Annual Meeting Recap

Keynote Speeches, Workshops, and a Great Day of Community!

Thank you to all of our members who produced an overflow crowd at our Annual Meeting this past Saturday! We held a very successful gathering, packed with rousing speeches, engaging workshops, and, of course, good food!

Jefferey Sachs kicked off our keynote addresses with an unflinching talk on our “mentally ill” President, the corrupt Congress, and the lack of transparency in the United States’ clandestine operations across the globe. Sachs addressed recent developments, like former CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s role in negotiations with North Korea and Cambridge Analytica data harvesting. Peace Action’s work is extremely important, he said, but he urged us to do more, and in particular asked us to reach out to students like those who are campaigning against gun violence. “Don’t normalize this,” cautioned Sachs; “this man (Trump) can destroy the planet”. Democrats weren’t safe from the Columbia University economist’s scorn; Sachs also sharply criticized Obama for ordering the CIA to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria, as well as his pervasive use of drone strikes in the Middle East. The audience was left with a plea to combine the fight against militarism with one against poverty–a theme echoed by the following keynote speaker.

Savina Martin, Eastern MA Tri-Chair of the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, gave an impassioned speech on the War Economy, the experiences of  Vietnam veterans, widespread poverty, homelessness, and mental illness of former members of the armed forces, and the need for a transformation of national priorities. Martin outlined the prevalence of military installations in states like CA, FL, NY, and TX, and drew correlations to the poverty and homelessness that stemmed from these areas, asserting that our taxes are better spent on our social net than on killing other human beings. Sharing her personal experience of being a full-time doctoral student and barely making ends meet, Martin exclaimed that the lack of finding for social programs and exorbitant expenditures on weapons of war reflected a deep flaw in the “soul of the nation”.  Her work with the Poor People’s Campaign aims to tackle the issues of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation, and the distorted morality of our nation. 

Our four workshops saw great success, all were well-attended and fostered deep learning, listening, and engagement around the areas of nuclear disarmament, Palestine/Israel, the Middle East, and the Poor People’s Campaign. Our team of facilitators and presenters did a wonderful job — Jeff Klein, Shireen Al-Adeimi, Shelagh Foreman, Ann Withorn, Paul Johnson, Jonathan King, Mike Connolly, Peter Casey, Elaine Scarry, and Mike VanElzakker, ng rich lectures and discussions. 

Watch the keynote addresses in their entirety below!