Council for a Livable World 50th Anniversary Celebration

Senator Al Franken addresses the crowd at the Council’s 50th anniversary celebration.

On June 6, 2012, Council for a Livable World, along with its sister organizations Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World’s PeacePAC, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of our founding by Leo Szilard in 1962.

An evening celebration was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Congressman Barney Frank acted as the Master of Ceremonies and, in the process, received a lifetime achievement award from former Rep. Tom Downey, a member of the Council’s Board of Directors. The Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Award was presented to former Representative and PeacePAC Chairman David Bonior and the late Edie Wilkie, a longtime advocate and leader for peace and justice.

There were also speeches and toasts by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Shelley Berkley, former Representative and PeacePAC chairman Tom Andrews (D-ME), former Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta and Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen.

Former U.S Representative and Council Board Member Tom Downey and Representative Barney Frank

The speakers told warm stories about the honorees and each other: Rep. Frank talked about Mineta’s rise from incarceration as a Japanese-American during World War II and former Rep. David Bonior (D-MI) mentioned Edie Wilkie’s great work on Latin American issues and so many other heroic efforts. David Bonior was also presented with a cake and attendees enthusiastically sang to him to honor his birthday that day.

Videos were shown in which Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) celebrated the organization’s 50 years although they were not able to attend in person.

Over 225 people attended to celebrate the Council’s legacy of working to advocate for sensible national security policies and helping to elect congressional candidates who support those policies.

Other notables included Hawaii Senate candidate Mazie Hirono (D), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), former Sen. Tim Wirth (D-CO) and former Rep. Jim Moody (D-WI).

Fifty years ago, nuclear physicist Leo Szilard founded the Council for a Livable World to deliver “the sweet voice of reason� about nuclear weapons to Congress, the White House and the American public. In his constant quest for a method to safeguard peace, Szilard realized: In order to influence American foreign policy, one must change the composition of Congress. This insight was the seed that grew into the Council for a Livable World.

David Bonior is given a cake to celebrate his birthday by Ira Lechner and Larry Cohen

Since 1962, the Council has helped to elect 120 U.S. Senators and 203 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Six sitting Senators joined us in an afternoon national security forum in the U.S. Capitol to speak on the issues Council has been working on for 50 years. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) all spoke eloquently on these pressing issues.

Additionally, prior to the celebration, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) inserted a statement in the Congressional Record congratulating Council on our 50th Anniversary stating:

In a time when our country continues to face a host of global threats, it is important that we recognize the vital work that the Council for a Livable World carries out each and every day to mitigate these threats, and to make our world a more peaceful, a more livable place.


The Father Robert F. Drinan National Peace and Human Rights Award was established in 2006. The award is annually presented by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World to individuals who exemplify the late Father Drinan's commitment to peace and human justice.

The award broadly focuses on U.S. politics, political science, physical science, biology, peace studies, and peace and human rights activism.

2010 – Rep. Jim McGovern, United Auto Workers President Bob King
2009 – Congressman Barney Frank, Ambassador Robert Gallucci
2008 – Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman John Hall, Actor Richard Schiff
2007 – Senator Edward Kennedy
2006 – Father Robert F. Drinan

The Council for a Livable World is honored and humbled by everyone who joined in the 50th Anniversary Celebration. Thank you to all those who attended the events and to the many supporters who generously contributed to our work. The event exceeded all of our expectations and we are excited and determined as we look forward to another 50 years working on arms control and non-proliferation.

Video Address by Elizabeth Warren

Edie Wilkie Slideshow

Video Address by Vice President Joe Biden