Women Strike for Peace
Women Strike for Peace (WSP, also known as Women for Peace) is a United States women's peace activist group. It was founded on November 1, 1961. On that day, there was a protest against the resumption of nuclear testing by the Soviet Union and the United States. In the United States, thousands of women protested across the country, in parallel with women protesting in other countries. Hundreds of women marched in Washington DC, one woman bringing her dog wearing a sign that said "Please no more Strontium 90". The sign referred to the radioactive material that scientists had begun finding in milk due to nuclear testing, an issue Women Strike for Peace (WSP) was concerned with.
Women Strike for Peace was organized in a loose-knit, non-patriarchal manner. Some chapters of Women Strike for Peace called their local group Women for Peace.
In November 1962, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) served subpoenas on fourteen WSP members from the New York metropolitan area to hearings that would begin in December. Unlike SANE, which began breaking apart after a 1960 HUAC subpoena, WSP remained united and these hearings did not have much of a negative impact on the organization. On August 5, 1963, the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed, which was seen as a victory for WSP. United Nations secretary general U Thant met with three WSP representatives before going to Moscow to witness the signing of the treaty.
In the summer of 1964, two WSP'ers (and one other person) were subpoenaed by HUAC to closed hearings. The WSP'ers refused to testify in closed hearings, saying they should be open hearings. The WSP'ers were cited with contempt of Congress on December 31, 1964, but in August 1966 the courts refused to uphold the convictions.
On October 3, 1964, WSP sponsored a vigil of several people in Times Square, New York to end the war in Vietnam along with other peace groups. On February 11, 1965, several hundred women from WSP and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom came to Washington DC to lobby for congressional hearings on US involvement in Vietnam.
On March 16, 1965, WSP activist Alice Herz burned herself to death on a street in Detroit, Michigan in a protest against the war in Vietnam. Herz was born a Jew in Germany, and arrived in the United States in 1942. Her self-immolation was similar to the self-immolation Buddhist monks in southern Vietnam had carried out, in protest of the treatment of Buddhists by the US backed government in southern Vietnam.
In July 1965, ten WSP members met with six members of the Vietnam Women's Union and three members of the Vietnam Women's Liberation Association in Djakarta, Indonesia. The Vietnamese women talked about the effect of the war in Vietnam, their desire to see the Geneva accords implemented, and their view of the US intervention in the civil war in Vietnam.
Women Strike for Peace continued to oppose the Vietnam War, as well as imperialism in general and manufacture of nuclear weapons. Chapters of Women Strike for Peace called themselves Women for Peace going back to the beginning, which became more popular over the years to where that the organization has more-or-less changed its name to Women for Peace.
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