Peace & Justice History: October-December

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.


APRIL-JUNE is available HERE


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.
October 1 1776 Thomas Paine published Common Sense.
October 1 1919 Black sharecroppers gathered at Elaine, Arkansas, to secure a more equitable price for their products. When a white deputy sheriff and a railroad detective, arrived at the church, a fight broke out between them and the guards in which the railroad detective was killed and the deputy sheriff was wounded. This led to 3 days of fighting and the killing of 5 white men and close to 200 black men, women and children.
October 1 1920 Anti-Kriegs Museum, first museum for peace, opened in Berlin.
October 1 1964 The Free Speech Movement was launched at the University of California – Berkeley when mathematics grad student Jack Weinberg was arrested for setting up an information table for CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) in front of Sproul Hall, the administration building. Hundreds of students surrounded the police car holding Weinberg for 32 hours, keeping him from being taken away.
October 1 2010 In Britain most provisions of the 2010 Equality Act took effect, including a measure to stop pay secrecy clauses being used to hide unfair differences between men and women’s pay.
October 2 1924 The 47 member states of the League of Nations gave preliminary approval to The Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. This proposal, presented by British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and his French counterpart Édouard Herrio, set up compulsory arbitration of disputes and a created a method to determine who was the aggressor in international conflicts. Conservatives in Britain condemned the proposal, fearing it would lead to conflict with the United States; Washington also opposed it, and the proposal was tabled. The Protocol was not ratified by Great Britain the following year under the newly elected government of Conservative Stanley Baldwin and was ultimately dropped.
October 2 1961 An antinuclear peace march sponsored by the Committee for Nonviolent Action arrives in Moscow ten months after its start in San Francisco.
October 2 1968 In Mexico soldiers under Pres. Gustavo Diaz Ordaz used automatic weapons and killed some 300 students in the Mexico City Tlatelolco massacre prior to the start of the summer Olympics. More than 10,000 high school and college students had gathered to protest the repressive policies of the PRI ruling government
October 2 1986 The United States applied economic sanctions to South Africa as a protest against apartheid.
October 2 2009 In England a Sikh policeman was awarded 10,000 pounds in compensation by a tribunal after bosses ordered him to remove his turban for riot training.
October 2 2010 Britain’s Druids hailed a semi-governmental Charity Commission’s decision to grant it charitable status just like mainstream religions such as the Church of England. The Druid Network, a group of about 350 Druids, will receive exemptions from taxes on donations.
October 2 2013 Brazilian police used pepper spray to stop hundreds of protesting Indians from storming Congress, clamping down on the second day of indigenous rights marches.
October 2 2014 In the Philippines hundreds of activists led by the climate change commissioner kicked off a 38-day walk of more than 1,000 km from Manila to the typhoon-hit city of Tacloban to raise awareness of rising risks from higher seas and extreme weather.
October 3 1981 A hunger strike by Irish nationalists at the Maze Prison in Belfast in Northern Ireland was called off after seven months and 10 deaths. The first to die was Bobby Sands, the imprisoned Irish Republican Army (IRA) leader who initiated the protest on March 1, 1981—the fifth anniversary of the British policy of “criminalization” of Irish political prisoners. The prison was closed in 2000 and demolition began in 2006; in 2013 it was announced by the Northern Ireland Executive that the remaining buildings would be redeveloped into a peace center.
October 3 1997 In Humboldt County, Ca., 2 protesters attached themselves to bulldozers of the Pacific Lumber Company. Sheriff’s deputies applied pepper spray directly to the eyes of the protesters using cotton swabs and Q-tips.
October 3 2007 An Islamic court in northern Nigeria banned a play written by a civil rights activist which satirizes the implementation of Sharia law in 12 mainly Muslim states. The upper Sharia court in the Tudun Wada neighborhood of the northern city of Kaduna issued the order restraining Shehu Sani from selling or circulating his play, “Phantom Crescent.”
