Peace & Justice History: April-June

You’ll notice that many of our daily blog entries are about Peace & Justice history, events that are often left out of the history textbooks (especially in Texas!) We’ve been maintaining this database for more than a decade now and it contains almost 2,000 entries.




Here are a couple of ideas for teachers:

  • Assign students to report on a Peace & Justice history event that is on or closest to their birthdays. We’ve found that this heightens interest in an event because they have a connection, however random.
  • Divide students into small groups (three is a workable number) and give each group a printout of one month of the peace history events. Allow about 20 minutes for them to match as many events as they can to one of the 198 methods of nonviolent action listed by Gene Sharp in his taxonomy. You can download a copy of Sharp’s list here.
April 1 1621 In what is now Massachusetts, the leaders of the Plymouth colonists, acting on behalf of King James I, made a defensive alliance with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags. The agreement, in which both parties promised to not “doe hurt” to one another, was the first treaty between a Native American tribe and a group of colonists. According to the treaty, if a Wampanoag broke the peace, he would be sent to Plymouth for punishment; if a colonist broke the law, he would likewise be sent to the Wampanoags. The treaty lasted for 50 years.
April 1 1649 Diggers, a group of Protestant radicals, occupied Saint George’s Hill, seizing land to hold in common & to plant. Gerrard Winstanley’s followers, officially called “True Levellers,” later became known as Diggers, because of their attempts to farm on common land. Their original name came from their belief in economic equality based upon Book of Acts 4:52 – “The group of believers was one in mind and heart. No one said that any of his belongings was his own, but they all shared with one another everything they had.” The Diggers tried (by “leveling” land) to reform the existing social order with an agrarian lifestyle based on their ideas for the creation of small egalitarian rural communities.
April 1 1841 Brook Farm, history’s most famous utopian community, was founded near West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Life on Brook Farm was based on balancing labor and leisure while working together for the benefit of the greater community. Each member could choose to do whatever work they found most appealing and all were paid equally, including women.
April 1 1847 Michigan became the first state to abolish the death penalty.
April 1 1917 In Baltimore some 4,000 pro-war demonstrators stormed a meeting of the American League Against Militarism and threatened to hang the participants, including Stanford Univ. Chancellor David Starr Jordan.
April 1 1924 Union miners walked out on strike at the Coal River Collieries. The mine was an investment venture of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE). The company’s stock was owned by members of the Brotherhood. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), called the miners because the union-owned company refused to pay the current union wage scale.
April 1 1932 In the midst of the Great Depression, 500 school children, most with haggard faces & in tattered clothes, paraded through Chicago’s downtown section to the Board of Education offices to demand that the school system provide them with food.
April 1 1980 The southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) was established by 9 countries with the Lusaka declaration (Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe). The main aim was coordinating development projects in order to lessen economic dependence on apartheid South Africa.
April 1 1983 Protesters at Greenham Common form a human chain 14 miles long to oppose missiles.
April 1 1985 Environmental Protection Agency ordered end to New York City’s dumping sewage sludge that ended up on the Jersey Shore, polluting the beaches with fecal coliform bacteria. Ewww.
April 1 1999 In recognition of Inuit land claims, 770,000 sq. miles. of the Canadian Northwest Territories’ Central Keewatin and Baffin Region became Nunavut Territory.
April 1 2001 The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, tomato pickers, organized the first-ever farm worker boycott of a fast-food corporation: Taco Bell. The campaign against Taco Bell rapidly spread to become a national movement. Five years later, YUM! Brands, owner of Taco Bell, agreed to all of the workers demands for better working conditions and wages and the boycott was called off.
April 1 2003 A united group of Christian and Muslim women staged their first protest against the ongoing civil war in Liberia. Using the radio to spread the word, social worker Leymah Gbowee and Janet Johnson Bryant, a journalist, encouraged the women of Monrovia to speak out for peace. Wearing all white clothing the women gathered at the fish market every day for a week. They sat, danced, and sang for peace. Some held banners that read, “The women of Liberia want peace now.” As the week went on, over 2,500 women gathered on the market lawn. On 11 August, Taylor resigned from the presidency of Liberia, terms for the peace agreement were announced and UN Peacekeeping forces were ordered to enter Monrovia.
April 1 2009 In Thailand thousands of demonstrators defied a court order to clear a road they have blocked to the prime minister’s office, vowing to continue ringing the compound until the government resigns.
April 2 1870 Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838-1927) became the first woman to run for president of the United States when she announced her candidacy for the 1872 election, but she spent Election Day in jail for sending obscene literature through the mail. Articulate and radical in her beliefs, she boldly challenged convention in Victorian-era America. Victoria and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, got their start as spiritual advisors to financier Cornelius Vanderbilt. With his backing, the sisters became the first women to open their own successful brokerage firm. Woodhull was the first woman newspaper publisher, a feminist and a militant suffragist, but most shocking to Victorian sensibilities, she also advocated free love.
April 2 1903 A demonstration of 10,000 liberals, in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, protesting the re-election of General Bernardo Reyes as state governor, were fired on by federales under the command of Reyes himself. 15 protesters were killed & many more wounded.
April 2 1960 Nearly 100 students from 19 states attended a workshop at Highlander School; Guy Carawan taught them 1930s labor songs: “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” “This Little Light of Mine” and “We Shall Overcome.” Established near Monteagle, Tennessee in 1932, Highlander’s programs were based upon the conviction that education could be used to help ordinary people build upon the knowledge they had gained from experience and work collectively toward a more democratic and humane society.
April 2 1970 Massachusetts enacted a law which stipulated that except for an emergency, no inhabitant of Massachusetts inducted into or serving in the armed forces shall be required to serve abroad in an armed hostility that had not been declared a war by Congress under Article I, Section 8, clause 11 of the US Constitution. The Mass. attorney general referred the issue to the Supreme Court as a matter of original jurisdiction; they refused to hear the case by a vote of 6-3.
April 3 1948 U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed into law the Foreign Assistance Act, commonly known as the Marshall Plan which channeled more than $13 billion in aid to Europe between 1948 and 1951 In a speech at Harvard, General Marshall explained the purpose of the plan: “It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health to the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is not directed against any country, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.”
April 3 1944 In Smith v. Allwright, the Supreme Court declared the Texas all-white Democratic Party primary elections unconstitutional. Democratic Party primary elections were tantamount to the final election, because the Republican Party was then all but nonexistent in the South. In Nixon v. Herndon in 1927 the Court had held the Texas white primaries were unconstitutional because they were established by state law but evaded the impact of Herndon by transferring control of primary elections to the political parties, thereby making them actions of a private group. The Supreme Court rejected that principle in the decision on this day.
April 3 1958 Three day, fifty mile peace march from Trafalgar Square to Aldermaston, Berkshire began to protest Britain’s development of nuclear weaponry; first of eleven Easter peace marches held in England.
April 3 1962 President Harry Truman had desegregated the U.S. armed services on July 26, 1948. His order did not cover the Reserves or the National Guard, however. The Defense Department on this day ordered the Reserves racially integrated. National Guard units, however, were still not covered. Although some states began integrating National Guard units in 1947, full integration did not come until the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
April 3 1968 The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tennessee. King was there to support sanitation workers striking to protest low wages and poor working conditions.
April 4 1887 Susanna Medora Salter became the first woman elected to any government position in the US, when she was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas.
April 4 1902 British industrialist Cecil Rhodes left $10 million in his will to provide scholarships for non-British at Oxford University in England. His intent was to promote civic-minded leadership amongst young people with (in the words of his 1899 Will) “moral force of character and instincts to lead”, and (as he wrote in a 1901 codicil to his Will) to help “render war impossible” through promoting understanding between the great powers.
April 4 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Riverside church in New York about the war in Vietnam. King stated that “somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
April 4 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.
April 4 1981 Henry Cisneros became the mayor of San Antonio, Texas; the first Mexican-American elected mayor of a major U.S. city.
April 5 1930 In what is known as the Salt March, Mohandas Gandhi and his followers reached the end of their 240 mile march to the Indian Ocean coast at Dandi. He had left his ashram with 78 satyagrahis; the procession grew over the 23 days of traveling on foot until it stretched for more than two miles. When they arrived at the seaside, Gandhi made salt by allowing seawater to evaporate. This simple task was an act of civil disobedience because the British Raj, the governing colonial authority, had made salt-making a monopoly and a crime for others.
April 5 1977 Disability rights activists staged a sit-in at U.S. Health, Education and Welfare headquarters because HEW Secretary Joseph Califano had refused to develop meaningful regulations to implement Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (passed on September 26, 1973). The section provided for expanded programs for disabled persons. Califano issued the regulations three weeks later.
April 5 2009 In a speech in the Czech Republic, Barack Obama unveiled a plan to cut stockpiles of nuclear weapons, curtail testing, choke fissile production and secure loose nuclear material. “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” he said.
April 5 2011 Kisan Baburao “Anna” Hazare, started a hunger strike to exert pressure on the Indian government to enact a stringent anti-corruption law, The Lokpal Bill, for the institution of an ombudsman with the power to deal with corruption in public places. The fast led to nationwide protests in support. The fast ended on 9 April 2011, a day after the government accepted Hazare’s demands.
April 6 1896 The Olympic Games were reborn in Athens 1,500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. The IOC sees as part of their mission as “contributing to the search for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the conflicts around the world” and claims kinship with the Olympic Truce, which they describe as “. . . established in ancient Greece in the 9th century BC by the signature of a treaty between three kings. During the Truce period, athletes, artists and their families could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries.”
April 6 1979 Nepalese students demonstrated in the capital Kathmandu, protesting against the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan. As their procession approached the Pakistani embassy, they were stopped by police and clashes between students and riot police occurred. A series of other protests were held by students in the days to come. In an effort to quell the dissent, the authorities decided to close the campuses in Kathmandu valley between April 13 and April 21. In May, a Royal commission agreed to many of the student’s demands and released all the jailed students.
April 6 1996 Eleven were arrested at the main post office near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for attempting to mail medical supplies to Iraq in defiance of the U.S.-led embargo. Between 1990 and 1995 with the first Gulf War and the sanctions imposed by the U.S., its coalition and the U.N., infant and under-5 mortality rates in Iraq had more than doubled
April 6 2011 After Mexican poet Javier Sicilia’s son was killed by a drug cartel in March, he issued an open letter directed at Mexico’s politicians and cartels. The letter established the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity and announced a march on 6 April. Protesters gathered in 40 cities. They made clear their displeasure with both the government and cartels. The slogan “estamos hasta la madre – no mas sangre” (We have had it up to the mother – no more blood) was a rallying cry for protesters. 20,000 people gathered in Mexico City’s main Zocalo Square. Cuernavaca, the town where Sicilia’s son died, had 50,00 people at its protest, the largest in the history of Morelos state. Protesters marched to a nearby military base, demanding that soldiers reduce their role combating the drug trade.
April 7 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein debut their hit musical “South Pacific” on Broadway. Based on a collection of stories by James Michener, a strong theme of the play is racial prejudice, perhaps best exemplified in the song “You’ve got to be taught.”
April 7 1994 The genocide in Rwanda began. Over the following 90 days at least a half million people were killed by their countrymen.
April 7 2003 In Virginia v. Black, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold portions of a 50-year-old Virginia law making it a crime for organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan to burn a cross as an act of intimidation, deciding that that burning a cross at a Klan rally is a “messages of shared ideology” and thus protected by the First Amendment, but crosses could not be burned as a form of intimidation. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote, “a State may choose to prohibit only those forms of intimidation that are most likely to inspire fear of bodily harm.”
April 7 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his “domino theory” speech during a news conference. The domino theory was prominent from the 1950s to the 1980s; that assumed that if one country in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. In Eisenhower’s words, speaking of Vietnam: “Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the “falling domino” principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.”
April 8 1935 In the midst of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized almost $5 million to implement work-relief programs. Authorized by Congress under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, it remains the largest system of public-assistance relief programs in the nation’s history. One of the most notable federal agencies FDR created with the act was the Works Progress Administration. From 1935 through 1943, the WPA put more than 8 million people to work, chiefly at improvements to the nation’s infrastructure. Among the WPA projects that brought jobs to San Antonio are the River Walk, Mission San José restoration, a bridge and outdoor furniture in Brackenridge Park, the Texas history murals in the former main post office and Alamo Stadium. An arts-and-crafts workshop trained previously unskilled workers to produce benches and drinking fountains for city parks and wrought-iron railings for the River Walk.
April 9 1919 Nebraska enacted a law that outlawed teaching in any foreign language in public or private schools and also the teaching of any foreign language before the eighth grade. The law was part of the anti-German hysteria that had swept the country during World War I.
April 9 1939 Marian Anderson, a contralto possessed of what Arturo Toscanini called “a voice such as one hears once in a hundred years,” was denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution because of her race. At the urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes arranged for her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.
April 9 1947 The first freedom ride, “Journey of Reconciliation,” sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR.) The ride was designed to test the then-recent Supreme Court decision that purported to desegregate buses in interstate transportation, Morgan v. Virginia. The second Freedom Ride was in 1961.
April 9 1989 In Tbilisi, Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, an anti-Soviet peaceful demonstration and hunger strikes, demanding restoration of Georgian independence is dispersed by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
April 9 2006 As many as a half million immigrants and their supporters march in downtown Dallas in what one activist described as the largest civil rights march in the city’s history. The protesters urged federal lawmakers to reform the nation’s immigration laws and allow an estimated 11 million undocumented workers to become legal residents. They began demonstrating in scattered cities in March in protest of a proposal passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would make being in the United States without proper documentation a federal crime.
April 10 1866 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is founded in New York City by Henry Bergh.
April 10 1872 Nebraskans planted more than a million trees in celebration of the first Arbor Day.
April 10 1956 Nat “King” Cole was attacked and severely beaten by three members of the North Alabama White Citizen’s Council while singing “Little Girl” with the Ted Heath Band at the Municipal Hall in Birmingham, Alabama. Although local law enforcement quickly ended the invasion of the stage, the ensuing melée toppled Cole from his piano bench and injured his back. Cole did not finish the concert and never again performed in the South.
April 10 1971 In what came to be known as “Ping Pong Diplomacy,” a US table tennis team began a week-long visit to the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of China’s communist government.
April 10 1998 The Northern Ireland peace talks ended with an historic accord—called the Good Friday Agreement—reached after nearly two years of talks and 30 years of conflict.
April 11 1945 The American Third Army liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp.
April 11 1961 The trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann began in Israel. The man accused of leading Hitler’s effort to exterminate the Jewish people and others faced 15 charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes, all of which took more than an hour to enumerate.
April 11 1963 Pacem in Terris encyclical was issued by Pope John XIII, calling for an end to the nuclear arms race.
April 11 1980 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued regulations specifically prohibiting sexual harassment of workers by supervisors.
April 11 1996 The Treaty of Pelindaba was signed in Cairo, making Africa a nuclear-free continent and in theory making the entire southern hemisphere a nuclear-free zone.
April 11 2002 More than 200,000 people marched in Caracas towards the Presidential Palace of Miraflores, to demand the resignation of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. Nineteen of the protesters were killed, and the Minister of Defense announced Hugo Chávez resignation on national TV. He was returned to office 47 hours later.
April 11 2003 As civil war raged through Liberia, soldiers on both sides of the conflict looted and burned villages, raped women, and recruited young boys to fight. Thousands of individuals fled their homes and made their way to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, where they lived in camps without much food or drinking water. The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace,organized by social worker Leymah Gbowee, issued a “Position Statement on the Liberian Crisis.” Staying outside the political realm for fear of persecution, the women stated their goal as simply being that of peace. They erected a billboard at the fish market, which read, “The women of Liberia say peace is our goal, peace is what matters, peace is what we need.” The women marched through the streets of Monrovia, while hundreds more joined the back of the group as it marched passed their homes. Their march concluded at Monrovia’s Municipal Office where the women assembled, demanding a meeting with President Taylor to present him with their position statement. By this point over 1,000 women had gathered. Taylor then agreed to a meeting. Gbowee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
April 12 1923 The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom protested the Army “Spiderweb” Chart, an illustration claiming to show the links between radical, pacifist, socialist, communist, civil liberties, feminist, and other organizations.
April 12 1937 60,000 students across the US took part in the first nation- wide student strike. The protest was against participation in any war.
April 12 1971 90-year-old Jeanette Rankin, the only member of Congress to vote against U.S. entry to both World Wars, lead 8,000 in protest of the Vietnam War in the Women’s peace march on the Pentagon.
April 13 385 During Easter Week, Bishop Ambrose of Milan defied orders of the Imperial Roman government to surrender one of his parishioners, risking imprisonment and death. With the church surrounded by troops, he continued to hold mass five times a day. The government capitulated
April 13 1598 Henri IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes, giving many religious and civil freedoms to Huguenots, the French Protestants. They are not treated as heretics, they enjoy all the same civil rights as Catholics, have the right to work in any field or occupation, and are given amnesty for past crimes relating to religion.
