Local peace and social justice advocate Jane Haldeman died over the weekend, losing a nearly decade-long battle against breast cancer. She was 74.
For more than 50 years, Haldeman worked tirelessly as a champion of human rights and social justice. Never a part-time activist, she considered her life's work to be righting what she considered social wrongs: racial inequality, religious intolerance, poverty, violence and war. Her tenacity and steadfast beliefs were never more evident than in the weekly anti-war vigil she began in the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, and continued every Friday in front of the Federal Building until her health failed recently. As the number of other protestors who joined the vigil ebbed and flowed over the past eight years, Haldeman's presence, like her "War is not the answer!" sign, was a constant.
Haldeman's commitment to peace and justice was deeply rooted in her family's Quaker faith and manifested itself in life-long community building and advocacy. Settling in Indianapolis after graduating from Earlham College, Haldeman became a founding member of the North Meadow Circle of Friends and spent more than 30 years advocating on behalf of the Mapleton Fall Creek neighborhood, founding and serving the neighborhood association as well as being active with the Citizen's Action Coalition.
Her greatest legacy, however, will be as a founding member of the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center and her continued leadership within the group, serving as vice president until her passing. Growing out of a draft resistance hotline that Haldeman, her husband Ron and a few like-minded activists started in the late 1970s, the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center has evolved over the years to become the oldest continuously operating community organization of its kind in Indianapolis.
IPJC's collaboration with groups like Justice for Janitors, Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Indiana Information Center on the Abolition of Capital Punishment and various student peace groups have called the power structure to task and boosted visibility of critical causes. Most visibly and recently, the IPJC has held countless anti-war rallies on Monument Circle, timed to coincide with military milestones and keep Indianapolis residents from slipping into complacency and forgetting or ignoring the human cost of war.
In 2008, NUVO honored Jane and Ron Haldeman with a NUVO Cultural Vision Award. Like all of the artists and activists, educators and innovators, peacemakers and provocateurs selected for the annual awards, the Haldemans and the IPJC were selected because of their dedicated service to our community - in this case, for their uncompromising commitment to peace and social justice for us all.
Pleased, but a bit embarrassed about receiving such a public honor, Haldeman summed up her accomplishments humbly and simply: "We're just a bunch of grey-headed but hardworking folk."
Memorial service plans for Jane Haldeman have not yet been announced, though a memorial garden in her honor is in the works at the North Meadows Circle of Friends. Inquires and memorial gifts should be directed to North Meadow Circle of Friends, 1710 N. Talbott St., Indianapolis, IN 46202.
The Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center is part of the Earth House Collective and located at Lockerbie UMC, 237 N. East St. Find out more at www.indypeaceandjustice.org.