Community advocate and WRFG 89.3 FM board member, Heather Gray (left) and Glenn Carroll (right), coordinator for Nuclear Watch South, participate on a panel to discuss peace and politics.Photo: AFSC / Alice Lovelace
Atlanta hosted a powerful discussion in celebration of Women’s History Month, when AFSC staff gathered women activists for “A Woman’s Place: In Peace & Politics,” in conjunction with an exhibit by renowned photographer Jim Alexander.
The panel included Glenn Carroll, coordinator for Nuclear Watch South; Heather Gray, board member of WRFG 89.3FM and community advocate; Glory Kilanko, founder of Women Watch Afrika (WWA), and Barbara Joye, activist with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The panel complemented the “Street Signs: Signs of the Times” exhibit documenting protests of the Vietnam and civil rights movement.
Glenn Carroll began her advocacy against nuclear power in 1977 with Georgians Against Nuclear Energy. Even as the first anniversary loomed of Japan’s Fukushima earthquake, tsunami and nuclear-reactor disaster, Carroll pointed out Georgia still plans to build two new nuclear reactors. She aims to raise awareness “of the greed that fuels decisions placing economic gain over the lives of Georgians, particularly African Americans. ”
Heather Gray, who today advocates for Black Georgia farmers, remembered being in Atlanta in 1968 at the time of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and picking up Ralph Bunche- the first person of color to win the Nobel Peace Prize - from the airport. Citing her influences from W.E.B. DuBois to Karl Marx, Heather urged the audience to “remain constant in your work and know your history.”
Art historian and doctoral candidate Candy Tate concurred, but reminded the audience that ”DuBois was concerned with the global equity of the races, not just local black and white issues.”
A native of Nigeria, Glory has spoken out for women’s rights around the world, including at 15 UN conferences, and worked to increase the numbers of women on decision-making bodies. “Women are the peacemakers when allowed to hold positions of political leadership. The power of women is in her vote,” she said.
Barbara Joye recalled having to change the minds of the all-male editorial board of even a progressive newspaper where she worked from 1968 to 1976. Instead of writing “more appropriate gendered” articles, Joye said she focused on the Black Panthers. Today, she works to reduce foreclosure rates and joblessness.
Representing the power of women as activists, stressing the endurance required for change, and seeking to inspire younger generations, these women also stand as living witnesses to the powerful place women hold in shaping a more peaceful society.