THE POWER OF SYMBOL
Spotlight UB brought a panel of local peace activists to the
By Dave Kiefaber | February 15, 2011
Liz McAlister, Max Obuszewski, Alfred Guy, Dave Eberhardt, Joe Tropea
Spotlight UB, the University of Baltimore's performing arts series, sponsored a civil disobedience panel prior to the Feb. 10 performance of their winter show, Daniel Berrigan's The Trial of the Catonsville Nine.
The panelists were
By way of context, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine is a play about the trial of nine Catholic war protesters, two of them priests, who burned nearly 400 draft cards with napalm in the parking lot of a
Dr. Guy began with an overview of political protest during the Vietnam war, adding that “if the draft were reinstated, we might have more interest [in protesting].” He then invited the panelists to explain what got them started in the peace movement.
McAlister went first, explaining that her political awakening came from news reports of the
Max Obuszewski described his hometown of
Eberhardt kept his portion short, noting that he was a “Trial of the
Figgs piped up earlier in the evening by saying that “unemployment is the new draft,” and focused his official statements on local figures in activism, namely newsstand owner Abe Sherman, whose shop carried international newspapers and, “out of sheer cussedness,” every subversive publication available at that time. Figgs also talked about coffee shops as a place for flyer drops and discussion, and how people in the
Tropea approached the topic as a historian and filmmaker, describing the Catonsville Nine's action as the most clearly articulated of its kind, and also as the first big protest trial from which other groups learned, often changing their legal strategies in the process. Tropea brought a wealth of statistics to the discussion, most notably that 279 draft boards were attacked between the start of organized anti-Vietnam protests and 1971.
After everyone on the panel had spoken, they took questions from the audience.
Spotlight UB's next production will be their annual African-American Arts Festival, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25, featuring UB alum Latonia Valincia's one-woman show, Bootprints, and a jazz performance by Lafayette Gilchrist and double bassist William Parker.