“What?  So what?  Now what?”

March 17, 2022

Ann Fuehrer, Facilitator

Our mission is to educate and act locally to recruit and organize a citizens’ movement with the sustained political power to construct a world of peace with social, economic, and environmental justice. Our geographic home is Oxford, Ohio.

On February 24, 2022, Russia began an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  President Biden had, before that date, warned that attack was imminent.  Wanton destruction of cities and killing of military personnel and civilians have continued for three weeks now.  About 3 million people have fled their homeland, while President Zelenskyy’s administration has remained in Kyiv, rallying and supporting volunteers and members of the military who have resisted the Russian military’s invasion.

I am challenged by information overload from constant CNN and NPR reporting on the war.  When I listen to friends and colleagues, they want to have a clearer understanding of what is happening, and guidance about how they can most forcefully respond. To provide education and to catalyze a citizen’s movement, OCPJ has chosen two tactics that have been staples of our toolkit for many years, and which will undoubtedly be repeated far into the future–injustices are regularly perpetrated.  And, in this time of manufactured untruths and “fake data”, we must seek trusted expertise to bring clarity.  In this time of violent suppression, we must rally publicly in protest.

On March 10, 80 Miami students and community members gathered in Oxford Memorial Park to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, including members of our own community.  Angela Trubceac and Liza Skryzhevska, residents of the local community whose homelands are Moldova and Ukraine, shared with the group the plight of their relatives there.  Poetry by Lyuba Yakimchuk and music by DakhaBrakha set the tone of requiem for those suffering death.  Members of the crowd expressed their own outrage, fear and grief, and committed internally to action.

On March 13, Miami University Professor Emeritus of History Robert Thurston made a 25-minute presentation to 18 participants.  Bob, a longtime supporter of OCPJ, clearly laid out the long history of political, religious and cultural dynamics in the relationships among Putin, The Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine.  A question and answer period helped clarify the implications of eight centuries of events, but most notably the likely consequences of the recent invasion and genocide.  Participants were given a list of resources compiled by OCPJ supporter Carole Katz to facilitate future individual actions.

OCPJ sponsored the public gathering in the park because members of the community asked for it.  We organized the “What?  So what? Now what?” program to provide education to catalyze a citizen’s movement for justice.  We will continue to sponsor events in this vein.  Our next planned “What?  So what?  Now what?” program will be held on Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 pm, virtually, on the topic “Oxford Tomorrow:  Comprehensive planning for our future as a just community”.  We are prepared to sponsor public gatherings (protests or vigils) and informed conversations to educate in service of supporting citizens’ movements for justice, whenever the need arises.


Vote to halt rising threat to progress

October, 2014

by OCPJ Member Roland Duerksen

Integral to liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the concepts of democracy and fairness. On election day we’ll have the opportunity to assert these values in the face of a serious threat.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a major effort in the struggle of the 1960s for civil rights and racial equality. That struggle occurred about 100 years after the Civil War had freed the slaves of the American South but had failed to provide social and political freedom for them as African American citizens.

Shamefully, this Jim Crow servitude continued, with only occasional challenges, for those 100 years. Then the nonviolent civil rights struggle accomplished what the Civil War had not been able to accomplish: granting to the former slaves and their progeny the freedom to obtain rights that had been denied them.

The success of that movement has become evident during these past 50 years. All about us we see aspects of the decrease in racism and the increase in equality. But evidences that these advances are far from complete are also all about us – as prominent news items of recent weeks clearly attest. It is obvious that much remains to be accomplished. At the 100th anniversary of Freedom Summer, Americans should be able to say that the dark shadow cast by slavery has finally disappeared. 

But it is not going to be an unbroken, gradual progression. There are indications of a new Jim Crow mentality in many places. There has been for some decades a rising threat to all of the progress that has been made – an endangerment to not only minorities but to all of us. The rapidly and enormously widening gap between rich and poor could soon swamp us all.

This is not something that is coming about by the natural operation of the market and economy. The operations of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers and their followers give evidence of conscious, concerted efforts to widen the gap – as they also seek to turn back the clock on voting rights and the progress of social concerns generally. Their design appears to be to carry us back to the Middle Ages, to oligarchic feudalism. Then wealth would be in charge, 99 percent of us would do its bidding, and democracy would be a thing of the past.

It appears that Congress has lost the ability, if not even the will, to stand in the way of this monolith. Indeed, the immediate concern is not the next 50 years but a certain day early next month: the general election on November 4. It is not hard to tell which party stands with ALEC, the Koch brothers and that crowd. Truly concerned, insightful citizens will vote to call the Republican party to task and to choose a better way for the country. If we don’t stop the widening gap now, we are likely to regret it 50 years from now – or sooner.



Welcome, Freedom Summer Conference folks!

October 2014. Though Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice (OCPJ) wasn’t around in 1964 during the Mississippi Summer Project, a number of our current and former members were around and/or very much involved.  For example, the stories of Rick Momeyer and Jane Strippel are included in the book Finding Freedom: Memorializing the Voices of Freedom Summer, edited by Jacqueline Johnson.  Our Bloom Peace Education Fund is named after Mel and Rosie Bloom, who were key players in the Friends of the Mississippi Summer Project  that originated in Oxford. Roland Duersken, who worked with organizers and in a Freedom School in Mississippi, recently donated his personal collection of writings and photos to the Freedom Summer Archives at Miami University and spoke on a panel with other donors to the collection about his experiences at a reception last Friday evening.  These items are currently on exhibit in King Library on the Miami Oxford campus.

OCPJ members have also been involved in the planning and realization of the conferences commemorating and celebrating anniversaries of Freedom Summer over the years, as well as the 50th Anniversary Conference taking place over the next few days.  They are also part of plenary sessions and panels.  Fighting against injustice is part of our personal, and collective, DNA.

This year we were proud to be involved in hosting representatives from the Highlander Center in New Market, TN last February to raise awareness both of Highlander’s role in Freedom Summer and its current campaigns on human rights and environmental justice under the theme “The Unfinished Business of Freedom Summer.”

We also donated audio and VHS tapes from our archives to Miami University.  These included tapes of the Freedom Singers in 1964, and from a 1989 program called “Alternative Visions of Racial Justice: Upon the 25th Anniversary of the Mississippi Summer Project.”  These include “Mississippi Summer Project Revisited,” an address given by Dick Gregory.

You can find out more about us at our conference display table, and from our Take Back Democracy brochure and flier included in registration packets and on information tables.