SPC Activist Profile: Carol Baum

Carol coordinates SPC’s antiwar work. Photo: Jude Nagurney Camwell

Carol Baum, SPC staffperson, works with the anti-wars committee, the NOON booklet, and Hiroshima-Nagasaki organizing (among myriad other tasks!), grew up near Chicago and came to Syracuse as a grad student in geography at SU. Aside from getting involved with the New Environment Association and Literacy Volunteers, Carol’s love for alternative bookstores guided her towards the Peace Council and its Front Room bookstore, which she staffed in the 70s. The rest, as they say, is herstory.

How did you become a staff person the second time?

People talk about 9/11 changing their lives and it changed mine. As soon as it happened there was a great concern that the US was going to do something terrible in the world, and so a group of people started meeting. The organizing was not directly connected to the Peace Council because SPC wasn’t strong at that time. There was a spinoff group that realized that there is an organization here that has an infrastructure. We thought it would be helpful to try to revitalize the Peace Council. So Andy [Mager] and I started as staff that January, 2002.

Can you identify a source of your activist ways?

My earliest activist memory is Dr. King coming to Cicero, a suburb of Chicago. I was in grade school at the time. My parents were clear that anyone can do anything—that race and gender do not matter. There was this sense that if you have a lot, you need to give a lot. Growing up I did a lot of service work. After a certain point you cannot not ask yourself, “What is going on that people need this service? What can be done to prevent that?”

Was there a time when you felt your work was very effective?

That question is hard to answer because with every “success,” there is a next step. Part of what we need to do is celebrate where we are and yet know we’re not where we want to be.

Why do you stay involved as an activist?

I can’t imagine not being an activist. This is not to say that every day I wake up and go, “Oh wow, I can hardly wait to get to work!” I feel a sense of obligation to do what I can to improve things. And it’s more than that—there’s also joy associated with it. One of my hopes for my life has always been to put my head, heart and body together into one thing. There are times when I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing and all those pieces are working together.

-Amelia Ramsey-Lefevre