Living Peace Wall Honorees
May we honor and encourage the honorees below and at the same time, may we be inspired by them to continue the
work of making the world a gentler, kinder and more peaceful place.
2017 HONOREE BIOGRAPHIES
1. SUSAN LAMONT
Susan Collier Lamont
Susan was born into a family of social justice awareness beginning with her great grandmother as a suffragette. Starting young as someone who can put her words out in letters to the editor and informational flyers for many causes, Susan used this form of activism along with protesting as she raised her family, ran her own business and continued her education. The seeds were planted and when 9/11 happened, Susan was ready to organize nonstop the public in meaningful and productive ways to be active and cause change and writing was an important part of it. She used her skills to motivate and educate the masses. She has an ability not just to see an issue but is able to connect issues awakening us to see the real effects of unjust and punitive decisions. In the mid-90's she received her first death threats for writing in support of LGBTQ+ rights.
Susan was on a roll, creating informational fliers with eye opening questions and answers, made eight foot panels-HONOR THEM WITH PEACE- with names of those killed in the 9-11 attack and 7000 names of people killed through out the world in political and religious violence and organized weekly nonviolent protests and other forms of waking the masses. This brought death threats to her home and the Peace Center. .
During her time at the Peace and Justice Center as a Board member and Center Coordinator, she embarked on projects such as Militarization of Law Enforcement and also a project assisting soldiers of the Iraq war find their legal means to follow their consciences. She continues to be active in Veterans For Peace Chapter #71 and helped organize a daylong teach-in at Sonoma State
Since leaving the Center, her local advocacy and organizing has influenced every crisis especially the Andy Lopez killing and the beating of prisoners in our local jail. With the election of Donald Trump, she founded It Won't Happen Here, a group, which created a statement telling local elected representatives that we want them to refuse to cooperate with any laws, or executive orders, which violate the civil liberties of any residents of the county. Each effort morphed into coalitions with Susan as the main organizer.
As Susan says so eloquently “Key to all my work has been connecting the dots between peace and social justice issues, both locally and nationally. For example, the killing of Andy Lopez reflects the intersection of race, immigration, poverty, lack of opportunity, gangs, militarization of law enforcement, guns/toy guns and much more.”
There is much more, since it is a daily happening with Susan and “googling” her name will give you the Press Democrats contacts and more .
2. REV. DON & DEE SCHILLING
In 1965 Rev. Don Shilling traveled to Selma, Alabama to stand with protesters after the March 7 Bloody Sunday incident. Their goal was to insure the safety of the marchers, an effort which often put their own lives at risk. I recall hearing of one incident when Don was at a cafe eating dinner with another pastor – both seeking a safe place to spend the night with some of the movement's supporters. Don went to one house, the other pastor went in another direction to a different house. That pastor was never heard from again. The climate of hatred and fear was so pervasive that many feared for their lives during those days spent in Selma. Don at the time was a young father of one child, with another on the way.
Later Don, as pastor of Marin City's Presbyterian Church, helped to found an organization called Operation Give A Damn, which helped younger children receive much needed scholastic and emotional guidance by older children in the community. After leaving Marin City, Don became the founding Executive Director of a similar organization in Sebastopol in 1976: Operation Getting It Together. Over the next 20 years that group helped give thousands of children the support and stability they needed to succeed scholastically.
During those same years, his wife Dee worked to provide affordable or no-cost legal aid for local low income residents. And because she is bi-lingual, she could help many of those who were Hispanic with a limited English vocabulary. Dee still provides this service to Sonoma County residents, 40+ years later. In addition, she was instrumental in a 10 year fight to create a more humane new jail for Sonoma County.
3. CHARLES LITEKY
After attending the university of Florida for two years, Charles entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1960 and joined the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, a clerical organization based in Silver Spring, MD. In1966 he volunteered as a Army chaplain and served with the 199th Infantry Brigade.
Because of his bravery in Vietnam, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
His medal citation states that on December 6, 1967, Mr. Liteky, the son of a career Navy petty officer, repeatedly neglected his own shrapnel wounds and,without a weapon, helmet or flak jacket exposed himself to mortars, land mines and machine guns to rescue 23 wounded colleagues who had been ambushed by a Vietcong battalion. He evacuated the injured soldiers and administered last rites to the dying.
