The Manhattan Alliance for Peace & Justice (MAPJ) was officially organized in 1993 as a reorganization effort of the Manhattan Alliance for Central America (MACA), founded in 1983. Our roots were in justice issues of Central America with many of our members traveling to Nicaragua. But times changed and we saw that a broad based peace organization was needed for our community.

Over the years, our world has been anchored in the needs of the moment. Our connection with Central America continued with our sister city in El Papaturro, El Salvador, but we saw that this work had to be connected to the structures of US foreign policy as it directly impacted the entire world. While a lofty vision, we found that through educating our community, MAPJ could bring people together, create a space for grappling with ideas, and in the end, thinking of ways to do work that could create change locally. It is at this time MAPJ began sponsoring important speakers and produced a regular newsletter. Our efforts connected us with national and statewide organizations, and our group became a key player in mobilizing others to participate in rallies and gathers across Kansas.

As the organization grew and carried a substantial active membership, the board grappled with ways in which it could be most effective, and have increasing impact. It is out of these efforts that longstanding projects such as the Living Wage Campaign and the GI Rights Hotline came into existence. While small and built namely on donations and volunteer labor, MAPJ did what it could through careful, strategic planning and use of our limited resources.

Once again, times have changed.

Today we are called to apply MAPJ’s core values in a unique, turbulent social and political context that is constantly bombarding us with opportunities to intervene for a more just and equitable world – taxes, healthcare, elections, immigration, the war economy, and many others. As inequality and the injustices of the past remain, we are called to reevaluate our approach in how we as an organization lead others in the project of transforming the conditions of community.

Over the last year we have grappled with a single question- What is needed in Manhattan and MAPJ to make real material improvements in people’s lives? How can we do this in a way that is sustainable? How can we do this in a way that leads to long lasting social change?

Our new vision is the answer to this question- We organize locally with our friends and neighbors who are directly impacted by all of these same issues …. The answer is us!

Detailed history

  • The Manhattan Alliance on Central America (MACA) was formed in 1984, with the purpose of educating ourselves and the community about issues specific to Central America. At times lobbying was done concerning foreign policy toward Central America. Members were encouraged to become politically active. The organization was rather informal, comprised of steering committee, a mailing list, and monthly rice-and-beans programs.
  • Between 1984 and late 1990, MACA progressively broadened its agenda and programs to include issues beyond Central America.  By 1991, legislative emergencies specific to Central America were subsiding while integration of foreign and domestic problems (e.g., trade policies and peacetime economic conversion) increased. MACA decided to begin a process of reevaluating both our goals and our structure.  The following are some of the highlights of that process.
  • 1988:  Began distribution of Tax Day flyers at the Post Office on April 15.  This was discontinued after many years when tax filing no longer created ‘an event’ at the post office.
  • Dec 90/Jan 91: Leadership of the organization was divided among a steering committee chair (S. Cox), a program chair (M.Howell), a Bulletin editor (J. Exdell) and a few other committees for handling other operations.
  • Spring 91: Workshops with Dr. Joel Edelstein (U.Colo) and Dr. John Swomley (long-time peace and justice activist) were held to discuss setting new goals.  Also MACA and the UU Fellowship began operating the Saturday Food Pantry at the Flint Hills Breadbasket.
  • 1991: The Bulletin expanded to add news and opinion articles to its usual announcements of upcoming programs and activities.
  • Winter/Spring 92:  MACA worked toward incorporating under a new broader name and agenda and set new goals. A Feb 92 conference of all MACA supporters studied the options.
  • June 92: Five MACA members attended a strategic planning workshop conducted by the Peace Development Fund. MACA reorganization became more focused on goals and objectives.
  • October 92: All-day strategic planning workshop brought in new people and ideas. Specific plans were formulated to achieve new goals.
  • Jan 93: The Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice was incorporated. A search for new board members began.
  • Feb 93: The first board meetings of the new organization were held with an increased size board and newly elected officers. Chair-Anne Cowan, Treasurer-Jim Mitchell, Vice-Chair-Don Longbottom and Secy- John Pruner.
  • April 94: The first annual dinner meeting was held. New officers were elected. Joel Rogers, a founder of the New Party was the speaker. Chair-Anne Cowan, Treasurer-Jim Mitchell, Vice-Chair-Stan Cox, Secy-Barbara Baker.
  • Spring 94: Work began to form a second organization which would be 501(c)(3) tax deductible.
  • August 94: The Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice Education Fund was incorporated, as a parallel organization, which would be non-political and tax free. MAPJ became a Sister City with El Papaturro, El Salvador.  Joined US-El Salvador Sister Cities
  • Oct 94: Application was made to the IRS for the 501(c)(3) status.
  • Jan 95: A delegation of three visited our new sister city, El Papaturro, El Salvador.
  • March, 95: Granted IRS 501 (c)(3) status retroactive to August 1994.
  • Summer 96:  The Saturday Food Pantry closed by the Flint Hills Breadbasket due to their needing space we had occupied.  New space was not found.
  • Summer 1996: Low Income Women’s Project begun. Karen Maddox, first coordinator
  • Fall 1997:  MAPJ hired its first paid staff, a quarter-time administrative coordinator (Dan parcel), replaced by Adene Winter Feb, 98.
  • 1997: MAPJ became an Affiliate of ACORN – Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
  • Nov 97:  CHD grant began – Kay Glenn hired as full-time organizer of Speak United, formerly named Low Income Women’s Project.
  • May 98:  Flint Hills Coalition for Living Wage organized.  This project included 8 local unions plus other Manhattan organizations and individuals.  This coalition has its own budget with major support coming from the unions and MAPJ. MAPJ treasurer keeps the LW accounts and LW will use MAPJ Ed Fund Federal ID number.
  • July 98:  Mary Jo Murphy hired as quarter-time coordinator of living wage project.
  • April 99:  Speak United hired Mary Jo Murphy as full-time organizer.  CHD grants continued for SU.
  • 2001: Speak United separates for MAPJ and becomes independent. MAPJ terminates its affiliate status with ACORN.
  • 2001: MAPJ granted IRS 501 (c)(4) status.
  • In 2007 MAPJ sponsored a workshop to learn about the GI Rights Hotline. Since then, MAPJ has supported this project with finances and members taking part as lay-counselors. See girightshotline.org.
  • In 2015, the Manhattan/Riley County Coalition for Equal Justice was initiated to address racial profiling for marijuana arrests by the Riley County Police Department. This involves several churches and individuals with MAPJ being the organizer.
  • In 2016, we began review of our mission and vision, committing to the building of a community organizing culture in Manhattan.