By Marc Eliot Stein, March 27, 2002
Peace activist Kathy Kelly has crossed borders into dangerous war zones and been arrested more than 80 times to help refugees and victims and gain an understanding of the true nature of war, sanctions, structural violence, imprisonment and injustice. In episode 34 of the World BEYOND War podcast, Anni Carracedo and Marc Eliot Stein talk to Kathy Kelly about her life of fearless activism and welcome her into the new role of Board President for this organization.
Marking Anni’s debut as an interviewer for this podcast, this episode begins by delving into Kathy’s early days witnessing racism in segregated Chicago and risking arrest to protest mandatory draft registration. The latter led to her first experiences in jail.
“I was arrested for singing … I’ve been hauled off and left to swelter in paddy wagons for 7 hours, and hog-tied and somebody kneeled on me and I thought if I’d been another color and saying ‘I can’t breathe’ …”
We talk about Kathy’s personal approach to income tax resistance to protest war, the movie “Night and Fog” and the many reasons USA’s prison-industrial complex must be abolished. We also hear about the refugee and war victim communities Kathy has sheltered with, and the shocking scenes of human vulnerability and voicelessness she has witnessed and tried to assist. Our conversation kept returning to the basic outrage of immoral foreign policies that ignore human suffering and human needs.
“It’s not like the Air Force is out there having bake sales to raise money. We have the bake sales for education … it leads to practicing child sacrifice.”
From the desolation of tiny jail cells to the lofty pretensions of United Nations summits, this podcast interviews presents a bracing challenge to all peace activists: what does it mean to devote our lives to an urgent but painful humane cause? Kathy Kelly speaks in this episode of the courage for peace. She has lived this courage, and her example of personal sacrifice beckons to all of us as she now steps into the role of WBW’s board president, replacing our current board president and co-founder Leah Bolger, whose great work with this organization will also be missed.
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Musical excerpt for episode 34: “Para la guerra nada” by Marta Gomez.