The Daily Worker
April 26, 1954
1,000 Honor Howard Fast
by Rob F. Hall
At Award of Peace Prize
At a simple but moving ceremony last week, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, acting on behalf of the international jury which made the selection, awarded the Stalin Peace prize for 1953 to Howard Fast, the American novelist.
About 1,000 persons, including unionists, writers, artists, diplomatic representatives of the socialist countries, and leaders of peoples' and peace organizations, gathered at the McAlpin Hotel in midtown New York for the occasion.
Dr. Du Bois, himself wearing on a scarlet ribbon the gold medal symbolic of the peace award he had received from the World Peace Council last year, spoke solemnly of the significance of this award at this moment in world history.
"Never before in the long history of mankind," he said, "has there been such need of united and worldwide effort to defend civilization from the horrors of war, and not simply from the horrors always associated with war but with the imminent prospect of war on a scale and of a nature never before envisioned by the mind of man."
Dr. Du Bois read the cablegram from the international jury which authorized him to make the award on their behalf. The jury wished to present the prize to Fast in person, he said, but the American State Department had refused the writer a passport.
Turning to Fast, Dr. Du Bois said:
"The chairman of the Stalin prize committee asks me to say personally to Mr. Fast:
"The award of the peace prize to you is the recognition of your outstanding service not only to the people of your own country whose ardent patriot you are, but to the peoples of other countries of the world. By awarding you the prize we wanted to express our friendly sentiments to the great American people. Between our peoples there are no contentious questions nor can there be. We can live in peace and harmony...."
Rev. William Howard Melish, chairman of the proceedings, recalled how his great-grandfather emigrating from Scotland to the U.S. in 1804, sought out Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.
Dr. Melish saw an affinity between the struggles of Paine "to conciliate mankind, to render their condition happy" and the motive which inspired Howard Fast to write and act for the cause of peace and progress.
When Paul Robeson, who was recipient of the Stalin Peace Prize a year earlier, came to the microphone, there was a prolonged ovation. To an old melody by Beethoven he sang a new song, "March beside me, oh my brothers."
Fast has "worked nobly in the holy cause" of peace, and equality among nations, Robeson said. And today, he said, the people "stand aghast that irresponsible men in high places in our country could dare to contemplate unthinkable destruction of human lives in the pursuit of continuing vicious inequality among nations."
Howard Fast was visibly moved when he stood before the cameras and the klieg lights, and the faces of his friends beyond them, to accept the award.
The audience recalled the earlier words of the noted Negro scholar, that out of Fast's "ceaseless activity" for peace and justice, he had been "jailed as a common criminal for refusing to be a government stoolpigeon. He has been denied the right to a passport. He has been almost driven from the public platform and his newer manuscripts have been denied publication."
"His health shows the results of this persecution. Yet he has never wavered...."
Fast began simply: "The things one says at a moment like this can never be as meaningful as the occasion itself."
He said he was "grateful, deeply moved and very proud" at receiving the award. Yet, he added, it was the concept of the prize which was important.
The presentation of the peace prize to an American, said Fast, "means to us, who are Americans, that a challenge for peace has been made. We must accept that challenge and either show that the millions of peace-loving Americans are of more consequence in this land that the atom warlords or else go against the hopes of all mankind.... I do not think that we will accept such a burden of shame and horror; rather do I think that the American people will stand with the people of all the earth and against war and for peace."