Well before Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against nuclear weapons, African Americans were protesting the Bomb. Historians have generally ignored African Americans when studying the anti-nuclear movement, yet they were some of the first citizens to protest Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Now for the first time, African Americans Against the Bomb tells the compelling story of those Black activists who fought for nuclear disarmament by connecting the nuclear issue with the fight for racial equality.
Intondi shows that from early on, Blacks in America saw the use of atomic bombs as a racial issue, asking why such enormous resources were being spent building nuclear arms instead of being used to improve impoverished communities. Black activists' fears that race played a role in the decision to deploy atomic bombs only increased when the U.S. threatened to use nuclear weapons in Korea in the 1950s and Vietnam a decade later. For black leftists in Popular Front groups, the nuclear issue was connected to colonialism: the U.S. obtained uranium from the Belgian controlled Congo and the French tested their nuclear weapons in the Sahara.
By expanding traditional research in the history of the nuclear disarmament movement to look at Black liberals, clergy, artists, musicians, and civil rights leaders, Intondi reveals the links between the Black freedom movement in America and issues of global peace. From Langston Hughes through Lorraine Hansberry to President Obama, African Americans Against the Bomb offers an eye-opening account of the continuous involvement of African Americans who recognized that the rise of nuclear weapons was a threat to the civil rights of all people.
On June 12, 1982, one million people filled the streets of New York City and rallied in Central Park to show support for the United Nations' Second Special Session on Disarmament. They demanded an end to the nuclear arms race and called for a shift from military funds to money allocated for human needs. In Saving the World from Nuclear War, Vincent Intondi explores this demonstration from its inception through the months of organizing, recruiting, and planning, to the historic day itself. Movement leaders were forced to confront the Reagan administration, ideological differences, racism, homophobia, and misogyny to pull off what became the largest peace demonstration in US history.
While nuclear disarmament has been typically viewed as a white, middle-class issue, Intondi shows that the nuclear disarmament movement was much more diverse than previously thought. Groups representing African Americans, women, and the LGBTQ community were all active during this period, and among the main organizers of the June 12 demonstration.
Drawing on archival materials and interviews with rally organizers and activists in Central Park that day, Intondi takes the reader on a journey through the height of the Cold War and shows how a million people came together to demand an end to the arms race. Although the threat of nuclear war remains today, this historic rally contributed to the Reagan administration changing course on nuclear weapons and paved the way for a new generation of activists committed to saving the world from nuclear annihilation.