“As we approach the 75th anniversary of Quaker work at the UN, we have an opportunity to reflect on those in our community who have taught us valuable lessons about the Quaker traditions of non-violence and direct engagement with those who hold power. The wisdom and life of Quaker civil rights activist Bayard Rustin offers insights and lessons that continue to guide us today and as we look into the future.”
Prof. Smithey plans to provide transportation to the lecture, which will take place on Monday, September 12 at 7:30pm-9:00pm Eastern Time.
On October 22, Professor Sa’ed Atshan, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College, became an awardee of the Arab America Foundation’s 40 Under 40 initiative, meant to highlight the accomplishments of young Arab Americans across the country. The publication remarks, “each of the awardees has forged pathways in their profession and community. They have done stellar work to promote their Arab heritage and bring positive changes to those around them.”
The Foundation highlights both Atshan’s involvement in Palestinian, Quaker, and LGBT human rights activist organizations as well as his two recently published books, Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020, Stanford University Press) and The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (2020, Duke University Press). Queer Palestine tracks the rise and transnational expansion of the LGBTQ movement in Palestine and argues centrally for the linkage between struggles for Palestinian freedom and the struggle against homophobia. The Moral Triangle draws on ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin within its three titular communities to explore how German public policy and discourse is shaped by narratives of moral responsibility, the Holocaust, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and Germany’s recent welcoming of Middle Eastern refugees. Additionally, Atshan has self-designed two courses focusing on the Middle East at Swarthmore College, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Crisis Resolution in the Middle East, and has taught many more. Read his full accolade below.
“Sa’ed Atshan is based in Pennsylvania and originally from Palestine. He is a professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College, having previously served as a postdoctoral fellow in international studies at Brown University, and receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. Mr. Atshan has published two books: Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020, Stanford University Press) and The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (2020, Duke University Press). Mr. Atshan has been recognized with numerous major grants and fellowships, and he has worked for a wide range of organizations, with a focus on public service. He has volunteered on the boards of major organizations and has also been significantly involved in the leadership of Palestinian, Quaker, and LGBTQ human rights activist groups. Much of his work with Arab-American communities has been devoted to mentoring and supporting youth with education and civic engagement initiatives.”
In this talk, I assume that genuine social relationship is necessary for justice, and I argue that its absence leads to what most people might characterize as evil. As much as we hunger for mutuality and connection, for many of us, the daily temptation of our lives is to distinguish ourselves as worthy, aware, and insightful. When we are disconnected from genuine community, very quickly those whom we dislike or with whom we disagree become unworthy, unaware, and even evil in our hearts and minds. The temptation is powerful and understanding its role in our lives can help us to seek out our biggest fears, lead us away from gossip and resentment, and offer us continual experiences where mutuality, humor, kindness, humility and the joy of serendipity are revealed.
Sarah Willie-LeBreton teaches at Swarthmore College, where she chairs the Department of Sociology & Anthropology and regularly coordinates the Black Studies Program. A graduate of Haverford College, she serves on its Corporation and Board of Managers and has served on the Pendle Hill Board. Sarah edited and contributed to the volume, Transforming the Academy (2016), and authored Acting Black (2003). Her scholarly interests are in social inequality and complementarity. A convinced Friend, she is a member of Providence Monthly Meeting, Chester Quarter, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
On Thursday, September 7th, 7-8 pm, the Collection Committee and Peace and Conflict Studies will co-host a Collection at the Friends Meetinghouse.
This Collection is an opportunity to reflect on recent and ongoing events. We will open with remarks from Michael Nafziger ’18 entitled: “Understanding Charlottesville: Reflections from Michael Nafziger ’18, a Peace and Conflict Studies Quaker Student from Charlottesville”
The second part of the Collection will follow the traditional collection format with silence and opportunities for people to speak if and when the Spirit moves them, reflecting on Charlottesville or other recent troubling events.
A message from Chris Densmore, Curator of the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College:
A few years ago, I was looking for documentation of Martin Luther King Jr. and the early days of the Civil Rights Movement in the records of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends. It seemed like something for the Race Relations Committee to handle, but there was nothing there. A little more digging located the records I was seeking in the Peace Committee and more specifically in a subcommittee on non-violence.
This week began with commemorations of Dr. King. On Saturday, there will be a Women’s March in Washington, DC, and Sister Marches worldwide. I was both pleased and a bit surprised to read their statement of “Guiding Principles” on their website which was explicitly based on Martin Luther King Jr., and the principles of non-violence. It also strikes me that these principles and this approach to conflict comes close to how some people understand Swarthmore College’s heritage of Quaker values. It is not just a strategy for confronting the evils of the day, but a strategy for daily living. It is what King and others referred to as the Beloved Community. \
— Christopher Densmore, Curator, Friends Historical Library.
Monday, November 7, 2016 Free 7:00pm-9:00pm in the barn, livestreaming available
In the 1800s, Quakers and other Christian denominations collaborated with the U.S. government’s policy of forced assimilation of Native peoples. Paula Palmer has been led to research these schools and take the first steps towards truth and reconciliation on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends with support from Pendle Hill (the 2016 Cadbury Scholarship), Swarthmore College (the 2015 Moore Fellowship), and the Native American Rights Fund. This is a part of Pendle Hill’s free and open to the public First Monday lecture series.