He was the fifth military chaplain since the Civil War to receive the award.
When he went to Vietnam, Mr. Liteky recalled, “I was 100 percent behind going over there and putting those Communists in their place. I thought I was going there doing God’s work.” But after he returned from Vietnam he had a change of heart, left the priesthood and became a peace activist. In 1986 he left his Medal of Honor in an envelope addressed to President Ronald Reagan at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The envelope was retrieved by the National Park Service and placed in the collection of the National Museum of American History, where it remains.
That same year Charles mounted a debilitating 47 day hunger strike near the Capitol against American involvement in Nicaragua. In the late 70’s a former nun, Judy Balch, had introduced him to refugees from El Salvador, “teenagers, whose fathers had been killed and tortured.” As a result he evolved into a vigorous opponent of American support for the right-wing factions there and in Nicaragua and Guatemala.
He later served two prison terms for trespassing at the Army’s School of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning,GA, which trains soldiers from Latin America. He stated that his dissent and civil disobedience has been motivated by the same impulses that motivated him to rescue his fellow soldiers in Vietnam, “It’s to save lives.”
In 1990 he was sentenced to six months in federal prison for squirting blood on portraits at the above School, and to the maximum one year in 2000 for a similar protest.
In 2002 and 2003, he visited Baghdad to protest the impending American invasion. “I am in deep sympathy with all of those young men that are over there now doing what they think is their patriotic duty, Mr. Liteky told NPR in 2004. “I think it is more of a patriotic duty of citizens of this country to stand up and say that this is wrong, that this is immoral.”
In 1983 he married ex nun, Judy Balch in San Francisco, and lived there until his death at 85 in 2016. Just prior to his death he had completed a memoir, Renunciation.
4. HOLLY NEAR
Born in Ukiah, Holly Near is respected around the world for her music and activism, and her joy and passion inspire people to join her in celebration of the human spirit.
Holly Near has made a career speaking to anyone in the world who believes in peace, justice, and feminism as a flowering of the peaceful and powerful possibilities for human beings.
In 1971 she joined the Free The Army Tour, a road show of music, comedy, and plays organized to stop the war in Vietnam. During this time, Holly became a globally conscious feminist, linking international feminism and peace action.
In 1972, she became one of the first women to start her own independent record company, Redwood Records. The purpose was to promote and produce music by politically conscious artists from around the world. Often cited as one of the founders of the Women’s Music movement, she not only led the way for outspoken women in the music world, but also worked for peace and multicultural consciousness.
Another significant area of Holly’s activism is the LGBTQ community. She was one of the first artists to discuss her sexual orientation during a pioneering interview with People magazine. A staunch advocate for LGBTQ rights, she is comfortable with her own sexuality and has a clear understanding of the fluidity of sexual orientation.
Finally, Holly Near is also a teacher, presenting master classes in performance craft and songwriting to diverse audiences.
As Holly says, “Music can influence choices, for better or worse. A lullaby can put a troubled child to sleep but Muzak can put a whole nation to sleep. A marching band can send our children off to war. It can also have everyone laughing and dancing and loving as it leads a gay-pride parade.”
Holly Near is a treasured cultural leader hailing from our beautiful Northern California, and it is with great satisfaction that the people of Sebastopol add her name to our Wall of Living Peace.
2016 HONOREE BIOGRAPHIES:
- 1. Jimmy Carter 1924 —
The 39th President of The United States from 1977 to 1981. Though Carter’s greatest contribution to peace while president was the signing of the Israeli-Egypt Camp David Peace Accords, which he worked tirelessly to accomplish, most of his work for peace and justice has been done since he left office. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Carter Center in 2002.
2. Lucy Forest 1920 — 2015
Lucy Forest was a compact woman with a great steely determination to do whatever she could to resolve or prevent injustice, war and other distortions of humanity. A revered elder among Sonoma County’s activists, Forest wielded her intellect and collaborative skills to build consensus to act against homelessness, neglect of the elderly, abuse of workers, discrimination and militarism. She co-founded the Peace and Justice Center in Santa Rosa
as well as the Santa Rosa Creek Commons housing cooperative.
Later in life she became a leader of the Gray Panthers and authored “On The Plus Side” column in the Press Democrat. She advocated for seniors in areas such as housing, health care and continuing education. Throughout her long life she worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others and promote the cause of peace and justice.
