Nuclear Disarmament and Cuban Crisis

Moving Away from the Brink of Nuclear War


1962, San Francisco, CA, Protest for release of crew of Everyman after their arrest at sea.

1962, San Francisco, CA, Protest for release of crew of Everyman after their arrest at sea.

As the world witnessed rising levels of nuclear fallout from the testing of atom bombs during the Cold War era, public demonstrations for nuclear disarmament grew during the late 1950’s. It took courage to stand up for peace in the face of Cold War hysteria, media hostility, police surveillance and harassment and employer discrimination against dissenters.  Harvey Richards photographed these early Ban the Bomb demonstrations against nuclear testing. People like Linus Pauling and Benny Bufano marched in Union Square in San Francisco calling for an end to nuclear testing and nuclear disarmament. Pacifists rallied against nuclear testing when the Committee for Non Violent Action (CNVA) built a small boat and set off into the Pacific Ocean to occupy the testing zones.  Harvey Richards made a film about their efforts called Everyman (the name of the boat) and photographed the demonstrations supporting it when the boat was seized by the Coast Guard and the crew arrested.  Joan Baez participated in these demonstrations.

The Cuban revolution brought nuclear brinkmanship to the fore during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 when the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter U.S. intervention against it. Demonstrators gathered in San Francisco to call for sanity and pulling back from the nuclear showdown.  Peace advocates became more numerous and vocal as the grip of the anti-communist crusade of the McCarthy period began to weaken.  The photos in this gallery show the first public outcries against the atomic bomb that would grow into the massive peace movement of the late 60’s and early 70s. Buy or license these photos.

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