The world lost an amazing organizer, Bob Fitch, on Friday, April 29, 2016. Bob was 76. Below is a brief snapshot of Bob’s activism with the Resource Center for Nonviolence. For more about Bob, his life and photos, see BobFitchphoto.com A memorial for Bob will be held on Friday, May 27, 2:00PM at Peace United Church of Christ, 900 High St., Santa Cruz, CA followed by a potluck reception. To volunteer at the event, or for more information, contact RCNV: 831-423-1626.
Obituary written by Bob: Santa Cruz Sentinel 5/3/16: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/santacruzsentinel/obituary.aspx?n=robert-dewitt-fitch-bob&pid=179857270&fhid=24160
New York Times Obituary: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/
Santa Cruz Sentinel Story about Bob 5/3/16: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/obituaries/20160502/bob-fitch-1937-2016-progressive-activist-chronicled-historical-movements-as-a-participant-and-observer
Link to 2002 audio interview with Bob Fitch by John Malkin on his radio program “the Great Leap Forward” : http://www.radio4all.net/
A lifelong labor and workers rights activist, Bob Fitch had a stellar career as a photojournalist and was a low-income housing organizer with the state of California for a decade before joining the Resource Center for Nonviolence staff. He served on RCNV’s staff from 1999 – 2006. Bob first connected with RCNV co-founder Scott Kennedy at UC Santa Barbara in the 1970’s. Bob continued as a volunteer after 2006. He was the Resource Center’s Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, but also organized many key programs, assisted with fundraising, and documented RCNV events with his photos. Bob lived upstairs at the Resource Center for several years and served as the unofficial on-site host and chief mischief maker. He was a mentor to countless young people and a role model for us all.
Bob described himself in a 1999 Resource Center for Nonviolence document “as a community organizer, photojournalist, labor union activist, and low-income housing developer. Bob has contributed over 40 years of work to various local and nation-wide campaigns for peace and social justice. A singer and writer for folk songs, Bob draws from movement and personal history to bring down to earth and spirited music to numerous RCNV meetings and events.”
Bob was an impressive organizer. He set up RCNV’s website, streamlined and perfected RCNV’s outreach and media connections, and pushed us all to be better activists. He was active with the Center’s GI Rights Hotline (DAMIT- Draft and Military Information Team) where counselors provide alternatives to the military. He was instrumental in bringing the Santa Cruz City School’s Opt-In program to high schools, so that students had to request to be contacted by military recruiters instead of their info being automatically sent. This program was replicated nationwide.
Bob played a lead role in RCNV organizing efforts. Here are only a very few: 1999- Congressman Ron Dellums; 2002 Congresswoman Barbara Lee (the sole vote against the US War in Afghanistan); the Santa Cruz Living Wage Coalition; the Million Mom March; the Santa Cruz Peace Coalition…. The list could go on and on.
Bob participated in an Interfaith Peace Builders delegation to Israel and Palestine in 2001 led by Scott Kennedy. He brought a big heart, a hearty laugh, humor and music to RCNV events.
A few quotes from Bob:
1999: “In 1966, a white civil rights worker was thrown in jail in a rural Alabama town. To his surprise and enlightenment, he was bailed out by local citizens – three Afro American families used their farms as security for his bail! That worker was me. Those committed and generous farm families, and other working families like them, are my heroes, my role models. The farmers and their families were not Civil Rights movement public all-stars. They were not featured and profiled in the daily papers and on TV. Nevertheless, they were the source and sustenance of the Black Civil rights movement. ….
Successful organizing requires shrewd tacticians, articulate spokes-people and focused workers. But I also know from study and experience that successful social struggle requires the participation and support of the people who will live that struggle in their daily learning, job, family and community. ”
July, 2002: “I have known and connected with the Resource Center for Nonviolence since its incubation days in Santa Barbara. Having worked with various peace and justice organizations throughout this state and nation for 45 years, my experience affirms what Barbara Lee said is accurate — for 25 years RCNV has been an unusually enduring and potent community-based organization striving to continually develop and empower current and future peacemakers.”
Bob generously donated the photographs for five Resource Center for Nonviolence Posters with proceeds benefitting RCNV: Iconic photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Catholic Worker Dorothy Day, Pete Seeger During his tenure at RCNV, Bob also reinvigorated his interest in photojournalism by documenting local peace & justice actions and special projects in Vietnam (Friendship Village), Brazil (alcohol fuel), Sri Lanka (International Peaceforce) the 2006 241 mile Guerrero Azteca Tijuana-to-San Francisco march with Fernando Suarez del Solar, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes.