Student Peace Union

Student Peace Union (SPU) was a nationwide student organization active on college campuses in the United States from 1959 to 1964. Its national headquarters were located near the campus of the University of Chicago. The SPU was founded by Ken Calkins, who had gained notoriety when his pelvis was fractured when he sat in front of a truck during a pacifist demonstration against nuclear weapons at the first Atlas Missile site 20 miles northwest of Cheyenne, Wyoming. He had returned to Chicago and became educational director for the local American Friends Service Committee. As part of his duties in that position he conducted a number of peace seminars at local Chicago high schools, where he developed a number of contacts with local students. By the spring of 1959 this network had been organized in the Student Peace Union and by the end of the school year had about 100 members. In 1960 it merged with the Fellowship of Reconciliation-affiliated College Peace Union, which had several campus chapters in the Northeast. By December 1961 the group had 1,500 members at dozens of campuses in the Midwest and Northeast, and a year later would expand to 3,500 members, with inroads on the West Coast and in the South. From the beginning, the Young People’s Socialist League, then under the influence of the Shachtmanites, poured its members into the group and tried to give it a ‘Third camp‘ direction—rejecting both Western capitalism and Soviet communism as equally imperialist. The SPU organized a number of protests and vigils at the White House. The first was in November 1961 against the resumption of nuclear testing. To their surprise President Kennedy displayed some sympathy for the group, having his disarmament advisers confer with picket leaders and receiving their petitions. A second protest, the ‘Washington Action’ drew 5,000 students in February 1962. Kennedy sent them an urn of coffee on the first day of the protest, which was held during a snowstorm.  …”
“We’re All Going to Jail, to Jail”: The University and Civil Rights in 1965
[PDF] The Student Peace Union and Civil Rights
Vietnam War Protests · I Raised My Hand To Volunteer
“Student Peace Union” Flyer

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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This entry was posted in Civil Rights Mov., John Kennedy, Newspaper, No Nukes, Pacifist, Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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