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Peace Fair 2006

The Fourth Annual Brooklyn Peace Fair

Fourth Annual Brooklyn Peace Fair:
A Diverse Peace and Justice Extravaganza

Speakers included Sonia Sanchez, Medea Benjamin, and
Roger Toussaint

On October 22, 2006 Brooklyn For Peace hosted its Fourth Annual Brooklyn Peace Fair at Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus. The Peace Fair provided a platform for 150 peace and social justice organizations to share their work with the community through information tables, presentations, workshops, performances, art, and children's activities. Organizers estimate that 2,000 attended this year's Fair.

Sonia Sanchez, poet and Granny Peace Brigade activist, and Medea Benjamin, Code Pink/Global Exchange Co-Founder, gave the keynote address, "Peaceful Resistance to War," to a packed auditorium of listeners.

In addition to being a renowned poet, Sanchez is one of 11 grandmothers who faced trial December 1, 2006 for disrupting military recruitment activities in Philadelphia. The group of women insisted they be signed up instead of young men and women. And what would she have done if the military had sent her to bootcamp? "I would have done pushups for peace," she told the audience gathered at Long Island University's Kumble Theater. "You all have got to do mental pushups for peace," Sanchez urged. "That means every morning when you wake up you've got to go around your house and you sing songs with your children: Say peace. I'm talking about peace. I'm talking 'bout peace in this house, peace in your school, peace in the streets. I'm talking about peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace."

Medea Benjamin also helped motivate the crowd to work for peace with her empowering speech. Benjamin was recently on trial with Cindy Sheehan, Co-Founder of Goldstar Families for Peace, in New York. The two were found guilty for trespassing while trying to deliver a peace petition to the U.S Mission to the United Nations in honor of International Women's Day. Los Angeles Times has described her as "one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement."

Transit Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint later graced the stage, giving inspiring remarks about peaceful resistance. In 2006, after negotiations with the MTA for a new contract broke down, Toussaint led the union in a transit strike for which he was sentenced 3 days in jail. In April 2006, he said, "I am in jail because I preside over a union that is not afraid to stand up to management when the interests of our members and of the riding public are at stake."

Borough President Marty Markowitz declared October 22 "Brooklyn Peace Day" for the Fourth consecutive year. He said, "Brooklyn activists are in the forefront of fighting this war… the time has come to seriously rethink the foreign policy of this nation… this country is in greater danger than it was before Bush took over. Bush has made this world a more dangerous place to live…. It is important that you and I who believe that America is on the wrong road in terms of foreign policy raise our voices and continue to be active."

On the Kumble Theater stage, BFP honored Congressmember Major Owens at the close of his final term in appreciation of 24 years of leadership in working for peace and justice.

Congressman Owens, who shared some raps of his own at the event, helped judge the Youth Peace Contest held in conjunction with the Fair. More than 250 students from around the city shared their thoughts on peace through art, essays, and rap. Winners performed their raps on stage. Hasaan Allen, one of the rap contest winners, said he normally doesn't write about peace in his rhymes but that the event made him think about the state of the world as well as the problems he sees in his Bronx neighborhood. "Chill, put your guns away. Tomorrow ain't promised, so just live for today. The so-called beef ain't worth my life. We could settle this without guns and knife," he rapped.

Music and dance throughout the day included performances by Evelyn Harris (former member of Sweet Honey and the Rock), Beans (of anti-pop consortium), Jeffrey Lewis, and Jason Trachtenburg (of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players).

Meanwhile, over 100 local community groups were represented at information tables focused on topics ranging from international issues such as the Middle East and North Korea to local issues including youth gun violence and nonviolent communication. The event has become largest networking event for peace and social justice groups in the city of New York.

"I've met so many people here, small youth-run groups who don't really know one another," said Michaela Davis, who works with Youth Activists-Youth Allies (Ya-Ya) Network, a New-York based youth-led advocacy group known for its counter-military recruitment efforts.

Thirty workshops were held on a wide range of topics. Workshop titles included "Genocide in Darfur," "Katrina Recovery," "Counter Recruitment," and "Oaxaca, Mexico: A Lesson in Peaceful Resistance." Former WNBC news anchor and activist, Felipe Luciano, led an interactive workshop on peacefully resolving conflict. Journalist Michael Massing led an informative workshop entitled, "The Storm Over the Israel Lobby."

Throughout the day, children created paintings and drawings that evoked their images of peace. Kids created greeting cards to send to Afghanistan, learned how to report on issues that affect kids through an activity organized by Children's PressLine, made musical instruments for peace, and created Halloween bags to collect donations for UNICEF.

Art installations were on exhibit at the Fair including art submitted for the youth peace contest, a stretch of wall covered with photos and bios of fallen soldiers, an exhibit of rows of black combat boots representing military dead from the state of New York, and a 10-by-10 foot painting with stencils of victims' ages: from 18 to 60, with most in their early 20s. The exhibits were provided by North Fork People of Conscience and the American Friends Service Committee.

The event culminated in a festive peace march led by the Brooklyn Samba School for Social Justice through the Fulton Mall shopping area.

Various media outlets reported on the event, including Brooklyn News 12, the Brooklyn Freepress, Courier-Life Publications, the Park Slope Food Coop "Linewaiters Gazette," and NYC Reports. Read Diana Britton's article about the Peace Fair is available online. Highlights of the Fair were broadcast on BCAT. The twenty-eight minute DVD is available upon request.

The goal of the Fair was to encourage New Yorkers to take action to promote peace and to unite diverse communities across Brooklyn, creating bridges for communication, participation and understanding. We were thrilled to have had our most diverse peace fair yet, and hope to continue to build on our connections in diverse Brooklyn communities.

Brooklyn For Peace (BFP) is a non-profit peace and social justice organization that has worked for over twenty-two years to unite people concerned for the well-being of future generations.

Long Island University Brooklyn Campus (LIU), the host and co-sponsor of the Peace Fair, is part of a multi-campus doctoral institution of higher learning that is one of the largest and most comprehensive universities in the country. Long Island University opened its Brooklyn Campus in 1926, welcoming a diverse population at a time when other major universities enforced quota systems against racial and ethnic minorities.

Peace Fair 2006 Highlights

Peace Fair 2006

Sponsored by:

Brooklyn For Peace
41 Schermerhorn St., PMB 106
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Hosted and Co-sponsored by:

Student Government Association
Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
1 University Plaza Flatbush Avenue at DeKalb Brooklyn, NY 11201-8423