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Reflections on antinuclear movement by Lionel Delevingne, Anna Gyorgy at UMass reception

In April 1977, nearly two thousand protestors converged on the proposed site of a nuclear power plant in Seabrook. Three quarters of them were arrested. This Tuesday, photojournalist Lionel Delevingne and activist and author Anna Gyorgy will reflect on the protests in Seabrook and the antinuclear movement that began in the 1970s.

“If you are pronuclear, antinuclear…I think that the story there is about democracy,” said Delevingne, who is a native of France. When he was a freelance reporter in the pioneer valley, he began documenting the antinuclear movement in Montague, where local activists were fighting the construction of a nuclear power plant.

The event, entitled “To the Village Square: an Experiment in American Democracy,” is a closing reception for an exhibit of Delevingne’s work documenting the protests, and a celebration of the acquisition of Delevingne’s photographs and Gyorgy’s papers by the Special Collections and University Archives at the UMass.

When Delevingne began documenting the protests, he said he was surprised by how orderly and effective the activists were compared to protestors he had observed in France, where he said he “was used to a more brutal sense of democracy.” “They were extremely organized, and they were helping themselves to historical examples and strategies,” said Delevingne.

While Delevingne prefers to be seen as a reporter rather than an activist, he said that it was his goal to give a voice to the protesters, who were being ignored by the media. He said he looked for unexpected subjects who did not fit stereotypes of activists—like families, older people, and electricians. “Maybe that’s activism,” continued Delevingne.

Gyorgy has been more direct in her opposition to nuclear power, participating in the antinuclear organizing in Seabrook and writing a book about the dangers it poses. In addition to discussing the movement in New England, Gyorgy will share her experience with antinuclear and pro-solar activism in Germany.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held Tuesday, October 2 from 4PM to 7PM in the lower level of the Du Bois Library at UMass Amherst. It is the Eighth Annual Colloquium on Social Change.

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