A.J. Muste Peace Mural Dedication

By Sachio Ko-yin*One Painter. One pacifist folk hero. And location location location.These were among the ingredients of a remarkable gathering on Thursday, August 9, the unveiling and dedication of the A.J. Muste Peace Mural by artist Christopher Cardinale.The subject of the mural, A.J. Muste (1885-1967), was an organizer and writer for peace and social justice, who began his career as a minister. He left behind him a rich legacy of labor, civil rights and anti-war organizing. His famous saying, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the Way” appears at the top of the painting.

Christopher Cardinale is a Brooklyn-based comic book artist and muralist, whose large scale mural projects have appeared in New York, New Mexico, Greece, Italy and Mexico. He also works with World War 3 Illustrated, the long-running political comic magazine.

The new mural occupies the outer wall of 339 Lafayette St., New York City, a building known to the local activist community as “the peace pentagon.” The building is the home of several activist groups, most prominently the historic War Resisters League, a secular pacifist organization founded in 1923.“The mural is perfectly located for passersby” said Ianthe, one of the participants in the dedication. “It’s just about the only non-commercial image in this neighborhood now.  People will see it, passing by in cars and on bikes and walking. It’s a very visible location.”
The spirited ceremony consisted of a statement from Peter Muste, grandson of A.J., read by Muste Institute board member Nina Streich; a few words from David McReynolds, past socialist party presidential candidate, who was mentored in nonviolent resistance by A.J..; and some comments from various organizations in the building. In addition to WRL, these included the Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom, and the New York State Youth Leadership Council. There was also music by local performer Eve Silber, and refreshments. The rain held off just long enough for the ceremony to come to its conclusion, and welcome the Mural to its new home.

*Sachio Ko-yin is a member of Philadelphia War Resisters League and a former WRL board member. He served a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for a Ploughshares disarmament action. He is currently working on an oral history of U.S. pacifist anarchism.

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