U.S. nonviolence leaders honor David Hartsough

David Hartsough book
David Hartsough, cover photograph by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, from the cover of David’s memoir, Waging Peace:  Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist (PM Press, 2014);  https://blogs.swarthmore.edu/academics/pcs/2014/09/25/waging-peace-hartsough/
The Clarence B. Jones Award in Kingian Nonviolence is given annually by the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice to recognize and honor the extraordinary achievements of a major activist or thinker who in his or her life has carried forward the principles and methods of nonviolence in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr. King’s colleagues in the Black Freedom Movement of the 1950s and 1960s into the 21st century.
On August 26, the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice (INSJ) presented our institute’s 2021 Clarence B. Jones Award in Kingian Nonviolence to David Hartsough, a humanitarian visionary, an activist for peace and justice who has beautifully exemplified and furthered this lineage of nonviolence.  David has greatly impacted our work through the dedicated application of nonviolence in the Quaker tradition and the interfaith tradition…
We were joined by leading nonviolence activists, strategists, teachers and scholars from across the United States who shared inspiring personal stories from David Hartsough’s inspiring life, and conveying his powerful impact on the nonviolent struggle for peace and justice in the United States and throughout the world.
For more about David Hartsough, and the Clarence B. Jones Award for Kingian Nonviolence:
For a short (6 minute) video about David’s nonviolent activism for peace and justice: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12kcOF8Gz6eDGLhkaVg1ss5PVZ7_93ByE/view
For the complete video of the event: https://vimeo.com/595457248
We set out below excepts from remarks by all activists and scholars who spoke in tribute to David Hartsough, concluding with David’s acceptance speech:
Jonathan D. Greenberg, Director of the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice welcomed everyone to the event.
“Dr. King spoke about love as agape, and Gandhi spoke about Satyagraha, the power of truth and love.  Together with my colleagues who joined me in planning this event — Ken Butigan, Sherri Maurin and Stephen Zunes — I have been amazed at the outpouring of love that I’ve experienced from so many people who care about David Hartsough and who have learned from him and been inspired by him.  So we will celebrate David, and together we are creating in effect a prayer circle for his health and wellbeing, and for our health and wellbeing as people living in a very troubled world.”  Jonathan Greenberg
Fr. Paul J. Fitzgerald, President of the University of San Francisco, spoke of the prophetic tradition of nonviolence expressed in Catholic social thought in response to the Gospel stories of Jesus of Nazareth’s nonviolent confrontation with evil.
The USF Institute for Nonviolence and SF is an important expression of our commitment as a university to lifting up that prophetic tradition of nonviolence so wonderfully exemplified and embodied by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr… David Hartsough’s life of activism is a sublime example of the power of nonviolence to change the world for the better, a stirring example of the profound dedication to peace and justice embedded in the Quaker tradition, expressed in the Peace Testimony and in conscientious objection to war.”
Fr. Paul J. Fitzgerald
Speakers included three core members of our INSJ Leadership Council, Ken ButiganClayborne Carson, and Stephen Zunes — each a nationally renowned scholar/activist who has advanced the field of nonviolence by carrying forward the lineage of Gandhi and King to the contemporary movements and campaigns for human rights at home and abroad.
In response to the wars that the Reagan administration had created in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, I had written a “A Commitment to Stop the Killing in Central America,” inspired by an article in Sojourner magazine that reported how 50 people had come together and made a commitment to engage in nonviolent action if the US invaded Nicaragua… All the peace and justice organizations I took it to said, “No way!”  … And then I got a phone call from you, David… you said, “This is fantastic. Let’s build a movement!”  And so, with your amazing support, we plunged into organizing the Pledge of Resistance, with other organizations across the country.  100,000 people took the Pledge and then took action.  We heard later from people within the Reagan Administration that this nationwide movement actually did prevent an invasion of Nicaragua, and later it was part of ending U.S. support for ending the death squad government in El Salvador.”  Ken Butigan
“When we face the threats to human rights around the world, I hope that more people will read David’s memoir [Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist (PM Press, 2014)] and understand the deep roots and many applications of nonviolence throughout the world.”  Clayborne Carson
“There are those who stress the distinction between nonviolence as an individual moral principle and nonviolent action as a political strategy.  For David, however, there is no such distinction.  He recognizes that a personal commitment to nonviolence requires forcibly challenging the structural violence of the state, and other forms of injustice, and he recognizes that the power of nonviolent action is greatly strengthened by a personal commitment to nonviolence.”
Stephen Zunes
Professors Butigan, Carson and Zunes joined a diverse group of distinguished nonviolence leaders at the highest level of influence and impact across our country:
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Handley Andrus, eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California.
This morning I was part of an international team picking delegates from the Episcopal Church to the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow this November.  John Kerry has called that even the planet’s last great chance.  Many of your are involved in this work; its intersection with race and poverty is well known.  We need the inspiration of you, David, to give us the overflowing love that will allow us to succeed in turning back the worst effects of climate change, especially as it impacts vulnerable populations.”  Bishop Marc Andrus.