April 13 1829 The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 gives Roman Catholics in the United Kingdom the right to vote and to sit in Parliament.
April 13 1873 The Colfax massacre, in which more than 60 African Americans are murdered, takes place. In the wake of the contested 1872 election for governor of Louisiana and local offices, a group of white Democrats, armed with rifles and a small cannon, overpowered Republican freedmen and state militia (also black) trying to control the Grant Parish courthouse in Colfax. Most of the freedmen were killed after they surrendered.
April 13 1919 In Amritsar, holiest city of the Sikh religion, British and Gurkha troops fired without warning and killed at least 379 and wounded another 1,200 Sikhs meeting in a park known as Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate their new year’s festival of Baisakhi Mela. A few days earlier, in reaction to a recent escalation in protests against conscription of men to the British army and high war taxes, Amritsar was placed under martial law and handed over to British Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, who banned all meetings and gatherings in the city. Dyer was relieved of his command for this brutality.
April 13 1919 Eugene V. Debs, a union leader and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States, was imprisoned at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, for speaking out against the draft during World War I.
April 13 1953 CIA director Allen Dulles launched the mind-control program Project MKUltra, an illegal program of experiments on human subjects, intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions.
April 13 1962 Rachel Carson’s book indicting the pesticide industry, Silent Spring, is published.
April 14 1930 Police arrested more 100 Chicano farm workers for their union activities in Imperial Valley, California. Eight were convicted of so-called “criminal syndicalism.” Syndicalism is a system of economic organization in which industries are owned and managed by the workers;
April 14 1939 The Grapes of Wrath, by American author John Steinbeck is first published by the Viking Press. Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they are trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other “Okies”, they seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future.
April 14 1947 Segregation of Mexican-American school children in California was declared unconstitutional by the Federal Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit. Suit had been brought against several school districts in Orange County, California by Gonzalo Méndez and several World War II veterans. The photo is of Gonzalo and Felicitas Méndez, whose children Sylvia, Gonzalo Jr. and Jerome were denied enrollment in the all-white schools.
April 14 2007 The Russian activist Garry Kasparov was among 170 people arrested as police prevented a banned anti-Kremlin rally in Pushkin Square, Moscow, from escalating. The former chess player was freed several hours later, and was fined $40 for public order offenses
April 15 1960 At Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, Ella Baker lead a conference that resulted in the creation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee SNCC), one of the principal organizations of the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
April 15 1935 Roerich Pact signed in Washington, D.C. Officially Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments grants legal recognition that the defense of cultural objects is more important than the use or destruction of that culture for military purposes, and the protection of culture always has precedence over any military necessity. Nicholas Roerich, Russian painter, also founded the cultural artifact protection movement, a Pax Cultura (“Cultural Peace” or “Peace through Culture.”) It is symbolized by a maroon on white emblem consisting of three solid circles in a surrounding circle. You can see this symbol in San Antonio on the grounds of the Circle School.
April 15 1915 The Armenian Genocide, the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey, started on this day, when Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The total number of people killed has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labor, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. The current Turkish government continues to protest against the formal recognition of the genocide by other countries and to dispute that there ever was a genocide.
April 15 2009 Nearly 200 women began a march in front of a conservative Shia Muslim university in Kabul that had supported the “Shia Personal Status Law,” which placed strict religious restrictions on women As the women began to march along the road and chant slogans, nearly 1000 supporters of the law gathered and began to throw stones at the women protesting against the law. Policewomen who were present joined arms and formed a barrier around the protesting women in an effort to protect them from the stone-throwers, keeping their backs to the counter-protesters. The police walked with the group of protesters as they continued their march. The women’s rights protesters continued their campaign through July.
April 15 2014 276 girls were taken from their school after an attack by the Boko Haram militant group in Chibok, Nigeria. The girls were thought to be taken to a hard to access remote area of forest in the country or out of the country. The kidnappings sparked the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign.
April 16 1919 Mohandas Gandhi organized a day of “prayer and fasting” in response to the killing of Indian protesters in the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre (also called the Amristar Massacre) by the British colonial troops three days earlier.
April 16 1929 Birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger appeared on stage at Ford Hall Forum in Boston wearing a gag to protest a ban on her speaking in Boston by Mayor James Curley.
April 16 1959 The CBS television drama series Playhouse 90 broadcast Judgment at Nuremberg, based on the 1945–46 trials of German Nazi leaders for war crimes but did not include any references to gas chambers in the Holocaust in deference to the sponsor of the program, The American Gas Company.
April 16 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail while incarcerated in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting against segregation.
April 16 2000 Between 10,000 and 20,000 activists blockaded meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Sitting down at intersections and locking arms to form human chains, the protesters were opposed to Bank and IMF policies that increased third-world indebtedness and did little to directly benefit the poor in those countries.
April 17 1943 A sit-in by African-American students at Howard University students challenged racial segregation at the Little Palace Cafeteria, on 14th and U Streets in Washington, D.C. Trailblazing Civil Rights attorney Pauli Murray, who was a student at Howard Law , later wrote: “And one rainy Saturday afternoon in April, they started out. In groups of four, with one student acting as an ‘observer’ on the outside, they approached the cafe. Three went inside and requested service. Upon refusal they took their seats and pulled out magazines, books of poetry, or pencils and pads. They sat quietly. Neither the manager’s panicky efforts to dismiss them nor the presence of a half dozen policemen outside could dislodge them.” More groups of students entered the cafeteria at five minute intervals until the management closed it forty-five minutes later. The students responded by picketing on the sidewalk outside, carrying signs asking “We die together–Why Can’t We Eat Together?” After two days of pickets, the Little Palace Cafeteria changed its policy. The sit-ins were soon quashed by pressure from Southerners in Congress who controlled the budget for the District of Columbia and Howard University. Restaurants in Washington, D.C., remained racially segregated for another decade, until a court ordered them integrated on June 8, 1953, in the case of District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson.
April 17 1961 The Bay of Pigs invasion began when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees landed in Cuba and attempted to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was a failure; nearly 1,200 of the 1,500 attackers were taken prisoner. Castro used the attack to solidify his power in Cuba; he also requested additional Soviet military aid that aid included missiles and the construction of missile bases in Cuba, which sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.
April 17 1905 The Supreme Court, in one of its most controversial decisions, held in Lochner v. New York that the “right to free contract” is implicit in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The case involved a New York law that limited the number of hours that a baker could work each day to ten, and limited the number of hours that a baker could work each week to 60. By a 5–4 vote, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the law was necessary to protect the health of bakers, deciding it was a labor law attempting to regulate the terms of employment, and calling it an “unreasonable, unnecessary and arbitrary interference with the right and liberty of the individual to contract.”
April 18 1930 The BBC reported there was no news, then played out with piano music.
April 18 1955 Twenty-nine nations meet at Bandung, Indonesia, for the first Asian-African Conference. The conference’s aims were to promote Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism or neocolonialism by any nation. The twenty-nine countries that participated at the Bandung Conference represented nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s land surface and a total population of 1.5 billion people.
April 18 1961 The Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) was founded in Casablanca as a united front of African movements opposing Portuguese colonial rule. Attending were representatives from Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe
April 18 2013 A Kurdish-Iranian man, Masound Fathi, created the Facebook page, “Kurd Men for Equality.” Three days earlier, an Iranian court had punished another Kurd by parading him through town in woman’s clothing. Fathi had a friend photograph him dressed in traditional women’s attire to challenge the assumption that “being a woman is not a tool to humiliate or punish anymore”. Within a week, Hundreds of Kurdish men from all over the world posted pictures of themselves in women’s attire, holding signs with Fathi’s slogan. On May 18 the police chief apologized.
April 19 1960 More than 100,000 students in South Korea held a nationwide pro-democracy protest against president Syngman Rhee, eventually forcing him to resign on April 26. The protests were touched off by the discovery in Masan Harbor of the body of a student killed by a tear-gas shell in demonstrations against the elections of March. Police opened fire on protesters killing approximately 180 and wounding thousands. That day the Rhee government proclaimed martial law in order to suppress the demonstrations.
April 20 1871 The Enforcement Act of 1871 was enacted. Also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1871 or the Third Ku Klux Klan Act, it empowered the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to combat the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white supremacy organizations.
April 20 1914 In what would be come to be known as the Ludlow Massacre, the Colorado National Guard, their salaries paid by the Rockefellers, attacked a tent colony of striking miners, killing dozens of men, women, and children. After a strike leader was killed while attempting to negotiate a truce, the strikers feared the attack would intensify. To stay safe from gunfire, women and children took cover in pits dug beneath the tents. At dusk, guardsmen moved down from the hills and set the tent colony on fire with torches, shooting at the families as they fled into the hills.
April 20 1914 Nineteen men, women, and children die in the Ludlow Massacre during a Colorado coal-miner’s strike. The massacre was an attack by the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel & Iron Company camp guards on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families. The chief owner of the mine, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was widely criticized for the incident.
April 20 1968 English right wing politician Enoch Powell made his controversial “Rivers of Blood” anti-immigration speech. “We must be mad,” Powell said, “ literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependents” Powell claimed that some [immigrants wanted to foster racial and religious differences “with a view to the exercise of actual domination, first over fellow-immigrants and then over the rest of the population.” The title of the speech came from a passage where he evokes both Virgil’s Aeneid and the civil rights struggle in the US: “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’ That tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect.”
April 20 1977 In Wooley v. Maynard, the Supreme Court ruled that “Live Free or Die” may be covered up on New Hampshire license plates. The case originated with a family of Jehovah Witnesses who argued that they “viewed the motto as repugnant to their moral, religious, and political beliefs.”
April 20 1983 In UNITED STATES v. GRACE, decided on this day, The US Supreme Court ruled that Title 40 U.S.C. 13K, which prohibited the “display [of] any flag, banner, or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice any party, organization, or movement” in the United States Supreme Court building or on its grounds, which are defined to include the public sidewalks constituting the outer boundaries of the grounds” was unconstitutional. One of the defendants was Thaddeus “Spike”Zywicki, who spent many years living and working for peace in San Antonio.
April 21 1649 The Maryland Assembly passed the Toleration Act, providing protection to Roman Catholics against Protestant harassment and discrimination, a problem which had been on the increase due to the growing power of Oliver Cromwell in England. All “trinitarian” Christians, whatever their denomination, were given full religious freedom. Anyone who denies the divinity of Jesus, however, was to be be executed.
April 21 1856 stonemasons and other construction workers on building sites around Melbourne, Australia, stopped work and marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament House. They advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. Their direct action protest was a success, becoming one of the first by organized workers to achieve an eight-hour workday.
April 21 1954 A U. S. Senate committee held hearings in New York City on the alleged dangers of comic books, part of a nationwide panic over comics contributing to juvenile delinquency. The Comics Code Authority, an exercise in self-censorship by the major publishers,was adopted in October.
April 21 1966 Three years before the Stonewall Inn Riots, which spurred the growth of a national lesbian and gay rights movement, the gay rights a “Sip In” held at the Julius Bar in New York City, organized by the Mattachine Society. The New York Times headline for the story the next day read, “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.”
April 21 1972 Anti-war protesters in El Paso pelted General Westmoreland with tomatoes.
April 21 1989 Six days after the death of Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party, some 100,000 students gathered at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate Hu and voice their discontent with China’s authoritative communist government. By mid-May more than a million people filled the square; the government formally declared martial law in Beijing, and troops and tanks were called in to disperse the dissidents. Protests continued until June 4, when the army forcibly cleared Tiananmen Square and Beijing’s streets, killing hundreds of demonstrators and arresting thousands of protesters and other suspected dissidents
April 22 1968 The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean – The Treaty of Tlatelolco – came into force. Parties agreed to prohibit and prevent the “testing, use, manufacture, production or acquisition by any means whatsoever of any nuclear weapons” and the “receipt, storage, installation, deployment and any form of possession of any nuclear weapons.”
April 22 1970 Earth Day was celebrated in the United States for the first time; millions of Americans participated in rallies, marches and educational programs. Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. Earth Day indeed increased environmental awareness in America, and in July of that year the Environmental Protection Agency was established by special executive order to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation.
April 22 2005 Japan‘s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi apologized for Japan’s war record: “In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility,” after this Koizumi added that the Japanese people have “feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology.”
April 22 2010 The People’s Agreement of Cochabamba by signed at World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, in Bolivia. “It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings. We propose to the peoples of the world the recovery, revalorization, and strengthening of the knowledge, wisdom, and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, which are affirmed in the thought and practices of “Living Well,” recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship.“
April 23 1910 Former President Theodore Roosevelt made his “The Man in the Arena” speech at the Sorbonne, in Paris: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
April 23 1951 A 16-year-old student, Barbara Rose Johns, covertly organized a student general strike at RR Moton High School, an all-black high school in Farmville, Virginia, founded in 1923. The school did not have a gymnasium, cafeteria or teachers’ restrooms. Teachers and students did not have desks or blackboards, and due to overcrowding, some students had to take classes in a decrepit school bus parked outside the main school building. . She forged notes to teachers telling them to bring their students to the auditorium for a special announcement. When the school’s students showed up, Johns took the stage and persuaded the school to strike to protest poor school conditions. Over 450 walked out and marched to the homes of members of the school board, who refused to see them. Thus began a two-week protest, which led to a court case where Virginia civil rights lawyers Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson brought suit against the school board. Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County was eventually one of the four cases combined into Brown v. Board of Education, the famous case in which the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1954, officially overturned racial segregation in U.S. public schools.
April 23 1963 William Lewis Moore, a postman from Baltimore, was shot and killed in Attalla, Ala. during a one-man march against segregation. Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging an end to segregation.
April 23 1971 In the final event of Operation Dewey Canyon III, nearly 1,000 Vietnam War veterans threw their combat ribbons, helmets, and uniforms on the U.S. Capitol steps.
April 24 1863 The Union army issued General Orders No. 100, which provided a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians. The final document consisted of 157 articles which established policies for, among other things, the treatment of prisoners, exchanges, and flags of truce. There was no document like it in the world at the time, and other countries soon adopted the code; its influence can be seen on the Geneva Convention.
April 24 1932 Benny Rothman lead the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, in the English Peak District to highlight the fact that walkers in England and Wales were illegally denied access to areas of open country. Although controversial when it occurred, it has been interpreted as the embodiment of “working class struggle for the right to roam versus the rights of the wealthy to have exclusive use of moorlands” to shoot grouse.”
April 24 1944 In United States v. Ballard the Supreme Court ruled that neither the courts nor the government have the right to evaluate the religious beliefs of a citizen or group, upholding the general principle that “the truth of religious claims is not for secular authority to determine.” Guy Ballard, who believed he had the spiritual gift of curing diseases, solicited contributions in exchange for his healing services and was convicted of mail fraud. This decision prevented juries from being asked to consider whether a person’s religious beliefs were ever true. All that mattered was that the person accept them in good faith; no government was allowed to attempt to determine if they are logical, valid, or accurate.
April 24 1955 The Bandung Conference ended: Twenty-nine non-aligned nations of Asia and Africa finished a meeting that condemned colonialism, racism, and the Cold War.
April 24 1987 On the World Day for Laboratory Animals, hundreds of activists across the country blocked access to university laboratories and more than 150 were arrested. The day was designated to bring attention to the treatment of lab animals used in testing of medical and other products.
April 25 1944 The United Negro College Fund was incorporated. The first executive director, William Trent, raised $78 million for historically black colleges so they could become “strong citadels of learning, carriers of the American dream, seedbeds of social evolution and revolution.”
April 25 1974 A peaceful uprising by both the army and civilians, known as the Carnation Revolution (Revolução dos Cravos), ended 48 years of fascism in Portugal. People holding red carnations urged soldiers not to resist the overthrow and many placed the flowers in the muzzles of their rifles.
April 25 1983 American schoolgirl Samantha Smith was invited to visit the Soviet Union by its leader Yuri Andropov after he read her letter in which she expressed fears about nuclear war.
April 25 2010 Nearly 100,000 people attended a rally on the Japanese island of Okinawa demanding that its U.S. base be moved off of the island, the largest demonstration on Okinawa since the island reverted to Japan in 1972 after 27 years of U.S. occupation.
April 26 1937 During the Spanish Civil War, the German military tested its powerful new air force—the Luftwaffe—on the Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain. The German aircraft began their attack at 4:30 p.m., the busiest hour of the market day. For three hours, the German planes poured down a continuous rain of bombs and gunfire on the town and surrounding countryside. One-third of Guernica’s 5,000 inhabitants were killed or wounded, and fires engulfed the city and burned for days. The indiscriminate killing of civilians at Guernica became a symbol of fascist brutality, but by 1942, all major participants in World War II had adopted the bombing innovations developed by the Nazis at Guernica. The painting below is Picasso’s Guernica, a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace.
April 26 1943 The Easter Riots (Påskkravallerna) broke out in Uppsala, Sweden. Thousands of anti-fascists gathered to protest a Svensk Socialistisk Samling (indigenous Nazi) gathering at the Royal Mounds, a historical site that held much political symbolism among Swedish nationalists. Policemen had been called in from Stockholm and after the situation became increasingly tense they resorted to violence, dispersing the peacefully protesting crowds and onlookers alike with heavy force.
April 26 1965 In Dombrowski v. Pfister, The US Supreme Court limited seizure of organization’s records on the grounds that the state’s actions had a “chilling effect” on First Amendment activities.
April 26 2005 Under international pressure, Syria withdrew the last of its 14,000 troops from Lebanon, ending its 29-year military domination of that country.
April 27 1971 Eight members of the Welsh Language Society were accused of conspiring to damage, remove or destroy English language road signs in Wales.
April 27 1987 The Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, was blockaded by people protesting U.S. policies in Central America and Southern Africa. 700 were arrested.
April 27 1955 In People v. Cahan, the California Supreme Court upheld the principle of the exclusionary rule, which held that evidence obtained through an unreasonable search and seizure cannot be used against a defendant in court. The US Supreme Court did not apply the rule to state and local police, under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, until Mapp v. Ohio, decided on June 19, 1961.
April 27 1994 The first multi-racial elections in South Africa began, marking the end of a four-year process to abolish apartheid––the date is now a public holiday, called Freedom Day. Voters chose Nelson Mandela, former political prisoner for 28 years, as president.
April 28 1915 The International Congress of Women convened at The Hague, Netherlands, with more than 1,200 delegates from 12 countries, all dedicated to the cause of peace and an end to World War I. Often referred to as the Women’s Peace Congress, the meeting was the result of an invitation by a Dutch women’s suffrage organization to women’s rights activists around the world, on the basis of the belief that a peaceful international assemblage of women would have its moral effect upon the belligerent countries.
April 28 1967 Boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army and was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title. Ali, a Muslim, cited religious reasons for his decision to forgo military service
April 28 2011 Police officers in Burkina Faso joined protesters over the high cost of living by shooting their guns in the air. Protesters had been gathering in the capital, Ouagadougou, throughout the previous few weeks, angered over high food prices and unpaid housing allowances to soldiers.
April 28 2012 Chinese dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng, best known for accusing people of abuses in official family-planning practices, often involving claims of violence and forced abortions. came under the protection of the US after escaping house arrest and going to the US embassy in Beijing. He was later granted a visa, emigrated to the US , and now works with a conservative group that opposes abortion and gay marriage.
April 28 585 BCE During the battle between Lydia and the Medes in present-day Iran, a solar eclipse occurred and the parties were so frightened they ended the battle immediately.
April 29 1910 The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the People’s Budget, the first budget in British history with the expressed intent of redistributing wealth among the British public. Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George introduced it, saying, “ It is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. I cannot help hoping and believing that before this generation has passed away, we shall have advanced a great step towards that good time, when poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which always follows in its camp, will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests.”
April 29 1922 Thirty five women and children, labeled the “Children’s Crusade,” picketed the White House, seeking a presidential amnesty proclamation for persons convicted of violating the Espionage Act during World War I. The amnesty campaign continued for another 11 years, until President Franklin D. Roosevelt finally pardoned them in 1933.
April 29 1934 Brotherhood Day, launched on this day, was a project of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ.). President Franklin D. Roosevelt marked the occasion by calling for an end to prejudice. Brotherhood Day eventually evolved into Brotherhood Week, which was celebrated from the 1940s through the 1980s. NCCJ continues today as the National Conference for Community and Justice.
April 29 1945 The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by United States troops.
April 29 1945 Operation Manna began. At the end of World War II, Lancaster bombers of the Royal Air Force dropped 6,680 tons of food into parts of the occupied Netherlands to feed starving people during the Dutch famine. With the consent of occupying German forces, almost 3300 sorties were run in nine days. In addition, 400 American B-17s dropped 800 tons of K-Rations. This photo, taken over Holland, captured the “Many Thanks” spelled-out in tulips as a message to their pilot saviors.
April 29 1968 This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius: The musical Hair premiered on Broadway. Harmony and understanding, Sympathy and trust abounding, No more falsehoods or derisions, Golden living dreams of visions, Mystic crystal revelation, And the mind’s true liberation: Aquarius!
April 29 1992 Deadly rioting erupted in Los Angeles after an all-white jury in Simi Valley acquitted four Los Angeles police officers of almost all charges in the beating of Rodney King, an African-American motorist who had been stopped for a traffic offense.
April 29 1997 The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 entered into force, outlawing the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by its signatories.
April 30 1917 The The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), founded on this day, is the social action arm of the Quaker religion, which is officially the Religious Society of Friends. The AFSC has a long history of activism related to pacifism, conscientious objection to war, civil rights, and social justice. The AFSC was co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947.
April 30 1963 The Bristol Bus Boycott began to protest the Bristol Omnibus Company’s refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews, drawing national attention to racial discrimination in the United Kingdom. The Boycott, which lasted four months, was considered by some to have been influential in the passing of the Race Relations Act 1965 which made “racial discrimination unlawful in public places” and the Race Relations Act 1968, which extended the provisions to employment and housing.
May 1 1845 In Louisville, Kentucky, disaffected members of the Methodist Episcopal Church organized the Methodist Episcopal Church, South as a new denomination supporting slavery. John Wesley, found of Methodism, was personally opposed to slavery, and when the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded, it, too, included an official statement against slavery.
May 1 1937 America strengthened its Neutrality Act first passed in 1935 and am mended in 1936 which created an embargo on arms trading with the countries at war, loans or credits to countries at war. In 1937 the Neutrality Act was amended again stating “all trade with countries involved in war must be conducted on a cash-and-carry basis”
May 1 1948 Senator Glen Hearst Taylor (D-Idaho) was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, for trying to enter a meeting through a door marked for “Negroes” rather than using the “whites only” door, and convicted of disorderly conduct. Taylor was the Progressive Party candidate for Vice President, running mate of Henry Wallace. He was in Birmingham to address the Southern Negro Youth Congress.
May 1 1958 A crew from the Committee for Nonviolent Action, protesting nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, attempted to sail the ship The Golden Rule from Honolulu towards the Islands despite the a court injunction against them. The US Coast Guard arrested them five nautical miles from Honolulu and brought them back to the port. The Golden Rule attempted another trip on June 4 to the Eniwetok Proving Grounds, but they were arrested again and the court sentenced the crew to sixty days in jail. In July, another ship, The Phoenix of Hiroshima, sailed successfully to the testing area at the Proving Grounds, but the Coast Guard promptly arrested them. Although the protests did not stop the nuclear testing, the publicity of the events gained international support.
May 1 1959 Ordered to integrate its schools under Brown v. Board of Education, Prince Edward County, Virginia, chose instead to close all public schools. They remained closed until the Supreme Court ordered the county to open them, in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, on May 25, 1964. While the schools were closed, the Prince Edward Foundation supported private academies to educate white students. There were no formal arrangements for African-American students; some were supported by private groups and others went to out-of-state schools.
May 1 1970 Massive student demonstrations and strikes erupted across the country after, the night before, President Richard Nixon revealed that he had expanded the Vietnam War by ordering the invasion of Cambodia, a neutral nation.
May 1 1977 Following a 24-hour occupation at the site of two proposed nuclear power plants in Seabrook, New Hampshire, 1,414 people were arrested. The non-violent civil disobedience, organized by the Clamshell Alliance, became a model for anti-nuclear direct actions across the country.
May 1 1986 One million South Africans demonstrated their opposition to apartheid in a strike organized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
May 1 1992 On the third day of Los Angeles riots in response to a verdict in the Rodney King beating trial, King appealed for calm: “People, I just want to say, can we all just get along?”
May 1 2006 The Great American Boycott (Spanish: El Gran Paro Estadounidense), a one-day boycott of United States schools and businesses by immigrants in the United States, of mostly Latin American origin took place. As a continuation of the 2006 U.S. immigration reform protests, the organizers called for supporters to abstain from buying, selling, working, and attending school, in order to attempt to demonstrate through the extent to which the labor obtained of illegal immigrants is needed. Supporters of the boycott rallied in major cities across the U.S. to demand general amnesty and legalization programs for undocumented immigrants. At least one million people marched in Los Angeles alone.
May 2 1896 U.S. Marines landed in Corinto, Nicaragua, to” protect American interests” during political unrest.
May 2 1917 A pro-war vigilante group calling itself the “Knights of Liberty” attacked and assaulted a group of suspected anti-war activists on this day. George Koelzer was tarred and feathered, while H. Steinmoltz, an Oakland tailor, was hung from a tree until unconscious. It is not clear from surviving accounts whether these men were actively against World War I or were simply of German background.
May 2 1967 An armed Black Panther contingent marched into the California State Assembly in Sacramento to protest a bill (the Mulford Act) that would ban the open carrying of unconcealed weapons, which was legal there at the time. The first video is from 1967; the second was recorded on March 16, 2015 in Austin and depicts the Huey Newton Gun Club on the day the Texas Senate passed an open carry bill.
May 2 1980 The single of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall (II), as well as the album The Wall, were banned in South Africa in after the song was adopted by supporters of a nationwide school boycott protesting racial inequities in education under the apartheid regime.
May 3 1675 Massachusetts passed a law that required church doors to be locked during services – evidently to keep people from leaving before the long sermons were finished.
May 3 1808 Civilians were executed by Napoleonic forces putting down a rebellion by the citizens of Madrid, Spain on Principe Pio Hill. The event was memorialized in the painting by Francisco de Goya, “The Third of May 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid.”
May 3 1923 In one of the most famous quotations in the long battle against censorship, New York State legislator — and future mayor of New York City — Jimmy Walker said, “No woman was ever ruined by a book.” Walker’s statement was in the context of a proposed amendment to the New York State obscenity statute. The Cotillo bill, which was labeled the “Clean Books Bill,” would make it possible to obtain a conviction based on any part of a book and suppress “filthy” and “disgusting” books.
May 3 1954 In Hernandez v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court, held that Mexican-Americans and all other racial and ethnic groups were guaranteed equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment. Pedro Hernandez was a Mexican agricultural in Edina, TX worker charged with murder. His lawyers argued that he could not receive a fair trial because non-Caucasians were excluded from jury pools in the county where he was tried. A unanimous Supreme Court agreed and ordered that he be retried by a jury selected without discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice Warren explicitly pointed out that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was not limited to the racial categories of “Negro” and “white.”
May 3 1963 In Birmingham, Alabama, Public Safety Commissioner “Bull” Connor used fire hoses (powerful enough to break bones) and police dogs on children near the 16th Street Baptist Church to keep them from marching out of the “Negro section” of town.
May 3 1980 Sixty thousand marched on the Pentagon to urge the end of U.S. military involvement in El Salvador.
May 3 2008 The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities went into force, one month after the required twentieth country ratified the landmark treaty which guarantees the rights of some 650 million people worldwide.
May 4 1884 Anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells, then 21, was ordered to leave the train car she paid for and move to a segregated car. She refused to leave and fought back while she was forcibly removed. She filed a suit against the railroad company.
May 4 1919 In what has come to be known as the May Forth Movement (五四运动, Wusi Yundong), 5,000 students demonstrated in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, protesting the Treaty of Versailles, which transferred Chinese territory in the present-day Shandong Province to Japan.
May 4 1961 The first Freedom Ride began.. Led by CORE Director James Farmer, 13 riders (seven black, six white, , most in their 40s and 50s) left Washington, DC, on Greyhound and Trailways buses. Their plan was to ride through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, ending in New Orleans, Louisiana, where a civil rights rally was planned. The rides were was intended to test an earlier Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination in interstate travel.
May 4 1970 Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine others, one permanently disabled. The previous day, President Nixon had announced a widening of the Vietnam War with bombing in neighboring Cambodia. There were major campus protests around the country with students occupying university buildings to organize and to discuss the war and other issues.
May 5 2010 Mass protests in Greece erupted in response to austerity measures imposed by the government as a result of the Greek government-debt crisis. Inspired by the anti-austerity protests in Spain, these demonstrations were organized entirely using social networking sites, which earned it the nickname “May of Facebook.”
May 5 1949 The Treaty of London established the Council of Europe in Strasbourg as the first European institution working for European integration.
May 5 1946 The International Military Tribunal for the Far East began in Tokyo with twenty-eight Japanese military and government officials accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
May 5 1925 Biology teacher John T. Scopes was arrested for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in a Dayton, Tennessee, high school in violation of state law. Working in a public school, he was prohibited by statute “to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”
May 5 1919 The National Conference on Lynching, held in New York City, marked the beginning of a decades-long but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for a federal anti-lynching law. An estimated 2,500 people, both African-American and white, attended the three-day conference. Charles Evans Hughes, former Supreme Court Justice and 1916 Republican presidential candidate, was the keynote speaker.
May 5 1983 More than one million Sicilians, a fifth of the Italian island’s population, signed a petition against the deployment of more than 100 U.S. cruise missiles at the Comiso Air Base.
May 6 1882 The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed, the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States, making it unlawful for Chinese laborers to enter the US for the next 10 years & denying naturalized citizenship to the Chinese already here. Renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902, this act cut off Chinese immigration for more than 60 years. This act signaled the shift from a previously open immigration policy in the United States to one in which the federal government exerted control over immigrants. Criteria were gradually set regarding which people—in terms of their ethnicity, gender and class—could be admitted.
May 6 1953 Radical artist William Gropper was called to testify before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Gropper had allowed the State Department to distribute prints of his painting celebrating American folklore. Senator Joseph McCarthy considered the pictures “subversive,” and questioned why copies were kept by US embassies abroad. To avoid self-incrimination, Gropper plead the Fifth.
May 6 1968 Following months of conflicts between students and authorities at the Paris University at Nanterre, the administration shut down the university on May 2. On Monday, May 6th, the national student union, the Union Nationale des Étudiants de France and the union of university teachers called a march to protest against the police invasion of Sorbonne. More than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne, still sealed off by the police, who charged, wielding their batons and tear gas.
May 6 1973 Demonstrations against Pacific nuclear tests were held in 14 French cities. Until 1967, France conducted all of its nuclear weapons testing in Algeria but the unstable political situation there caused them to shift testing to French Polynesia. A total of 193 nuclear tests – including atmospheric, above-ground tests – were carried out in Polynesia from 1966 to 1996, mainly in Mururoa Atoll, about 700 miles southesat of Tahiti.
May 6 1979 More than 65,000 demonstrators marched on the capitol in protest against more nuclear power plants. The group was formed after the accident at The Three Mile Island nuclear plant.
May 6 1982 CBS-TV canceled “Lou Grant,” probably because Ed Asner opposed US Salvadoran policy both in his capacity as president of the Screen Actor Guild and as spokesman for Medical Aid for El Salvador.
May 6 1993 The NY Times revealed that from 1940 until his death in 1966 Walt Disney was an FBI informer on Hollywood “subversives.”
May 6 2001 On his trip to Syria, Pope John Paul II became the first pope ever to enter a mosque.
May 7 1844 A Protestant mob in Philadelphia, shouting “Kill them! Kill them!” burned down more than thirty homes in the predominantly Irish suburb of Kensington. The immediate cause of the riots stemmed from Catholic opposition to the exclusive use of the Protestant Bible in the public schools. The bible controversy galvanized the nativists’ political arm, the American Republican Party; they deliberately staged a political rally directly across from the Nanny Goat Market, the center of the Irish-Catholic population. .St. Michael’s and St. Augustine’s churches and the firehouse were burned to the ground.
May 7 1955 In Belzoni, Mississippi, Rev. George Lee, active in the NAACP, was murdered for his voter registration activities.
May 7 1999 Pope John Paul II traveled to Romania becoming the first pope to visit a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country since the Great Schism in 1054.
May 7 1984 American veterans of the Vietnam War reached a $180-million out-of-court settlement with seven chemical companies in a class-action suit relating to use of the herbicide Agent Orange in Vietnam. The veterans charged they had suffered injury and illness from exposure to the defoliant used widely in the war to eliminate jungle cover for Vietnamese forces opposing the U.S. military presence.
May 7 1996 15,000 protesters demonstrated against the import of French nuclear waste to Gorleben, Germany. Water cannons were used to disperse the crowd.
May 8 1933 Mohandas Gandhi began a 21-day fast of self-purification and launched a one-year campaign to help the Harijan movement. Harijan (the preferred term is now Dalit) were the “untouchable” class.
May 8 1946 Fourteen-year-old Estonian school girls Aili Jõgi and Ageeda Paavel blew up the Soviet memorial. Since the Soviets occupied Estonia the year before they had similarly blown up monuments to Estonian soldiers and their revolution to replace them with their own. The girls were tried, convicted, and spent the next eight years in a Soviet labor camp.
