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Joan Baez Biography - Paper Example

4 pages
903 words
Boston College
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Joan Baez was born on 9th January 1941 in New Yorks Staten Island. Her family background Mexican immigrants- exposed her to racial segregation and discrimination during her formative years. Consequently, she has been involved in a wide range of social causes aimed at insulating others from the suffering she went through. Throughout her life, Baez has become renowned as a musician, songwriter, singer, and activist. Apparently, she uses music as an avenue of communicating against social ills and challenges of the less fortunate in the society. True to her quote Action is the antidote to despair (Baez) Joan has been involved in activism which has enabled her to promote peace and tranquility. According to Baez, and Fred, Martin Luther King Jnr, conversation against violence significantly influenced Joans perspective on violence and peace activism in general. Seemingly, it was the close relationship between Martin and Joan that catapulted the latter into the field of peace activism in the 1950s.

Joans involvements in social movement further deepened during the Vietnam War as a result of her refusal to pay taxes. She was against the funding of the Vietnam War which she had experienced firsthand. As highlighted by Oosterhoff and Scott music was employed as a way of dissenting to the establishment and the American society in general. It became a vital way of giving a different perspective regarding the major issues which were affecting the American society and by extension other countries. Joan Baez had joined a delegation of peace which was visiting Vietnam. The delegation was aimed at highlight the human rights issues in Vietnam apart from visiting the American prisoners of war who had been held in the country. The visit enabled her to observe the suffering of the Vietnamese citizens after the American bombing which took place around the time of their visit. Resultantly she was able to empathize with them since she understood their predicaments specifically with regards to human rights violations. As indicated above, Joans best approach of protesting against the Vietnamese war was through the use of songs and withholding of taxes. According to Baez, Joan, and Fred Hellerman, Joan promoted withholding of up to sixty percent of the income taxes. Joans contribution to the antiwar crusade also is also reflected in her involvement in various protests organized and held in New York in 1966. In 1967, Joan organized a concert at the Washington monument. In spite of the huge opposition which she faced during the organization of the concert, specifically from the daughters of the American Revolution, she was able to attract a huge crowd. Joan also participated in the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam which took place in 1969 (Small 10). The moratorium was aimed at educating the general public regarding the injustices which were being carried out by the United States government against the Vietnamese. The organizers of the event had also made it imperative to call for a large strike if the US government had not stopped the war by October of the same year. Seemingly the resolutions of the organizations exerted enough pressure on the US government to withdraw its forces from Vietnam and subsequently ending the war (Suran 452).

Besides encouraging tax resistance Joan also developed the Institute for the study of nonviolence. As the name indicates, the institute was focused on promoting nonviolent activities in the society. Specifically, the institute was aimed at teaching through practice and principle the essence of nonviolence in the community. Joan also actively participated in rallies and matches which were held to oppose the war. For instance, she was once jailed due to her participation in blocking of the main entrance of the armed forces facility in Oakland. Her involvement in the above-highlighted activity resulted in her being imprisoned for over one month.

The observation of the challenges faced by the Vietnamese motivated her to back the establishment of the Amnesty International which is a human rights organization. Further, she has formed Humanitas international another human right organization. The Vietnam War and the human rights violations experienced was her major motivation for the formation of Humanitas international. From her perspective, the organization would provide a reprieve to those oppressed during conflicts.

Despite the numerous challenges and the harsh environment Joan Baez has been quite effective in promoting human rights to the underprivileged. Apparently, the challenges which she faced during her childhood opened her eyes to the needs of the oppressed in the society. Her contributions in the Vietnamese war, for instance, depict her determination to ensure that the injustices committed by governments and influential bodies are brought to light. Seemingly this perspective informed her resolution to ensure that the society was not only aware of the human rights violations in Vietnam but also that the war was brought to an end. Furthermore, her contribution towards the formation of organizations such as the Institute for the study of nonviolence and the amnesty international is a clear indication of her willingness to ensure that we leave in a nonviolent society.

Works cited

Baez, Joan, and Fred Hellerman. Joan Baez. Vanguard, 2001.

Baez, Joan. "Action is the antidote to despair."

Oosterhoff, Inge J., and Scott H. Bennett. "Sounds Of Dissent Protest Music In The Vietnam War." 2014.

Small, Melvin. Antiwarriors: The Vietnam War and the Battle for America's Hearts and Minds. Vol. 1. Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Suran, Justin David. "Coming out against the War: Antimilitarism and the Politicization of Homosexuality in the Era of Vietnam." American Quarterly 53.3 2001: 452-488.

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