Professor Erica Chenoweth, Director of the Nonviolent Action Lab at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University;

David always gets to the core issue of where I really think research or scholarship has left off.  For example, the question of not only how to establish that nonviolent resistance is an effective form of conflict, but how to persuade more people of its promise.  The question of how do we go from a movement of a committed few to a mass movement of nonviolent revolution of the many, and how to choose the right terms even to invite the public into that nonviolent revolution.  These are indeed, I think, the great questions of our time.”  Erica Chenoweth

Mel Duncan, co-founder with David Hartsough, and current Director of Advocacy and Outreach for Nonviolent Peaceforce, a transformative organization bringing unarmed civilian protection to conflict regions throughout the world.

“[On a mission for the Nonviolent Peaceforce] David one time took off for 42 days to conflict zones in Southeast Asia.  When he returned he handed in a receipt for one night’s lodging.  I didn’t know him very well at the time, and I said, Well, David, if you don’t mind my asking, where did you stay the other 41 nights?  And he said, With friends.”  Mel Duncan

Daniel Ellsberg, former senior military analyst, political activist responsible for the release and publication of the Pentagon Papers.

“We haven’t succeeded.  We haven’t won… It is not just us who have awakened to the need for change, and who are acting on it, but there are many other people who are much more organized, and who have much more money, who are acting against us and trying to persuade people that we are telling untruth, that the status quo should not change.  But seeing your faces today, and knowing that we are all still at it, is enough to know that we do have a chance, and that everything is at stake….   It is possible to take a risk in your own life, to say the truth, to tell the truth of what’s happening.  I still am placing my bet on the possibility that people can learn to act that way, and to spread it.  I respect the life that David introduced me to, the life of nonviolence.” Daniel Ellsberg

Kathy Kelly, peace activist, pacifist one of the founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, and Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

David and Jan have stored amongst all of us:  your goodness, your yearning. your commitment.  You’ve stored it in us, because of your hospitality, and because of your embrace.  We love your goodness.  We’re so grateful.  Thank you.” Kathy Kelly

George Lakey, Swarthmore College Professor Emeritus, has been a leading activist, scholar and widely read author in the field of nonviolent social change since the 1960s.

I met David in 1958 when I was a college student and he was a high school student recruiting for a demonstration he was organizing.  He was so warm and optimistic.  I gave him an immediate yes.  Six decades later, he is still inspiring me…. Well, we all know a lot of people who have made a contribution to peace and justice movements and they’ve moved on or faded out, because it’s very very hard to keep going.  And one of the reasons I’m personally glad that David is getting this award is that he models being in it for the long run.  George Lakey

Rev. James L. Lawson, Jr., leading thinker, strategist to the Nonviolent Movement of the United States, and trainer and mentor to the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

David Hartsough is one of our long distance runners for truth and justice in the world… I celebrate his character…. I think that the finest way we can make this institute flourish, and celebrate the life of David Hartsough and his contribution to our struggle, is by determining that the struggle must go on.  And so perhaps the major thing we ought to think about, with the witness that David has made, in the many many movements in which he has participated, is how we continue the struggle, how we transform ourselves and our nation, so that the human family has a future of hope and joy.”  Rev. James Lawson.

Hartsough Sit-InsDavid Hartsough, lunch counter sit-in, Virginia Beach, 1960, Howard University magazine

Joanna Macy, a world renowned scholar and teacher of engaged Buddhism and deep ecology, a profound investigator of the psychological and spiritual issues of the nuclear age, an author of thirteen acclaimed books, and an activist for peace, justice, social change and ecological sustainability.

I’m blessed by your smile, David.  That smile of yours helps me to be faithful.  So I bless that. It brings out the hope for me.  It keeps me going.  Because we are facing a lot right now.  Yeah.  With the climate, and with this government, and global capital.  We have a lot to do, don’t we?  I’ll follow that smile anywhere, David.   Thank you.”  Joanna Macy

USF Professor Vijaya Nagarajan, a scholar in the fields of Theology/Religious Studies and Environmental Studies, and an expert on Mahatma Gandhi, brings interfaith nonviolence and climate justice together in her teaching and service.

