A peace activist is an active advocate of peace through nonviolent means, against the resolution of political, economical or cultural conflicts through use of violence, like militancy. Not excluding many others, the nonviolent means may include anyone or more of the means including, written or verbal communication with the concerned authorities or relevant individuals, groups or agencies like newspapers, politicians and institutions. They also include political campaigns, economic pressures like boycotts or selective promotion of businesses, rallies, sit-ins, strikes and street marches. Some peace movements like Green Peace try to restrict the undesirable activities through their internationally visible actions. The peace activists aim at changing the stasis in favor of peace. Of all the different violent practices, the most severe are those which are used to curb freedom movements. There are big names in the history of peace activism, like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Bertrand Russell. Most of the human blood has been shed both in the efforts to gain freedom at all costs and in the efforts to counter these movements.
1. Jane Addams
Jane Addams was born to John H. Addams and Sarah Weber Addams on May 21, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. She opined that in order for women to play an effective role in the betterment of society, the right to vote for them was a prerequisite. She became a member of the Women’s Peace Party in 1915 and was elected the president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Her 1915 speech on pacifism was seen as unpatriotic by the New York Times. She traveled extensively and met a wide array of political and civil leaders all over the world. She was appreciated for her ‘expression of an essentially American democracy.’ She was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She donated the prize money to Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She is remembered as one of the most notable reformers of the Progressive Era.
2. Stewart Edward Albert
Stewart Edward Albert, commonly known as Stew Albert, was born on December 4, 1939 in the Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, U.S. He died on January 30, 2006 at the age of 66 years in Portland, Oregon. He was educated in politics and philosophy at the Pace University. He is best known as one of the most prominent anti-Vietnam War political activists. Along with Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, he confounded the Youth International Party, popularly known as the Yippies. His biography, titled Who the Hell is Stew Albert? was published in 2005. He died of hepatitis. He was firm in his views and just two days before his death, he posted on his blog ‘My politics haven’t changed.”
3. Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell was born on May 18, 1872 in Trellech, Monmouthshire, UK and died on February 2, 1970 at the age of 97 years, at Penrhyndeudraeth, Wales, UK. He was a famous anti-war, anti- imperialism and peace activist. He is best known for raising voice for nuclear disarmament. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature 1950 ‘in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.’ He was a matchless scholar of high renown.’
4. Rigoberta MenchÃº Tum
Rigoberta MenchÃº Tum was born on January 9, 1959, to a Quiche family in lai Chimel, El Quince, Guatemala. She was educated at various Catholic boarding schools and afterwards campaigned against the atrocities and human rights violations of the Guatemalan armed forces, from 1960 to 1996 during the country’s civil war. She is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1992 and Prince of Austria Award in 1993.
5. Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in the small town of Mangora, in the scenic Swat Valley of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. At the age of 12 years in early 2009 she wrote a blog for BBC describing how she had been banned by the Taliban from receiving education at the school. The New York Times made a documentary on her life. She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She came into prominence when the Taliban shot in her head on October 9, 2012. She was treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Time magazine featured her on the front cover and listed her among The 100 Most Influential People in the World. She was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
6. Brian William Haw
Brian William Haw was born on January 7, 1948 in Woodford Green, Redbridge and died on June 18, 2011. He was raised in Barking and Whitstable, Kent. He is an icon of the anti-war movement and is known for spending almost 10 years of his life in the peace camp in London’s Parliament Square to protest against American and British foreign policies, particularly relating to Afghanistan and Iraq. In his protest, he was joined by the Australian born Barbara Grace Tucker, who was arrested 47 times for unauthorized demonstration. In a documentary, RINF, he stated that the ‘Nine Eleven was an inside job.’
7. Samantha Reed Smith
Samantha Reed Smith was born to Jane Reed and Arthur Smith on June 29, 1972 in Houlton, Maine, USA. She died on August 25, 1985 at the age of only 13 years. She was a very talented child and just at the age of five years, she wrote an admiration letter to Queen Elizabeth II. She is best known as a child peace activist who came into prominence during the Cold War era. She wrote a letter to the newly elected General Secretary of CPSU, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Not only did she receive a personal reply but also received an invitation to visit the Soviet Union. She accepted the invitation and this attracted a lot of the media attention. She was the youngest American Ambassador to participate in the peacemaking activities in Japan. She died in the Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808 plane crash.
8. John Lennon
John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE, better known as John Lennon, was born on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England, UK and died on December 1980 at the age of 40 years in New York City, New York, U.S. He earned worldwide fame as founding member of the Beatles and was known for his iconic songs like Give Peace a Chance and Imagine. On account of his peace activism and anti-Vietnam criticism, Richard Nixon’s administration tried hard to deport him. A few of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement.
9. William Thomas Hallenback Jr
William Thomas Hallenback Jr. was born on March 20, 1947 in Tarrytown, New York, U.S. and died on January 23, 2009 at the age of 61 years. He was inspired by Sermon on the Mount and traveled all around the world in the interest of world peace. He is best known as an anti-war activist and for adhering to a peace vigil, which he launched in Lafayette Square, in front of the White House on June 3, 1981. The peace vigil of Thomas inspired Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act. The act requires the U.S. to dismantle its nuclear arms as soon as the rest of the world quits the nuclear weapons.
10. Mildred Lisette Norman
Mildred Lisette Norman was born to Josephine Marie Ranch and Ernest Norman on July 18, 1908 in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey and died on July 7, 1981 in Knox, Indiana. On January 1, 1953, inspired by a spiritual enlightenment, she adopted the name Peace Pilgrim. She vowed to ‘remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.’ She walked across America more than eight times and covered more than 40,000 km on foot for peace. She carried with her no money or any other material possession. She was a peace activist and said, ‘In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem ‘ it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war …’
For a long time, peace and war had been the two very heavyweight sides of a seesaw, just like the two ancient opponents; the good and the evil. History of mankind is full of the warmongers who did not allow the chance for peace to prevail. A recent example is that of John Kerry who did not rule out putting boots on the soil of Syria, although Obama at least showed his intention not to do so, in order for saving the American lives and killing the Syrians selectively.