April 30, 1917 (a Monday)

American Friends Service Committee logo.

American Friends Service Committee logo.

On this date, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was founded during what was later known as World War I to give young conscientious objectors ways to serve without joining the military or taking lives. They drove ambulances, ministered to the wounded, and stayed on in Europe after the armistice to rebuild war-ravaged communities.

Following that modest beginning, AFSC has responded in numerous ways to human suffering such as:

  • Feeding thousands of children in Germany and Austria after World War I
  • Helping distressed Appalachian mining communities find alternative means to make a living in the 1930s
  • Negotiating with the Gestapo in Germany to aid Jewish refugees
  • After World War II, sending aid teams to India, China, and Japan
  • Giving aid to civilians on both sides of the Vietnam War and providing draft counseling to thousands of young men
  • Sponsoring conferences for young diplomats in emerging African democracies
  • Establishing economic development programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America from the 1970s to the present
  • Providing extensive support to the modern U.S. civil rights movement and public school desegregation
  • Working with numerous communities such as Native Americans, immigrants, migrant workers, prisoners, and low-income families on education and justice issues
  • Building peaceful communities all over the world

In 1947, along with British Quakers, AFSC received the Nobel Peace Prize, which recognized their work “…from the nameless to the nameless….”

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