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Now one of the most recognisable symbols in the world, the CND symbol was designed by longtime peace campaigner Gerald Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – a non-violent direct action campaign against nuclear weaponry, spearheaded by a number of prominent humanists. Holtom’s design had a double significance, based – in Holtom’s words – on the ‘elemental life-shape of man with palms outstretched downwards’, as well as incorporating the semaphore symbols for ‘N’ and ‘D’. The first badges were created by Eric Austen of the Kensington CND branch, made from white clay with a black painted symbol. A note accompanying the badges explained that in the event of nuclear war, pottery fired badges like these might be among the few objects created by humans to survive.

Among the founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958 were humanists Bertrand Russell, J.B. Priestley, Ritchie Calder, Michael Foot, and Alex Comfort. Russell was the organisation’s first President. Politician and campaigner Hugh Jenkins, chair of CND from 1979-81 and part of the committee behind the first Aldermaston march, was also a member of the Advisory Council of the British Humanist Association (now Humanists UK). The Aldermaston marches were anti-nuclear demonstrations, which took place between the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire, England, and London. Becoming a central part of the CND’s calendar, they were initiated by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War, whose sponsors included humanists Doris Lessing, John Boyd Orr, Ethel Mannin, and George Melly.

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