December 1st (4:00pm) to 4th (noon) Sliding scale $300-$600 (financial aid also available)
Co-sponsored by Quaker Institute for the Future, New Economy Coalition, and the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance.
What does a moral economy look like? What are the challenges that confront us in establishing it? What opportunities do the precarious state of global capitalism and accelerating climate change provide to galvanize action? What are the incremental and intermediate steps already being taken to bring forth our common vision? How do we build on those efforts to establish them on a larger scale? The conference will include plenary sessions with speakers and panels, open forum small group discussions, workshops, and whole group visioning and action sessions. Speakers include Political Economist Gar Alperovitz, Social Movement theorist George Lakey, Esteban Kelley, Executive Director of the US Federation of Workers Cooperatives and Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Deputy Director of PUSH Buffalo.
Monday, December 5, 2016 Free 7:00pm-9:00pm in the barn, livestreaming available
In our First Monday forum, George will share insights from his research and writing on the Scandinavian Economies and respond to our questions about how we can use the Scandinavian models to create the kind of moral political economy that puts people’s welfare first and benefits the whole society in terms of health, security, and happiness.
As you walk into McCabe Library, there is a wooden bench and a photograph of the Longwood Progressive Friends Meetinghouse near Kennett Square immediately to your right. The bench is from Longwood. Longwood’s annual meeting, beginning in 1853 and ending in 1940, was a chance to discuss a broad range of reforms. Sojourner Truth attended the organizational meeting in 1853. At a later meeting, she gave a very terse testimony on her peace principles: “You can’t make life, so don’t take it.” So the bench in
foyer of McCabe may have been sat in by Sojourner Truth.
The last clerk of Longwood was Jesse Holmes, a Swarthmore College professor. Jesse Holmes gave the opening address at the 1927 annual meeting of Longwood saying, “The chief peril to civilization today is found in the arrogance and aggressiveness over the white race toward the colored races and weaker nations.”. The sale of the Longwood meetinghouse funded the Jesse Holmes Lectureship at Howard University.
Next, there is the Elizabeth Powell Bond Rose Garden. Her brother was Aaron M. Powell, the last editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard. He began speaking out on slavery after attending an anti-slavery meeting where Sojourner Truth walked down from the podium, pointed directly to the young Aaron M. Powell, and told him he was to become an anti-slavery lecturer. You didn’t mess with Sojourner Truth.
A little further up the hill is Swarthmore Friends Meetinghouse, the site of the Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations. The roster of lecturers at the first two meetings in 1933 and 1934, included African Americans E. Franklin Frazier, W.W. Alexander, William White, Ralph Bunch and James Weldon Johnson. White lecturers for those early meetings included Franz Boas and Melville Herskowitz.
Next time you are in McCabe Library, crossing the Rose Garden or at a Collection in the Friends Meetinghouse, imagine you are in a living history exhibit. Imagine also that you are part of that history,
by Wendy Chmielewski, Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
On September 13, 2015, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission unveiled a historic marker in nearby Rose Valley, PA to honor Mildred Scott Olmsted.
Mildred Scott Olmsted, who lived most of her long life in Delaware County, was a leading figure in twentieth century social reform movements-women’s rights, civil rights, birth control, and especially the peace movement. Olmsted (1890-1990), was best remembered as the leading voice of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in the U.S. for over forty years, leading that organization through the years of the creation of the United Nations, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, fears over the spread of Communism, protests against atomic weapons and civil defense, protests against the Vietnam war, and the rise of the women rights movement.
As a young woman, fresh out of Smith College, in 1912, Mildred Scott entered the new field of social work. She volunteered with the YMCA, the Red Cross, and the American Friends Service Committee providing relief services in France and Germany in the aftermath of World War I Europe to assist in . The devastation and suffering she found in Europe convinced Mildred to become a life-long pacifist and active worker for the cause of peace. In 1922, Olmsted became Executive Secretary of the Pennsylvania Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She assumed additional responsibilities in 1934 when she became National Organization Secretary of WILPF, U.S. Section. In 1946, Olmsted became National Administrative Secretary and she held that position until her “retirement” in 1966. She remained Executive Director Emerita of WILPF and was active almost to the very end of her life at 99.
While she was best known for her leadership in WILPF, Mildred Scott Olmsted served many organizations. She was on the Board of Philadelphia SANE-against nuclear weapons, Promoting Enduring Peace, the Upland Institute of Crozer Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, vice-chairman of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union, and representative to the United Nations Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, among others. An early leader in the birth control movement, Olmsted helped set up the first clinic in the Philadelphia area. She championed the causes of women’s suffrage, civil liberties, the protection of animals, and conservation of natural resources. Her hobbies included gardening, travel, antiques, and historic preservation.
In 1987 Swarthmore College presented Olmsted with an honorary doctorate degree, as several other institutions, including her alma mater Smith. She was honored on numerous occasions by WILPF and received its first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986.
Olmsted resided for most of her life in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. She was a member of the Society of Friends and attended the Providence (Media, PA) Meeting where she served as clerk. She was a member of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Committee on Reorganization in 1973 and 1974 and also served on the Executive Committee of the Peace Education Committee of the American Friends Service Committee.