THREE LINES IN A CIRCLE
The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol
By: Michael G. Long
Illustrated by: Carlos Vélez
Published: August 31, 2021
Publisher: Flyaway Books
As a child growing up in the 1970s, it seemed the peace symbol was everywhere. But, I never gave a thought to who created it or why. Gerald Holtom, a graphic design artist and objector to Nuclear War, was planning a protest march. He created a symbol as part of their Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War. He called it three lines in a circle. But, he was told it didn’t mean anything and it wouldn’t catch on. Boy, were they wrong!
By drawing one line straight down, one line to the right, one line to the left, and then a circle around, he believed this to be the symbol that would show people to fight for a world without bombs. Even though he was told it would never catch on, it did catch on. All over London and all over England his symbol was shared and used to fight for peace. It eventually made its way across the ocean to the USA. Soon it wasn’t just used as a symbol against war, but as a symbol for Black people, women, poor people, and other disadvantaged populations. Eventually, it caught on all across the world.
Readers will notice so much diversity on the pages of this book. The illustrations show the great variety of people and places in our world with all colors, religions, and abilities. A variety of children making their own peace symbol encourages others to keep the movement going for another sixty years or more.
The end of the book has a more detailed history of the peace symbol that, I’m sure adults like me, will be interested to learn about.
With all that has been and is going on in the world, kids will find inspiration in one man who had a vision and how that vision gained momentum to change the world and still is going strong over sixty years later.
Michael G. Long has written books for all ages on civil rights and peacemaking in mid-century America, including the stories of Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, Jackie Robinson, and Mister Rogers. He lives in Pennsylvania.
Carlos Vélez has illustrated more than twenty books for children and has been recognized with illustration awards from the Catalog of Illustrators of Children’s and Youth Publications and the National Fund for Culture and the Arts. He lives in Mexico City.