Into Restricted Areas | Sojourners

Into Restricted Areas

In 1959 Muste joined the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA) campaign in Nebraska. Bradford Lyttle, an absolutist pacifist, was one of the leaders of the demonstration and recalls that "as usual, A.J. was enormously helpful in dealing with the ministers, the press, and other elements of the community. For one thing, he so obviously looks like your father, and his attitude is so understanding and unaggressive that he can make contact with almost anyone. We started preparations early in 1959. Our target was the missile base in Mead, Nebraska, thirty miles southwest of Omaha ..."

The band of actionists maintained a vigil outside the Mead base for a month. On July 1, the morning of their nonviolent invasion, Muste, the first scheduled to climb over the fence into the restricted area, spoke to the crowd of the curious, the hostile, the converted, the police, and the press. He made clear his feeling that the action he was about to take was, in his own case, religiously motivated. Softly but firmly, Muste quoted at length from Isaiah: "For thus said the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel. In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. And ye would not: but ye said, No, for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue ye be swift."

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