October 3 2008 Pres. Bush signed the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, making it a federal crime in the US to recruit and use soldiers under 15 years even if they operate outside the US. Rebel groups and government-armed militias using child soldiers in the Philippines and 16 other strife-torn countries faced prosecution in the United States under the new law.
October 3 2008 Mexican police clashed with hundreds of villagers who seized the entrance to a Mayan archaeological site and six protesters were killed. Hundreds of villagers had occupied the entrance to the Chinkultic ruins for nearly a month, saying they were protesting excessive entrance fees and a lack of investment in the area.
October 3 2012 Serbia’s police banned a gay pride march in Belgrade, citing security concerns but also complying with a request from Serbia’s Christian Orthodox church.
October 3 2014 In Kenya protesters blocked truckers on the only highway from Mombasa port to the capital Nairobi, threatening to choke the main trade artery with much of east Africa. More than two hundred residents in Voi halted traffic with burning tires to demand jobs from a Chinese company contracted to build a section of a railway in the area.
October 4 1967 The UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees went into effect. The 1967 Protocol removed geographical and temporal restrictions from the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
October 4 1976 Earl Butz resigned as agriculture secretary with an apology for what he called the “gross indiscretion” of uttering a racist remark.
October 4 1976 In Gregg v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban on the death sentence in murder cases. This restored the legality of capital punishment, which had not been practiced since 1967. The first execution following this ruling was Gary Gilmore in 1977.
October 4 1993 The Mozambique government and RENAMO rebels signed an historic peace accord, ending 16 years of civil war in the southeast African nation
October 4 1997 Demonstrations across the country occurred protesting the scheduled launch of the space probe Cassini because its power source was three plutonium-fueled Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators. The probe carried 72.3 pounds of plutonium, the most ever put on a device to be launched into space. The concern was for an accidental release in the event of a launch mishap. Plutonium is the most toxic substance known.
October 4 2002 In Barbados delegations from Russia, Cuba, South Africa, Colombia and France’s overseas territories abandoned an anti-racism conference that voted to exclude whites saying they’ll have no part in discrimination. The walkout, on the fourth day of the six-day African and African Descendants World Conference Against Racism, came after a day of negotiations failed. Some 200 delegates had voted Wednesday for whites and Asians to leave the deliberations, saying slavery was too painful a subject to discuss in front of non-Africans.
October 4 2011 Egyptian protesters also demanded the release of blogger, activist and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad, who was sentenced to three years’ hard labor in April by a military court for having “insulted” the army in his writings. Nabil was on the 43rd day of a hunger strike.
October 4 2014 Thousands marched in Africa and around the world to pressure governments to do more to stop the poaching industry that many fear is driving rhinos and elephants to the brink of extinction. The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, took place in 136 cities and towns across six continents.
October 4 2014 In Hong Kong tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gathered for a peace rally, as the city’s security chief furiously denied the government had used triad gangs to attack them a day earlier.
October 5 1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians surrendered to U.S. General Nelson A. Miles in the Bear Paw mountains of Montana, declaring, “Hear me, my chiefs: My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” His people were forcibly relocated to a barren reservation in Indian Territory.
October 5 1947 In the first televised White House address, President Truman asked Americans to refrain from eating meat on Tuesdays and poultry on Thursdays to help stockpile grain for starving people in Europe.
October 5 1965 Pope Paul VI made an unprecedented 14-hour visit to New York to plead for world peace before the United Nations.
October 5 1979 2,000 activists demonstrated against development of uranium mines in Black Hills, South Dakota.
October 5 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution granting honorary American citizenship to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, credited with saving about 100,000 Hungarians, most of them Jews, from the Nazis during WW II. He became the second honorary American. Winston Churchill was the first.
October 5 1993 President Clinton ordered a resumption in nuclear testing after China broke an informal moratorium and exploded a nuclear device beneath its western desert.
October 5 2009 In Mexico efforts to film Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s latest novel, “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” (2004), met resistance as an anti-prostitution group sought to block production, charging the movie will promote child prostitution. The Regional Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean filed a criminal complaint with Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office.