3. Linda Sartor 1954 —
Linda Sartor has not only talked the talk of peace activism and nonviolence, she has walked the walk. For ten years after 9/11 she repeatedly put her life on the line as a citizen peacemaker by traveling to a variety of violent conflict zones throughout the world. She has traveled to Israel, Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Bahrain as an unarmed peacekeeper and witness. She has written a book about these experiences, Turning Fear Into Power.
In addition, Linda has worked with several organizations focused on nonviolent action. She was awarded Peacemaker of The Year by the Peace and Justice Center and currently serves on their board.
4. Dr. Charles O. Prickett 1946 ---
Charles O. Prickett began his activities toward world peace and justice while in high school doing surveys of area businesses to determine if racial discrimination was occurring in his hometown, Carbondale, Illinois. In college he became a member of the local chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and began picketing local business that refused to serve or hire people of color. Charles attended the March on Washington in 1963, and participated in the Mississippi
Freedom Summer of 1964, where he worked operating Freedom Schools, conducting voter registration drives, organizing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) and organizing local black farmers to vote in U.S. Department of Agriculture fall elections. He also helped organize the Selma-Montgomery March in 1965.
His work in the civil rights movement was modeled after the philosophy of Gandhi, that of nonviolent resistance to racism and discrimination. He was drafted and was classified as a non-combatant conscientious objector.
Charles has written a book about his experiences in the civil rights movement, “Remembering Mississippi Freedom Summer” (Amazon). This book chronicles the experiences he had as an active participant of the civil rights movement, and includes his meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King while working on the Selma-Montgomery March. His book contains nearly 80 pictures, most from a movie he helped make with Richard Beymer in 1964, “A Regular Bouquet” (YouTube). This movie contains the only film record of Freedom Schools and voter registration efforts from the Freedom Summer. PBS in their series “Eyes On the Prize”, and “Freedom Summer” have used these images.
He continues to be active as the featured speaker at multiple area public schools and civic organizations, and has presented at Martin Luther King observances at SRJC. He is currently an attorney in Santa Rosa, California, and has been a pro tem judge in small claims and traffic court in California for over thirty years, and has served as a mediator for the Sonoma County Superior Court.
2015 Honorees: From left to right: Accepting for Rev. George Houser, his daughter Martie Leys and wife Jean; Barry Latham-Ponneck, Alicia Sanchez. Nelson Mandela's plaque and congratulatory letter have been sent to his family in South Africa.
2015 HONOREE BIOGRAPHIES:
1. Barry Ponneck 1951 —
The Three Mile Island nuclear disaster of 1979 ignited Barry Ponneck’s passion for peace, human rights, and the environment. He joined SONOMoreAtomics in its struggles for peace and environmental safety as he opposed the construction of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, research on nuclear weapons at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, the militarization of space at Vandenberg Air Force Base, and the testing of nuclear weapons in Nevada.
Through his membership in the affinity group Radical Ions, Ponneck continued his work in partnership with concerned Sonoma County residents, living in Cotati, Forestville, and for about 20 years in Sebastopol.
Ponneck became a trainer of nonviolence, and through the decades he worked with many others to train many hundreds of citizens to engage the world through active nonviolence. Ponneck was instrumental in the production of free benefit concerts for environmental and peace organizations through the middle 1980s.
During the Contra Wars in the 1980s Ponneck traveled to Nicaragua with a Harvest Brigade, working on a cotton farm and traveling the country, bearing witness to the Nicaraguan people’s suffering and courage as they resisted death squads that were killing their families.
In 1990 Ponneck and the Radical Ions became leaders in the Redwood Summer series of actions to stop the clear-cutting of old growth redwood forest. The movement drew activists from throughout the world and garnered national attention to the issue of corporate holding companies that were buying small companies and liquidating the assets, devastating the environment and the local economies in the process.
During the Gulf War, Ponneck was a leader in organizing the largest march and demonstration to date in Sonoma County history when at least 3,500 citizens met in Santa Rosa on January 13, 1991 to protest the war.
When the Iraq War began, Ponneck again organized a march and demonstration, the second-largest to date in Sonoma County when at least 3,000 citizens protested what was later to be shown to be a war begun based on false information.
