On June 24, Dorie Bunting turned a remarkable 100 years old. Over the years, Bunting had become a leading voice for the progressive movement in New Mexico and helped establish the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center.
In high school, Bunting stayed with a family in Berlin under Nazi rule. “In terms of my feelings about war, the destruction it causes to people, that was heavily influenced by my trip to Germany in 1938,” Bunting stated in an interview with Joan Bernan in 1994. She described the trip as “the single most important experience” of her life. That trip caused her to be a pacifist and piqued her interest in human rights.
After working in relief efforts throughout Europe, Dorie settled in the North Valley and became a member of the War Resisters League to oppose the war in Vietnam. She later helped launch a program that opposed nuclear weapons and the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Program (WIPP).
During the Reagan presidency, Bunting, alongside Kent Zook and Blanche Fitzpatrick, established the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center.
“We had seen a lot of groups come and go, and we thought if we had a place where we could work out of, people wouldn’t have to restart every time they started working a new issue,” said Bunting in the same interview with Bernan. She saw the center as a place where activists could work on issues together during a time when they thought it would be harder to be active on the street.
“Maybe if we had a center, people could work out of that center on different issues and support each other and see the connections between their issues,” Bunting stated in an interview with Pat Dolan. According to Bunting, the center worked largely on education and “talking about the history of the world wars.”
“Over the years, she was a guiding force for all of us in the Peace and Justice Center,” stated Judith Kidd, former treasurer for the Peace and Justice Center. “Her style was always non-violent,” she added.
The Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center continues to operate out of a building on Silver Ave. and Harvard St. While the pandemic has presented some issues to the organization, members continue in their efforts. The center worked extensively on race-related issues during 2020 and regularly holds events such as yoga, a peace cafe and Wellness Wednesdays. The center also holds meetings and talking circles on varied topics regularly.
“I’m so happy and grateful that there are young people who are willing to carry on and throw themselves into this work, and have an attitude of dedication and service in the interest of a new order of this planet… so that is something we can celebrate,” Bunting said to Dolan.
While Bunting did not expect this Peace and Justice Center to last this long and believed it would “peter out,” her advice to young members remains hopeful: “Carry forward the motivating of the peace center to prevent further war,” she stated in an interview with the Corrales Comment.