October 6 1683 Thirteen Mennonite families from Krefeld, Germany, arrived in present-day Philadelphia to begin Germantown, one of America’s oldest settlements. They were encouraged by William Penn’s offer of 5,000 acres of land in the colony of Pennsylvania and the freedom to practice their religion.
October 6 1924 Gandhi ends 21-day fast for Hindu-Muslim unity, India.
October 6 1961 President John Kennedy, speaking on civil defense, advises American families to build or buy a bomb shelter to protect them from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.
October 6 1978 346 protesters arrested at site of proposed Black Fox nuclear plant, Inola, Oklahoma.
October 6 2009 Turkish police used water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank held in Istanbul.
October 6 2010 The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of Prison Legal News against a county jail in Moncks Corner, SC, over a policy barring inmates from having any reading material other than the Bible. The ban was lifted on January 11, 2012.
October 6 2011 Some 300 Afghan men and women marched through Kabul, the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, to condemn the United States as occupiers and demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.
October 6 2011 Chilean police used water canons and tear gas to break up a student march hours after talks with government regarding public education collapsed. By day’s end, 168 had been arrested in the capital, and more than 100 more in other Chilean cities.
October 7 1984 20,000 march against Marcos dictatorship, Manila, Philippines.
October 7 1989 200,000 march on Washington for housing for the homeless
October 7 1998 In Laramie, Wyo., Matthew Shepard (22), a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was found beaten, burned and tied to a wooden ranch fence. Police arrested Russel Arthur Henderson (21) and Aaron McKinney for attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery. Also picked up as accessories to the charges were Chastity Vera Pasley (20) and Kristen Leann Price (18). Shepard died Oct 12.
October 7 2004 Members of PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) protested by wearing sheep masks outside the Australian embassy in London. The protest claimed that the practice of live exports of sheep from Australia and New Zealand is cruel.
October 7 2006 In France the press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders and the northwest town of Bayeux unveiled a memorial to some 2,000 journalists and other media workers killed in the line of duty around the world since World War II.
October 7 2007 Thousands of people marched through Hong Kong’s streets to demand the right to pick their city’s leader and legislature and hoisted yellow umbrellas, starting the “umbrella revolution.”
October 7 2010 In China a new regulation that took effect saying mine bosses who don’t go underground with their workers will be severely punished in the latest bid to improve safety in the world’s deadliest mines.
October 8 1979 Seven young Saami activists calling themselves the Saami Action Group (SAG) set up a traditional Saami tent outside the parliament building in Oslo, Norway 3,000 km from Alta, where a controversial hydroelectric dam was planned. Their action had been planned in secret and came as a huge surprise to the rest of the anti-dam campaigners. In a written ultimatum to the government, the SAG vowed to begin a hunger strike if the government did not suspend the dam’s authorization and grant improved political rights and recognition to the Saami people.
October 8 2003 In Arizona officials at Safford Middle School strip-searched Savana Redding (13) after she was suspected of distributing 4 ibuprofen pills. In 2009 the US Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the school officials had violated her rights.
October 9 1991 Women In Black in Belgrade began regular weekly silent vigils in Republic Square. They stood to protest the nationalist violence that had erupted in the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
October 10 1699 The Spanish issued a royal decree which stated that every African-American who came to St. Augustine, Florida, and adopted Catholicism would be free and protected from the English.
October 10 1957 A waitress at a Howard Johnson restaurant in Dover, Del., refused to seat Komla Gbedemah, the finance minister of the newly-formed nation of Ghana in sub-Saharan Africa. After reporters learned of the incident, President Dwight Eisenhower apologized to Gbedemah and invited him to breakfast at the White House. The incident began when Gbedemah and his secretary each ordered a glass of orange juice for 30 cents apiece. As they were handed the juice in containers, wrapped for them to carry outside, the waitress told them that they could not sit inside the restaurant because “colored people are not allowed to eat in here.” Gbedemah protested to the manager and told him “You can keep the orange juice and the change [from a dollar bill], but this is not the last you have heard of this.” That Howard Johnson’s restaurant changed its policy to serve whoever walked in the door.
