David McReynolds, socialist, photographer, and lifetime WRL member, passes at 88

Early Friday morning, Aug. 31, socialist, photographer, and lifetime War Resisters League member David McReynolds — committed pacifist and socialist — died peacefully at the age of 88. David was on WRL staff for a  large part of his life and remained within community long, long after.

Born in 1929 in Los Angeles, he moved to the East Village in 1956 and began working for Liberation magazine, before joining the WRL staff. An avid photographer, a collection of his photos can be found at www.mcreynoldsphotos.org.

The memorial for David will be Saturday, Dec. 1, noon-3 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, New York, New York 10012. To RSVP, email McReynoldsMemorial@gmail.com.

The following are excerpts from an article by WRL Member Ed Hedemann: David McReynolds (1929-2018) died at 1:30 this morning, a day after being brought to Beth Israel ICU in Manhattan. He had suffered a fall in his apartment and apparently never regained consciousness.

For those who don’t know, David was on the WRL staff for almost 40 years (1960-1999), a long time member of the Socialist Party, who ran for Congress in 1968, President of the United States on the SPUSA ticket in 1980 and 2000 — the first (I think) openly gay candidate for President — and for the U.S. Senate from New York in 2004 on the Green Party ticket. An internationalist and former chair of the War Resisters’ International, he traveled extensively, many times to war-torn countries, once getting arrested in Red Square during an anti-nuclear protest in 1978.

Tribute to Mary Johnson Oct. 18

On Thursday, Oct. 18, there will be a dedication of the Mary Johnson memorial plaque in the building of the New Haven Federation of Teachers at 267 Chapel St. in New Haven. The gathering will be held there, from noon until 2 p.m. Please come and share one of your stories about her.

Mary, beloved New Haven teacher and peace, justice and union activist, was instrumental in many organizations in New Haven during her decades of activism. She was the coordinator of the Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter until her death on Aug. 13, 2017. Her presence is greatly missed by all who worked with her and loved her.

Please RSVP to Julia at (203) 503-0161 or Paula (203) 562-2798. Refreshments will be served.

Ruth D. Friedland, May 15, 1925-April 13, 2018

Our hearts full of sadness, we mourn the passing of Ruth Friedland, member of the PAR Planning Committee and Mailing Committee for over a decade. Until two years ago Ruth was also the PAR proof-reader. Ruth embraced the friendship and respect she received from the New Haven activist community, and, acknowledging there were at times differences and occasions for debate, reciprocated with friendship and respect. Beyond being on PAR committees, Ruth attended many of the local events that PAR-affiliated organizations sponsored, including Sunday peace vigils, programs about various world concerns, and PAR parties. Ruth’s regard for justice and fairness for all included how she used her superb office skills. For many years Ruth was the bookkeeper for the Coalition for People and the Greater New Haven Labor History Association.

Our condolences to Ruth’s family and to all who worked with her and loved her.

Hu Woodard, Veteran for Peace, June 24, 1924-Feb. 26, 2018

It is with great sadness that we inform our readers that Hu Woodard, well-known, dedicated and compassionate peace activist, has passed on. Many of you worked with Hu and his wife Edith throughout the years on a multitude of issues for peace and justice.

The memorial will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 31 at the Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike, Hamden. Our deepest condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed. The following excerpts are from the website www.iovanne.com/obituary/Hubert-Calvin-Henry-Woodard/Hamden-CT/1784606.

With the support of his church community, he became a conscientious objector in World War II and chose to serve as a noncombatant medic in the U.S. Army. He went behind enemy lines to rescue wounded soldiers and saved many lives, earning two Bronze Stars and ten other medals and citations, including the Combat Medic Badge. His unit liberated several prison camps, and the horror of the human suffering he witnessed there stayed with him; Hu spent the rest of his life working for peace. Most dear to his heart was working on issues of social justice and peace.

Hu was an active participant in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, peacefully protesting racism in its many forms. As a member of SANE-New Haven he was an outspoken opponent of nuclear testing and arsenals.

Hu vigorously opposed the Vietnam War and frequently marched for peace. In 1999 Mayor John DeStefano appointed Hu to the New Haven Peace Commission. Hu always put his voice, pen, and body into action, peacefully. The files containing his letters-to-the-editor and to state and national leaders were inches thick! Hu’s memorial website has photos and excerpts from his files: huwoodard.virtual-memorials.com.

In 1992 Hu helped organize a local Veterans for Peace group, which then formed the Hue-New Haven Sister City program. Their goals included people-to-people reconciliation and humanitarian aid. Hu once commented that his trip to Vietnam in 1997 was one of the most meaningful experiences of his life.
Hu was tired of seeing toys that glorify violence. To raise parents’ awareness in November 1997 he organized a Violence-free Toy Fair, just prior to the holiday buying season. The event was held at the CT Children’s Museum in New Haven, where he was treasurer.

