“Everything that is tearing us down today will become a memory, and this memory will be shared as an anecdote or a story or a poem or a play or a warning. It will be shared with another human being, who will then understand that he is not alone in his sadness. This is why we show up for others and tell our tales and listen to others. The great congregation meets daily, and you are someone’s angel today.”–

Tennessee Williams/Interview with James Grissom


"No history is mute. No matter how much they own it, break it, and lie about it, human history refuses to shut its mouth. Despite deafness and ignorance, the time that was ticks inside the time that is."

Eduardo Galeano

In 2009, we started collecting long "oral history" interviews on video of LA Progressives -- activists, philanthropists, and people who are both - in hopes of documenting and preserving those who have dedicated much of their lives to crafting a more equitable society. We feel it is a privilege to be part of this extended community. The excerpts below come from longer interviews. We intend to add new interviews continually, and in doing so, help to strengthen the next generation of progressive voices.

Julie Thompson & Brogan de Paor
 
For more information contact us at info@activistvideoarchive.org or 310-452-2881
Stories from the Activist Video Archive
 

Leo Frumkin Story 

Rabbi Leonard BeermanView Rabbi Leonard Beerman Story

View Angela Sanbrano Story 



View Mickey Flacks Story



View Dick Flacks Story 1

View Dick Flacks Story 2


View Susan Adelman Story

View Len Chandler Story


Blase BonpaneView Theresa Bonpane Story 

Blase BonpaneView Tom Hayden Story

Blase BonpaneView Blase Bonpane Story 

Bill ZimmermanView Bill Zimmerman Story
Mike FarrellView Mike Farrell Story

Jackie GoldbergView Jackie Goldberg Story Oneil Cannon
View Oneil Cannon Story 1
View Oneil Cannon Story 2
Marge Tabankin
View Marge Tabankin Story
 
 
   

   

Excerpts from Full Oral History Interviews

Susan Adelman
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Leo Frumkin has been a powerful and highly effective force for peace and for social economic and political justice for decades. Leo was born and raised in East Los Angeles and was greatly influenced by his older sisters, members of the Socialist Worker’s Party. While still a senior at Roosevelt High School, he helped organize and lead a student strike to protest an appearance by the fascist commentator, Gerald L.K. Smith.
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Pat Krommer, CSJ was born in Berkeley, California into a middle class family.  The family moved to the Central Valley.   She attended Catholic schools in elementary and high school.   From time to time she thought about religious life but considered other paths open to her.  Her life changed however, when shortly after graduation from High School , her father died.  His passing provided the crucial impetus for her to join the Sisters of St. joseph of Carondelet.  She received a BA in English and History and Master’s Degree in History and Political Science from Mount St. Mary’s College.
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Mickey Flacks is a red diaper baby born in the Bronx to cosmopolitan parents who immigrated to the U.S. in the teens and 1920’s. She grew up in the milieu of foreign born, Yiddish speaking leftists who believed in education, trade unionism and in keeping their Jewish/Yiddish culture and identity intact. Her parents worked in the garment industry and her mother was a union organizer at a time when there were two competing Communist Led unions in the garment trade. Even before Mickey was born, her mother had to quit work because of diminishing eye sight.
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Dick Flacks grew up in Brooklyn, the son of teachers. His parents had taught in New York City schools and were active in the Teacher’s Union, a Communist led union. His parents and grandparents were involved in the Workman’s Circle, a Jewish Socialist organization, and his early upbringing was influenced by their community organizing.
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Len Chandler
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Len Chandler was born and grew up in Akron, Ohio.  Pivotal early influences included his step mother and his grandmother, both of whom introduced him early on to the joys of music.  His father was a jazz musician, and music curriculum in the schools he attended quickly became Len’s primary educational interest.

The first instrument he played was a recorder, but he quickly graduated to oboe. From his early training, when his Step-Mother would buy him opera librettos and take him to opera local productions, his emphasis in music was classical in nature. Once he was a teenager, he started writing and singing little songs to impress the girls. 
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Rabbi Leonard Beerman
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Leonard Beerman was founding Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple where he served for 37 years. Long active on issues of Peace and Justice, Rabbi Beerman co-founded the Interfaith Center to Reverse the Arms Race and the Los Angeles Jewish Commission on Sweatshops.  Rabbi Beerman has served on the Board of Human Rights Watch and currently sits on the Board of Directors of Death Penalty Focus, an abolitionist organization.

