Tony Langbehn is a founder and Convenor of Maryland United for Peace and Justice (MUPJ). Tony feels that MUPJ has an essential role in the Maryland peace movement, in that it stands for and works to bring organizations and activists together to create peace, justice, a healthy environment, and democracy.
He also serves on the Board of Pax Christi Metro D.C. and Baltimore, and the Progressive Maryland Board. Tony is Vice Chair of the Commission for Individuals with Disabilities and he is also working with the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign.
He’s a Commissioner of the Prince George’s County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities, and a former member of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, which is the county’s civil rights commission. In 2016, Tony and Gloria Swierenga, who also serves on the Commission for Individuals with Disabilities, lobbied the Prince George’s County Council to establish a fleet of wheelchair-accessible taxi cabs. Tony helped draft the part of the County Code that establishes this. Bill Orleans joined Gloria and Tony in making this happen.
Tony began his peace work in 1981 with the Maryland Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and served as its Media Contact.
In 1982, Gene (Tony’s father), and the then Mayor of Sykesville, Maryland, Lloyd Helt, and Tony, lobbied and obtained the Sykesville Town Council’s vote to establish Sykesville as the nation’s third nuclear-free zone.
Tony has also been helping Maryland Peace Action Network. Recently, he participated in lobbying Congressman Steny Hoyer’s foreign policy aide, asking Congressman Hoyer to take a lead in stopping U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Republic’s aggression in that war.
Born May 20, 1946, in Baltimore, Maryland to Dorothy and Paul Geisenkotter. One daughter and one foster daughter, four foster grandchildren. Graduated from Catonsville High School (1964), the University of Maryland, College Park (B.S., 1968), and University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Baltimore (M.S., 1979). Worked as a Virologist at Evanston Hospital, Evanston, Ill. (1969-1972), Lab Scientist in the Laboratories Administration of DHMH, Baltimore, MD (1973-1978), Research Scientist in the Periodontology Department of the School of Dentistry, SUNY Buffalo (1978-1986), Lab Scientist in the Laboratories Administration of DHMH Baltimore, MD (1986-1997), Clinical Virologist in the Laboratory of UM Medical Center, Baltimore (1997-2005) and finally as Chief Virologist, Quest Diagnostics, Halethorpe. MD (2005-2014). Retired in 2014. Retirement work: ReServist at AARP Maryland (2014) and receptionist at the office of Dr. Gebreye Rufael, M.D., Endocrinologist (2014-2017). Volunteers at: several non-profit advocacy organizations (Maryland Conservation Council (President), Maryland United for Peace and Justice, Secretary AKA Scribe), the church (secretary), and my professional organization (Maryland Branch American Society for Microbiology). Loves to read, cook, travel, and play with the cat.
Edward A. Zipeto
Edward A. Zipeto (We Remember Ed)– Involved in organizational activities and personal endeavors of national prominence. To include the Justice and Advocacy Council of the Catholic Archdiocese of Prince George’s County. An emigre of Massachusetts but a lifelong Red Sox fan.
Reverend Gloria Swieringa
Joyce represents Progressive Cheverly and the Cheverly Women’s Club at MUPJ, where she “works for peace in ourselves, each other and the earth”.
She often focuses on the “peace” portion of MUPJ and also supports the work of her friend Mary J. Park in her long work for peace with kids at the Little Friends for Peace [LFFP].
Joyce has also been involved with the Peace Alliance and the Department of Peace Legislation introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
In their peace efforts in Cheverly, she says “In Cheverly, we have numerous peace poles, a peace month, and a peace camp for children”. Joyce and her colleagues at Cheverly Women’s Club and Progressive Cheverly have plans to expand and to offer peace circles for teens and adults.
The Women’s Club raises money all-year to offer scholarships to youngsters whose families need support. Cheverly Women’s Club is 99 years old and in 2019 CheverlyWomen’s Club will celebrate its 100 years centenary anniversary.
MJ Park is Co-Chair and Executive Director of Little Friends for Peace an organization who’s mission is ‘to counter violence and contribute to a worldwide culture of peace by sharing skills to prevent, resolve, and transform conflict with individuals, families, teams, and communities’.