Hu and Edith were longtime members of the Unitarian Society of New Haven. He served as both treasurer and president of the church and was co-founder of the Social Justice Committee, which is still very active today.

By Our Presence, We Grieve Those Who Have Been Killed

By Allie Perry, Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice

If you happened to walk by New Haven’s 1905 Civil War memorial at the Broadway triangle New Year’s Day 2018 at 6 p.m., you might have wondered why, in freezing cold temperatures, a group of eleven was gathered around a cairn of field stones. They were there giving witness and calling attention to the on-going violence of the U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, by adding yet another stone to the cairn. Each stone is a memorial, inscribed with the number of U.S. service people who died in the previous month in Iraq and Afghanistan and with the approximate number of Iraqi and Afghan civilians killed. Each month the cairn gets higher and heavier, as the cumulative death tolls go up.

This monthly observance began in December 2007. Stephen Kobasa proposed the memorial and secured the New Haven Board of Park Commissioners’ permission to construct it. Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice provided the leadership, inviting local faith communities to lead the monthly rituals. Over the decade since, members of many New Haven area congregations have participated, including: St. Thomas More, First Presbyterian, Amistad Catholic Worker, Center Church, the University Church, Unitarian Society of New Haven, the Zen Center, Shalom UCC, Church of the Redeemer, Congregation Mishkan Israel, United Church on the Green, First Unitarian Universalist Society of New Haven, St. Paul and St. James, Ascension Catholic Church in Hamden, St. Thomas Episcopal.

At that first gathering, stones were placed, retroactively, documenting every month since the March 2003 start of the U.S. war against Iraq. Initially the inscribed numbers included deaths only in Iraq. As the hostilities in Afghanistan escalated, we started inscribing the stones with data for Afghanistan as well.

The permission granted in 2007 was for a temporary installation, to be dismantled when the wars end. Ten years later the violence continues, the wars persist, and, on every first Monday of the month, a group still gathers. By our presence, we grieve those who have been killed, we denounce the violence, and we renew our commitment to work fervently for the end of war and for justice and peace. Join us.

Mary Johnson, March 29, 1922-Aug. 13, 2017

It is with great sadness that the Progressive Action Roundtable Planning Committee informs our readers that Mary Johnson, a founding member of PAR and leader, strategist and active participant in most of PAR’s committees, has passed on.

We dedicate this issue of our newsletter to Mary. Without her guidance, ideas for informing the public and each other of rallies and events, optimism in the struggle for justice and her persistence in fighting for people’s rights throughout the years, there may not have even been a Progressive Action Roundtable. We all owe so much to her.

Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

Mary was directly active in many of the organizations that are PAR-affiliated. She was also active in most of New Haven’s progressive organizations. She most likely was a founding member of many.
She was a great political and personal influence on many. PAR encourages our readers to send in their reminiscences of her. In the words of Frank Panzarella, “Mary was the den mother for most of the New Haven activist community.”

A memorial is being planned for her with details upcoming.

Mary Johnson’s voice was heard

The following are excerpts from the article in the New Haven Independent. Our thanks to Joan Cavanagh for working on this tribute. The full article can be read at www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/obituaries/entry/mary_d._johnson_95.

The white-haired schoolteacher was always polite when she confronted politicians, business leaders, or anyone else standing in the way of social justice. She didn’t yell at them.

She did press her case. And she didn’t let up. She was a fixture of New Haven protest politics for a half century, back to her days demonstrating against the Vietnam War and getting jailed in the 1970 city teachers strike. Since then she has marched against foreign military interventions, for a nuclear freeze, against military contracting, for striking workers and union-organizing drives, and for racial justice and preserving downtown bus stops, among many other causes….

Mary Johnson’s family was an important part of her life, but an equally significant part was her ongoing labor, peace, civil rights and social justice activism and the relationships forged in the course of that work. One of her earliest experiences was as a neighborhood activist who initiated the formation of the West Hills Community Council in the mid-1950s. She described it as a group whose goal was “to make [neighborhood] life better, independent of politicians…to make politicians work for you on neighborhood issues.”…

Although she had been involved in some anti-nuclear arms race demonstrations in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mary said that the Vietnam War propelled her further into peace work. During the 1960s and 1970s, hers was a familiar face on all-night bus rides from New Haven to Washington, D.C. for large anti-war demonstrations. In the 1980s, she continued to travel to Washington to protest United States intervention in Central America, and was arrested in April 1986 with others in the rotunda of the Capitol building for sitting in front of a bust of Martin Luther King and reading from the speech he made having decided that “the time had come” for him to publicly oppose the war in Vietnam. Periodically, they said in unison, “That time has come for us in relation to Nicaragua.” After a weeklong trial, charges were dismissed.

