Twenty six years ago we were camped on BLM land within sight of Whiskey Pete’s across the California-Nevada border.
The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, 1200 people strong, left Los Angeles amid great fanfare on March 1, 1986. Eleven days later in the Mojave Desert, about ten miles west of Barstow, the founding organization declared bankruptcy and told us it was over. “Go home.” Eight hundred did just that, but four hundred of us stayed. After a surprisingly genius reorganization of people and money and some desperate fundraising, we got our feet under us (pun intended!) and started walking. We walked fifteen miles each day, our little tent village of 400 moving toward Washington, DC, step by step.
In an effort to resume posting excerpts from my books and stories, here is the beginning of Chapter 8 from Walking for Our Lives, my recently released book:
After three rest days on BLM land at the eastern edge of California, we prepared to cross into Nevada. With a stick, marchers drew a line in the dust where we imagined the border to be and lined up shoulder-to-shoulder or crowded close behind. We waited – silent, poised, weight on the forward foot. Led by Laura and her bullhorn, we shouted out in unison, “California! Nevada!” and stepped across. The kitchen crew brought out a huge carrot cake in the shape of California to give to the patrol officers who had been with The March all the way from Barstow. Several of us gave speeches of thanks for their help and support.
This ceremony would be repeated 15 times as we crossed from one state into the next. On November 15 when we reached our final destination, we would shout, ‘California! Nevada! Utah! Colorado! Nebraska! Iowa! Illinois! Indiana! Ohio! Pennsylvania! New Jersey! New York! Maryland! Delaware! Washington, DC!’
Five days after crossing our first border, we would be in Las Vegas. Marchers looked forward to Las Vegas, some with the illusion that ‘big money will be there, and we’ll get some major contributions.’ Big-talking promoters had promised rock concerts and other fund-raising events.
These didn’t materialize. But we did get media attention. The nation learned that The March was on the road to stay. That, in the vernacular, was a step forward.
Next week, I’ll choose another few paragraphs from Walking for Our Lives. Can you imagine walking almost every day from Los Angeles to Washington, DC? To learn more about the story, visit my web site: www.donnarankinlove.vpweb.com or check Amazon.