Saving the World from Nuclear War
The June 12, 1982, Disarmament Rally and Beyond
Examines how the June 12, 1982 rally for nuclear disarmament paved the way for a new generation of activists.
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 The Last Dance, 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.
About the Author
Vincent Intondi (SILVER SPRING, MD) is a professor of history and director of the Institute for Race, Justice, and Civic Engagement at Montgomery College. He is the author of African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement.
"Intondi establishes the significance of the June 12 rally for the American and international peace movements, both at the time the rally happened and in the ensuing fifty years. As a historian of social justice movements and as someone who attended the disarmament rally, I agree firmly with Intondi that this rally deserves much more examination and consideration. Intondi employs strong primary sources, especially the interviews, and grippingly vivid details to paint a picture of that historic day."
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