Bob Cooke is a retired union and union pension fund, employee. President Bush got him re-involved in the peace movement around 2004 after the second invasion of Iraq. Bob is mainly involved in faith-based peace and justice work (as well as secular groups) which had included Peace Action Montgomery and includes two local Pax Christi groups in the Gaithersburg and Rockville areas, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, Faith Forum on Middle East Peace, MoCo Voices from the Holy Land film series and the Pax Christi International Washington Working Group. He publishes a newsletter entitled Just News!
Andrew Greene Jr.
Prior to joining MUPJ, he mentored and helped to rehabilitate former child soldiers and other young victims of war in Sierra Leone. In 1997, when Greene was a student activist in his sophomore year, he began to receive threats on his life from the militant groups because of the controversial discussion he had opened up. He managed to escape the insurgent groups and fled to the neighboring country of Guinea. While seeking refuge in Conakry, he taught English and literature to the other displaced refugees in his camp between 1997 and 1998 and he spoke out against the violence and child soldiering, advocating for human rights.
Still burning from the atrocities committed on both sides during the conflict, Greene restarted his campaign against the perpetuation of violence and the use of child soldiers. He found an outlet for his activism. Whilst in exile, he joined a progressive action group founded by his compatriots, called the ‘Campaign for Good Governance, Democracy and Human Rights’ helping in producing advocacy materials for the restoration of the ousted democratic government by the militia. He said this later inspired his own initiatives.
Greene was able to return to Sierra Leone in 1998 after the reinstatement of the democratic government, where he resumed his studies at the Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone and received his certificate the same year earning a BA in English, Civil Law, and International Relations.
He founded and pioneered the Sierra Leone chapter of the International Education And Resource Network and founded B-Gifted Foundation both of Sierra Leone, where for many years, he worked tirelessly to locate resources so that children and youth can engage in global education projects.
The government was still in control of the mass media in Sierra Leone, so Greene began to think of other ways to spread his message. He initially used the radio, but he decided that the anonymity of the airwaves was not the best way to connect directly with children who had firsthand experienced the violence and who could share their stories. “I thought that the computers could attract children, and would engage young people who lacked education and skills,” said Greene.
Greene has gathered multiple awards, citations, and bursaries for his peace-building efforts and internet-based innovations. Andrew Greene’s projects touched the hearts of so many people. His efforts attracted the United Nations who adopted his project as a model in other countries affected by war. He has traveled extensively to share his vision of using information technology for peace promotion among war-scarred youth. He was a Jeanne Sauve Scholar at McGill University in Montreal Canada and a Masters of Science in Law candidate at the Maryland University Francis King Carey School of Law.
Jean Lee first became involved with political activism around the mid-1990’s helping with political campaigns. Jean said she was inspired by a friend who ran for MD State Delegate back in 2002, and asked her to help with his campaign.
She enjoyed learning what’s involved in helping a candidate to run for office. That experience motivated her to be more involved with other political candidates’ campaigns. She acknowledged that President Obama gave the nation such positive energy that she was motivated to campaign for him and even traveled to PA to canvass.
Jean admires people who not only talk about what’s going on in their communities but take action. She is also a member of the Greenbelt Climate Action Network (GCAN). GCAN’s an environmental organization which hosts once a month educational meetings at which guest speaker addresses social justice, political and environmental topics. GCAN also promotes activism by participating in such events as Annapolis lobby nights and other rallies.
Jean was also involved with Organizing for Action where they addressed such issues as gun control, climate change, immigration, fair elections, and the economy. She has been attending several MUPJ meetings and is inspired by the activists in the group who not only talk about the issues but also want to, “be the change they want to see in the world”.
Renaud Brown, M.M.
Renaud was born in Washington, DC. He has a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education from Shenandoah Conservatory, Winchester, VA and Ma in Music from Morgan State University. He conducted the John Mann Youth choir, Winchester, VA and played for the Berryville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Berryville, VA. He toured the East Coast United States, San Francisco, Canada, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and Nashville, Tennessee. Renaud competed in National Teachers of Singing, excellent ratings, in the state of Virginia.