Mary also continued her peace activism more locally. She was a member of Spinsters Opposed to Nuclear Genocide (SONG), a New Haven based women’s affinity group, joining them in demonstrations at the local military recruiting station as well as at General Dynamics Corporation’s Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton. During the 1992 Christmas shopping season, she was arrested with another activist at a Bradlees store in East Haven for placing stickers which read “Don’t Buy War Toys” on items such as G.I. Joe figures. This latter incident reveals much about Mary’s character. She and other participants managed to walk out of the store without being stopped. One member of the group, Stephen Kobasa, was, however, roughly apprehended. When Mary saw this, she returned, waiting for police to arrive. “The Bradlees Two” were initially charged with “criminal mischief in the first degree,” a felony, but the charges were reduced in court and the case was settled….

Mary joined the New Haven Federation of Teachers in 1967, and she was a member of the Executive Board until her retirement. In 1970 and again in 1975, teachers who were perceived as leaders were sent to jail for contempt of court for defying injunctions not to strike. In 1970, Mary was the only woman among the 14 jailed….

Mary was active in the United Farmworkers’ Union movement as part of a New Haven committee that leafleted, picketed, and passed out information about the boycott of Gallo wine (made from grapes picked by non-union workers). After UFW organizers were called back to California in the mid-1970s, she continued the local support committee, producing at her own expense a handwritten newsletter about the struggle, which she hand-delivered throughout New Haven….

Over the years, Mary was a prime mover in many other organizations such as the May Day Celebration Committee, the Coalition to Stop Trident, the Pledge of Resistance, and the New Haven Coalition Against War in the Gulf.  She marched and was arrested in support of Yale union Locals 34, 35, and GESO (the Graduate Employee Student Organization, now Local 33.) She was active in the movement to pressure Yale to divest its holdings from apartheid South Africa in the 1980s….

In the 1990s, Mary worked with a group of citizens who were outraged that the City of New Haven, under pressure from a re-developer, removed several key bus stops from the central downtown area to make that portion of the city more “attractive” to tourists visiting Yale. She was also an ongoing, active member of several groups including the Greater New Haven Central Labor Council, the New Haven Federation of Teachers Retirees Chapter, the Greater New Haven Labor History Association, the Coalition for People, the Middle East Crisis Committee, and People Against Injustice.

After a 15-year struggle, the City of New Haven returned all but one of the downtown bus stops, and, on Mary’s 85th birthday in 2007, many of her friends joined her at Mayor John DeStefano’s office to demand the return of the last one to Church and Chapel Streets. DeStefano complied….

Even as her health declined, Mary continued to help coordinate the work of the Coalition for People, the Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter, and the Labor History Association. In her last years and months, she still advocated vocally for single payer health care, making phone calls to elected officials and getting her friends to do the same. She passed away on August 13, more than a year and a half after entering hospice care.

A Tribute to Mary Johnson

Pat Florio, Coalition for People

We mourn the loss of our dear friend, Mary Johnson, who passed away on August 13, 2017. She was the founding member of the Coalition for People and President for many years. She was a New Haven labor, peace, civil rights and social justice activist. A teacher in New Haven public schools and active member of the American Federation of Teachers, she devoted her personal time to many causes, such as the Coalition for People, Progressive Action Roundtable, People Against Injustice, Middle East Crisis Committee, efforts to organize Yale union locals 34 and 35, the anti-Vietnam and anti-Iraq War movements, efforts by the Coalition for People to restore downtown New Haven bus stops (which was accomplished in 2007), Greater New Haven Central Labor Council, and the Greater New Haven Labor History Association. Survivors include her sister, Jane Toles, and her daughters, Mary Johnson, Elizabeth Johnson and Martha Johnson. Her ex-husband, Carl Johnson, passed away in 2001. Mary will be greatly missed. She was a true friend and had the natural ability to convey to you that your friendship with her was important and special. She tried to make this world a better place and she succeeded in many, many ways.

A Tribute to Margery Mills

Pat Florio, Coalition for People

We mourn the loss of our dear friend, Margery Mills, who passed away on May 11, 2017. She was an active member of the Coalition for People and served briefly as Secretary. She participated in the Coalition for People’s long struggle to have New Haven’s downtown bus stops returned to the New Haven Green (which was accomplished in 2007) and participated in organizing efforts to have a National Single Payer Healthcare system. She will be sadly missed by her son, Franklin D. Mills; daughter, Elizabeth S. Amendolagine (James); and many caring friends and neighbors. She was predeceased by husband, John H. Mills; son, Allen R. Mills; brothers, Donald R. Ball, Norman C. Ball Jr., and Erle T. Ball; and sister, Gertrude M. Ball. She also worked at The APT Foundation and The Mother’s Project from 1993-2004. Margery contributed articles to the New Haven Register and Inner-City News spanning the years 1988-2012. She held various positions with numerous CT organizations which included: the Greater New Haven African American Historical Society, National Council of Negro Women, Inc., African American Women’s Summit, Dixwell-Newhallville Senior Center, Stetson Book Club, the New Haven NAACP, East Haven Historical Society, Read to Grow, Coalition for People, and the New Haven Elderly Services. Margery will be greatly missed as she was a vibrant, smart, loyal friend and colleague.

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