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Angela Sanbrano, was born in Juarez, Mexico. She grew up in El Paso, Texas. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from People's College of Law, Los Angeles and bachelor's degree in psychology from Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges. Angela has dedicated her life to the struggle for peace with justice and to improve the quality of life of Latinos. For Angela community organizing and empowerment has been a continuous motivating force.
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Theresa Bonpane
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Theresa Killeen Bonpane grew up the youngest child in an Irish working class family in Troy, New York.  Theresa fended for herself from an early age.  An indifferent student, her life consisted of the social side of school, and a rigorous Catholic faith.
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Blase Bonpane
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Blase Bonpane grew up in Los Angeles. His father, an Italian immigrant, became a lawyer, and eventually a Judge.

Against his family's wishes, Blase left home to join the Maryknoll Religious Order. He was drawn to Maryknoll because of their history of international service.
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Susan Adelman
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Susan Adelman -Susan Adelman is a feminist, activist and a philanthropist who was inspired by her times, and her mother, Lucy Adelman. In the late 1960's and early 1970's, Susan was in SDS, worked for the Liberation News Service and went to Cuba with the Venceramos Brigade.She developed her feminism by reading, travelling, and especially by talking to women about their lives, relationships and aspirations. Susan serves on the Boards of The ACLU of Southern California, and the Venice Family Clinic, and has been active in CODE PINK since its founding.
Joan Andersson
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In Joan Andersson's formative years she was heavily influenced by an exemplary set of parents whose progressive child rearing practices helped her mature without the strictures or role limitations that affected most young women of her generation.  Her mother, a self taught Jewish intellectual, and her father, a leftist committed to civil rights struggles, raised her as a person with empathy for others and a internationalist world view.
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Bill Zimmerman
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Bill Zimmerman earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and taught briefly there and at Brooklyn College. In the early 1960's, a trip to Greenwood, Mississippi, in support of civil rights activists brought him face to face with systematic racism and set him on an activist life.

Against U.S. intervention in Vietnam from the outset, Bill organized students in opposition to the war and the draft. He gave up a fruitful career in scientific research on brain function when he realized he could not control how the U.S. government and military would utilize his findings.
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Marge Tabankin
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Marge Tabankin was born in Newark and attended the same High School as that famous and controversial chronicler of Jewish life, Philip Roth. When she was 15, she heard Tom Hayden speak about his community organizing in Newark and the presentation was like a honing device that set the course of her professional life.
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Ed Asner
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Ed Asner was born in Kansas City to uneducated immigrant parents from Russia and Lithuania. His family benefited from Jewish social service organizations that helped the young family gain a footing in the United States. Throughout his childhood, he was cautioned to characterize his father's profession as that of a merchant in used metals. Ed knew full well, however, that his father was a junk dealer. This lack of pretention has served him his whole life.

Ed was the youngest of five children and was much inspired by his older sisters, both of whom were college educated and became social workers. Ed was co-editor of his High School newspaper and, as a teenager, did radio plays where he first discovered the power of his voice.
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Billie Heller
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Billie Heller was born in Redondo Beach to parents who were steeped in the American tradition of joining fraternal service organizations as a part of their duty to the community.  Moving to Los Angeles, Billie often accompanied her parents to Democratic Party meetings, where she got her first exposure to the rough and tumble of electoral politics.

She went to UCLA and was active in social and political activities on the campus, including booking the dance bands and other acts that entertained the student population.  Through this brush with the entertainment industry, she met her future husband, talent manager Seymour Heller.
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Ed Pearl
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Ed Pearl spent the early part of his childhood in Boyle Heights where he lived among an amalgam of Jewish and Mexican families, a new generation of immigrants from Mexico fast supplanting the Russian and Eastern European enclave.

He took up the guitar and at UCLA, joined the folk song club.  As a part of that club, he helped bring Pete Seeger to Los Angeles, even though Seeger was accused of being a Communist and subpoenaed before HUAC.
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Reverend Dr. George Regas
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Reverend Dr. George Regas was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, where his father, a Greek immigrant, ran a popular restaurant.

