Congratulations to the LEPOCO (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern), a now ingrained Lehigh Valley institution, for turning fifty this year. For the last fifty years, the Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern has been the voice of peace and environmentalism in the Lehigh Valley. The committee began as a local group advocating for the end of the Vietnam war under the name of “The Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern to End War in Viet Nam”. The group, spearheaded by Peter Cohen, advocated for an end to the draft and the war. This was the focus of LEPOCO until the war officially ended in 1975.
They fought against the war for the first decade of their organization. Through marches, rallies, posters, and talks, the message of peace and understanding was spread through the Lehigh Valley. With events like the Harrisburg Seven and celebrities like Jane Fonda coming to speak in the area, the group was able to become known nationwide. While the war was still going on, LEPOCO set their sights on President Richard Nixon. They called for his impeachment beginning in 1972. The continuing political involvement of the group expedited the distrust and investigation into President Nixon’s hidden activities.
The fact that they had accomplished the goal of ending the war did not stop the Committee, rather it opened up more opportunities to promote peace and wellness outside of Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, worked as activists to help those affected by the war in Vietnam and build relations with Japan through a sister-city project, which produced the Japanese Garden which now sits in Bethlehem. After the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident, LEPOCO fought against the building and construction of nuclear energy facilities which coincided with their anti-nuclear weapon position. From the 1970s to the present, LEPOCO has also supported labor rights with assisting the farm workers movement and Cesar Chavez in the 1970s and continuing to work for civil rights throughout its history. LEPOCO has been one of the largest and most prominent activist groups in the Lehigh Valley and is continuing its work to bring peace to the world to this day.
Today, the Lehigh University Special Collections houses Archives of LEPOCO which includes correspondence, posters, pamphlets, photographs, slides, business records, newsletters, and newspaper clippings all referencing the group’s activist activities. This collection is open to researchers learn more about LEPOCO and peace activities in Lehigh Valley.
For more information about the collection, please contact Special Collections.