Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst Disarmament Coalition Collection
In winter, 1966, Amherst, Massachusetts became the first town in the United States to form a weekly vigil protesting the Vietnam War. Standing at the northwest corner of the town common on Sundays from 12 to 1 p.m., participants sought to publicly record their political and moral objections to government policies. The vigil continued until the war's end in 1973.
Wishing to protest the nuclear arms race and the use of nuclear power, and in support of a nuclear freeze moratorium, organizers revived the vigil in 1979, vowing to continue until the establishment of global nuclear disarmament. Frances Crowe, who helped organize the earlier one as well, sees vigils as "a constant, quiet witnessing, a presence to remind ourselves and others of what needs to be done."
In an expansion of the scope of its concerns, the Nuclear Moratorium Vigil was renamed the Vigil for Peace and Justice of the Amherst Disarmament Coalition in about 1984, protesting government policy in Central America and the Middle East as issues related to global security.