Monday, October 29, 2007

Pete Seeger For the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pete Seeger For the Nobel Peace Prize.

I received the following from Joanie Calem.

Regardless of what you think of his music ( There are some out there who do not like it.) I think this man deserves the recognition. I have already signed and I would like to encourage you to do the same.

Thank you Joanie for the information.

Dear Petition Signer,

The petition to nominate Pete Seeger for a Nobel Peace Prize has grown rapidly; there are over 7600 signatures and you are one of them. The comments on the petition web page attest to how deeply Pete has touched our lives, from our parents to our children and grandchildren, and helped shape our sense of human responsibility.In response to this initial outpouring of support, we have launched a new website, specifically to support this campaign.

While it is still underdevelopment, we are asking you to take a look, and to publicize its existence to others who might want to support this campaign. The site can be reached at

We are actively seeking additional help in building this campaign. Of particular interest would be organization endorsements of the campaign that we can publicize.If you are involved in such an organization, please ask them to endorse this effort,and have them send email to that effect to:

Another goal of ours is to collect additional materials to support this campaign.Because Pete is such a private person there is little besides what's on his record jackets that fills in his life story. Everybody has a little tale to tell about when they first met Pete or when he sang at their camp or school. Others may have photographs of Pete or of activities he has been involved with. It would be nice to collect those memories. He is essential to so many people.Below are some of my thoughts on this campaign that you might be able to use in convincing others to join in!

==== some thoughts ====

The fact that Al Gore won the Peace Prize award this year encourages our effort for Pete Seeger for 2008! I hope this recognition helps the environmental movement and increases ways to protect the planet that is our home. I hope it makes more of us aware of the chasm we endure between rich and poor, between obscenely rich and obscenely poor. I am also encouraged that it was through an art form, a film, that Al Gore got his message around the world so quickly and won such acceptance. How tired I am of having the arts referred to as “artsy/fartsy”, how insulting to have the Universities cut back programs in the“humanities”, and music and arts enhancement in grade schools be the first to go for budget cuts.The folk music revival movement that spread around the world encouraged young people to learn to play an instrument, give poetic voice to political opinions, and find appreciation for the carriers of folk tradition who had kept those jewels of music alive in their families and communities. One of Pete’s most important contributions to our consciousness was that he always paid homage to the lineage of folk traditions and was one of the first to see that folk music, was not cute and quaint, but was a form of protest against oppression.Pete Seeger is an ambassador for Peace and Social Justice and has been over the course of his 88-year lifetime. His work shows up wherever you look in the history of labor solidarity, growth of mass effort to end the Vietnam war, ban of nuclear weapons, work for international diplomacy, support of the Civil Rights Movement, for cleaning up the Hudson River and for environmental responsibility in general. Pete knit the world together with songs from China, the Soviet Union, Israel,Cuba, South Africa and Republican Spain. We learned that Crispus Attucks, born a slave, was the first man to die at the opening of the Revolutionary War, that the Farmer-Labor party in the mid-west had a socialist philosophy that lasted well into the 20th century, we learned that anti-slavery movements were often inspired by songs that indicated a map of escape, such as “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd,” he popularized many of the IWW songs that helped in CIO organizing, and spread the Civil Rights Movement through promoting the SNCC Freedom Singers and making songs such as “We Shall Overcome,” known all over the world.When subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee and Senator Joseph McCarthy, Pete defended himself on the basis of the First Amendment, the right of an American citizen to free association, not the Fifth Amendment, protection against self incrimination. When he was boycotted from earning a living and practicing his craft on a national scale Pete appeared at union meetings, summer camps, Jr. High and High Schools, and Colleges. His pay at times was as little as $5, but his value was priceless!Pete also had his mentors: among them Paul Robeson, who said: “The Artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery...” It is time that a cultural worker receives the acknowledgment that, as Bertolt Brecht points out, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” The cultural workers who know the power of the arts for social and political change, also know how difficult it is to gain recognition for cultural creation without either trivializing the art or somehow qualifying for designation of “high art” selected by an elite.Pete Seeger always held to the principals that people’s music is not only “good art” but is representational art through music. Thus “folk music” was a living, vibrant form of culture.Culture, in essence, means to honor our forbears. In the words of the Eastern European writer Milan Kundera: “ the struggle for people’s power is the struggle for memory and against forgetting”. Pete’s talent, sense of decency, and in alterable belief in, as Anne Franke said, that, “at heart, people are basically good”, were uniquely his, but he has never been alone in his work; the support of his wife Toshi and his family gave him the opportunity to be all he could be. We all stand on Pete Seeger's shoulders in a manner of speaking. We share Pete Seeger as a"father" of cultural, social, and political movements, as much as we share our parental DNA.It is time that cultural work receives the recognition that the arts have great influence and global reach, that it is not only a medium of entertainment but of education, compassion and action. It is the desire of the committee that Pete Seeger be recognized as a beacon of integrity and principle in a time, and in a country, more defined by the absence of those qualities than by their honor.Eleanor Walden

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