He has recorded compact discs with Columbia Union Collegiate Chorale and Pro Musica, Takoma Park, MD, Morgan State Choir, Baltimore, MD, and Washington Chorus, Washington, DC. He has sung with the Washington Chorus for five and a half seasons, Dupont Park Seventh-day Adventist Chancel choir, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral choir, guest chorister for Metropolitan Baptist Music Ministry and Choral Arts Society of Washington, DC and paid Tenor soloist/section leader at Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran in Arlington, VA. Renaud has appeared on television with the Choral Arts Society of Washington, DC, A Capitol Fourth and has performed in The Marriage of Figaro, The Bartered Bride, and the Carmen quintet. Renaud has been active with the Charm City (Baltimore) Labor chorus for over 8 years. He has served as an election judge since 2012, registered a voter in No. VA, has been working in Annapolis (5th year, it passed MD Senate in 2015 and MD House in 2018; WolfPAC https://www.wolf-pac.com has passed resolutions in ) on a constitutional amendment via Article V (which has many skeptics) to control campaign spending in elections (part of the board of GMOM (www.getmoneyoutmd.org). See his article
Will Kastens is a life-long Quaker, a member of the Adelphi friends, and a former America Peace Corp Volunteer working in Africa. An active peace advocate, he finds great delight in both peace efforts and in helping to prepare the Adelphi Friends house for welcoming and hosting MUPJ meetings and events.
Dr. Bahram Zandi, Ph.D.
A first-generation immigrant from Iran has been active with the Maryland Green Party since 2000 and is currently a co-chair of the International Committee of the Green Party US.
Bill Orleans is a jerk, and indeed a candidate for Greenbelt Council. He has never been more of a jerk than when he agreed to a silly and totally unnecessary compromise to be determined sufficiently compliant to be certified as a candidate. Shame on him! Ask him about it.
Orleans was effectively born in Greenbelt, in October 1947; conceived and gestated here, delivered in Riverdale, and returned here shortly thereafter. He grew up white in Greenbelt in the ‘50’s, a privilege which went unexamined until years later. (Also male and straight, if bent in the corners, privileges unexamined until even more years later.)
Nevertheless, he began his life long pursuit of life’s lessons right here in town. At about 8 or so, while walking the sidewalk in front of the apartments on Crescent across from the elementary school, he casually was bouncing a rubber baseball when he saw a single ant crossing ahead one pace, which ant was then killed by a thoughtless bounce, something akin to sport. Whatever might have been that ant’s fate, Orleans had no right to end its’ life for sport. “All God’s” creatures ”got” value, and no life should be taken so casually.
At about the same age, he was sent from his Westway home by his mother with a couple of dollars to get milk or something from the Co op. He went to the candy store instead. Returning home without whatever it was, he was questioned by his mother. He lied, and said some bigger, older kid had taken it from him, whereupon he was driven about town by his mother to find that kid. Orleans saw a kid older and bigger that had indeed been mean to him in the past, and told his mother that that was the kid. (Of course he was not, it was a lie, but he justified to himself that it was ok because the kid had been mean to him in the past.) His mother, it turned out, knew that kid’s mother, and that kid got a licking for something he had not done. Not bearing false witness is a good rule for a good reason. One can never reconcile oneself to the lie, as indeed Or leans could never reconcile with that kid, who avoided Orleans ever thereafter, and long after his licking Orleans was the one to feel the pain of it.
Again, at about the same age, he stole from Ben Franklin’s a plastic crucifix, manufactured for what was probably the cost of a penny or two, and priced at a dollar. His guilt endures and is likely not ab-solvable. A few years later he saw a girl he knew walking alone near the Centerway underpass. She had long been the subject of mean teasing from other kids, including himself. She was haughty, a tattletale, a teacher’s pet. For whatever reason and by whatever the method an eleven- or twelve-year-old could employ, he sought to suggest she be nicer to other kids (to loosen up a bit) and that they (we) would probably be nicer to her in turn. This many years later he cannot recall whether from this small interaction she changed or others changed in their response to her, but he does recall that at that time he was thanked for being nice to her, and that thereafter he changed. At any age it always is better than not to talk out conflicts, personal, and maybe also political.