May 8 1943 Delegates from the United States and Great Britain convened in Hamilton, Bermuda to discuss how to handle Jewish refugees who were still at risk for Nazi extermination in occupied areas, and how to handle those who had been liberated by Allied forces but had nowhere safe to go. By this point, it was estimated that 700,000 Jews had already been brought to Chelmno and gassed or shot to death. American Jewish leaders attempted to put together a committee to attend the conference, but their request was rejected. They instead sent along proposals on ways to rescue Jewish refugees. The conference attendees rejected those proposals, and determined that although the Jewish population of Europe was in imminent danger, attention would be better spent on the total war effort in order to not divert Allied attention. Immigration quotas remained. photo
May 8 1962 An estimated 9,000,000 people in Belgium participated in a ten-minute work stoppage to protest nuclear weapons.
May 8 1970 The Hard Hat Riot occurred in the Wall Street area of New York City as blue-collar construction workers clash with demonstrators protesting the Vietnam War. The riot started about noon when about 200 construction workers mobilized by the New York State AFL-CIO attacked about 1,000 high school and college students and others protesting the Kent State shootings, the American invasion of Cambodia and the Vietnam War near the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street.
May 8 1980 The World Health Organization “Declares solemnly that the world and its peoples have won freedom from smallpox, which was a most devastating disease sweeping in epidemic form through many countries since earliest time, leaving death, blindness and disfigurement in its wake and which only a decade ago was rampant in Africa, Asia and South America.” As recently as 1967, WHO estimated that 15 million people contracted the disease and that two million died that year. Because of the disease’s eradication, by 1986 routine vaccination had ceased in all countries.
May 9 1933 Future Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, who was a member of the committee selecting art for the new Rockefeller Center in New York, authorized a set of murals by the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera. When he discovered that the murals contained left-wing political messages, he ordered work stopped on this day. The murals were covered and then destroyed in February 1934.
May 9 1967 World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali, following his indictment for refusing to be drafted into the military, was stripped of his title and his license to fight by the World Boxing Association.
May 9 1972 4,000 garment workers at Farah Manufacturing Company in El Paso went out on strike for the right to be represented by a union. The strikers were virtually all Hispanic; 85 percent were women. Their labor action, which lasted until they won union representation in March 1974, grew to encompass a national boycott of Farah pants.
May 10 1967 Army Captain Howard Levy, a dermatologist, was imprisoned three years for refusing to train U.S. Special Forces soldiers for Vietnam. He refused an order to perform the training as he considered it a violation of his medical ethics.
May 10 1970 As part of the nationwide protests of the invasion of Cambodia that began on May 1, 1970, following President Richard Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War the day before, a college student hung an American flag upside down, with peace symbols attached. He was arrested and convicted under the State of Washington’s “improper use” clause of its flag statute law. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction, in Spence v. Washington, on June 25, 1974.
May 10 1912 The first Southern Sociological Congress ended after addressing social, civic and economic problems of 16 southern states, an example of government, social agencies and churches working together for social betterment.
May 10 1872 Victoria Woodhull became the first woman nominated for President of the United States.
May 11 1894 Four thousand Pullman Palace Car Company workers went on a wildcat strike to restore cut wages, in Illinois. The strike pitted the American Railway Union (ARU) and Eugene V. Debs against the Pullman Company, the main railroads, and the federal government of the United States under President Grover Cleveland. The strike and boycott shut down much of the nation’s freight and passenger traffic west of Detroit, Michigan.
May 11 1904 Andrew Carnegie donated $1.5 million to build the Peace Palace, near the Hague and home to the Permanent Court of Arbitration, peace library and grounds.
May 11 1973 All charges were dismissed against Daniel Ellsberg who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, sparked a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers. Ellsberg, charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 of theft and conspiracy, faced a maximum sentence of 115 years.
May 12 1950 The American Bowling Congress allowed both women and African-Americans to join. The all-white-male policy was included in the ABC Charter when it was incorporated in 1893. Civil rights activists had protested the organization’s segregationist policies.
May 12 1963 Bob Dylan walked out of TV dress rehearsals for “The Ed Sullivan Show” when CBS censors tell him he could not perform his “Talking John Birch Society Blues.”
May 12 1989 Kenya announced it would agree to support a worldwide ban on the trade of ivory to save its remaining elephant herds.
May 12 1998 The Trisakti shootings occurred at Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia. At a nonviolent demonstration demanding President Suharto’s resignation, soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors. Four students were killed and dozens more were injured. The shootings caused riots to break out throughout Indonesia, eventually leading to Suharto’s resignation.
May 12 2002 Former US President Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro becoming the first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro’s 1959 revolution.
May 13 1373 Julian of Norwich had visions which are later transcribed in her Revelations of Divine Love.
May 13 1888 Brazil, which had imported more African enslaved people than any other country (nearly 40% of the 11 million Africans shipped to the western hemisphere), abolished slavery.
May 13 1963 The U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland is decided. The Supreme Court held that withholding exculpatory evidence violates due process “where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment.”
May 13 1981 Pope John Paul II was shot in St Peter’s Square in Rome in front of 20,000 worshipers. Police in the square apprehended Turkish citizen Mehmet Ali Agca after the shooting. The Pope forgave the shooter while he was in the ambulance on his way to the hospital moments after being shot. He later wrote, “The act of forgiveness is the first and fundamental condition so that we aren’t divided and placed one against another like enemies. It’s important that not even an episode like that of May 13 succeeds in opening an abyss between two men, creating a silence that would result in breaking all forms of communication.”
May 13 1985 Police dropped a bomb on MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia to end a stand-off, killing 11 MOVE members and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.
May 14 1836 At the annual Staats-Saengerfest, held in San Antonio, Texas Germans, following the lead of the Freier Mann Verein (Freeman’s Association) organized by fellow Germans in the northern states, declared that slavery was an evil and abolition was a responsibility of the states.
May 14 1961 The Freedom Riders bus was fire-bombed near Anniston, Alabama, and the civil rights protesters were beaten by an angry mob.
May 14 1973 In Frontiero v. Richardson, the US Supreme Count decided that female members of the military could claim their husbands as dependents. Sharron Frontiero was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force who applied for housing benefits for her husband, whom she claimed as a dependent. Under then-existing military policy, wives — but not husbands — were entitled to benefits as dependents. A majority of the Court declared the policy unconstitutional. Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed an amicus brief for Frontiero for the ACLU.
May 14 1970 Two African-American students were shot to death and 30 others wounded by local police and state troopers and national guardsmen at primarily black Jackson State University in Mississippi. The two were watching demonstrators protesting the invasion of Cambodia and racial discrimination from a nearby dormitory tower.
May 15 1817 Opening of the first private mental health hospital in the United States, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
May 15 1869 In New York, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.
May 15 1870 Julia Ward Howe, suffragist, abolitionist and author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” proposed Mother’s Day as a peace holiday. She had seen firsthand some of the worst effects of war during the American Civil War—the death and disease which killed and maimed, and the widows and orphans left behind on both sides of the Civil War—and realized that the effects of the war go beyond the killing of soldiers in battle.
May 15 1919 The Winnipeg General Strike began. By 11:00, almost the whole working population of Winnipeg had walked off the job. Labor leaders charged that although many Winnipeg companies had made enormous profits on World War I contracts, wages were low, working conditions were dismal and the men had no voice in the shops.
May 15 1923 Novelist Upton Sinclair was arrested on Liberty Hill in what is now part of Los Angeles at a rally in support of striking marine transport workers. Sinclair had just begun to read the Bill of Rights when he was arrested, and a police officer exclaimed, “We’ll have none of that Constitution stuff.” Sinclair and others were arrested and held incommunicado for four days.
May 15 1997 The United States government acknowledged the existence of the “Secret War” in Laos (1953–75) and dedicated the Laos Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Hmong and other “Secret War” veterans
May 16 1717 The French playwright and poet Voltaire was imprisoned in the Bastille for speaking out against political and religious repression.
May 16 1918 The U.S. Congress passed the Sedition Act. Aimed at socialists, pacifists and other anti-war activists, the Sedition Act imposed harsh penalties on anyone found guilty of making false statements; insulting or abusing the U.S. government, conscription, the flag, the Constitution or the military; agitating against the production of necessary war materials; or advocating, teaching or defending any of these acts.
May 16 1927 In the case of “Whitney v. California”, Justice Louis Brandeis offered on of the most eloquent defenses of free speech: “Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the State was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that, in its government, the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary . . . They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth . . . that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears. To justify suppression of free speech, there must be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the danger apprehended is imminent. There must be reasonable ground to believe that the evil to be prevented is a serious one.”
May 16 1942 Gordon Hirabayashi initiated a Supreme Court test of the Japanese-American evacuation and internment program by refusing to obey a curfew on Japanese-Americans. His refusal led to Hirabayashi v. United States, decided on June 21, 1943, the first important Japanese-American internment case to reach the Court, and in which the Court upheld the constitutionality of the curfew that Hirabayashi had violated.
May 16 1956 The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission voted to hire secret agents to serve as its “eyes and ears” in the fight against racial integration and civil rights activity. The Commission stated that “it’s possible we may want to hire a Negro” to spy on the African-American community and civil rights groups. When the Commission’s files were opened years later, it was revealed that it had retained private detective agencies, hired private individuals, and in fact did hire several conservative African-Americans who served as spies.
May 16 1968 400 students at Edgewood High School in San Antonio held a walkout and demonstration, and marched to the district administration office. Among the students’ grievances were insufficient supplies and the lack of qualified teachers. On July 10 of the same year, Demetrio Rodríguez and seven other Edgewood parents filed suit on behalf of Texas schoolchildren who were poor or resided in school districts with low property-tax bases. The resulting class action, Rodríguez v. San Antonio ISD, was a landmark case in which a federal district court declared the Texas school-finance system unconstitutional.
May 16 1986 The Seville Statement on Violence was adopted by an international meeting of scientists, convened by the Spanish National Commission for UNESCO, in Seville, Spain.
May 16 1998 Tens of thousands of Britons supporting Jubilee 2000 formed a human chain around the meeting place of the G7 Summit (an annual meeting of the leaders of the largest industrial countries) in Birmingham, England. Jubilee 2000 urged the major international lending countries to relieve terms of and forgive the massive indebtedness of poor countries around the world.
May 16 2007 The first synagogue to be opened since the Holocaust opened in the Estonian capital, Tallinn. The synagogue was built to serve the country’s Jewish community of about 2,500 people. Many of the country’s synagogues and Jewish communities were destroyed during World War II and the Soviet era.
May 17 1921 The Lucy Stone League was founded, committed to the principle that women can choose to keep their own names when they marry. Lucy Stone (1818–1853) was reportedly the first woman in the United States to keep her name after marrying.
May 17 1954 In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, ruling “separate but equal” public education to be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed equal treatment under the law.
May 17 1983 The U.S. Department of Energy declassified documents showing world’s largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (ultimately found to be 4.2 million pounds), in response to the Appalachian Observer’s Freedom of Information Act request.
May 17 1990 The General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) eliminated homosexuality from the list of psychiatric diseases.
May 17 1957 In the “Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom,” probably the first major African-American march on Washington, an estimated 25,000 people marched the third anniversary of Brown v Board of Education to demand civil rights for African-Americans. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech entitled “Give Us the Ballot.” “Give us the ballot and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights …”Give us the ballot and we will no longer plead to the federal government for passage of an anti-lynching law … Give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls with men of good will … Give us the ballot and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justly and love mercy … Give us the ballot and we will quietly and nonviolently, without rancor or bitterness, implement the Supreme Court’s
May 17 1896 Supreme Court endorsed “separate but equal” facilities for those of different races with its Plessy v. Ferguson decision, a ruling that was overturned 58 years later.
May 17 2007 Two trains, one from North Korea and one from South Korea, both carrying 150 passengers, became the first trains to pass between the two countries since the Korean War. The border crossing train journeys remained largely symbolic of hope for future cooperation between the two countries.
May 18 2006 The post Loktantra Andolan government passed a landmark bill curtailing the power of the monarchy and making Nepal a secular country.
May 18 1979 A jury in a federal court in Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee established a company’s responsibility for damage to the health of a worker in the nuclear industry. Karen Silkwood worked for the Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corporation at their Cimmaron, Texas, plant where plutonium was manufactured and had suffered radiation exposure. The jury awarded her estate $505,000 in actual damages, and $10 million punitive damages. She had died in a car accident on her way to a meeting with a The New York Times reporter five years earlier.
May 18 1972 Margaret (Maggie) Kuhn founded the Gray Panthers (originally called the Consultation of Older and Younger Adults for Social Change) to consider the common problems faced by retirees — loss of income, loss of contact with associates, and loss of one of society’s most distinguishing social roles, one’s job. Seeing all issues of injustice as inevitably linked, they refused to relegate themselves to elder rights, but focused also on peace, presidential elections, poverty, and civil liberties. Their first big issue was opposition to the Vietnam War.
May 18 1952 In the early ’50s, the U.S. government revoked Paul Robeson’s passport on the grounds of purported un-American political leanings, effectively blocking a planned live performance in Canada. Undaunted, Robeson appeared anyway, singing from a flatbed truck parked on the grounds of the Peace Arch Park in Blaine, Washington — just one foot away from the Canadian border — with over 40,000 Americans and Canadians in attendance. He gave a similar concert a year later; that’s where this video came from.
May 18 1096 In the First Crusade, around 800 Jews were massacred in Worms, Germany
May 18 1652 Rhode Island passed the first law in English-speaking North America making slavery illegal.
May 18 1899 The Hague Peace Conference opened with delegates from 26 countries taking part in the first international arms control summit.
May 18 1896 The United States Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that the “separate but equal” doctrine is constitutional.
May 19 1850 Four thousand Mexican miners gathered in Sonora, California, to protest the Foreign Miners’ Tax, which was enacted to drive them from gold fields. Before the discovery of gold, native Mexicans greatly outnumbered Anglos in California. By 1849 massive migration turned the Mexicans into a minority. Soon the Anglos dominated the state legislature, enacting laws like the Greaser Act (1855), which defined vagrants as “all persons who are commonly known as ‘Greasers’ or the issue of Spanish or Indian blood … and who go armed and are not peaceable and quiet persons.” This anti-loitering law, according to Steven W. Bender in his book “Greasers and Gringos,” was the precursor to modern laws directed at loitering, gang activity, and other apparently race-neutral offenses that in practice are often used to justify interrogatory stops of persons of color.
May 19 1961 In In McGowan v. Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled that Sunday “Blue” closing laws do not violate the Establishment of religion Clause of the First Amendment because they had a secular purpose, such as promoting a universal day of rest. Justice Douglas in dissent: “The First Amendment commands government to have no interest in theology or ritual; it admonishes government to be interested in allowing religious freedom to flourish — whether the result is to produce Catholics, Jews, or Protestants, or to turn the people toward the path of Buddha, or to end in a predominantly Moslem nation, or to produce in the long run atheists or agnostics. On matters of this kind government must be neutral.”
May 19 1997 The Sierra Gorda biosphere, the most ecologically diverse region in Mexico, was established as a result of grassroots efforts.
May 20 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte reinstated slavery in the French colonies, revoking its abolition in the French Revolution.
May 20 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the original Homestead Act , which gave an applicant freehold title to up to 160 acres of undeveloped federal land outside the original 13 colonies. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government (including freed slaves and women), was 21 years or older, or the head of a family, could file an application to claim a federal land grant.
May 20 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt, eager to wave his “big stick” before the Republican National Convention met in June, ordered seven warships to Tangier, Morocco, to rescue a wealthy former resident of Trenton, NJ, who was being held for ransom by “the last of the Barbary Pirates.” Morocco was the last independent nation in northern Africa; the incident began a scramble among the European powers to gain control over the country. Roosevelt ended up agreeing to all of the kidnapper’s demands.
May 20 1961 With the local police looking on, 300 white segregationists attacked a busload of both black and white “Freedom Riders” in Montgomery, Alabama’s bus depot. Among those beaten was Justice Department official John Seigenthaler who had tried to negotiate their safety. Media attention pushed Attorney General Robert Kennedy to send in U.S. Marshals to protect the Riders, who had been seeking to guarantee equal access to interstate transportation by riding the bus.
May 20 1964 After a 31-month investigation, the U.S. Attorney in Fort Wayne, Indiana, informed the FBI that it would not prosecute Wand Records on charges of interstate distribution of obscene material for distributing the hit record Louie Louie. The FBI Laboratory was “unable to determine [its] words or lyrics.”
May 21 1856 Pro-slavery activists attacked and ransacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas, which had been founded by anti-slavery settlers. The incident helped ratchet up the guerrilla war in Kansas Territory that became known as Bleeding Kansas.
May 21 1930 As many as 2,500 protesters filled the local jails for their civil disobedience during a nonviolent “raid” on the Dharasana Salt Works. Column after column of Indians advanced toward the gates and were severely beaten by the native police under British direction. Not one satyagrahi (one who works for justice with courage and sacrifice but without violent force) raised a hand to defend himself; many lost consciousness, and some died. Gandhi (who was already in jail during this action) focused attention on salt as an example of unfair British oppression in his effort toward national independence for India.