Throughout his life, Barry Ponneck has dedicated his whole being to the service of human beings as he works to create, in association with others, a world where every person may achieve the full potential of her or his life without fear of war or an unhealthy environment.
Since the early 1990s Ponneck has been challenged as his body struggles with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease. Yet, he continues to organize on behalf of the rights of citizens who struggle with disabilities and people isolated in nursing homes.
As of this writing, Ponneck’s latest action was organizing a benefit concert to raise money for Music and Memory, a nonprofit seeking to provide iPods for every American living in a nursing home. Studies have shown that hearing the music that accompanied a person’s life’s journey helps slow the loss of memory for those isolated from their communities.
2. Alicia Sanchez 1951 —
Alicia Sanchez, a Sebastopol resident has been present in the journey of nonviolence throughout her whole life. She is the daughter of farmworkers and was inspired to work nonviolently with Cesar Chavez in bringing decent living and working conditions to the farmworkers. She continued her work with the Mexican women in Santa Rosa where she co-founded the Sonoma County Industrial Union where she used the principle of nonviolence and carried that through her 30 years of organizing workers in Sonoma County.
Most of us know Alicia also as a public speaker on issues of women, immigrants, peace, justice, labor and environmental issues. Since 2010 she as been president of Bilingual Broadcasting Foundation which operates KBBF 89.1, the first Bilingual radio station in the United States. Her presence on many Boards in the past years, including the Center for Peace and Justice, reflects her commitment to the principle of nonviolence.
She stands in silent vigil every Friday in Sebastopol or Santa Rosa as part of the Women in Black, an international network of women committed to peace with justice. They mourn all victims of violence. Alicia lives her nonviolence in all aspects of her life.
Some of the many awards she has received are:
California Rural Legal Assistance Certificate of Appreciation (2003)
Peacemaker of the Year — Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County (2001)
United Farm Workers Union Appreciation Certificate (2001)
Press Democrat’s Award to the “50 Who Shaped our Century” (1999)
Woman of the Year — State of CA legislature (1991)
The Senator Pat Wiggins Working Class Hero Award by the North Bay Labor Council AFL-CIO (2013)
South Park Community Center Mural of Community Activists (2011)
Sonoma County ACLU Jack Green Award (2010)
* Photos of Barry Ponneck and Alicia Sanchez by Don Jackson Photography
3. Rev.George Houser 1925 — 2015
(From the Press Democrat, Aug. 20. 2015)
Rev. George Houser was an Anti Apartheid activists, a leader in the U.S.Civil Rights movement and helped organize Journey of Reconciliation—a forerunner of the 1960’s Freedom Rides into the deep south.
He co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality, a civil rights group, in1942 after he and a black friend were denied service at a Chicago restaurant.
The group became a national organization, enrolling tens of thousands of members. They endorsed nonviolent protests and sit-ins at establishments around the country.
Houser was also known for his stand against conscription. He was sent to prison just before World War II after declaring himself a conscientious objector.
In 1952 he co-founded Americans for South African Resistance and became executive director of the American Committee on Africa in 1955. He worked to abolish apartheid and to end colonial rule throughout Africa before retiring in 1981. Later he met with South African leader Nelson Mandela on several occasions. He was recognized for his work in Africa in 2010 when he received the Oliver R. Tambo Award.
“His heart was always with anyone who was dealing with any kind of subjugation,” said his daughter, Martie Leys. “He was always fierce in his determination to see justice prevail, but he was always respectful, always nonviolent, always willing to talk.”
After moving from the East coast he lived with his wife, Jean, the last several years at the Friends House in Santa Rosa.
4. Nelson Mandela 1918 — 2013
Born in Apartheid South Africa, at an early age he took up the cause of ending Apartheid and securing full citizenship for the majority black South Africans who were being brutally suppressed by the minority white government. Because of his activism and his involvement in the African National Congress, he was imprisoned off and on until finally receiving a life sentence for treason and sent to Robben Island Prison in 1964.
After 26 years he was released in 1990. He then went on to become president of the ANC and
together with President FW de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1994 he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President.
Though he participated in violent activities in his youth, in his later years he eschewed violence and embraced reconciliation. He is credited with uniting his country and avoiding a bloody retaliation against the white minority. By setting up the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” he provided a format for the airing of grievances and crimes on both sides while confronting the truth and reality of life under Apartheid.