JG – Alice Waco

Alice Waco

2004 Jack Green Civil Liberties Award Honoree

Alice lives her spirituality through social activism, which often calls her to put her body on the line. Whether it be by joining protests supporting the UFW, nurses, teachers, grocery workers or by demonstrating against war, Phyllis Schafly’s Eagle Forum, nuclear weapons, Livermore Lab or the School of Americas, Alice is there – by example showing each of us how to observe, judge and act to resolve conflict nonviolently. When her action results in arrest, as it recently has, Alice continues her work through diversion in the jails and prisons where she leads workshops in creative conflict resolution and alternatives to violence.

Alice’s tireless passion for social justice began in the 1950’s when as a chemistry teacher she organized students engaging in humanitarian projects. During the Vietnam war, Alice counseled students and helped write letters for young conscientious objectors. In the early 1980’s, she led the Santa Rosa teachers through their lengthy strike for the preservation of collective bargain rights, and with others conceived Educators for Social Responsibility, an organization that continues to empower teachers and students to resolve conflicts nonviolently. Later that decade, Alice established the Cherkassy, Ukraine-Santa Rosa Sister City project and organized several student interchanges. In 1992, recognizing Alice’s valued accomplishments throughout her 24 years as a teaching nun and after, the National Education Association of Teachers honored Alice with its peace education award.

Alice joined the Peace and Justice Center twenty years ago when it first began, and has been active ever since, serving as president of the board for many years and now as a board member. There, as in all her commitments, Alice is a dedicated worker who routinely initiates projects and builds coalitions while sharing her vision of a world without violence.

Alice’s passion for bringing justice to the oppressed speaks through her into her life. Her heart of activism now extends beyond Sonoma County to the poor of Nicaragua where she directs a grassroots fundraising organization called Friends of CANTERA. Knowing that education is the empowering force of change, Alice also raises money through her project Nino-a-Nino to award scholarships enabling young people to attend school.

Today, the calm, wise voice of Alice Waco teaching peace and justice can be heard not only in the classroom and on the streets, but throughout our local community and the world. In these times when peaceful protest may again result in arrest and personal injury, we are especially fortunate that our community is graced by the courage of Alice, an educator and human rights activist who continues to speak her heart.

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