May 21 2001 French Taubira law was enacted, officially recognizing the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity. The law was named after Christiane Taubira, born in French Guiana, then a member of the French National Assembly who later became Minister of Justice of France under President François Hollande.
May 21 1678 The custom of “weighing the Mayor” began in High Wycombe, Bucks, England, after Mayor Henry Shepard in was reported as being drunk and misbehaving himself. The Mayor is weighed upon taking up office, and again a year later when the next incumbent takes on the annual role. The Mayor is be seated on special brass scales – if “and no more” is called out, the crowd will cheer as it’s assumed they have been working hard. If the verdict is “And some more!”, it means the mayor has been indulging in too much good living at rate payers’ expense and the crowd jeers and boos.
May 22 1703 British author Daniel Defoe was fined, imprisoned and later pilloried for seditious libel for his satire, The Shortest Way With Dissenters, which poked fun, in much the way that The Onion does today, of the persecution of religious sects such as the Quakers, Unitarians, Anabaptists, Baptists and Puritans. The book was published a year earlier: it took that long for the powers that be to realize it was mocking them.
May 22 1856 When Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner giving a scathing indictment of slavery and his southern colleagues who supported it. South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks took great offense to Sumner’s speech and attacked him at his desk on the Senate floor, beating him savagely with his walking cane, while other southern Congressmen held off any bystanders who wished to stop the assault. The attack drew praise from the South and outrage from the North and represented the “breakdown of reasoned discourse” that led to the Civil War.
May 22 1872 U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Amnesty Act restoring full civil rights to most Confederate sympathizers.
May 22 1964 U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the goals of his Great Society social reforms to bring an “end to poverty and racial injustice” in America.
May 22 2001 Delegates from 127 countries formally voted approval of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS), a treaty calling for the initial elimination of 12 of the most dangerous man-made chemicals, nine of which are pesticides. POPS are often toxic at very low levels, resist degradation and thus persist for decades or longer, because they become concentrated in living tissue, are readily spread by atmospheric and ocean currents.
May 23 1838 U.S. General Winfield Scott began the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians from North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, implementing a treaty signed by a few members of the tribe relinquishing their lands for a payment of $5 million, under orders from President Martin Van Buren. 16,000 Cherokee were then driven on foot to “Indian Territory,” now Oklahoma. Of those who set out on the forced march known as the “The Trail of Tears,” nearly one-quarter died along the way or as a result of the relocation.
May 23 1982 Ten thousand people marched in London protesting the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas). Argentina claimed sovereignty over three islands in the South Atlantic and invaded to reclaim them. Great Britain was fighting to maintain colonial control over the Falkland, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which they originally claimed in 1833.
May 23 1982 400,000 demonstrated for peace and disarmament in Tokyo, Japan.
May 23 1984 In Edgewood Independent School District et al. v. Kirby et al., a landmark case concerning public school finance, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed suit against commissioner of education William Kirby in Travis County on behalf of the Edgewood Independent School District, San Antonio, citing discrimination against students in poor school districts. The plaintiffs charged that the state’s methods of funding public schools violated at least four principles of the state constitution, which obligated the state legislature to provide an efficient and free public school system. Initially, eight school districts and twenty-one parents were represented in the Edgewood case. Ultimately, however, sixty-seven other school districts as well as many other parents and students joined the original plaintiffs. the Texas Supreme Court noted that the Edgewood ISD, among the poorest districts in the state, had $38,854 in property wealth per student, while the Alamo Heights ISD, which is in the same county, had $570,109 per student. In addition, property-poor districts had to set a tax rate that averaged 74.5 cents per $100 valuation to generate $2,987 per student, while richer districts, with a tax rate of half that much, could produce $7,233 per student. These differences produced disparities in the districts’ abilities to hire good teachers, build appropriate facilities, offer a sound curriculum, and purchase such important equipment as computers. In its original 1984 brief, MALDEF had declared that such gaps amounted to the denial of equal opportunity in an “increasingly complex and technological society,” and asserted that this was contrary to the intent of the constitution’s Texas Education Clause.
May 23 1993 The U.S. Proposed creating safe havens in Bosnia-Herzegovina for Muslims, but the Muslim president has said his people are not willing to be put “in Reservations.”
May 23 1998 The Good Friday Agreement was accepted in a referendum in Northern Ireland with 75% voting yes.
May 23 2002 The “55 parties” clause of the Kyoto Protocol was reached after its ratification by Iceland. The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty, which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, based on the premise that (a) global warming exists and (b) man-made CO2 emissions have caused it.
May 23 2007 The Sunfull movement of positive encouragement on social media began in South Korea. The non-profit organization counters bullying and the hateful comments that are posted on the Internet by having people, especially students, post positive and meaningful comments.
May 23 2008 The International Court of Justice (ICJ) awarded Middle Rocks to Malaysia and Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh) to Singapore, ending a 29-year territorial dispute between the two countries.
May 23 2015 The Republic of Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
May 24 1774 The Virginia House of Burgesses declared this a day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” in reaction to the British closure of the Port of Boston.
May 24 1917 An Anti-Conscription Parade was held in Victoria Square, Montreal, Quebec, in resistance to a Canadian draft to send soldiers to the European war.
May 24 1963 Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy invited novelist James Baldwin, along with a large group of cultural leaders, to meet in a Kennedy apartment in New York City. The meeting became antagonistic and the group reached no consensus. The black delegation generally felt that Kennedy did not understand the full extent of racism in the United States. Ultimately the meeting demonstrated the urgency of the racial situation and was a positive turning point in Kennedy’s attitude towards the civil rights movement.
May 24 1971 At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, an anti-war newspaper advertisement was published, signed by 29 U.S. soldiers supporting the Concerned Officers Movement. The group had been formed in 1970 in Washington, D.C. by a small group of junior naval officers opposed to the war. The advertisement at Fort Bragg was in support of the group’s members, who had joined with anti-war activist David Harris and others in San Diego to mobilize opposition to the departure of the carrier USS Constellation for Vietnam.
May 24 1981 First International Women’s Day for Disarmament.
May 24 1983 In Bob Jones University v. United States, the Supreme Court held that the Internal Revenue Service was correct in revoking the tax exempt status of Bob Jones University because it discriminated against African-Americans in admissions. The university had refused to admit African-Americans until 1971 and, between 1971 and 1975, admitted African-Americans only if they were married. After 1975, the university admitted African-Americans but not if they were engaged in an interracial marriage or advocated such marriages.
May 24 1999 The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands indicted Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.
May 25 1738 A treaty between Pennsylvania and Maryland ended the Conojocular War with settlement of a boundary dispute and exchange of prisoners. A final settlement was not achieved until 1767 when the Mason–Dixon line was recognized as the permanent boundary between the two colonies.
May 25 1774 A group of African slaves in Massachusetts Bay colony petitioned the British royal governor for freedom as their natural right: “. . . we have in common with all other men a natural right to our freedoms without Being depriv’d of them by our fellow men as we are a freeborn Pepel [people] and have never forfeited this Blessing by aney compact or agreement whatever.”
May 25 1953 The first public television station in the United States officially began broadcasting as KUHT from the campus of the University of Houston.
May 25 1963 Meeting in Addis Ababa, African states united to create the Organization of African Unity / OAU to decolonize the remaining bastions of white rule in South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Mozambique and Angola with any and all means possible including providing African “freedom fighters” with finance, arms, volunteers and training bases.
May 25 1970 In Schacht v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that actors could wear accurate military uniforms—regardless of the production’s portrayal of the military. Daniel Jay Schacht was arrested for performing in a skit while wearing a military uniform as part of a protest in front of a recruiting station. The Court agreed that while there could be a blanket ban on the wearing of military uniforms by those not in the military, allowing actors to wear uniforms only if their role did not discredit the military was a violation of the actor’s First Amendment right to Free Speech.
May 25 1986 An estimated 7 million Americans participated in Hands Across America, forming a line across the country from Los Angeles to New York to raise public awareness of the issues of hunger and homelessness in the U.S. Participants paid ten dollars to reserve their place in line; the proceeds were donated to local charities to feed the hungry and help the homeless.
May 25 2013 Ukraine’s first gay pride parade took place with about one-hundred attendees in the country’s capital city of Kiev. Police were present and had to arrest thirteen people who were trying to break up the gathering.
May 26 1957 Because the U.S. government had suspended singer/activist Paul Robeson’s passport based on of his political views, he gave a concert by phone for a London audience. One thousand people crammed into St. Pancras Hall to hear Robeson sing six numbers. The transatlantic phone connection was established only five minutes before the concert was scheduled to begin, but the sound quality proved to be excellent.
May 26 1940 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a sit-down strike was not a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act even if it interfered with interstate commerce. The Court said that if the strike were found to be a restraint of trade, then “practically every strike in modern industry would be brought within the jurisdiction of the federal courts under the Sherman Act.” The American Federation of Full Fashioned Hosiery Workers under its president, William Leader, had declared a strike at Apex Hosiery Co. in Philadelphia, and had organized support among other workers in the city. When Apex refused to recognize the union, he declared a sit-down strike and led an occupation of the factory which lasted for seven weeks. Susan notes: my mother was a garment worker at Apex for more than 20 years, including during the 1936 strike period.
May 26 1947 An FBI memo attacked the now-classic film, It’s A Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, for conveying a subversive, anti-capitalist, anti-banking message. The memo argued that making the banker Mr. Potter the most hated person in the film was a “common trick used by the Communists.”
May 26 1948 The National Party of the Dutch Afrikaners headed by Daniel François Malan who had been campaigning on the policy of implementing full scale apartheid came to power and began the policy of apartheid.
May 26 1969 Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono staged a public ‘bed in’ for world peace – staying in bed for a week in a hotel in Montreal.
May 26 1972 The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was signed by the United States (Nixon) and the Soviet Union (Brezhnev), which was in force for thirty years — until 2002 when the US withdrew to pursue a Missile Defense System.
May 26 2004 The New York Times published an admission of journalistic failings, claiming that its flawed reporting and lack of skepticism towards sources during the buildup to the 2003 war in Iraq helped promote the belief that Iraq possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
May 26 2009 Over 50,000 people gathered to protest against the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili. The opposition supporters demanded the president’s resignation in a large protest in Tbsilisi, the capital, on the nation’s independence day.
May 27 1963 The record album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, which featured the song “Blowin’ in the Wind,” was released.
May 27 1967 In the case of O’Brien v United States, the Supreme Court ruled that burning a draft card as a form of protest was not protected by the First Amendment. Chief Justice Warren, normally a strong defender of civil liberties wrote: “We cannot accept the view that an apparently limitless variety of conduct can be labeled “speech” whenever the person engaging in the conduct intends thereby to express an idea.”
May 27 1967 Australians voted in favor of a constitutional referendum granting the Australian government the power to make laws to benefit Indigenous Australians and to count them in the national census.
May 27 1940 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a sit-down strike was not a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act even if it interfered with interstate commerce. The company had sued for treble damages (triple their financial loss) under the Act. The Court said that if the strike were found to be a restraint of trade, then “practically every strike in modern industry would be brought within the jurisdiction of the federal courts under the Sherman Act.” The American Federation of Full Fashioned Hosiery Workers under its president, William Leader, had declared a strike at Apex Hosiery Co. in Philadelphia, and had organized support among other workers in the city. When Apex refused to recognize the union, he declared a sit-down strike and led an occupation of the factory which lasted for seven weeks.
May 28 1830 U.S. President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act which relocated Native Americans to federal territory west of the Mississippi River. Jackson believed his population transfer was a “wise and humane policy” that would save the Indians from “utter annihilation.” He wrote: “What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?″
May 28 1892 The Sierra Club, America’s oldest grassroots environmental organization, was organized in San Francisco with wilderness explorer John Muir as its first president. The organization’s initial effort was to defeat a proposed reduction in the boundaries of Yosemite National Park. In the photo above Muir, on the right, is pictured with Teddy Roosevelt.
May 28 1918 The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic declared its statehood becoming the first democratic republic in the Muslim world.
May 28 1961 Amnesty International, a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights, particularly as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was founded in Great Britain.
May 28 1963 Black and white civil rights advocates were attacked as they sat-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi. They were defying state laws against serving “colored” citizens at “whites-only” public facilities.
May 29 1932 In the depths of the Great Depression, the Bonus Expeditionary Force, a group of 1,000 World War I veterans seeking to cash in their veterans’ bonus certificates, arrived in Washington, D.C. Though issued to the veterans in 1924, the certificates were not scheduled to be paid until 1945. By mid-June, the vets had set up a massive “Hooverville,” a term for an encampment of the homeless. One month later, other veteran groups made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong, most of them unemployed veterans in difficult financial straits. President Herbert Hoover ordered the Army to clear out the veterans when they resisted being evicted by Washington police.
May 29 1945 International Day of UN Peacekeepers. For 70 years, UN peacekeepers have undertaken 71 field missions and negotiated more than 172 peaceful settlements to end regional conflicts, and enabled people in more than 45 countries to participate in free and fair elections. Many have died in service to the cause of peace.
May 29 1968 The ( TILA ) Truth In Lending Act passed into law with regulations designed to protect consumers in credit transactions requiring clear disclosure of key terms of the lending arrangement and all costs.
May 29 1986 The Christic Institute, a public interest law firm founded on Jesuit principles, filed a $24 million civil lawsuit, Avirgan v. Hull, charging U.S. government complicity in an assassination bombing at La Penca, Nicaragua, and that the CIA had a role in smuggling cocaine into the U.S. to fund the Contras, an insurgent military force working to bring down the government of Nicaragua. The suit was dismissed, according to The New York Times at least in part due to “the fact that the vast majority of the 79 witnesses Mr. Sheehan cites as authorities were either dead, unwilling to testify, fountains of contradictory information or at best one person removed from the facts they were describing.” The Christic Institute was ordered to pay $955,000 in attorneys fees and $79,500 in court costs and was stripped of their non-profit status.
May 30 1919 Poet Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, having received received the news of the Amrister Massacre, renounce his knighthood as “a symbolic act of protest.” In the repudiation letter addressed to the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, he wrote “I … wish to stand, shorn of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so called insignificance, are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings”
May 30 1922 An audience of 50,000 people attended the dedication ceremony of the Lincoln Memorial. Incredibly, despite the fact that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the audience for the ceremony was racially segregated.
May 30 1937 A thousand striking steel workers, on their way to picket the Republic Steel plant in south Chicago where they were organizing a union, were stopped by the Chicago Police. In what became known as the “Memorial Day Massacre,” police shot and killed ten fleeing workers, wounded 30 more, and beat 55 so badly they required hospitalization.
May 30 1963 A protest against pro-Catholic discrimination was held outside South Vietnam’s National Assembly, the first open demonstration during the eight-year rule of Ngo Dinh Diem. More than 500 monks demonstrated in front of the National Assembly in Saigon, unfurled banners and sat down for four hours before disbanding and returning to the pagodas to begin a nationwide 48-hour hunger strike.
May 30 1963 Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered a strong speech at Gettysburg in support of civil rights. He said: “In this hour, it is not our respective races which are at stake—it is our nation. Let those who care for their country come forward, North and South, white and Negro, to lead the way through this moment of challenge and decision. The Negro says, ‘Now.’ Others say, ‘Never.’ The voice of responsible Americans—the voice of those who died here and the great man who spoke here—their voices say, ‘Together.’ There is no other way.”
May 30 1989 The 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue, constructed in only four days out of foam and papier-mâché over a metal armature, was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.
May 30 2011 Germany announced plans to abandon nuclear power over the next 11 years, outlining an ambitious strategy to replace it with renewable energy sources in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster. Eight of the seventeen operating reactors in Germany were permanently shut down shortly afterward.
May 30 2012 Former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was sentenced by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (a judicial body set up by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations) to 50 years in prison for his role in atrocities committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
May 31 1790 The United States enacted its first copyright statute to protect authors of creative works. Artists are granted protection for original works of literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations so they may reap the fruits of their intellectual creations for a period of time.
May 31 1854 The civil death procedure was abolished in France. Civil death (Latin: civiliter mortuus) is the loss of all or almost all civil rights by a person due to a conviction for a felony. In the US, the disenfranchisement of felon has been called a form of civil death.
May 31 1921 The Tulsa race riot a large-scale, racially motivated conflict, began. A group of whites attacked the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma resulting in the Greenwood District, also known as ‘the Black Wall Street and the wealthiest black community in the United States, being burned to the ground. During the 16 hours of the assault, more than 800 people were admitted to local white hospitals with injuries (the two black hospitals were burned down), and police arrested and detained more than 6,000 black Greenwood residents. An estimated 10,000 blacks were left homeless, and 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire. The official count of the dead was 39, but other estimates of black fatalities vary from 55 to as many as 300.