Regas studied at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and Cambridge University; he received his doctorate from the Claremont School of Theology. His first parish, on the eve of the Civil Rights Movement, was in Pulaski, Tennessee, the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Jack Shakely
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Jack Shakely was born in Oklahoma and came of age working in a family run newspaper owned by his Uncle.  After majoring in Journalism at the University of Oklahoma, Jack, who was greatly influenced by the Presidency of Jack Kennedy, joined the Peace Corp, learning Spanish and serving in Costa Rica.  He came back from Costa Rica much affected by the poor with whom he had worked.  He was also fervently against the Vietnam War. Nevertheless, he was drafted and served in the Army.  Because of his knowledge of Spanish and Peace Corp background, he served out his two year draft in Latin America.
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Rodolfo F. Acuña
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Rodolfo F. Acuña, Ph.d, is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of the leading scholars of Chicano Studies, which he teaches at Cal State Northridge. He is the author Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, now in its seventh printing.
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tom hayden
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Tom Hayden - One of founding members of Students for a Democratic Society, Tom Hayden is currently a teacher, writer, and a journalist .  Recently, he was named by The Nation Magazine as one of the most influential progressives of the 20th Century.   He is a leading voice for ending the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and reforming politics through a more participatory democracy.  He served in the California legislature for 18 years.  His web page is www.tomhayden.com

ramona ripston
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Ramona Ripston - Ramona Ripston was named Executive Director of the ACLU and ACLU Foundation in 1972, becoming the first woman to direct and ACLU affiliate.  In that capacity, she is responsible for litigation, lobbying and education. Under her leadership, the staff has grown from six to sixty people and the annual budget to 6.5 million dollars. 
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Peter Douglas
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Peter Douglas is the first environmental activist we have profiled at the Activist Video Archive. Peter wrote the law protecting the California Coast, and was longtime Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission. We had known about Peter and his work informally, but made him a priority for our oral history interviews after Alan Sieroty told us about the breadth of his work, and his vulnerable health. Peter was hired by Alan to write the legislation which eventually became the Coastal Act and established the Coastal Commission in the 1970's. We spent a day with Peter last month. He died less than four weeks later. We are indebted to him for making our project a priority, and are proud to feature our interview with him. In an LA Times Op Ed on April 8th by David Helvarg, he is referred to as "The Savior of the Coast." We have compiled excerpts from the interview, and you can see them to the left.

Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J
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Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J. - Fr. Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest and the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries. As a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of gang activity in Los Angeles, Greg Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training, and encouragement so that young people can learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration.
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Jackie Goldberg
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Jackie Goldberg - Jackie Goldberg was born in Los Angeles and went to her first demonstration in 1961, influenced and guided by the woman who led Women's Strike for Peace. She attended the University of California at Berkeley where she was a leader in the Free Speech Movement, a student uprising that subsumed the University because the President of the University tried to ban political speech and action on campus.  When she returned to Los Angeles, she moved into Echo Park and began teaching in Compton.  She met her life partner Sharon Stricker when they joined forces to develop and lead the Integration Project.
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Sharon Stricker -Sharon Stricker has pursued two parallel courses her entire adult life:  the arts, in the form of writing, acting, and directing, and teaching; and political activism in the form of creating or co-founding organizations such as The Integration Project, The NAM Socialist Community School, The Community Education Network. 

After graduating from Loyola University in Chicago in 1965, Sharon began a ten-year teaching career in New Jersey and then Los Angeles, California.  Here she pioneered the successful use of the arts for improving the education of minority children. At the same time she became keenly award of the inequities, especially in facilities in L.A.U.S.D.
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Mike Farrell
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Mike Farrell - An actor, writer, director and producer, is President of the board of Death Penalty Focus, Co-chair Emeritus of the California Committee of Human Rights Watch, spokesperson for Concern America, and author of "Just Call Me Mike; a Journey to Actor and Activist" and "Of Mule and Man."
Irv Sarnoff
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Irv Sarnoff - Irv was born in the Bronx in the Worker’s Cooperative Colony, known as the"Coops," a community of 5000 people, mostly from Europe, who identified themselves as Leftists.  He was a member of the Young Pioneers and even as a child, worked to support members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

He came to Los Angeles when he was 16 years of age already imbued with Marxist philosophy and teaching, and went right to work under the direction of Dorothy Healy, a Communist Party leader in Southern California. 

