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 A Nobel Peace Prize for Pete?

"I'm a little embarrassed..." -- Pete Seeger

Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel created the Nobel Peace Prize to recognize those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace conferences.” Does that remind you of anyone?

The nomination of Pete Seeger for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize was started as an Internet petition by Eleanor Walden, longtime civil rights activist and co-founder of the Freedom Song Network, a Bay Area-based group that “affirms through songs and music the right of all peoples, at home and abroad, to establish more free, just, and equal societies and live in peace.” The petition was motivated by her desire to honor Pete as a role model and identify the international effects of his music and activism; to open the Nobel selection process to the input of ordinary citizens; and to insure that cultural workers receive the respect they deserve in our society when using the arts not only a medium of entertainment but of education, compassion and action.

According to the People’s Weekly World, the petition’s signators include many familiar names in the peace, environmental and folk song revival movements, including Medea Benjamin of Code Pink and Global Exchange, The Sloop Clearwater, Joan Jara of the Victor Jara Foundation, Cindy Sheehan of Gold Star Families for Peace, Pete’s sister and brother Peggy and Mike Seeger, brothers Tom and Dick Smothers who broke the blacklist against Pete on TV, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock, oral historian Studs Terkel, and more than 14,000 others.

Pete’s reaction is typically modest: “I’m a little embarrassed,” he told the Times Herald-Record in New York’s Hudson Valley. “I think this is ridiculous . . . I often get credit for things I don't deserve.” We beg to disagree.

The petition was originally directed to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker social-justice group with headquarters in Philadelphia. As a former laureate, the AFSC is granted one nomination per year to the Nobel Foundation. Regrettably, the AFSC has chosen to nominate a different Peace Prize candidate to the Nobel committee, so Walden and others involved are seeking another sponsor. Unfortunately, the deadline for nominations was February 1, which means 2008 may not be Pete’s year for Nobel Peace Prize consideration. If not this time, how about in 2009?

For more information, please visit this website: www.nobelprize4pete.org or contact Eleanor Walden at eleanor@nobelprize4pete.org.