I want to honor and celebrate David’s work in nonviolent activism throughout these many decades. His consistency, his persistence… He has been one of the leaders of the nonviolence movement in the world… I remember his courageous work in Kosovo, in Palestine, in India, and much, much more. I honor you today, David, for receiving the Clarence B. Jones Award in Kingian Nonviolence.  I can’t think of anyone better to get this special award.”  Vijaya Nagarajan

Michael N. Nagler, president and co-founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, professor emeritus and founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of California Berkeley, author of The Third Harmony: Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature.

I’m very grateful in particular David for your witness in Nicaragua, particularly because my daughter in law is Nicaragüense…. You have been a mentor to so many of us, David, and I think I’m sharing what everyone is thinking, which is:  we shudder to think what the world would be like today without you — without your drive and your values and your courage that you’ve shown from Virginia (in 1960) to Kosovo (1998)… We are not going to stop.  And I know from the bottom of our hearts that a lot of our own endurance and hope and courage come from your friendship and your example.   Michael Nagler.

Starhawk, author, activist, permaculture designer and teacher, founder of Earth Activist Training, leader in modern earth-based spirituality and ecofeminism.

I had grown up on stories of the civil rights movement, and I was in awe of the courage that people showed.  David told the story about being in a sit-in, and having a man come up to him, brandishing a knife and threatening his life, and David looked at him in the eye and said: Do what you think is right.  I am going to try to love you no matter what you do.  And that may began to shake and drop the knife, and he went away.  I have remembered that story for 40 years because it had a huge impact on me.”  Starhawk

Rivera Sun, prominent activist, writer, strategist and creative teacher for nonviolence and social justice across the U.S. and internationally.

I’ve been listening to everyone talk about meeting David in 1980 or 1981, when they were young activists — well, I wasn’t even born yet.  David’s life story is one that young activists can hardly even imagine let alone aspire to.  But the minute that we do hear even an iota of his life story, we do aspire to it, we are inspired to step up our game, to work a bit harder, to think a bit broader, to dig deeper with our compassion for the world, for humanity, and for the pursuit of justice in the nonviolent tradition.  David is someone who stands firmly in this lineage of nonviolence… and he never forgets the responsibility of helping the next generation of activists, people like myself, who at least stumble along behind him.”  Rivera Sun.

David Swanson, author, activist, journalist; host of Talk World Radio, executive director of World BEYOND War; campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org.; recipient of the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation.

“‘Let’s build a movement!’ How many times has David said that, and it actually happened… Here is one more example.  In January 2014, we started World Beyond War… An inspiration all along the way, David is dedicated to the cause of war abolition as much as anyone could be, politically, strategically and personally.”  David Swanson.

Ann Wright, retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, well known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

I want to hearken back to all of the things you’ve been doing to try to stop nuclear weapons destruction of our world… You went to President John F. Kennedy’s office to try to convince him to get a partial test ban treaty signed, and you were successful.  And then all of your work in the Soviet Union and around the world… So I want to thank you for your lifetime of service for peace and social justice.” Ann Wright

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David Hartsough being arrested at a protest against the Iraq war, San Francisco, 2006. Credit: http://happening-here.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

The 2021 Clarence B. Jones Award for Kingian Nonviolence was presented to David Hartsough by Jonathan D. Greenberg, Director of the USF Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice:

“Recognizing the lineage of Dr. King and the Black Freedom Movement, and even more deeply, when we think about nonviolence in the tradition all the way, from Isaiah to Jesus.  The role of the Quakers.  The role of the abolitionists.  All the way to Gandhi and Dr. King.  It sounds impossible to live according to those principles and to practice those methods in your life.  But David shows that it can be cone — with gentleness and humor, a lightness, with humility and with a smile.  And we’ve all learned from him.  And we’ve grown into better activists because of David, and also better people.  Gandhi spoke about nonviolence as a force more powerful, and also as an expression of radical love, and what we’ve seen to day is an outpouring of love, and the deep meaning of nonviolence as the force of change that comes from radical love.”  Jonathan Greenberg

Here are excerpts from the acceptance speech given by David Hartsough:

Thank you – for this award. I accept it on behalf of all the people who are and have been part of the nonviolent movements for peace and justice in this country and around the world.

I’m so glad to be alive and to be here today and to continue to be part of the nonviolent struggle to create the Beloved Community.  Ten months ago my cancer Dr. said I had months to live and now ten months later I am able to continue to enjoy the beauty of nature and feel the love and support of my family and all my friends around the world and to continue to be part of the nonviolent struggle for peace and justice.

I want to give thanks for the Cloud of Witnesses who have been role models for me – Mahatma Gandhi, King, Chavez, Dorothy Day, Bayard Rustin, Jim Lawson, Dan Ellsberg, George Lakey, and so many others

Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about the World House.  We are all one human family. We are all brothers and sisters and we need to act on that belief. As Marin Luther King said, the choice is between nonviolence and nonexistence. 