October 10 1963 The Limited Test Ban Treaty—banning nuclear tests in the oceans, in the atmosphere, and in outer space—went into effect. The nuclear powers of the time—the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union—had signed the treaty earlier in the year.
October 10 1967 The Outer Space Treaty (Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies), demilitarizing outer space, went into force.
October 10 1990 U.S. Began reparations payments to survivors & families of Japanese-Americans taken from their homes & put into internment camps during World War II.
October 10 1994 Greenpeace ship began a trip down Amazon River to protest illegal logging by transnational corporations
October 10 2002 The House voted 296-133 to pass the “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq,” giving President George W. Bush broad authority to use military force against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, with or without U.N. Support.
October 10 2007 In KAZIMIERZ DOLNY, Poland , Police evicted 65 rebellious ex-nuns Wednesday from a convent they illegally occupied for two years after defying a Vatican order to replace their mother superior, a charismatic leader who had religious visions. The defeated nuns walked out in their black habits — some carrying guitars, drums and tambourines — after a locksmith opened the gate to the walled compound and police in riot gear rushed in and arrested the mother superior.
October 10 2010 The 10/10/10 event known as the “Global Work Party” kicked off in Australia and New Zealand before spinning its way across the globe with events in 188 countries. Environmental campaigners planted trees, collected rubbish and rallied against pollution for what organizers aimed to make the world’s biggest day of climate-change activism.
October 10 2015 About 250,000 people showed up in Berlin to protest against the free trade agreements between the European Union and the U.S. and Canada, calling for fair trade instead. The demonstrators said the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its Canadian counterpart, CETA, will undermine jobs, the environment and democracy. A coalition of 170 civil society groups – including environmental, development and social politics, democracy, culture, citizens’ and consumer rights and trade unions – had called for the mass protest but turnout far exceeded the organizers’ expectations. The organizers have also collected more than 3 million signatures on petitions against TTIP and CETA, which they have handed to the EU Commission.
October 11 1906 The San Francisco school board ordered the segregation of Oriental schoolchildren, inciting Japanese outrage. To counter local prejudice David Starr Jordan, Stanford’s 1st president, David Pike Bowie, a San Mateo Japanophile, and Japanese General Consul Kisaburo Ueno soon formed a chapter of the Japan Society to foster bilateral understanding. The segregation order was later rescinded at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, who promised to curb future Japanese immigration to the United States.
October 11 1962 Pope John XXIII convened the first session of the Roman Catholic Church’s 21st Ecumenical Council, also known as Vatican II, with a call for Christian unity. Among delegate-observers were representatives of major Protestant denominations, in itself a sign of sweeping change. He declared its purpose to be “aggiornamento,” an “updating” that would be a pastoral response to the needs of the modern world.
October 11 1963 President John F. Kennedy established the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, and the Commission issued its report, American Women, on this day. The report covered a wide range of issues, with an emphasis on ending historic restrictions on opportunities for women. Perhaps most important, the Commission’s report called for lawsuits to determine if the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment covered women. The Supreme Court, in Reed v. Reed (November 22, 1971), ruled that the Equal Protection Clause did, indeed, prohibit differential treatment based on sex.
October 11 1987 More than half a million people flooded Washington, D.C., demanding civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans, now celebrated each year as National Coming Out Day.
October 11 1992 the AIDS coalition ACT UP held its first political funeral in Washington, DC. A funeral procession began at the Capitol and ended by scattering the ashes of loved ones on the White House lawn.
October 11 2009 Thousands of gay and lesbian activists marched from the White House to the Capitol, demanding that President Barack Obama keep his promises to allow gays to serve openly in the military and allow same-sex marriages.
