History of AFSC Pacific Southwest Region: 1960-Present
This House Not for Sale was a project growing out of concerns of residents of northwest Pasadena and was an effort to help stabilize changing neighborhoods and keep property values at their current levels. Householders who intended to stay where they lived were encouraged to display the signs. The project (carried out in conjunction with All Peoples Christian Church in Los Angeles) was a precursor to further AFSC efforts through its Fair Housing Program.
The "era of activism" saw AFSC staff and volunteers participating in the Civil Rights Movement and protesting the war against Vietnam. They advocated for fair housing in Pasadena, organized nonviolent civil disobedience trainings and demonstrations, conducted teach-ins on Vietnam at Caltech and elsewhere, and in 1967 alone over 1,400 men received draft counseling through the AFSC network.
1963 – 1990
The US-Mexico Exchange Program provided a two-week, two-way exchange of fifth and sixth graders between Southern California and Mexico City, which led to many lifelong cross-cultural friendships.
AFSC increasingly turned its attention to the escalating conflict in Vietnam. Although the Pacific Southwest Regional Office had been offering counseling to Conscientious Objectors since at least the 1950s, by 1966 CO literature was moving out of the Pasadena office at an unprecedented rate, and the AFSC organized training sessions for additional CO counselors needed throughout the Los Angeles area.
1964 – 1980s
AFSC supported the efforts of California farmworkers to find decent wages and living conditions. David Burciaga was hired by the AFSC in 1964 to direct a self-help housing project for 54 farmworker families. When workers in Delano walked off the grape harvest in the fall of 1965, the AFSC raised funds for their support. Eventually, Burciaga was sent to assist the United Farm Workers Union in the area of social change through nonviolent action, and was the union's chief negotiator for 10 years.
1965 – 1974
Robert W. Gray was Executive Secretary.
1970s - 1980s
AFSC efforts were increasingly directed toward nuclear disarmament.
AFSC hosted the first Christian-Muslim-Jewish dialogues in the Los Angeles area.
1974 – 1977
Arthur N. Mack was Executive Secretary.
1977 – 1988
C. Lee Thornton was Executive Secretary.
1977 - 1984
After the surveillance of peaceful community groups by the Los Angeles Police Department—and an experience in which an FBI agent infiltrated a Pasadena AFSC committee posing as a Native American—the Police Surveillance Program was set up in the Region. The AFSC worked to organize a coalition of groups concerned about police spying on their lawful political and community activities. Litigation generated by the AFSC's work resulted in a 1984 consent decree between the LAPD and 144 plaintiffs (made up of organizations and individuals) which established strong guidelines on police intelligence activities.
The Central America Refugee Program responded to the tide of refugees fleeing war and human rights abuses by the US-supported governments in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In addition to educating the public on the situation in the midst of a US crackdown on immigration, the AFSC provided refugees with clothing and English classes, and connected them with medical care, legal assistance, and employment information.
1988 – 1991
Anthony R. Henry was Executive Secretary.
The Coalition for Peace in the Middle East was founded by the AFSC, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, New Jewish Agenda, the Palestine Aid Society, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The Coalition called for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel, with peace and security for both states. It sponsored public education events and demonstrations.
1991 - 1999
The Pacific Southwest Region experienced a succession of Executive Secretaries/Regional Directors.
1999 – 2002
Joseph Franko was Regional Director.
Shan Cretin became Regional Director.
1990 – 2000s
The Northwest Pasadena Program sought economic justice in the immediate neighborhood of the regional office, focusing on housing, education and employment issues while fostering a network of community activists.
Community Readers provided volunteers who read multicultural books to elementary school students in several neighborhood schools. The books were ultimately donated to enrich the school libraries.
1990 – Present
The Middle East Peace Education Program embraced peace with justice throughout the region, hosting educational events and vigils focused on the wars against Iraq as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.