May 31 1931 An organized mob of Sinhalese origin burned the Jaffna Public Library. At the time of its destruction, the library was one of the biggest in Asia, containing over 97,000 books and manuscripts. For the Tamil minority, the devastated library became a symbol of “physical and imaginative violence”. The attack was seen as an assault on their aspirations, the value of learning and traditions of academic achievement. The attack also became the rallying point for Tamil rebels to educate the Tamil populace that their race was targeted for annihilation.
May 31 1955 The U.S. Supreme Court ordered (in a unanimous decision known as Brown II after the 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education) that school integration be implemented “with all deliberate speed,” ordering the lower federal courts to require the desegregation of public schools. Between 1955 and 1960, federal judges held more than 200 school desegregation hearings. The decision reiterated “the fundamental principle that racial discrimination in public education is unconstitutional . . . . All provisions of federal, state or local law requiring or permitting such discrimination must yield to this principle.”
May 31 1994 The United States announced it was no longer aiming long-range nuclear missiles at targets in the former Soviet Union.
June 1 1771 A crowd of women was arrested while destroying the fences around Rewhay Common, England, in attempt to resist the enclosures of the commons that was occurring throughout the country. Prior to the enclosures in England, a portion of the land was categorized as “common” and was under some kind of collective control. Enclosures privatized the land.
June 1 1921 America’s worst race riot, begun the day before over the threat of a lynching, culminated in the complete destruction of the African-American neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahome. Nearly 10,000 were left homeless.
June 1 1925 In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the US Supreme Court struck down an Oregon law requiring that all children between the ages of eight and 16 attend public school. Justice McReynolds noted: “The child is not the mere creature of the State.”
June 1 1942 German Chancellor Adolf Hitler ordered all Jews in occupied Paris to wear an identifying yellow star on the left side of their coats. The following month 13,000 French Jews were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.
June 1 1950 Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R–Maine) stepped forward to denounce Senator Joe McCarthy for his reckless anti-Communist demagoguery. Sen. Smith’s speech was titled a “Declaration of Conscience.” Senate Republican leaders punished her by removing her as a member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. They gave her seat to Sen. Richard Nixon (R–California), who had already built his career on relentless attacks on alleged Communists in government.
June 1 1969 John Lennon & Yoko recorded “Give Peace a Chance,” Montreal (with friends Tom & Dick Smothers, Derek Taylor, Murray the K & Timothy Leary).
June 1 1977 The Soviets charged Anatoly Shcharansky, a computer expert and leader of the human rights movement in Russia, with treason and arrested him. Shcharansky was a leading member of the “Helsinki group” in the Soviet Union, a collection of dissidents whose goal was to monitor the Soviet government’s compliance with the 1975 Helsinki accords between the United States and Russia. One part of those accords had been a statement that recognized the right of all people to enjoy basic human rights. Shcharansky and other Soviet dissidents, as well as international human rights groups such as Amnesty International, argued that the Soviets had never complied with this part of the accords.
June 1 1990 U.S. President George H. Bush joined the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, signing a treaty to end chemical weapons production and destroy their nation’s stockpiles.
June 2 1774 One of the Intolerable Acts, the Quartering Act was enacted, allowing a governor in colonial America to house British soldiers in uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings if suitable quarters are not provided. This eventually lead to Article III of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”
June 2 1783 At the urging of General George Washington, the United States Congress agreed to disband the Revolutionary army following the end of the war. Subject only to the signing of a final peace treaty with Great Britain, all soldiers and non-commissioned officers were discharged.
June 2 2012 The former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
June 3 1839 In Humen, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroyed 20,000 chests (about 1.2 tons) of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War. In the 17th and 18th Century the Western demand for Chinese goods was high; the self-sufficient Chinese had no desire for Western goods. This created a trade imbalance, with much silver going into China and none coming out. To rectify this, the British East India Company started selling opium grown on its Indian plantations to China, actively encouraging drug addiction among the Chinese.
June 3 1943 In Los Angeles, California, white U.S. Navy sailors and Marines clashed with Latino youths in the Zoot Suit Riots. Young “pachucos” wore zoot suits—a flamboyant long jacket with baggy pegged pants, sometimes accessorized with a pork pie hat, a long watch chain, and shoes with thick soles. Wartime clothing and fabric made the manufacture of of such suits illegal, but some were of pre-war vintage and other, bootlegged. The young sailors and marines looked upon such clothing unpatriotic. In one incident, sailors dragged two zoot suiters on-stage at a movie theater stripped them in front of the audience, and then urinated on their suits.
June 3 1946 The Supreme Court decided in the case of Irene Morgan, an African-American woman who was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a racially segregated bus in Virginia on July 6, 1944. Because the bus was traveling between states, Morgan and her attorneys decided to challenge the state law that required segregated buses. The Court declare the Virginia law unconstitutional in Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
June 3 1973 Governor Dolph Briscoe signed into law the Bilingual Education and Training Act. The bill required that all Texas elementary public schools enrolling twenty or more children of limited English ability must provide bilingual instruction. Previously, the Texas Department of Education had told Spanish-speaking parents that their children must learn the English language.
June 4 1917 President Woodrow Wilson and his Cabinet gave official sanction for the American Protective League (APL), a private organization that functioned as a private vigilante force during World War I. In the so-called “Slacker Raids,” APL volunteers rounded up thousands of young men suspected of evading the draft. APL volunteers carried official Justice Department badges and, even though they did not have arrest powers, they detained and arrested people anyway. At its peak, the APL had over 200,000 members in about 600 cities. The abuses of the APL became so great that the Justice Department finally curtailed its activities in the fall of 1918.
June 4 1949 During what became known as the “Voyage of the Damned,” the SS St. Louis, carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees from Germany to the U.S., was turned away from the Florida coast. The ship, also denied permission to dock in Cuba, eventually returned to Europe; many of the refugees later died in Nazi concentration camps.
June 4 1974 President Richard Nixon abolished the notorious Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations, which was a major instrument in the attack on freedom of belief and association during the Cold War. The list was ordered by President Harry Truman as part of his federal Loyalty Program in 1947. During the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War, individuals lost their jobs or were denied employment because they belonged to, or once belonged to, an organization on the list.
June 4 1998 ACLU of Maryland sued the Maryland State Police for race discrimination in traffic stops on Interstate 95. The case brought the issue of “driving while black” to national prominence. DWB is defined as the police stopping drivers because of the color of their skin and not because of any violation of traffic laws or suspicion of other criminal activity.
June 5 1939 The Supreme Court decision in Hague v. C.I.O. on this day was a landmark victory for freedom of assembly. The case arose out of a labor union-organizing campaign in Jersey City, New Jersey. Mayor Frank (“Boss”) Hague fought to keep unions out of the city with massive repression including denial of basic First Amendment rights to workers, union organizers, and their allies. The Court affirmed freedom of assembly under the privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment:
June 5 1950 The U.S. Supreme Court decision Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, integrated colleges and universities. The case involved a black man, Heman Marion Sweatt, who was refused admission to the School of Law of the University of Texas on the grounds that the Texas State Constitution prohibited integrated education. At the time, no law school in Texas would admit black students. In 2005, the Travis County Commissioners voted to rename the courthouse as The Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse in honor of Sweatt’s endeavor and victory.
June 5 1950 In Henderson v. United States the Supreme Court ruled that segregated railway dining cars were in violation of regulations requiring equal service under the Interstate Commerce Act.
June 5 1970 President Richard Nixon convened a meeting with the heads of all the intelligence agencies and demanded new measures against anti-Vietnam war protests and what he saw as other threats to an orderly society. The meeting was prompted by the massive anti-war demonstrations that swept the country following the invasion of Cambodia by U.S troops, which represented a significant expansion of the Vietnam War. The attendees at the meeting formed the Interdepartmental Committee on Intelligence, directed by White House aide Tom Charles Huston and called for a range of illegal actions against the anti-war movement, providing the basis for subsequent abuses by the Nixon Administration, including primarily the infamous Plumbers Unit. The Plumbers burglarized the offices of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist looking for incriminating evidence against Ellsberg. Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers the New York Times.
June 5 1972 Jane Briggs Hart, the wife of Senator Philip A. Hart (D-Michigan), informed the Internal Revenue Service that she wouldn’t pay some of her taxes; instead, she deposited her quarterly estimated tax of $6,200 in a special bank account. She wrote: “I cannot contribute one more dollar toward the purchase of more bombs and bullets.”
June 5 1996 The Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Fund (SBLDF) dispatched five hundred children from Acuna, Mexico, along with their parents, mayor, and city council members to Austin to protest the establishment of a nuclear waste disposal site to Governor George W. Bush. The campaigners marched, and conducted a sit-in and a vigil. In 1991, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority (TLLRWDA) began searching for a disposal site for dangerous toxic waste in the Hudspeth County area. According to the 1983 La Paz agreement, Hudspeth County falls in a no-contamination zone surrounding the Mexican border. Regardless, the TLLRWDA selected Sierra Blanca, a small low-income town in an environmentally fragile region.
June 5 2001 In response to his party’s move to the right, moderate Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords crossed the aisle, an independent act that shifted control of the U.S. Senate from the Republicans to the Democrats .
June 6 1936 The Senate approved the La Follette Committee, which investigated violations of the civil liberties of workers and labor unions by employers. The official name of the committee was the Subcommittee Investigating Violations of Free Speech and the Rights of Labor, of the Senate Committee on Education and Labor. The Committee conducted hearings from 1936 to 1941, and was named after its chair, Senator Robert M. La Follette, Jr. The committee investigation exposed the use of private detective agencies, such as the Pinkerton Agency, who employed spies to fight workers attempting to organize unions.
June 6 1949 George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was published. It described a world in which totalitarian government controls the behavior of all, including the way one thinks, summed up in the government’s slogans: War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength.
June 6 1966 James Meredith, who had integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962 amid riots, launched a “March Against Fear” in Mississippi on this day, and was soon shot and wounded. Other civil rights leaders joined in to continue the march.
June 6 1989 The FBI and the Department of Energy, tipped off by plant workers, raided the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production facility, near Denver. They found numerous violations of federal anti-pollution laws including massive contamination of water and soil. Rockwell International, the operator of the facility, was fined $18.5 million.
June 6 1992 172 nations met at a United Nations Environmental Conference – the Earth Summit — in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the largest ever of its kind with unprecedented scope.
June 6 2013 The Washington Post published an article on the National Security Agency’s PRISM program that gives the agency access to nine different Internet companies and allows it to collect emails and other data on foreign terrorist targets outside of the U.S. The story was the second based on NSA documents stolen and leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden. Media stories based on the documents continued for more than a year.
June 7 1628 The Petition of Right, a major English constitutional document, was granted the Royal Assent by Charles I and became law. The Petition contains restrictions on non-Parliamentary taxation, forced billeting of soldiers, imprisonment without cause and the use of martial law.
June 7 1892 Homer Plessy, a Creole of European and African descent, was arrested and jailed for sitting in a Louisiana railroad car designated for white people only. Plessy had violated an 1890 state law, the Louisiana Separate Car Act, that called for racially segregated rail facilities. He then went to court, claiming the law violated the 13th and 14th amendments, but Judge John Howard Ferguson found him guilty anyhow. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed Plessy’s guilty verdict to stand by an 8-1 majority. The decision, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) established the doctrine of “separate but equal” [separate facilities for white and black people] institutionalizing and legalizing segregation in the United
June 7 1893 Mohandas K. Gandhi, then a young Indian lawyer working in South Africa, refused to comply with racial segregation rules on a South African train and is forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg. It was his first act of civil disobedience.
June 8 1925 In a historic decision, Gitlow v. New York, the Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Free Speech and Free Press Clauses of the First Amendment, making them applicable to the states. The decision launched the process of incorporating provisions of the Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment, which became the foundation of the growth of constitutional protection of civil rights and civil liberties revolutions in the decades ahead.
June 8 1929 Margaret Bondfield becomes Britain’s first female cabinet minister, serving as minister of labour. The first woman appointed as a US cabinet secretary was Frances Perkins, also Secretary of Labor,appointed in 1933.
June 8 1953 In District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., Inc. the US Supreme Court ruled that D.C. restaurants could not refuse to serve black patrons. Howard University students researched the laws of the city and found that laws passed during Reconstruction banned racial discrimination in places of public accommodation. Led by the iconic civil rights leader Mary Church Terrell (at age 86), African Americans attempted to be served at Thompson’s Restaurant (725 14th St NW) in 1950. After they were denied service, they filed suit against the chain.
June 8 1975 In response to revelations that the CIA had undertaken secret plots to assassinate foreign leaders, Attorney General Edward H. Levi stated that presidents do not have the authority to order the assassination of foreign leaders. A year later, on February 18, 1976, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 banning assassinations by the CIA and other government agencies.
June 8 1987 New Zealand established a national nuclear-free zone with a Disarmament, and Arms Control Act.
June 9 1549 The Protestant ‘Book of Common Prayer’ was introduced, sparking a Catholic rebellion, known as”The Prayer Book Rebellion.” Along with poor economic conditions, the attack on the Catholic Church (which also included a ban on religious pilgrimages and processions, and the confiscation of some church property) led to an explosion of anger. Additionally, the Latin mass was forbidden; a call to translate the Book of Common prayer into Cornish was denied. Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, sent Lord John Russell with an army composed partly of German and Italian mercenaries to suppress the revolt.
June 9 1954 Army counsel Joseph Welch confronted Sen. Joseph McCarthy on the 30th day of Senate hearings investigating Communist activity in the Army, saying, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” at which point, the Senate the gallery erupted in applause.
June 9 1969 In the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, Clarence Brandenburg was an Ohio Ku Klux Klan member convicted of violating the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism law for making extreme racist statements against African-Americans and Jews. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction, holding that the First Amendment protected extremely offensive speech, except where there was a direct incitement to imminent lawless action.
June 10 1917 The Women’s Peace Crusade in Scotland launched a three-week campaign of street meetings and demonstrations in dozens of towns to build support for peace in the midst of what was then called The Great War (now known as World War I.)
June 10 1964 The civil rights bill before Congress in the spring of 1964 was almost certain to pass, but southern segregationists resorted to their only remaining weapon, a filibuster, to in their minds block its passage. The filibuster that began on March 30, 1964 paralyzed the Senate for 57 working days. On this day, a coalition of liberal Republicans and Democrats from outside the South voted for a cloture motion shutting off debate and ending the filibuster. The civil rights bill quickly passed both houses of Congress and President Lyndon Johnson signed the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.
June 10 1968 In the case of Terry v Ohio the Supreme Court approved the police tactic of “stop and frisk.” The Court defined a “stop” as a temporary detention (short of an arrest) of a person about whom the police have “reasonable suspicion” is either committing or about to commit a crime. A “frisk” is a pat-down of a stopped person’s outer garments (short of a full search) to see if he or she has a weapon, and can be done only for the purpose of protecting the officer’s safety.
June 10 1968 Florence Flast and others sued Wilber Cohen, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, because HEW was spending funds on religious schools in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The District Court had ruled that Flast lacked standing to sue. The Supreme Court, in Flast v. Cohen, reversed that ruling, holding that taxpayers did have standing to sue the government for spending money on unconstitutional practices.
June 10 1975 The Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, informally known as the Rockefeller Commission, released its report detailing a secret & criminal CIA-sponsored domestic program, CHAOS, which, beginning under Lyndon Johnson in 1967, eventually kept records on 300,000 persons and 1,000 groups and infiltrated agents and provocateurs into black, anti-war and political movements in the US. Many of the details had been previously revealed in a New York Times article by Seymour Hersh and during Representative Bella Abzug’s House Subcommittee on Government Information and Individual Rights.
June 10 1999 The Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutionally vague a Chicago ordinance restricting alleged gang activity, in Chicago v. Morales. The Gang Congregation Ordinance outlawed loitering by “criminal street gang members.” Police officers who observed an alleged gang member on the street with one other person were authorized to order them to disperse. If they failed to disperse the officer could arrest them under the law. The Chicago Police Department had a formal policy designating areas targeted for enforcement, but the document was not made public, meaning that people had no idea where the law would be primarily enforced.
June 11 1922 The ACLU, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Federal Council of Churches, Amalgamated Clothing Workers, and other organizations formed the Joint Amnesty Committee to coordinate the campaign for amnesty for people who were convicted for their political views during World War I.
June 11 1962 Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held its founding convention in Michigan and issued The Port Huron Statement, laying out its principles and program. “In social change or interchange, we find violence to be abhorrent because it requires generally the transformation of the target, be it a human being or a community of people, into a depersonalized object of hate. It is imperative that the means of violence be abolished and the institutions—local, national, international—that encourage non-violence as a condition of conflict be developed.”
June 11 1963 Governor of Alabama George Wallace defiantly stood at the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in an attempt to block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending that school. Later in the day, accompanied by federalized National Guard troops, they are able to register. Still later that day, President John F. Kennedy addressed Americans from the Oval Office proposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would provide equal access to public facilities, end segregation in education and guarantee federal protection for voting rights.
