American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has been a longtime ally and collaborator with September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.  AFSC’s New York Regional Director Elizabeth Enloe helped to organize and hosted the February 14, 2002 press conference at the UN Church where Peaceful Tomorrows announced its formation. Dr. Joseph Gerson, Director of Programs and Director of the Peace and Economic Security Program for the AFSC in New England invited members of Peaceful Tomorrows to join victims of terrorism and war from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines and Japan for a joint “No More Victims” speaking tour in the days immediately before and after September 11, 2002. And starting in 2005, Peaceful Tomorrows added a civilian shoe labyrinth to the AFSC’s “Eyes Wide Open” traveling exhibit on the human cost of war in Iraq.

The AFSC is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

AFSC was founded in 1917 during World War I to give young conscientious objectors ways to serve without joining the military or taking lives.  They drove ambulances, ministered to the wounded and stayed on in Europe after the armistice to rebuild war-ravaged communities.

Following that modest beginning, AFSC has responded in numerous ways to human suffering such as:

  • Feeding thousands of children in Germany and Austria after World War I,
  • Helping distressed Appalachian mining communities find alternative means to make a living in the 1930s,
  • Negotiating with the Gestapo in Germany to aid Jewish refugees,
  • After World War II, sending aid teams to India, China, and Japan,
  • Giving aid to civilians on both sides of the Vietnam War and providing draft counseling to thousands of young men,
  • Sponsoring conferences for young diplomats in emerging African democracies,
  • Establishing economic development programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America from the 1970s to the present,
  • Providing extensive support to the modern U.S. civil rights movement and public school desegregation,
  • Working with numerous communities such as Native Americans, immigrants, migrant workers, prisoners, and low-income families on education and justice issues,
  • Building peaceful communities all over the world.

In 1947, AFSC was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, on behalf of all Quakers for their work “…from the nameless to the nameless….”

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