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Frances Crowe (1919–2019), prominent peace activist

Getty Images / Boston Globe / Yoon S. Byun

Arrested about 100 times for her activism and protests, she said 100 times was "Not enough"

Frances Crowe was a peace activist whose long career of protest stretched from 1945 until the final years of her life – including an arrest at age 98 for protesting a natural gas extension into a state forest. Crowe was in a wheelchair at the time. Along the way, she counseled young men on becoming conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War; participated in sit-ins against a nuclear plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire; and spent a month in prison after spray-painting “Thou shalt not kill” on nuclear submarines at a Rhode Island base she broke into. It was just one of about 100 arrests over a long career of activism: When Crowe was asked in later years how many times she had been arrested, her answer was “Not enough.” Of the many direct actions that led to arrests, Crowe said, “There comes a time when to put your body there is more powerful than all the organizing you can do. She was named 2019 Person of the Year by her local newspaper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

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Died: August 27, 2019 (Who else died on August 27?)

Details of death: Died at home in Northampton, Massachusetts of natural causes at the age of 100.


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The horror that led to a life of activism: Crowe vividly remembered the moment when she became an activist for peace. It was 1945, and she was ironing clothes when she heard on the radio that the U.S. had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. She later told Democracy Now!, “I really unplugged the iron, left the placemat I was ironing, and went out looking for a peace center in the streets of New Orleans.” Though few were organizing against World War II, Crowe found her way to a used bookstore. The bookseller suggested Tolstoy’s writings on nonviolence, which helped shape her thinking.

Notable quote: “People my age can afford to take risks, to be arrested. After you’ve raised your family, now is the time for us, the elders, to act” —From a 2018 interview with the New York Times

What people said about her: “She has this very clear morality about what is right and wrong. When has she ever been on the wrong side of history? She has a record. If Frances is on your side, then you know that you are probably on the moral high ground.” —Jeff Napolitano, executive director of the Resistance Center for Peace and Justice

“It would be very hard to overstate the impact and influence of Frances Crowe on activism and organizing in the Northeast, and particularly in Northampton, Mass. She’s just passed at the age of 100, ‘an organizer to the very end.’ Rest in peace, Frances.” —Rachel Maddow of MSNBC

“I feel privileged to have known Frances. Let’s honor her by working even harder for peace and justice.” —U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern

Full obituary: Boston Globe

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