At the age of 15, after one year at High Point, Orleans moved to Albany to live with his father and his Aunt Jule; his life lessons continued. Early on, enrolled in Albany High, and still a new kid in town, he had occasion to defend a kid physically and developmentally disabled, harassed in a classroom, class in progress. This resulted in a challenge to meet in a park after school: A few punches and a lot of wrestling in the grass, established, by kids’ logic, that he was okay. More importantly, the other kid was no longer harassed (at least as much as he had been, apparently for years, and at least not in Orleans’ presence). One need not be strong enough to beat mean spiritedness, just strong enough to say “Stop”.
At seventeen Orleans forced the issue with his family and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Nothing of particular significance occurred in his 4 years, but he distinguished himself by continuing to confront meanness, observed too often among the enlisted and commissioned, even within the constraints necessary in military discipline. Sometimes his confrontation was subtle.
In the summer of 1968, having returned from overseas with 6 to 9 months to go, he applied to PGCC for an early out, and was discharged in January 1969, 3 months early; he had lived, and got out with an Honorable. During the last 6 months he was stationed in Camp Lejeune. Two weekends of the month were his. One weekend he would drive back to Greenbelt to visit family and just goof. Most of these trips he would take guys going to either Washington or Baltimore; driving up, we never stopped. But as he learned, after his initial 30 days leave after returning stateside, driving South in the late summer of ’68 was problematic.
1968 was to be his first time voting. He had listened on Armed Forces Radio the news of earlier that year, and had long previously decided we were wrong to be engaged as we were in Southeast Asia, and had decided that he would not be voting for Hubert Humphrey (out of spite). He had sent $20 to Eugene McCarthy from Vietnam. From his perspective, Nixon was out of the question. He flirted with the intention in his first vote of voting for Dick Gregory or Pogo. On his first drive South from Greenbelt, after leaving I 95 at the Virginia-North Carolina line, he found himself on old country roads. The first time he stopped, he was confronted by “colored” and “white only” signs, and Wallace (and Nixon) for President signs, and KKK imagery alongside the roads. The last weekend before the election he spent in Raleigh, and seeing a Humphrey-Muskie sign above a Democratic Party office, on impulse he crossed against traffic into its parking lot, and put a Humphrey-Muskie bumper sticker on his car.
Sometimes incremental change only one step forward is better than two or more steps backward.
Discontented and failing at PGCC, he left Greenbelt again in the spring of ’69 for New York, where he worked a variety of jobs until getting his license to drive a taxi, work which he engaged in on and off for 30 years. He would still identify as a New York City Cab Driver.
He enrolled also in the New York School of Hard Questions, with a major/minor in no pretense and no bullshit; and later in Labor college. Later he was received into a second faith, the one true secular faith, democracy.
Most important to his fully understanding life lessons was his mentoring from an old taxi driver. A member of the Communist Party USA who had fought in Spain and returned troubled, who left the Party with the Stalin-Hitler pact, warring not always metaphorically with former comrades, who engaged in the continuous struggle over 40 year s to win a cabdriver’s union; who had known and suffered under the “leadership” of 20th century Labor significants: Mike Quill, John L. Lewis, Jimmy Hoffa, and finally Harry Van Arsdale, to see taxi workers betrayed by their “leadership”, themselves.
Over a strike barrel one cold, snowy winter night in ’71 (I had stayed late, he had come early), just he and I, in a sense I graduated, with his instruction, “Orleans”, he said, “Bill, I have just one thing to say to you: Never pat yourself on the back, ever ask of yourself more and harder questions, and, Orleans, Bill, never give in to the bastards”.
This is Orleans. And this: several times a convicted misdemeanant, he was never convicted of a felony (nor should have he been); and this: he is an admitted paronomasiast; and this, twice diagnosed with mental illness, in the New York VA with Dystemia (Dis-stem-i-a) said to be a mild form of depression, and in the Washington VA with Dystemia (Dys-stym-e-a) said to be a chronic form of depression. Who isn’t a little sad, and maybe every day? Nothing was prescribed with either diagnosis, and he is uncertain if ever he would have taken it if it had been. The Feds couldn’t get their pronunciation straight. Instead, he followed what would have been his mentor’s advice: “spit in the eye of the bastard, laugh at your depression.”