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November 18, 1973 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1973-11-18

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Sunday, November 18, 1973

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Five

PROFI LES

Rebecca Shell/s li

The pursuit
Ry MARNIE HEYN The 89-year-old w
WHEN UNIVERSITY officials as a freedom fighte
banned Jane Addams from and unheralded. Reb
speaking on Michigan's campus class of 1910, left A
in 1909, they could hardly have become a high sch
realized that, instead of cooling teacher in the state
out dissent, they were igniting a ton. In 1911, she
flame in one student that would many and met Fran
burn for at least five and a half German soldier, to
decades. became engaged.
For Rebecca Shelly, then a stu- Rebecca returned t
dent, the University's denial of and war broke out
a forum to a respected, hard- When Jane Addams
working social servant was such to American women
an outrage that she began to ask conference at the
questions that would ultimately peace and freedom,
alter the course of her life. sponded both out of
In 1969, she donned the black the women who had
mourning clothes and veil that and from a desire t
she plans to wear "until peace Frans, who she disc
and freedom come to Vietnam." her arrival, had die(
A poet with many books to her Rebecca becamet
credit, she began a recent poem delegate at the foun
with the words, "The war in Viet- tion of the Women's1
naM has killed the conscience of League for Peace a
the world." in 1915, and the exp
While battles were raging in ed to be another tur
Bangladesh, she stood outside the her life.
American embassy in New Delhi T THE Hague s
wearing placards saying, "In know two wome
mourning for the crimes of my to influence her pro
country," and "The American first was Jane Ad
government has forgotten what worker and found
freedom means." House in Chisago.
SHELLY is distressed that more was Rosika Schrimr
of her countrypeople do not garian peace worker
support the liberation struggles who was more radic
in Asian countries, explaining, Addams, and who,
"A free people who really under- remembers introduc
stood their own history could not notion that war and
be so callous." linked to economic

Oman's birth
:r was quiet
becca Shelly,
nn Arbor to
ool German
of Washing-
visited Ger-
s Willman, a
whom she
to the States,
in Europe.
issued a call
to attend a
Hague on
Rebecca re-
respect for
inspired her
o try to find
overed, upon
d.
the youngest
ding conven-
International
nd Freedom
erience prov-
rning point in
he came to
n who were
foundly. The
dams, social
er of Hull
The second
mer, a Hun-
in the U.S.,
al than Jane
as Rebecca
ed her to the
tyranny are
and social

uu ; tilll

THE WHIZ KIDS
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SUNDAY NITE

peace
systems.
It was a rough transition for
Rebecca, a minister's daughter,
whose pacifism was initially re-
ligiously based. One she had
grappled with the theoretical
connections, she went to work
fully committed, but always out
of the public eye, because it was
felt that her liaison with a Ger-
man national might reflect poor-
ly on the sincerity of her opposi-
tion to war.
Passionately aware of the po-
tential for American involve-
ment in Europe, Rebecca threw
more and more energy into or-
ganizations that were trying to
alert the public to the slow
drift toward war. She helped
initiate the Fellowship of Re-
conciliation, a religious pacifist
group which is still active today.
She was a member of the
American Neutralist Conference
Committee, an organization
which supported Woodrow Wil-
son's isolationist stance prior to
World War II.
IN ADDITION, Rebecca was an
organizer for the Women's
Peace Party, and for The Emer-
gency Peace Federation, a peace
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I-I--NDIC

After the war Rebecca married
Felix Rathmer. The ceremony,
as she remembers it, was vision-
ary and spoke of harmony and
independence of spirit. Nonethe-
less, as with many women activ-
ists her role in public life di-
minished after her marriage.
Now Rebecca Shelly, approach-
ing 90, travels extensively and
uses any forum available to re-
mind people that they have "a
responsibility to end the war in
Indochina and the suffering of
the Vietnamese." In the past
year she has traveled on the In-
dian subcontinent and in Indo-
china, maintainiing a vigil in her
rmourning clothes outside the
American embassy wherever she
happens to be. Her next book of
poetry, soon to be published, will
be called Many Voices, and has
been drawn from her experiences
in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
WHEN ASKED what message
she would like to leave with
the students she recently visited
in Ann Arbor, Rebecca said,
"Remember that leaders can use
you for their own advantage.
They can steer you wrong, but if
you examinte your own heart,
you can act wisely and compas-
sionately."

AND NOW
RanD
A WORD
Ow the OP:'~. so

1
i
s
I

AU(

Doily photo by MARNIE HEYN
coalition established in 1917,
just a few months before the U.
S. became an official participant
in World War I.
When the tide of public senti-
ment shifted toward favoring pa-
triotic support of the govern-
ment's action and an interna-
tional role for the U.S., Rebecca
stood her lonely ground and
spoke out for peace and democ-
racy.

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