June 11 1963 n response to the massive civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, which inspired similar demonstrations across the country, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech on national television promising to send a civil rights bill to Congress. “We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is a land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or cast system, no ghettos, no master race except with respect to Negroes? . . . Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.”
June 12 1929 Lou Henry Hoover, wife of President Herbert Hoover, sparked a racist uproar when she invited Jessie De Priest, wife of an African-American member of the House, Oscar De Priest (R–Illinois), to tea at the White House. President Hoover was upset at the protests and responded by inviting Robert Moton, president of Tuskegee University and one of the most prominent African-Americans leaders in the country, to the White House for a meeting.
June 12 1967 The U.S. Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, struck down state miscegenation laws — those that prohibited interracial marriage — as violations of a person’s right to equal protection under the law, as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. In June of 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, a white man and an African-American woman, had married in Washington, D.C. Upon return to their home state of Virginia, the couple was arrested, convicted of a felony, and sentenced to a year in prison. The appeal of their conviction led to the decision. “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” From Chief Justice Earl Warren’s majority opinion
June 12 1982 Nearly a million people marched in New York City to protest the nuclear buildup between the US and the Soviet Union. The rally was reflective of a grassroots “anti-nuke” movement throughout the US and Europe in favor of ending the nuclear arms race.
June 12 2008 The supreme Court decided in Boumediene v. Bush that the right of habeas corpus extended to a foreign national held by the U.S. and also to a jurisdiction, Guantanamo Bay, that was formally a part of another country (Cuba, in this case). Lakhdar Boumediene, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was being held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay detention center as a terrorist suspect, filed a habeas corpus petition in a U.S. federal court challenging his detention. The Court also ruled that Congressional suspension of that right in the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act was unconstitutional because it provided no reasonable alternative to allow a detainee the opportunity to contest his or her detention.
June 13 1956 A federal court in Alabama ordered the buses desegregated, in Browder v. Gayle, ruling that the segregated buses violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs were 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, the first person arrested, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith, and Jeanette Reese. Colvin was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to relinquish her seat on a bus to a white person, nine months before Rosa Parks was arrested for the same “offense.”
June 13 1966 The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Miranda v. Arizona, establishing the principle that all criminal suspects must be advised of their rights before interrogation: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you.” The ACLU had contested Ernesto Miranda’s rape conviction, maintaining that his confession was false and coerced.
June 13 1971 The New York Times published stories based on the secret Pentagon Papers, which Daniel Ellsberg leaked to the paper. The Pentagon Papers detailed the history of American involvement in the Vietnam War and revealed deep early American involvement in Vietnam and official lying to the American public.
June 13 2005 Eighty U.S. Senators officially apologized for the fact that the Senate never passed an anti-lynching bill. The first bill making lynching a federal crime was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 1, 1918. In the 1920s and 1930s the anti-lynching bill was one of the major issues for the NAACP, although its efforts were never successful. Among the 20 who did not sign were the two senators from Texas.
June 13 2009 The day after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected President of Iran, hundreds of thousands of people peacefully protested the results, chanting “Where is my vote?,” because they believed that the election was fraudulent. Most of the protesters joined the Green Movement, a nonviolent pro-democracy group opposed to Ahmadinejad’s leadership. The Ahmadinejad regime responded violently; many were beaten and arrested.
June 14 1922 Considered to be perhaps the first peaceful march for civil rights in Washington, D.C., 5,000 African-Americans quietly marched past the White House and the U.S. Senate building to denounce lynching and to demand a federal anti-lynching law.
June 14 1943 In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Supreme Court ruled schoolchildren could not be compelled to salute the flag of the United States if doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. Barnette overruled a 1940 decision on the same issue, Minersville School District v. Gobitis (also involving the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses), in which the Court stated that the proper recourse for dissent was to try to change the school policy democratically. Justice Robert Jackson wrote: “The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure but because the flag involved is our own. Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”
June 14 1951 Senator Joe McCarthy accused General George C. Marshall of assisting the cause of international Communism. As Army Chief of Staff and military adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Marshall was one of the heroes of World War II. He also served as Secretary of State under President Harry Truman (1947–1949) and was the author of the famous Marshall Plan, which was named for him, and which was designed to revitalize the economies of European countries after World War II as a way of fending off Communist influence. McCarthy’s attack enraged Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marshall’s friend and wartime colleague. In the 1952 presidential election campaign, Eisenhower planned to pay tribute to Marshall in a speech in Milwaukee, but he caved in to pressure from McCarthy and Republican Party leaders and deleted that section of his speech. The Senate finally censured McCarthy for his conduct on December 2, 1954.
June 14 1954 Over 12 million Americans “died” in a mock nuclear attack, as the United States went through its first nationwide civil defense drill. Though American officials were satisfied with the results of the drill, the event stood as a stark reminder that the United States—and the world—was now living under a nuclear shadow.
June 14 1966 The Vatican abolished their list of prohibited books (Index librorum prohibitorum) from 1557, which in 1948 still included authors like Descartes, Pascal, Voltaire, Rousseau, Balzac, Milton, Locke, Swift, Kant, Spinoza, de Balzac, Bacon, Zola, Sartre, and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.
June 14 1968 Dr. Benjamin Spock and three co-defendants were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct the draft during the Vietnam War. Author of Baby and Child Care (1946), Dr. Spock was an opponent of nuclear weapons testing and a critic of the Vietnam War. Also convicted were Michael Ferber, Mitch Goodman, and Rev. William Sloane Coffin. One of the principal documents offered by the prosecution was “A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority,” a widely circulated statement that expressed the moral revulsion against the Vietnam War by many of the war’s opponents. The convictions were subsequently reversed on appeal, although on largely technical grounds that did not reach the principal issues raised by the defense.
June 15 1215 Following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John put his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or “Great Charter.” The document, a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed that the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the freedom of the church, and maintain the nation’s laws. The Magna Carta was seen as a cornerstone in the development of democratic England.
June 15 1964 In Reynolds v. Sims the Supreme Court ruled that state legislative districts had to be roughly equal in population, establishing the principle of “one man, one vote.”
June 15 1982 In Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a Texas statute denying funding for education to unauthorized immigrant children and simultaneously struck down a municipal school district’s (Tyler) attempt to charge unauthorized immigrants an annual $1,000 tuition fee for each undocumented immigrant student to compensate for the lost state funding. The Court found that where states limit the rights afforded to people (specifically children) based on their status as immigrants, this limitation must be examined under an intermediate scrutiny standard to determine whether it furthers a “substantial” state interest.
June 15 1987 Ontario, Canada passed North America’s first pay equity law to legislate equal pay for women.
June 16 1871 The University Tests Act allowed students to enter the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge without religious tests.
June 16 1915 The University of Pennsylvania fired Scott Nearing, an economist with the Wharton School of Business, because members of the Trustees were upset with his radical views on economics. He was fired from the University of Toledo in 1917 because of his vocal opposition to U.S. participation in World War I. In 1973, the University of Pennsylvania retroactively reversed its dismissal and made him an Honorary Emeritus Professor of Economics. In 1970 he and his wife Helen published an acclaimed book, Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World.
June 16 1933 President Roosevelt signed the Banking Act, including the Glass–Steagall provisions which separated commercial from investment banking. The 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA) repealed the two provisions restricting affiliations between banks and securities firms.
June 16 1976 South African police opened fire on black students peacefully protesting the requirement to learn Afrikaans, the language of the small white majority that enforced the racially separatist regime known as apartheid. Neither black nor colored (other non-white or mixed race) South Africans could vote or live where they chose. More than 150 South African children were killed and hundreds more were injured in the shooting, which came known as the Soweto Massacre.
June 17 1838 The Cherokee Nation began the 1,200-mile forced march later known as the Trail of Tears. Their removal from ancestral land in the southeast U.S. had been ordered by President Andrew Jackson as the result of a treaty signed by a small minority of the tribe, and approved in the Senate by a one-vote margin. Ordered to move on the Cherokee, General John Wool resigned his command in protest; General Winfield Scott and 7,000 troops moved in to enforce the treaty.
June 17 1839 Hawaii’s King Kamehameha III issued the Edict of Toleration giving Roman Catholics the freedom to worship in the Hawaiian Islands.
June 17 1934 German vice chancellor Franz von Papendelivered the Marburg speech (German: Marburger Rede) at the University of Marburg, said to be the last speech made publicly, and on a high level, in Germany against National Socialism. Von Papen called for an end of the government terror and a return to dignity and freedom.
June 17 1954 Operation Wetback” began, a federal immigration enforcement effort directed at Mexicans who had entered the U.S. illegally. The offensive name of the program was symptomatic of the cultural and political climate of the times. An estimated 107,000 people were arrested between May and July 1954, and eventually an estimated 1,078,168 people were seized. The program was marked by abuse: people seized had no opportunity to recover their personal property, and many were left stranded in Mexico without food.
June 17 1957 It what has come to be known as “Red Monday,” the Supreme Court issued four rulings which struck down anti-Communist measures. Yates v. United States drew a sharper distinction between advocacy, which is protected by the First Amendment, and action, which is not. Watkins v. United States overturned the conviction of a leftist labor leader for refusing the answer questions about his political beliefs and associations. The Court held that the power of Congress to investigate private matters was not unlimited. Sweezy v. New Hampshire held that an investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General into the alleged subversive activities of Paul Sweezy denied him due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, in Service v. Dulles, the Court held that John S. Service, an American diplomat, had been fired by the Secretary of State on grounds of disloyalty, in violation of the State Department’s own procedures.
June 17 1963 The Supreme Court struck down rules requiring the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer or the reading of Bible verses in public schools as a violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition on establishment of religion. [Murray v. Curlett and Abington School District v. Schempp.]
June 17 1972 Shortly after midnight, five men with ties to the President Richard Nixon Administration were arrested while conducting a burglary of the Democratic Party Headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, DC.
June 17 2012 Civil rights leaders organized a series of silent marches across the country to protest the police practice of “stops and frisks,” which they argued targeted young African-American men. The silent marches were modeled after the famous Silent March Against Lynching in New York City in 1917.
June 18 1840 The Oberlin Non-Resistance Society was formed at the Ohio college by students who believed “that the Gospel of Jesus Christ inculcates the duty of peace and good-will.” They rejected all use of violence even in the name of duty to country. “We must submit to the powers that be, and obey magistrates, except when their requirements conflict with God’s laws; when we are meekly to endure the penalty of disobedience threatening them not.”
June 18 1916 Djemal Pasha, Turkish military governor for Palestine, bans Jews from praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. In November he had a barricade erected to prevent access to the site. The reason for this ban is because Pasha has learned that Jews praying at the Wailing Wall have, among other things, been praying for the reestablishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
June 18 1948 National Security Council Directive 10/2, regarding the Office of Special Projects, gave the CIA formal authority to conduct covert actions overseas.
June 18 1970 The U.S. Congress passed the 26th amendment to the constitution, lowering the voting age to 18 for all elections—federal, state and local.
June 18 1984 Liberal talk radio host Alan Berg, the self-described “man you love to hate,” was gunned down and killed instantly in the driveway of his home in Denver, Colorado, on this day in 1984. Bruce Pierce—leader of a neo-Nazi organization called the Order—was arrested nearly a year later in Georgia, driving a van that contained machine guns, grenades, dynamite, and a crossbow. He was later convicted of shooting Berg.
June 18 1987 The Southern Baptist Convention, during its annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, voted in favor of a boycott against the Walt Disney Company for what the Convention called “anti-Christian and anti-family” productions in its various media outlets, giving benefits to same-sex partners of employees, and for hosting Gay Pride days at Disney parks. The boycott ended in June 2005.
June 19 1865 On this day in 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation (originally issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863) in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The event, now celebrated as “Juneteenth,” eventually gave rise to an annual day of thanksgiving ceremonies, public entertainment, picnics, and family reunions. Some communities have set aside land, known as Emancipation Parks, for celebrations on Juneteenth. In 1979 Governor William P. Clements signed an act making the day a state holiday. The first state-sponsored Juneteenth celebration took place the next year.
June 19 1939 The American Library Association adopted the Library Bill of Rights, partiality in response to events in Nazi Germany, where Jews were barred from libraries, and books by Jewish authors and other works disfavored by the Nazi regime were burned. It says, in part:: “Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.”
June 19 1954 The San Antonio City Council voted to ban people of color from city swimming pools, making law of a de facto segregation that had existed for 90-plus years. This was just a month after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision that desegregated the public schools. Coincidence? The law would be repealed two years later, on March 16, 1956.
June 19 1961 The Supreme Court ruled, in Mapp v. Ohio, that the Exclusionary Rule applied to state and local police departments. The Exclusionary Rule holds that evidence gained by the police through an unconstitutional search in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be used in court against the defendant.
June 19 1961 The Maryland Constitution required “a declaration of belief in the existence of God” for all public officials. Roy Torcaso, an atheist, had been appointed a notary public. When he refused to make the required declaration, his appointment was revoked. He then challenged the provision of the Maryland Constitution, and the Supreme Court declared it a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, in Torcaso v. Watkins.
June 19 1986 In the case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, the Supreme Court recognized sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Court held that Title VII was “not limited to ‘economic’ or ‘tangible’ discrimination,’ finding that the intention of Congress was “to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women in employment . . .”
June 19 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the teaching of creationism in public schools was a violation of the U.S. constitution’s prohibition on establishment of religion by the government [Edwards v. Aguillard]. Students, parents and teachers had contested the Louisiana “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction” law (Creationism Act.) It required schools that taught evolution to also teach creation science. “The preeminent purpose of the Louisiana Legislature was clearly to advance the religious viewpoint that a supernatural being created humankind,” concluded Justice William Brennan in his majority opinion.
June 19 2008 EU nations agreed to lift their sanctions against Cuba, in the hope of encouraging democracy on the island .
June 20 1963 To lessen the threat of an accidental nuclear war, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a “hot line” between the two nations. The agreement helped reduce tensions between the United States and the USSR following the October 1962 Missile Crisis in Cuba, which had brought the two nations to the brink of nuclear war.
June 20 1979 President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter climbed onto the White House roof to celebrate the installation of solar-energy panels there: 32 photovoltaic panels that generated enough energy to provide hot water for the entire White House. During his term Carter also had an energy-efficient wood-burning stove installed in the drafty White House residential quarters. In 1986, President Reagan had the solar panels removed and put into a federal storage facility in Virginia, stating that the energy crisis that had affected both foreign and domestic policy during Carter’s term would not be a factor during his own.
June 20 1982 2,500 were arrested during a two-day blockade of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, about 50 miles east of San Francisco, the principal American nuclear weapons research facility, operated by the University of California.
June 20 1995 Greenpeace activists, bolstered by international pressure, forced the UK’s Shell Oil into a dramatic reversal of its decision to dispose of a massive oil rig by submerging it beneath the sea. After changing its mind, Shell moored the rig and began dismantling the structure at a cost of £43m, compared to a cost of £4.5m to dump the structure under the sea. The scrap was eventually used to build the foundations of a new ferry terminal.
June 20 1995 The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Atlanta, formally apologized to African-Americans for “condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime” and repented for the “racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
June 20 2002 In a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled, in Atkins v. Virginia, that executing persons who are mentally retarded violates the Cruel and Unusual Punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment. The case involved Daryl Atkins, who had an IQ of 59. “We are not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty.”
June 21 1915 In Guinn v. United States the Supreme Court held that “grandfather” clauses were unconstitutional. Grandfather clauses were 19th century laws that exempted people from voter literacy tests if a grandfather had been a registered voter, had voted in some other country, or had served in the armed forces before 1866. The clauses were designed to permit illiterate white voters, but not African-Americans, to vote.
June 21 1964 James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three young Freedom Summer workers, disappeared in Philadelphia, Mississippi, while registering Negroes to vote. Their bodies were found six weeks later, having been shot and then buried in an earthen dam. Eight members of the Ku Klux Klan eventually went to prison on federal conspiracy charges related to the disappearance; none served more than six years. Schwerner and Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Chaney was a local African-American man who had joined CORE in 1963.
June 21 1973 In the case of Pittsburgh Press v. Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission the Supreme Court held that sex-segregated employment want ads (e.g., “Men Wanted,” “Women Wanted”) could be prohibited by the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission. The Court rejected the argument that the ban infringed on freedom of the press, and held that want ads were commercial speech that was not protected by the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause.
June 21 1989 In Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas flag-desecration law was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Gregory Lee Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, had burned the American flag during demonstrations at the 1984 Republican Party Convention in Dallas, Texas. Justice William Brennan wrote that “under the circumstances, Johnson’s burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct, permitting him to invoke the First Amendment… Occurring as it did at the end of a demonstration coinciding with the Republican National Convention, the expressive, overtly political nature of the conduct was both intentional and overwhelmingly apparent.”
