Medea Benjamin (b. 1952)

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Susan Benjamin (b. 1952)

Medea Benjamin (b. 1952)

Medea Benjamin (born Susan Benjamin on September 10, 1952) is an American political activist, best known for co-founding Code Pink and, along with her husband, activist and author Kevin Danaher, fair trade advocacy group Global Exchange. Benjamin also was a Green Party candidate in 2000 for the United States Senate.

The Los Angeles Times has described her as “one of the high profile leaders” of the peace movement and in 1999, San Francisco Magazine included her on its “power list” of the “60 Players Who Rule the Bay Area.”

Early life

Benjamin grew up in Long Island, New York, a self-described “nice Jewish girl.” During her freshman year at Tufts University, she renamed herself after the Greek mythological character Medea. She received master’s degrees in public health from Columbia University and in economics from The New School.

Benjamin worked for 10 years as an economist and nutritionist in Latin America and Africa for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the Swedish International Development Agency, and the Institute for Food and Development Policy. She spent four years in Cuba, and has authored three books on the country.

Organizations

In 1988 with Kevin Danaher, her husband, and Kirsten Moller, Benjamin co-founded the San Francisco-based Global Exchange, which advocates fair trade alternatives to what she describes as corporate globalization. In 2002, She is co-founded the left-wing feminist anti-war group Code Pink: Women for Peace, which advocated an end to the Iraq War, the prevention of future wars, and social justice. Benjamin has also been involved with the left-wing anti-war organization United for Peace and Justice.

She later went on to create the Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad (IOWC) to monitor the US military and the war’s effect on civilian populations. Through this center she brought U.S. military family members to see the conditions of their children and to speak out against the war in Congress and the UN in 2003.

In 2005 she was one of 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the millions of women who do the essential work of peace worldwide. In 2010 she received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She has received numerous peace awards, including the 2012 Marjorie Kellogg National Peacemaker Award, the 2012 Thomas Merton Center Peace Award, and the 2012 Peace Foundation Memorial Award “in recognition of her creative leadership on the front lines of the antiwar movement.”

Politics

In 2000, Benjamin ran for the United States Senate on the Green Party ticket from California, basing her campaign on such issues as a living wage, education, and universal healthcare; she garnered 3 percent of the vote. Since then she has remained active in the Green Party and has also supported efforts by the Progressive Democrats of America. She is a member of the Liberty Tree Board of Advisers.

Political Actions

From 2002 to 2009, Benjamin engaged in numerous protests involving U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; U.S. President George W. Bush; U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, among others. Benjamin engaged in similar protest actions at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and the 2004 Republican National Convention. On December 4, 2007, she was arrested by plainclothes police in Lahore, Pakistan, detained by the ISI for eight hours, and deported after protesting the house arrest of lawyers (including Aitzaz Ahsan). In 2009, Benjamin joined the steering committee for the Gaza Freedom March. In February 2012 Benjamin was arrested and deported for illegal entry to Bahrain and participating in an illegal protest.

From 2005-2010, she worked against threats of going to war with Iran, including lobbying Congress, taking Peace Delegations to Iran, and bringing Iranian youth to Congress.

 

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