By Staff Reporter
The Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center may be closed today because of the corona virus situation, but the struggle for peace and justice continues, according to Jim Harvey, the PJ Center’s director.
Located just a few blocks from the CNM campus at 202 Harvard Street, Southeast, the center is conveniently located for CNM Students who want to engage in the struggle. The PJ Center is temporarily closed, however, until April 30th, in keeping with the recommendations of city and state officials, according to Harvey, who is just a few months into his job.
The PJ center generally provides meeting space and resources for some 75 “PAJOLA” (Peace and Justice Organizations Linking Arms) members. A full list of the PJ Center’s members is available on its website—abqpeaceandjustice.org
“Our PAJOLA members are scrambling to keep things going by meeting via Zoom, or Skype,” said Harvey. “We also have our electronic newsletters, which people can access on our website.”
Meanwhile, one PAJOLA group—Good Food Distribution is keeping a decade-old tradition of distributing food to folks in need, in the PJ Center’s parking lot. Distribution is set for Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., according to Molly Wilkie, a “point-person” for the group.
Wilkie said in a phone interview that Good Food is getting donations by such stores as Costco and Whole Foods. She said volunteers distributing the food would be wearing masks and gloves, and practicing social distancing.
Harvey said that because of the role Peace and Justice plays in the community, and the clientele it serves, his inclination was to stay open as long as possible. At first city officials agreed. But as the pandemic seemed to be growing more serious, the position of city officials changed, and that the center is cooperating.
Harvey,75, has been committed justice movement for the long haul. A Chicago native, he joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee at the age of 15. He got to meet and or work with such civil rights luminaries as
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bayard Rustin, Malcom X, and John Lewis (former head of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and now a U. S. Congressman from Georgia)
Harvey said he appreciated Dr. King’s devotion to non-violence.
“I lean to non-violence, always,” said Harvey. “But you also have to defend yourself against violence. Laying down your life, without defending yourself, is not where it’s at.”
He said that his personal philosophy was a bit of Dr. King and a bit of Malcom X. He said that he thought Malcolm X was wrongly perceived as a proponent of violence, when he was actually advocating a right to self defense, which made him a proponent of justice.
‘’We want peace, Harvey noted, ”but justice comes first.”
On the night Dr. Was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee ( April 4, 1968), Harvey said that he and some friends were visiting jass musician and composer, Alice Coltrane, the widow of Jazz great John Coltrane, in New York City. On a taxi ride that got him only part-way home, he could see that Harlem was already ablaze at the news of the assassination .
King’s death marked a new phase in the civil rights movement, according to Harvey. It went from securing basic rights for blacks in the South to addressing economic injustices in the North.
Harvey said he views Bayard Rustin, a close advisor to Dr.King as a key planner of the movement. He was a very competent strategist,” said Harvey.
Both Dr King and Malcolm X took a big-picture view of civil rights, according to Harvey. By the time he was killed, Dr. King had become a major critic of the Vietnam War, and was addressing the plight of the Vietnamese people. Malcom X’s work and travels opened his eyes to various types of oppression around the globe, according to Harvey.
Harvey said that at this time, he is concerned about racist attacks on Asians, because the corona virus is said to have originated in China.
“I am concerned that people of Asian descent are being targeted, and we have to speak out for them,” said Harvey.