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Peace Fair 2004
The Second Annual Brooklyn Peace Fair
Brooklyn Peace Fair
Draws Hundreds to the YWCA
Over 800 peace and justice activists, students, families, children, and people from all over Brooklyn filled the YWCA on Saturday October 16th for the Second Annual Brooklyn Peace Fair, sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace.
Over 120 different local peace and justice organizations sponsored information tables, workshops, and activities on a range of issues. Fair goers attended dozens of workshops to discuss themes such as the war on terror, military recruitment, Haiti, environmental justice, Korea, and the Darfur.
The main stage hosted a line-up of talented musicians and performers, including the Missile Dick Chicks, the Hungry March Band, Liv-I-Culture Reggae, and the Brooklyn Women's Chorus.
Children and parents took part in arts activities, making clay sculptures and silkscreen banners, listening to storytellers, and joining in a sing-along, all for free. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Congressman Major Owens, Councilmember Charles Barron, and Assemblyman Jim Brennan were also in attendance.
Citing their "tireless efforts on behalf of all Brooklynites," Borough President Marty Markowitz commended the organizers and members of Brooklyn For Peace and proclaimed October 16th to be Brooklyn Peace Day.
The day began with a forum, "The Costs of War: A dialogue with family members of victims of the war in Iraq, Israel/Palestine, and September 11". The theme, to "overcome tragedy and to give hope", was brought home by the panel which included Michael McPhearson, the father of a 19-year-old soldier slated to go to Iraq; John Leinung, who lost his son on Sept. 11th; and Robi Damelin, an Israeli, and Nadwa Sarandah, a Palestinian, who both lost a close family member to violence in Israel-Palestine. All panel members now work closely with Military Families Speak Out, Sept. 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, and Parents Circle respectively to bring an end to the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism.
Public school teacher, Martin Haber, attended the Fair. "I was lucky enough to spend the entire day at the Fair," Haber commented, "and also lucky enough to have my 11-year-old daughter by my side to share something that proved to be memorable and evocative for both of us." Family involvement and activism were major components of the Fair, as was the war in Iraq.
Over forty people attended historian and Hofstra University professor Carolyn Eisenberg's workshop on the War on Terror. "As we sit in our workshop this afternoon, American bombs are falling on Iraqi cities, destroying whatever remnants of civilian support the US still retained [in Iraq] ," Eisenberg noted.
The issue of the war in Iraq was brought home by high school students from John Dewey and Paul Robeson High Schools who recounted the many ways the war had affected their lives, from military recruiters targeting them in the class room, to friends and family members who are currently serving overseas. Forty-four soldiers from New York State are among the over 1100 soldiers who have died in Iraq so far, four of whom were from Brooklyn. "No matter who occupies the White House after election day," Eisenberg maintained, "the American peace movement will have enormously important work to do
to bring the troops home as quickly and safely as possible."
"I think the Fair shows how vibrant and diverse the peace and justice movement is in Brooklyn," commented Emilia Engelberg, coordinator of the Brooklyn Peace Fair. She also noted a strong sense of hope. That sentiment was in the air as attendees took a "meditative peace walk" to close the Peace Fair. "The closing peace walk left us personally at peace and ready to keep working for peace and justice in the world," Engelberg said.
Support for the Fair was provided by the Independence Community Foundation, Alta Realty, and over 50 local businesses, some of whom contributed free food to fortify attendees.
Brooklyn For Peace, a community organization dedicated to maintaining a voice for peace in Brooklyn, celebrated its 20th Anniversary last week with the noted historian Howard Zinn. Currently, BFP is sponsoring a return of the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF Campaign to Brooklyn, promoting global awareness and raising funds for UNICEF programs worldwide.
The YWCA of Brooklyn is a community based non-profit committed to empowering women and girls and eliminating racism. The Brooklyn Peace Fair helped begin the YWCA's annual "Week Without Violence."
Peace Fair 2004 Highlights
Peace Fair 2004
Brooklyn For Peace
41 Schermerhorn St., PMB 106
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Host and Co-sponsored by:
YWCA of Brooklyn
30 Third Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217