To The Nyack Villager—

There has been a grass roots movement to nominate Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize. To date there are over 20,000 signatures.

I was asked recently what specifically has Pete Seeger done to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? Has he resolved any conflicts that would qualify him for this award? I found myself momentarily at a loss to answer these questions because he has done so much over the past seven decades. Pete has fought, written and sung for human rights, civil liberties and anti-war issues. He led and attended countless rallies protesting the inhumanity of war; he marched for civil rights in the south with Martin Luther King, Jr. He and his wife, Toshi, were the recipients of the King Peace Prize in 1984. Also, he has been a vocal advocate for minority groups and their right to participate in America’s promise. Pete has been an outspoken defender of workers’ rights and has given hundreds of concerts in support of these issues, inspiring thousands of people in song and deed to think and care about them. He has helped to create a climate that nourishes and allows peace to flourish.

When Pete was given the Kennedy Center Honor, President Clinton called him “an inconvenient artist, who dared to sing things as he saw them.”

Pete has been a consistent anti-war advocate, be it Viet Nam or Iraq. Even now as he approaches his 90th birthday, he still attends vigils protesting the Iraq war.

In the 1960s, while still pursuing his humanistic causes, Pete stepped up his advocacy for a cleaner environment. He co-founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an environmental watchdog organization. In 1969 the sloop Clearwater was launched, fulfilling Pete’s vision of a grand environmental symbol dramatizing the need to clean up the Hudson and restore it to its past glory. For 40 years the Clearwater has sailed the Hudson, outing polluters and educating people of all ages on the value of protecting our environment. Today the Hudson River is returning to its former health, thanks in large measure to his efforts.

One Nobel Peace Prize Nominating Organization, American Friends Service Committee, has set forth their criteria by which they judge an individual’s eligibility:

A. The candidate’s commitment to nonviolent methods.
B. The quality of the candidate as a person of integrity and sustained contribution to peace.
C. The candidate’s body of work on issues of peace, justice, human dignity and environmental ecology.
D. The candidates’ expression of a worldview and global impact overriding a parochial concern.

Can there much doubt that Pete Seeger qualifies on all counts?

—George Sherman, Nyack