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Camp Hope Holds Obama to "Change" Pledge

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He added, "The fundamental social changes we claim as our common history…were achieved when social movements insisted that new presidents take immediate actions, which then became the impetus for more profound changes."

*  Woodrow Wilson, elected in 1912, did not support "votes for women." But determined suffragists lobbied Congress and kept the issue in the forefront of public opinion with parades, arrests and hunger strikes. In 1918 Wilson finally urged Congress to pass the 19th amendment which states ratified in 1920.

*  Franklin Roosevelt began his first term with labor strikes becoming common. Within the first 18 months of his first term, a wave of strikes and radical protests by the unemployed brought about the first labor laws, unemployment and social security.

*  Kennedy was elected in 1960, the year the lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights movement began. The protests grew until a reluctant president and his attorney general stepped in on the side of the movement, eventually leading to passage of civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965. In the spring of 1962, a delegation of Quakers vigiled outside the White House. Kennedy invited six of them to the Oval Office to listen to their case. Grassroots pressure was an important factor, along with intervening historical events, that helped steer Kennedy away from his original cold warrior path to support a nuclear test ban and order the withdrawal of troops from Viet Nam.

*  In 1976, grassroots pressure, including vigils outside his home in Plains, Georgia, succeeded in getting Jimmy Carter to listen to their reasons to grant amnesty to Viet Nam war resisters and cancel the B-1 Bomber. On his second day in office Carter granted amnesty to the resisters and within 6 months cancelled the B-1 Bomber.

The program for Camp Hope’s 18-day vigil includes presentations from Dr. Quentin Young, an expert on universal health care; Stephen Kinzer, author and former New York Times foreign correspondent, Col. Ann Wright and Veterans For Peace Director, Michael McPhearson on "Abandoning War," a screening of the Stanley Kubrick classic, "Dr. Strangelove," and the 2007 Academy Award-winning documentary, "Taxi to the Dark Side."

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Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio, former president of Veterans For Peace and author of "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq." (Praeger)

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