Karen Talbot

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 10 16:45:19 MST 2003

People's Weekly World
November 8, 2003


Special to the World

Karen Talbot, a talented activist for peace and justice whose work was
permeated by unshakable internationalism, died Oct. 12 in San Francisco
after a two-month struggle against cancer. She was 69.

Talbot was born in Denver, Colo. For all her adult life she identified with
progressive ideals, and acted on them with skill and effectiveness as a
speaker, educator, organizer, and journalist.

She is probably best remembered for her untiring efforts to oppose nuclear
weapons and U.S.-led wars - from the Vietnam War to the current war and
occupation of Iraq. Her vision of a peaceful world included a deep rejection
of racism and inequality. She was a staunch opponent of South African
apartheid, anti-Semitism, and racism in the United States, and supported
freedom and self-determination for the Palestinian people. For Talbot, peace
and justice were indivisible.

Talbot served on the executive committee of the World Peace Council (WPC),
and for a number of years worked as its secretary in Helsinki, Finland. That
work brought her into contact with leaders of peace and anti-imperialist
movements, several United Nations secretaries-general, members of Congress,
world cultural figures and activists.

Romesh Chandra, former president of the WPC, cites Talbot's role during the
Vietnam War in organizing a conference of Vietnamese and U.S. peace
activists. Because the U.S. government would not issue visas to the
Vietnamese, the conference had to be held in Canada. Talbot's role in making
the conference a success, says Chandra, "gave added strength to the U.S.
movement to end the war in Vietnam."

Upon returning to the U.S. from Helsinki, Talbot worked closely with the
U.S. Peace Council and later founded and directed the San Francisco-based
International Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ). She was also a leader of
the San Francisco chapter of the Gray Panthers, an advocacy group for

A strong supporter of the rights of organized labor, Talbot was sometimes
called upon by trade unions for advice on international politics and
solidarity. In 1998 she spoke on behalf of the World Federation of Trade
Unions before the United Nations on the prevention of racism and

Talbot's research and journalistic skills produced a wide-ranging body of
writing that won her an international readership. In recent years she wrote
on the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Korean peninsula. Many of these
writings are available on the ICPJ web site, www.icpj.org. She often wrote
for the People's Weekly World. This year her PWW article, "Coup-making in
Venezuela: the Bush administration and oil factors," was selected by Project
Censored as one of the 25 most suppressed stories of 2002-03. Talbot won
this distinction twice.

Juan Lopez, chair of the Communist Party USA in Northern California, said
Talbot was a true internationalist and lifelong advocate of socialism. "When
it was sometimes difficult to speak out against U.S. foreign policy, and
when others were timid or held back, Karen didn't flinch. She was a strong
and courageous woman . always there when the cause of peace and justice
needed a clear and unyielding voice." At the time of her death, Talbot was a
member of the national committee of the CPUSA.

Those who knew her say Talbot was a modest, caring person, whose heart would
go out to others needing help. She was an excellent pianist and a lover of
classical music, following in the footsteps of her father, who was an
accomplished musician.

Karen Talbot is survived by three daughters, Peggy, Sonya, and Majken, and
her brother, Claude Sandell. The family is planning a memorial in San
Francisco in early January.

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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