoundrels would have no rationale for busting the unions.

Accordingly, I urge all those within travel distance of New York City who will not be going to the Washington rally on March 19 to attend our adjunct protest on the same day, coordinated by the local Chapter 34 of the Veterans for Peace and by Grandmothers Against the War. As we did on Dec. 16 in support of that day's protest at the White House, we will meet at the Times Square recruiting station at 5:00 pm. In December, 131 people were arrested in D.C. and 11 of us were arrested in New York. We will again carry out non-violent civil disobedience in our continuing efforts to thereby keep the issue alive and, hopefully, to nudge the sleeping citizenry with the urgent need to end these immoral and tragic wars.

Let's turn out in massive numbers in Washington and in the Big Apple. They are doing it in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and other locales. We can, we must, get out on the streets, too, and finally stop the killing!

DATE AND TIME: 5-6 pm, Sat., March 19
PLACE: Times Square recruiting station, Broadway at 44th St.


endorsed by
Big Apple Coffee Party; Brooklyn For Peace; Catholic Workers; Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War; Grandmothers Against the War; Granny Peace Brigade; Gray Panthers; Pax Christie of Metro New York; Peace Action Bay Ridge Interfaith Peace Coalition; Peace Action Manhattan; Raging Grannies; Veterans for Peace Chapter 34 (NYC); War Resisters League