In the United States, awareness about nuclear weapons was relatively marginal, until people like Dr. Helen Caldicott and Jonathan Schell began writing, speaking and producing films about the dangers involved in nuclear proliferation.
In many ways the nuclear disarmament/nuclear freeze movements were an outgrowth of the anti-Vietnam War movement. The resistance to the US war in Vietnam involved community-based investigation into weapons production and the growing US nuclear arsenal.
People began to question the very existence of nuclear weapons and the fallacies that came with so-called nuclear fallout shelters. Nuclear Weapons proliferation was spreading across the globe and more and more people were being concerned about the arms race between the US and the Soviet Union.
Various forms of organizing and actions took place around challenging nuclear weapons in West Michigan, as we have noted in a previous posting, The Nuclear Freeze Movement inspired many in Grand Rapids.
In Part I of our interview with Mark Kane, he discusses the evolution of the nuclear disarmament/nuclear freeze movement in the US and West Michigan, along with some tactics and strategies used with the freeze campaign. A big part of the freeze campaign, which is also explained in this 1982 IGE article, was putting a freeze on nuclear weapons on the ballot. You can see from the graphic here, an example of what the petition looked like that people were circulating in West Michigan.
Mark also talks a bit about the Grand Rapids contingent that participated in the massive anti-nuclear rally in New York in 1982, where roughly 1 million people from all over the world converged on New York City to so no to nuclear weapons.
Part II of this interview will discuss more details of the anti-nuclear organizing in West Michigan, lessons learned from that campaign and why it is important for people to know this history.