Some years ago, in a meditation, I heard and felt Martin Luther King come from behind me, put his hands on my shoulder, and he said, David, I know that working for peace and justice can be a lonely struggle.  I want you to know that I will be with you.  And that has been very very supportive for me over these years.

Martin Luther King’s last campaign was the Poor People’s Campaign, that I had the privilege to be a part of, and then spend two weeks in the top floor of the DC jail — with hundreds of poor people from all around the country who had come to demand an end to poverty and hunger and injustice in our country.

And I deeply believe that the Poor People’s Campaign which has been revived is one of the most important campaigns going on right now.  It is bringing together people to fight the “triple evils”  Dr. King talked about — racism, poverty and militarism — plus environmental destruction. 

We have limited power.  But together we really have the power to bring about significant change in our society.  

My work, our work is far from over.  I don’t know how much longer I have to be able to continue to be a part of the struggle, but there are some insights I want to share with you.

There is a lot of concern about security in our country.  And our nation spends over 50 cents for every tax dollar for weapons of mass destruction, fighting wars around the world.

But I feel there is no such thing as “national security” in the nuclear age.  Instead we must  think of common security or shared security of all peoples and all nations.

Nuclear wear could trigger nuclear winter and end up with global starvation and an end to human life on our beautiful planet.  The question in my heart is why, for any reason, could government leaders risk or gamble with putting an end to all human life for this and future generations?  

It is very hopeful that people all over the world are discovering the power of nonviolence.  Nonviolent action and movements have overthrown dictatorial governments in the Philippines, Chile, South Africa, all over Eastern Europe, Liberia, Serbia, and the list goes on and on,

And I’m so grateful to Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan for the important research they have done which has shown that nonviolent movements are more than twice as likely to be successful as violent movements.

And I am so grateful to the people around the world who are building the World Beyond war movement.

And I think of what President Eisenhower once said:  I would like to believe that the people of the world want peace so much that the governments ought to get out of the way and let them have it.  Well, okay governments, we are the people and here we come.

In this struggle, it is crucial to remember the importance of community.  As isolated individuals we can’t do it.  But together we have the power to create major change in society and in the world.

We all need hope to continue to struggle. I think of the Freedom Movement, Black Lives Matter, the Nonviolent Peaceforce, World Beyond War, the Poor People’s Campaign, the environmental movement, Standing Rock,  the Line 3 struggle to stop the pipelines, led by indigenous peoples, the Ploughshares Movement, labor unions,  people of faith addressing peace and justice issues, the peace studies programs in colleges and universities in this country and around the world, Code Pink, and so many others.

I am so deeply in debt to Rev. Jim Lawson and the in-depth nonviolence training he gave to the students in Nashville.  All of those people turned out to be lifelong transformers of our society.  And we need that kind of in-depth training all around the country.

I’m grateful for our friend Vincent Harding, who among other things wrote the book Hope and History.  He talks about the importance of all us studying the Freedom Movement and the pains and suffering and even risking death that those people went through to create significant change in race relations in our country. And then to reflect on what we can do to continue that movement and struggle.

I think of the importance of nonviolence in the struggle for justice and peace in this country and the world, the need to touch the hearts and consciences of the American people and the people of the world as happened so powerfully in the Freedom Movement of the 1960s.

The challenge before us is not only to save our democracy from the oligarchy- rule by the rich, but to save it from the feeling we have to run an empire and drop bombs on people when we don’t like their governments.  Its a real, total conversion of the way of looking at the world. We must put an end to killing innocent people, killing children and through threatening nuclear war threatening the lives of billions of people – our brothers and sisters and even putting an end to all human life. 

It’s madness.  And somehow we have to help people wake up.

Martin Luther King encouraged our fellow countrymen to live up to our highest values– democracy, justice, and government of, by and for all the people.

And we must continue to help people live up to the highest values and beliefs that we hold deep in our hearts.

We need to challenge our religious institutions to live up highest principles of our religious traditions of love, justice, and that we are all children of God.

Jesse Jackson often ended his talks by saying “Keep Hope Alive.”  And I think that the hopelessness of a lot of people feeling overwhelmed by how horrible the situation is, is our greatest enemy.  We need to help people have hope that we can make a difference, and we can help create the Beloved Community.

And so I”m grateful that I’ve helped plant some seeds, and I had the opportunity to nourish those seeds.

Thank you so much for this award.  I’m deeply humbled.  A Luta Continua — the struggle continues.

I’m so grateful to everyone in the world who continue to struggle to create the Beloved Community. 

Together we shall overcome.”

David Hartsough, August 26, 2021

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Jonathan Greenberg