Washington Peace Center

Washington Peace Center

Washington Peace Center

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The Washington Peace Center grew from The Vigil to Stop Biological Weapons at Fort Detrick, which was maintained in Frederick, Maryland from 1959 through 1961. In 1961 vigil coordinator Larry Scott and other vigilers moved to the nation’s capital to start the Washington Peace Action Center. Activists from the Peace Action Center vigiled at the White House calling for a ban on all testing of nuclear weapons, a major Cold War issue at that time. The PAC also contributed to local mobilizing for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Justice.

The ratification of the Partial Test Ban Treaty between the US, USSR and Great Britain led to the dissolution of The Peace Action Center in 1963. Left in its place was the Washington Peace Center, a non-profit organization housed (until 1997) in the Friends Meeting of Washington and initially directed by Gelston MacNeil, a Quaker pacifist and activist. The Center sought to educate the public on peace issues through film screenings, discussions, and the publication of a local newsletter.

The Peace Center quickly became a hub for organizing against the Vietnam War and helped to coordinate draft counseling in the Washington area. During the 1970s the Center continued its work by supporting the movements against nuclear power and for nuclear disarmament. In the 1980s the Peace Center served as the local nexus for national and international opposition to the arms race and played a vital role in organizing resistance to the Reagan...
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