Peace Sites

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sparta United MethodistBrief History

The Peace Site network originated with Louis Kousin, a member of N.J. Peace Action, when it was known as N.J. SANE. He was inspired by the birth of his first grandchild to look ahead to her future, which from his Cold War perspective in the early 1980s, included the threat of nuclear war.

In a New York Times article in November, 1982, he wondered what assurance he could give his granddaughter, “along with millions of other children, about growing up in a threatening world” and how one could “deal with such an awesome problem in a creative, positive way.”

He made note of the numerous military sites throughout the world, and it occurred to him that a natural antonym for military sites are peace sites—places where visually and physically the positive message of world peace could be consolidated and expanded.

He shared his idea with the board of the SANE Educational Development Fund (now the N.J. Peace Action Education Fund), and the board approved the idea in June 1981. By 1987, there were 270 peace sites around the world, including schools, churches, synagogues, YWCAs, humanist societies, peace organizations, veterans’ memorials, even the city of Newark in its entirety and the Cranford Post Office Triangle Plaza.

Georgian Court DedicationIn April 1984 Georgian Court College celebrated Peace Week in honor of becoming the first Catholic college in the United States to be dedicated as a Peace Site. To the right, Louis Kousin, founder of the Peace Site program, greets Sister Barbara Williams, ’63, Georgian Court College president, at the dedication ceremony on April 11, 1984. Kousin envisioned the sites as centers of education for peace, where programs and plans for peace would be initiated reinforced, and expanded. From its earliest days, Georgian Court has been such a center. Below, driving home the need for peace, a life-size representation of a cruise missile was brought to campus. The Sisters of Mercy driving the car caused quite a stir as they cruised down Route 195 with the cruise missile strapped to the roof.

Cruise missile