Colman McCarthy

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Colman McCarthy
McCarthy in 2016
Born (1938-03-24) March 24, 1938 (age 85)
Alma materSpring Hill College
Occupation(s)journalist, peace activist
AwardsEl-Hibri Peace Education Prize

Colman McCarthy (born March 24, 1938 in Glen Head, New York[1][2]) is an American journalist, teacher, lecturer, pacifist, progressive, anarchist, and long-time peace activist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C. From 1969 to 1997, he wrote columns for The Washington Post. His topics ranged from politics, religion, health, and sports to education, poverty, and peacemaking. Washingtonian magazine called him "the liberal conscience of The Washington Post." Smithsonian magazine said he is "a man of profound spiritual awareness." He has written for The New Yorker, The Nation, The Progressive, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Reader's Digest. Since 1999, he has written biweekly columns for National Catholic Reporter.


Speaking at the "White House Peace Vigil", June 4, 2006

Since 1982, he has been teaching courses on nonviolence and the literature of peace. In the fall semester of 2006, he taught at seven schools: Georgetown University Law Center, American University, The Catholic University of America, the University of Maryland, The Washington Center for Internships, Wilson High School, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and School Without Walls. In 25 years, he has had more than 7,000 students in his classes. In 1985, he founded the Center for Teaching Peace, a nonprofit that helps schools begin or expand academic programs in Peace studies. He is a regular speaker at U.S. colleges, prep schools, high schools, and peace conferences, and gives an average of 50 lectures a year. The titles of his lectures range from "How To Be a Peacemaker" to "Nonviolence In a Time of War." Including lectures and interviews, McCarthy has had more than 30 appearances on C-SPAN.

For his courses on nonviolence and the literature of peace, McCarthy's course texts include "Solutions To Violence" and "Strength Through Peace: the Ideas and People of Nonviolence." Both books are anthologies of peace essays edited by McCarthy and published by the Center for Teaching Peace. The purpose of the courses is to expose students to the philosophy of pacifism and the methods of nonviolent conflict resolution. His former students include Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), one of the most liberal members of Congress; Mark Gearan, former president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and also a former director of the Peace Corps; John McCarthy, director and founder of Elementary Baseball; Anthony Shriver, director and founder of Best Buddies International; Andy Shallal, founder and owner of Busboys and Poets restaurant-bookstores in DC. The advisory board of the Center for Teaching Peace includes Robert Coles, Joan Baez, Arun Gandhi, Muhammad Yunus, Sen. Ron Wyden, Marian Wright Edelman, Jack Olender, Sydney Wolfe and Ronald Dellums.

McCarthy's educational philosophy has attracted some controversy in the past, with two Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students calling in 2006 for a more balanced presentation of the issues covered by the class.[3] McCarthy's classes are discussion-based and well known for lively debates and challenges that McCarthy issues to his students. On many Friday mornings since 1991, he and his Peace Studies students at Bethesda-Chevy High School have taken to the highway fronting the campus to protest the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Students wield signs, from “Bring 'Em Home” to “Honk for Peace.” An avid teetotaler, McCarthy often challenges his students to stop drinking alcohol for the semester and document their experiences and observations of those around them.[4] He also lectures at many universities and institutes. In October 2009, McCarthy lectured The Politics of Peace at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.[5]

Over the years, hundreds of guest speakers have spoken in his classes. They have included Nobel Peace Prize winners (Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Muhammad Yunus and Mairead Maguire), Peace Corps volunteers, Sufi mystics, Army psychiatrists, members of Congress, school custodial workers, former death row inmates, murder victims' families, social workers, corporate executives, rabbis, priests, Special Olympics athletes, Olympic Games athletes, former political prisoners, parents, homeless individuals, folk singers, presidential candidates, and activists for human rights, civil rights, gay and lesbian rights, victims' rights, prisoners' rights, Native Americans' rights, and animal rights.

In 2009, McCarthy wrote an article in The Washington Post about the life of Thomas, a peace activist, who undertook a 27-year antinuclear vigil in front of the White House.[6]

See also[edit]


As a pacifist, journalist, and ethical vegetarian, he was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in Sherborn, Massachusetts for his nationally syndicated column in The Washington Post.[7]

McCarthy also won an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship for journalism[8] in 1998 to research and write about mentoring, tutoring, and literacy at Garrison elementary school in Washington, D.C.

In 2010 he was awarded the El-Hibri Peace Education Prize.[9]

He also won the

Works by Colman McCarthy[edit]

  • Disturbers of the Peace: Profiles in Non Adjustment
  • Inner Companions
  • Pleasures of the Game
  • Involvements: One Journalist's Place in the World
  • All of One Peace
  • I'd Rather Teach Peace
  • Strength Through Peace (editor)
  • Solutions to Violence (editor)
  • At Rest With the Animals
  • My America (contributor)
  • Contemporary Anarchist Studies (contributor)
  • In the Name of Profit (contributor)
  • Peace Is Possible (contributor)


Colman McCarthy's son, John, has made a full-length documentary titled Bandit about his father's practice of peaceful anarchy. The film contains a wide variety of interviews Colman did that centered on his views on pacifism and animal rights. Notable examples are his discussion of Thanksgiving and a debate with Pat Buchanan. It premiered at the Avalon Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Articles about Colman McCarthy[edit]

  • The New York Times Nov. 17, 1986: Washington talk; A Skirmish Involving a Pacifist
  • The Washington Post Jan. 13, 1985
  • The Washington Post Jan. 12, 1997
  • The Washington Post Feb. 26, 2006
  • The Wall Street Journal Feb. 25, 1998
  • Los Angeles Times Feb. 14, 1994
  • USA Today Oct. 16, 2001
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune Feb. 9, 1990
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune Oct. 4, 1998
  • San Diego Tribune March 12, 1988
  • The Hartford Courant Oct. 3, 1990
  • Greensboro News & Record Jan. 21, 1999
  • Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Nov. 22, 2002
  • The Progressive Nov. 1986
  • The Progressive Jan. 1991
  • Teacher Oct. 2003
  • Vegetarian Times July 1989
  • Washingtonian Feb. 2002
  • Editor & Publisher Feb. 8, 1997
  • Hope Magazine July/August 2003
  • CBS Sunday Morning November 29, 2020


  1. ^ Roberts, Nancy L. (November 29, 1991). American Peace Writers, Editors, and Periodicals: A Dictionary. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313268427 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ David Morgan (December 19, 2002). "Ex-Journalist Sees Schools as Peace Training Ground". Reuters. Archived from the original on September 11, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  3. ^ "Students Call for Banning of Peace Studies Class" – via
  4. ^ Colman McCarthy (November 14, 2008). "Catholic Colleges & Universities: A pox on drinking". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  5. ^ "Past Speakers and Events". Saint Anselm College. Archived from the original on December 20, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  6. ^ Colman McCarthy (February 8, 2009). "From Lafayette Square Lookout, He Made His War Protest Permanent". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ "The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Recipients List". The Peace Abbey. Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  8. ^ "Alicia Patterson Foundation".
  9. ^ "El-Hibri Peace Education Prize". Prize Laureates. El-Hibri Charitable Foundation. Archived from the original on 22 November 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.

External links[edit]