June 21 2014 The Walk for Water, Life and People’s Freedom started in the Amazon province of Zamora Chinchipe, where Ecuador’s first mega-mining project is planned to open in the hills of Condor Mirador. About 100 participants walked280 miles in a 10-day journey to the capital, Quito, where they were joined by other protesters.
June 22 1843 The First General Peace Convention opened in London, England, for “persons from different nations . . . to deliberate upon the best means, under the Divine blessing, to show the world the evil and inexpediency of the spirit and to promote permanent and universal peace.”
June 22 1942 The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States, originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892, was adopted by Congress. Bellamy, a Christian socialist and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (Looking Backward), wrote the Pledge for the magazine “Youth’s Companion,” who tied it into the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage and a marketing scheme to sell flags to schools; 25,000 schools acquired flags in first year. In 1923, the National Flag Conference called for the words “my Flag” to be changed to “the Flag of the United States,” so that new immigrants would not confuse loyalties between their birth countries and the United States. The phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14, 1954.
June 22 1964 In Escobedo v. Illinois, the Supreme Court held that criminal suspects have a right to counsel during in-custody interrogations. Danny Escobedo was arrested and released on suspicion of murder in Chicago. He was later rearrested and interrogated for 14½ hours, while repeatedly denied his request to speak with his attorney.
June 22 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the historic federal Bail Reform Act, which created a presumption of release before trial for federal criminal suspects. The law largely replaced the old money bail system, which meant that poor defendants had to remain in jail while awaiting trial. Perhaps most important, the federal law inspired similar bail reform laws in the 50 states.
June 22 1976 The Canadian House of Commons abolished capital punishment.
June 22 2010 Rotary International wrapped up its four-year Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign, to which it contributed hundreds of millions of dollars and countless volunteers, an effort that eradicated 99% of the disease across the continent..
June 23 1683 Chief Tamanend (The Affable), leader of the Pennsylvania’s thirteen Lenni-Lenape tribes, and other chiefs went to Philadelphia to meet with William Penn. Penn wished to buy four parcels of land (most of current Montgomery County), and the chiefs agreed to the sale, each making their mark on the deeds which had been translated for them. Soon thereafter, Penn met with Tamanend at Shakamaxon under a large tree later known as the Treaty Elm. Penn said, “We have come here with a hearty desire to live with you in peace . . . We believe you will deal kindly and justly by us, and we will deal kindly and justly by you . . . .” Tamanend offered, “We will live in love with William Penn and his children, as long as the creeks and rivers run, and while the sun, moon, and stars endure.”
June 23 1888 Frederick Douglass became the first African-American nominated for US president.
June 23 1972 The Education Amendments of 1972, commonly known as Title IX, became U.S. law, prohibiting sex discrimination at educational institutions.
June 23 2011 Senegalese youth, many involved in the hip-hop scene, formed a group called “Y’en a Marre,” ( “fed up”) to protest proposed changes to the constitution which would have kept the current president in power. On this day hundreds of thousands protested outside the National Assembly chanting “Don’t Touch My Constitution.” Y’en a Marre employed what they called “urban guerrilla poetry,” spontaneous public performances of their music, typically with explicitly political lyrics. By the end of the day, the proposed amendments were withdrawn.
June 24 1647 Margaret Brent, a niece of Lord Baltimore, was ejected from the Maryland Assembly after demanding a place and vote in the body.
June 24 1932 A bloodless revolution instigated by the People’s Party ends the absolute power of King Prajadhipok of Siam (now Thailand).
June 24 1938 Start of the Berlin Blockade: The Soviet Union makes overland travel between West Germany and West Berlin impossible.
June 25 1941 A. Philip Randolph, president the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, called off a Negro march on Washington planned for July 1 when President Roosevelt agreed to issue Executive Order 8802 banning racial discrimination in defense industries & government employment and created the Fair Employment Practices Committee.
June 25 1976 Missouri Governor Kit Bond issued an executive order rescinding the Extermination Order, formally apologizing on behalf of the state of Missouri for the suffering it had caused to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
June 25 1977 In Boerne v. Flores the Supreme Court ruled against Archbishop Flores (who wanted to enlarge an historic church) and in favor of the city of Boerne (which prohibited such changes to historic landmarks). The archbishop relied on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for his case, but the Court found that the Congress exceeded its authority in passing the RFRA. Justice John Paul Stevens writes in his concurring opinion: “If the historic landmark on the hill in Boerne happened to be a museum or an art gallery owned by an atheist, it would not be eligible for an exemption from the city ordinances that forbid an enlargement of the structure. Because the landmark is owned by the Catholic Church, it is claimed that RFRA gives its owner a federal statutory entitlement to an exemption from a generally applicable, neutral civil law. Whether the Church would actually prevail under the statute or not, the statute has provided the Church with a legal weapon that no atheist or agnostic can obtain. This governmental preference for religion, as opposed to irreligion, is forbidden by the First Amendment.”
June 25 1978 The rainbow flag representing gay pride was flown for the first time in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
June 25 1978 240,000 people marched in San Francisco, California, in opposition to an anti-gay statewide ballot Proposition 6, initiated by State Senator John Briggs. Inspired by passage of a similar ordinance in Miami, Florida, it would have allowed local school boards to ban gay and lesbian teachers. Drawing broad opposition, including former Governor Ronald Reagan, it was rejected in November by 58% of the voters.
June 25 1993 The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action is adopted by World Conference on Human Rights.
June 25 2013 The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, eliminating what most experts regard as the crucial enforcement mechanism of the law. At issue were Section 5 and Section 4b. Section 5 requires certain states or local jurisdictions to obtain pre-clearance from the Justice Department about any change in voter registration requirements or voting district composition. Section 4b prescribes the formula to be used to determine which jurisdictions are covered by Section 5. The Supreme Court held that the 4b formula was based on data that are 40 years old and therefore no longer relevant to current conditions.
June 26 1945 On the stage of San Francisco’s Veterans Auditorium (now known as the Herbst Theatre in the center of the War Memorial Veterans Building), delegates from 50 nations signed the United Nations Charter, establishing the world body as a means of saving “succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
June 26 1948 The Berlin Airlift, also known as “Operation Vittles” and die Luftbrucke, “the air bridge,” began. During the multinational occupation of post–World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies’ railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control. Although some in U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s administration called for a direct military response to this aggressive Soviet move, Truman worried this would trigger another world war. Instead, he authorized a massive airlift operation. The first planes took off from England and western Germany on June 26, loaded with food, clothing, water, medicine and fuel. By July 15, an average of 2,500 tons of supplies was being flown into the city every day. The airlift continued until September, 1949. The Soviets earned the scorn of the international community for subjecting two million men, women and children to hardship and starvation.
June 26 1955 The South African Freedom Charter was adopted at the Congress of the People at Kliptown near Johannesburg.
“We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people . . . .”
June 26 1963 John F. Kennedy’s speech there inspired the people of West Germany with the famous words “Ich bin ein Berliner”– I am a Berliner.
June 26 1975 In O’Connor v. Donaldson the Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot confine a mentally ill person who is not a danger to the community and who can survive in the community by himself or herself or with the assistance of others. The court wrote: “May the State fence in the harmless mentally ill solely to save its citizens from exposure to those whose ways are different? One might as well ask if the State, to avoid public unease, could incarcerate all who are physically unattractive or socially eccentric. Mere public intolerance or animosity cannot constitutionally justify the deprivation of a person’s physical liberty.”
June 26 2013 The US Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act declaring that same-sex couples deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other couples who are legally married in any state.
June 26 2015 In the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the court ruled 5-4 that same-sex marriages are are protected by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court wrote: The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”
June 27 1833 Prudence Crandall, a white woman, was arrested for conducting an academy for black females at Canterbury, Connecticut
June 27 1942 Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell wrote the first four of six leaflets, called the “Leaves of the White Rose,”attacking the Nazi regime and listing its crimes, from the mass extermination of Jews, to the dictatorship and the elimination of the personal freedoms of Germany’s citizens. It called the Nazi regime evil, and called for Germans to rise up and resist the oppression of their government. The “Leaves of the White Rose” were left in telephone boxes, mailed to students and professors throughout Germany, and brought by train to spread the White Rose’s beliefs to other regions of the country. The White Rose students were captured, tried and hanged in February
June 27 1963 San Antonio moved toward complete desegregation today after 173 restaurants, 23 motels and 9 hotels quietly opened their doors to African-Americans.
June 27 1973 Reporter Daniel Schorr obtained a copy of President Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list” and read names from the list live on CBS television. In the midst of reading, he discovered that his own name was on the list. The “enemies list” was one of the abuses of power by the Nixon administration that were exposed as a result of the Watergate scandal and which eventually led to Nixon’s resignation.
June 27 1989 The Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention adopted the ILO-169, a major binding international convention to respect the rights of indigenous peoples. It was ratified by 22 countries.
June 27 2002 In the case of Board of Education v. Earls, decided on this day, the Supreme Court upheld mandatory drug testing for middle school and high school students as a requirement for participating in extracurricular activities. The case involved the Student Activities Drug Testing Policy of the Tecumseh, Oklahoma, School District.
June 28 1916 A one-day strike by 50,000 German workers was organized to free Socialist anti-war leader Karl Liebknecht, charged with sedition for his criticism of the government and the war later known as World War I. He was the first ever to be expelled from the Reichstag—the German parliament—voted out for his opposition to Germany’s role in the war.
June 28 1917 W.E.B. DuBois and others organized a silent parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City against the lynching of Negroes and segregationist Jim Crow laws. There had been nearly 3,000 documented cases of hangings and other mob violence against Black Americans since the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.
June 28 1957 In a significant gesture of religious tolerance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke at the opening of an Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. “…. And I should like to assure you, my Islamic friends, that under the American Constitution, under American tradition, and in American hearts, this Center, this place of worship, is just as welcome as could be a similar edifice of any other religion. Indeed, America would fight with her whole strength for your right to have here your own church and worship according to your own conscience.”
June 28 1959 In May of 1959 the French opened five internment camps to detain Algerians suspected of being subversive agents of the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN.) After attending a mass in the town of La Cavalerie, sixty people participated in a silent march against the Larzac camp. Protesters distributed leaflets to the population explaining that the protest was not political, but a testimony of conscience. The activists also carried banners and fasted throughout the day. Seven members of the group volunteered to ask to be interned in the camp. After talks with the camp director, the protesters were fined and left for Millau, the nearest city, to protest in front of the regional administrative building. When confronted with a police roadblock, the protesters sat in front of it. After long negotiations, the activists packed up and left. The June protest resulted in the first press coverage of the camp. The mobilization against the Larzac camp continued through the month of July.
June 28 1962 In 1957 Austin folklorist and radio storyteller John Henry Faulk ran afoul of AWARE, a New York-based for-profit company that vetted entertainers for communist leanings during the height of the Cold war. His radio career ended, and he sued for libel. On this day the jury awarded him the largest libel judgment in history to that date—$3.5 million. An appeals court subsequently reduced the amount to $500,000. Legal fees and accumulated debts erased the balance of the award. In 1974 CBS broadcast its movie version of Fear on Trial, Faulk’s book that described his battle against AWARE. The Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin sponsors the John Henry Faulk Conference on the First Amendment and the downtown branch of the Austin library is named in his honor.
June 28 1969 New York City police raided a lesbian and gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, at 51–53 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York City on this day. Patrons of the bar, fed up with police harassment, fought back. The Stonewall Inn riot is considered to have inspired the modern lesbian and gay rights movement.
June 28 1971 In an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decisions on separation of church and state, and the 1965 Education Act which barred direct federal aid to parochial schools, several states enacted laws providing state financial assistance to private and parochial schools. This approach was labeled “Parochaid.” In Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Supreme Court declared these programs to be unconstitutional violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The decision established a three-prong “Lemon test” regarding government involvement with religious organizations: Any program (1) had to have a secular purpose; (2) could not have the primary purpose of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and (3) must not result in “excessive government entanglement” with religions.
June 28 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was the first important Supreme Court test of affirmative action as a policy in college admissions and employment. A deeply divided court, with six separate opinions, upheld affirmative action, holding that race could be taken into account, but that rigid quotas were unconstitutional.
June 28 2004 Hamdi v. Rumsfeld was one of a series of four Supreme Court decisions in which the Court rejected key principles in the war against terrorism by the administration of President George W. Bush. The case is perhaps most famous for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s declaration that “a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens.” Yaser Esam Hamdi was an American citizen who was captured by the U.S. in Afghanistan and then held indefinitely as an “enemy combatant.” Hamdi’s father filed a habeas corpus petition challenging his son’s indefinite detention. The U.S. argued that as an enemy combatant Hamdi had no right of access to U.S. courts. The Supreme Court was deeply divided, but eight justices agreed that the government could not hold a U.S. citizen without due process of law.
June 28 2013 When bulldozers entered Gezi Park in Istanbul to turn the popular green space into a government-sponsored shopping mall, they were met by protesters. The police cracked down, using pepper spray, tear gas, water cannons, beatings and burning the tents of the protesters. The police reaction drew even more protesters, already angry at President Erdogan’s authoritarian governance. On 13 June, German pianist Davide Martello gave a day-long performance for protesters; 1,000 additional riot police were deployed. On 2 July, a court blocked the effort to redevelop Gezi Park but the calls for greater democracy seen during the protests were fulfilled. Throughout the protests, eleven protesters died, and police arrested over 3,000.
June 29 1895 On Easter Sunday, 1895, a young Russian conscript named Matvey Lebedev was training with a reserve battalion in the army of Czar Nicholas II when he suddenly threw down his rifle, telling his officers that he was a Christian and that Christianity and war were not compatible. Ten of his fellow soldiers followed suit, soon joined by 60 more. Their pacifism lit a fire which swept through the Caucasus. Two months later 7,000 of their fellow believers secretly assembled. They called themselves, Doukhobors, meaning “Spirit-Wаrriors of Christ.” On this day, at one minute past midnight, they destroyed all their swords and rifles in three gigantic conflagrations that are still remembered as “The Burning of Weapons.” The Doukhobors were eventually exiled, most of them immigrating to Saskatchewan and British Columbia and along the US-Canadian border, where approximately 50,000 descendants still live today.
June 29 1940 Congress passed the Smith Act, officially the Alien Registration Act of 1940, making it a crime to advocate the overthrow of the government. The law, significantly, criminalized advocacy and not specific actions related to the violence overthrow of the government.
June 29 1963 A mass “walk-on” (trespass) was organized at a chemical and biological warfare facility in Porton Down, England. These weaponized agents had been researched and produced there since 1916; it’s now known as the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
June 29 1972 In the Furman v. Georgia decision, the Supreme Court held that the death penalty, as applied in the states whose laws were before the Court, was unconstitutional, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Potter Steward wrote that “these death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual.” The Court did not, however, declare the death penalty per se an unconstitutional violation of the cruel and unusual provision of the Eighth Amendment. The Justices were deeply divided over the issue of the death penalty, and all nine wrote separate opinions.
June 30 1787 The start of The Underground Railroad, the organization which helped escaped African slaves from the South on their journey to freedom in the North and Canada, (and also to Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas) is celebrated on this date. By the middle of the 19th century, it was estimated that over 50,000 slaves had escaped from the South using the Underground Railroad.
June 30 1906 The Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act were passed by Congress.
June 30 1958 The Supreme Court established a right of freedom of association under the First Amendment. The case involved a 1956 Alabama law requiring private membership organizations to disclose their membership lists. The law was primarily directed at the NAACP and was a response to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, on May 17, 1954, declaring segregated schools unconstitutional.
June 30 1958 In the case of Speiser v. Randall, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a California law that denied tax-exemption for veterans benefits to those who qualified but refused to sign a loyalty oath. Lawrence Speiser had served in the Army Air Force in World War II and, at the time of the case, was staff counsel for ACLU of Northern California.
June 30 1966 The first GIs—known as the Fort Hood Three, U.S. Army Privates James Johnson, Dennis Mora and David Samas—refused to be sent to Vietnam. All were members of the 142nd Signal Battalion, 2nd Armored Division stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. The three were from working-class families, and had denounced the war as “immoral, illegal and unjust.” They were arrested, court-martialed and imprisoned.
June 30 1976 The case of Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart involved the trial of Erwin Charles Simants, accused of committing a grisly murder in Nebraska. The trial court judge issued an order that the media could not publish information “strongly implicative” of the defendant’s guilt. The Supreme Court unanimously declared the order an unconstitutional prior restraint of the press.
June 30 2014 The Supreme Court issued a major opinion, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which declared one section of the Affordable Care Act in violation of the religious liberty of privately held corporations. The Court ruled that Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., was exempt from the ACA because its owner objected on religious grounds to the law’s requirements regarding some birth control devices. The decision marked the first time that the Court had ruled that private corporations had religious rights. The ruling was limited to “privately held” corporations, excluding publicly held ones that are owned by stockholders.

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