(1917 – 1984) Barbara Deming – USA

Linked with Nonviolence Book – Notes to CHAPTER 12, BARBARA DEMING, and with A Random Chapter in the History of Nonviolence.

She said: “Non-violent actions are by their nature androgynous. In them, the two impulses that have long been treated as distinct ‘masculine and feminine’, the impulse of self-assertiveness and the impulse of sympathy, are clearly joined; the very genius of non-violence, in fact, is that it demonstrates them to be indivisible and so restores human community … .” (See on Matt & Andrej Koymasky.com).

Barbara Deming - USA.jpg

(1917 – 1984) Barbara Deming – USA

She was an American feminist and advocate of nonviolent social change. She directed plays, taught dramatic literature and wrote and published fiction and non-fiction works.

On a trip to India, she began reading Gandhi, and became committed to a non-violent struggle, with her main cause being Women’s Rights. She later became a journalist, and was active in many demonstrations and marches over issues of peace and civil rights. She was a member of a group that went to Hanoi during the Vietnam War, and was jailed many times for non-violent protest. She was born in New York. She attended a Friends (Quaker) school up through her high school years. She openly believed that it was often those whom we loved that oppressed us, and that it was necessary to re-invent non-violent struggle every day. It is often said that she created a body of non-violent theory, based on action and personal experience, that centered on the potential of non-violent struggle in its application to the woman’s movement. (Read more on wikipedia).

She earned a B.A. from Bennington College in 1938 and a Master’s degree in 1941 from Case Western Reserve University. She began her career as a film analyst for the Library of Congress, writing film criticism and her own fictional work. She then became a professional writer, contributing to cultural and political journals. During the1960’s Deming found herself protesting many issues she felt unjust. During 1960 she joined demonstrations against Polaris submarines, which carried nuclear warheads.

In 1961 she walked with the San Francisco to Moscow walk for peace and attended the International Peace Brigade in Europe. In 1962 she protested atomic bomb testing at the Atomic Energy Commission building in New York City and in that same year she joined the Nashville to DC bi-racial walk for peace. In 1963 Deming joins black demonstrators in Birmingham, Georgia who were acting for the collective right to be treated like human beings. That same year she attended the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, which was a committee in the federal House of Representatives that conducted ‘witch hunts’ for communists in peace and leftist organizations during the early sixties. In 1964 she joined the 2800 mile, Quebec-Guantanamo walk for peace and freedom, a racially integrated protest over U.S. actions in Cuba. In 1965-1967, Deming traveled to North and South Vietnam to protest the war. (See California State University, Fresno).

She spent her life empowering people through her writing and nonviolent activism. She fought for social equality and basic human rights through nonviolent forms of protest. Her leadership can be found in her tenacity and motivational spirit.

Som i ickevåldsrörelsen som i alla andra områden så är det många människor som faller i glömska och inte får den uppskattning de förtjänat. Det gäller speciellt kvinnor, än idag är det mest män man får läsa om i historieböckerna. En kvinna som har spelat en stor roll för ickevåldsrörelsen – hon är bland de största – men ändå inte fått någon direkt uppmärksamhet är amerikanskan Barbara Deming (1917 – 1984). (See on this site).


The longer we listen to one another – with real attention – the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.

Think first of the action that is right to take, think later about coping with one’s fears.

I think the only choice that will enable us to hold to our vision. . . is one that abandons the concept of naming enemies and adopts a concept familiar to the nonviolent tradition: naming behavior that is oppressive

I learned always to trust my own deep sense of what I should do, and not just obediently trust the judgment of others – even others better than I am.

Vengeance is not the point; change is. But the trouble is that in most people’s minds the thought of victory and the thought of punishing the enemy coincide.

A great many of us must move from words to acts

It is my stubborn faith that if, as revolutionaries, we will wage battle without violence, we can remain very much more in control – of our selves, of the responses to us which our adversaries make, of the battle as it proceeds, and of the future we hope will issue from it.

What is the revolution that we need? We need to dissolve the lie that some people have a right to think of other people as their property. And we need at last to form a circle that includes us all, in which all of us are seen as equal… we do not belong to the other, but our lives are linked; we belong in a circle of others.

“We need to dissolve the lie that some people have a right to think of other people as their property. And we need at last to form a circle that includes us all, in which all of us are seen as equal. (See on PeaceOnEarthHeroes.com).


Rads Geek People’s Daily;

Thomas Merton’s Correspondence with Barbara Deming;

Non Violence and Social Change, by Laura Jackson, Spring 1997;



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