One of his early jobs was at Decca Records, where he was to organize the lower level workers at that company.  He was drafted into the army during the Korean Conflict, but refused to sign the standard Army Loyalty Oath and so was put in a unit of disaffected draftees who opposed to the war. After he got out of the army, he worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad until retirement.  He was subpoenaed to appear before HUAC in the mid 1950's.
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Lila Garrett
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Lila Garrett - Lila Garrett is a writer, producer and radio host.  She came to Los Angeles after studying acting and appearing in plays in New York and Chicago.  From a socialist family, advocating for those less fortunate and those who take the "minority" position was second nature to her almost from birth. 
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Aris Anagnos
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Aris Anagnos - Aris Anagnos was born in Greece. During WWII, he escaped to the Middle East and joined the exiled Greek army which fought on the side of the allies. He joined a mutiny of Greek forces who sympathized with the Greek Resistance Movement. They demanded a free plebiscite to unseat the imposed King.
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Peg Yorkin
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Peg Yorkin - Peg Yorkin was born in New York and came to Los Angeles after studying acting. Eventually, she married and raised children, producing plays and raising money for charities. In 1988, The Feminist Majority Foundation was founded by Peg, Eleanor Smeal, Katherine Spillar, Toni Carabillo, and Judith Meuli.
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Ralph Fertig
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Ralph Fertig - Ralph was already an activist when he was in his Chicago grade school... He studied at Columbia under the legendary C. Wright Mills and worked at a settlement house in New York while taking his degree. He moved back to Chicago to work in another Settlement House. His own house became the headquarters for the Congress on Racial Equality and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and from those associations, participated in the Freedom Rides in the South. Moving to Washington, D.C., he was involved in the planning committee of the March on Washington and lobbied for passage of historic Civil Rights Act in l964. He came to Los Angeles to take over the Greater Los Angeles Community Action Agency under Mayor Tom Bradley. He studied for and passed the Bar Exam and became a human rights lawyer. Currently, he teaches Social Work at USC.

oniel Cannon
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Oneil Cannon - Descendant of slaves and slave owners, Oneil Cannon came to Los Angeles after service in WWII from Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana.  He became a printer, working for Charlotta Bass, who owned the California Eagle Newspaper which served South Central, Watts, Willowbrook area of Los Angeles.  Recruited by the Communist Party in the early 1950's, Oneil campaigned to integrate the Printers  Union, suffering discrimination as a black man and as a Communist.  He worked as an organizer from within the Communist Party for the next thirty years.

Bob Zaugh
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Bob Zaugh - Bob Zaugh was born and grew up in Los Angeles. As a young teenager, he was swept up in the rabid Anti - Communism of the 1950's and only shifted his views in junior college when he took a Political Science class from a brilliant and charismatic teacher who saw the divisions and power balances in national and world politics from the standpoint of the disenfranchised.

After the Watts riots, Bob volunteered in South Central LA, teaching young kids to read, and attended sessions of Operation Bootstrap.

Concerned about the Vietnam War and his impending draft, he went to a speech against the war by David Harris and in doing so, set the course for much of the rest of his life.
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Paula and Barry Litt
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Paula and Barry Litt - Paula and Barry met in high school.  They attended UC Berkeley and were there during the Free Speech movement. Paula volunteered at Peter Maurin House (Catholic Worker) in West Oakland where she had her first real involvement in poor African American neighborhood.
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Haskell Wexler
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Haskell Wexler - Academy Award winning Cinematographer, and filmmaker, Haskell Wexler grew up and made his first films in Chicago.  He tried to enlist in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade at 15 years of age.  He joined the Merchant Marines during WWII, where he was a Maritime Union organizer.  He worked to break the color barrier on Merchant Marine vessels and for more equitable working conditions.
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betty and stanley
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Betty Warner Sheinbaum - Betty is the daughter of Warner Bros. Co Founder Harry Warner, is an artist and philanthropist.  With her husband, Stanley Sheinbaum, who many regard the "Godfather" of West side progressives, Betty hosts dozens of political events a year at their home, where national, international, and local political activists announce their new initiatives and projects. 
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Cheri Gaulke
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Interview done under the auspices of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. www.politicalgraphics.org

Cheri Gaulke -
Cheri Gaulke is a performance artist who addressed themes of religion, sexual identity, and cultural transformation in her work.  In 1975, she was one of the founding participants of the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Women's Building. 
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Jeff Schuerholz
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Jeff Schuerholz - Jeff has a long history in the anti war, Queer and AIDS activist movements. He was a silkscreen artist in Berkeley, California, creating posters and art for many groups in the anti -Vietnam War era. He was a very involved member of the direct action groups ACTUP/LA (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and Queer Nation Los Angeles.
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Max Palevsky
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Max Palevsky - Max Palevsky was born and grew up in Chicago to poor immigrant parents.  He did his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and Yale.  After graduate studies in philosophy and logic at UCLA, he became interested in the field of computer science. 
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Reverend Al Cohen
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Reverend Al Cohen - Reverend Al Cohen grew up in a family whose tradition was the Naval Academy and service in the Navy. His Grandfather was an Admiral and his father served in WWII.

After Al's own schooling in the Naval Academy and service in the Navy, he went to Oberlin College and it was there that he found his calling as a minister and an advocate of peace and justice.
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