Frances Crowe, 95-year-old antinuclear activist

By Dan Drollette Jr, November 1, 2014

Oil painting of Frances Crowe, from a years-long series by artist Robert Shetterly titled "Americans who tell the truth." Image courtesy Robert Shetterly.

(Editor’s note: In honor of the passing of 100-year-old Frances Crowe last week, we are re-publishing this 2014 interview with her. A “public celebration” of her life was held on Sunday, September 8, 2019. )

In this interview, legendary activist Frances Crowe looks back on 70 years of protesting against the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. She describes the impact that the news of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima had on the American public in 1945—and how she and her husband, a radiologist and physician who had educated her on the effects of radiation poisoning, then decided to take a stand against its use. Among other acts of civil disobedience, she went on to spend a month in federal prison after spray-painting “Thou Shalt Not Kill” on the casings of missile tubes at a nuclear submarine base in Rhode Island. This grandmother of five has been arrested nine times for trespassing at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station and was arrested again on January 14, two months shy of her 95th birthday. On the eve of the publication of her book, Finding My Radical Soul, Crowe tells about growing up in the Midwest during an era of Progressive politics, her evolution as a protestor, the limits of civil disobedience, what drove her and her husband—and what continues to drive her today.

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