October 11 2010 The rights group EG Justice said in a statement that a letter signed by 125 African scholars and human rights defenders has denounced the UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo Prize for Research in the Life Sciences, a prize named for the president of Equatorial Guinea. Mbasogo seized power more than 30 years ago and has been accused of human rights violations including unlawful killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests.
October 12 1958 A Reform Jewish Temple, Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, on Peachtree Street in Atlanta (the city’s oldest) was firebombed with fifty sticks of dynamite in retaliation for Jewish support of local black civil rights activists. No one was injured.
October 12 1960 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev disrupted a UN General Assembly session by pounding his desk with a shoe when a speaker criticized his country.
October 12 1971 The US House of Representatives passed the Equal Rights Amendment with a vote of 354 yeas, 24 nays and 51 not voting. It failed to gain ratification before the end of the deadline.
October 12 1977 The US government passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) which required banks to serve their entire community. The intent was to ensure that adequate loans were made to low and moderate income neighborhoods and that those areas had access to bank branches and other banking services.
October 12 2002 In Ukraine tens of thousands of protesters laid out their charges against President Leonid Kuchma at a “people’s tribunal”, and opposition lawmakers said prosecutors promised to review their complaints.
October 12 2006 In Colombia hundreds of Bari Indians, most clad in loincloths and carrying bows and arrows, came down from the hills in their first march ever to demand that the state-owned oil company stop drilling on sacred land abutting their reservation.
October 12 2008 Dozens of renowned British writers came out against new anti-terrorism legislation, publishing a collection of satire, essays, fiction and poetry to protest a proposal allowing police to hold suspects without charge for up to 42 days. The next day the House of Lords rejected the plan and the government said it would abandon the proposal.
October 12 2013 In Niger thousands of people protested against French nuclear firm Areva, which has been mining uranium in the impoverished country for nearly 50 years. “We don’t have enough drinking water while the company pumps 20 million cubic meters of water each year for free. The government must negotiate a win-win partnership,” a spokesman for the protesters said.
October 13 1908 Some 60 thousand British suffragists led by Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), gathered in Parliament Square the rush the House of Commons. 24 women and 13 men were arrested.
October 13 1934 The American Federation of Labor (AFL) voted to boycott all German-made products as a protest against Nazi antagonism to organized labor within Germany.
October 13 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson had issued Executive Order 11246, establishing affirmative action in employment for all federal agencies and contractors on September 24, 1965. Leaders of the women’s rights movement protested Johnson’s omission of women from his first E.O., and on this day, Johnson issued Executive Order 11375 to include women in affirmative action.
October 14 1927 Leaders of Irish-American groups in New York City on this day demanded a city ordinance that would empower officials to revoke the license of any film that “maligns, ridicules, or gives offense to any racial or religious group.” They referred specifically to recent films “The Callahans and the Murphys” and “The Shamrock and the Rose.”
October 14 1962 The Cuban Missile Crisis began, bringing the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear conflict.
October 14 1964 African American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America.
October 14 1981 Dock workers in Darwin, Australia, began a seven-day strike, refusing to load uranium on board “Pacific Sky” for eventual use by the U.S. military. After a week, the ship was forced to leave without its cargo.
October 15 1843 B’nai B’rith (Hebrew for “People of the Covenant”) was founded in New York City. Among other missions, it combats antisemitism and bigotry.
October 15 1958 In a speech to the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) convention in Chicago, CBS News correspondent Edward R. Murrow challenged the broadcast industry to live up to its potential and responsibilities. The speech is often remembered for these words: “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box….”
October 15 1965 David Miller, who had moved into the New York Catholic Worker House in June, burned his draft card outside the Armed Forces Induction Center during a national day of protest, in defiance of an August 30 change to the draft law that made it illegal to “knowingly destroy or knowingly mutilate” a draft card. He was arrested by the FBI, tried, found guilty and sentenced to two years in jail. He remained free on bail until the Supreme Court decided on May 27, 1968, In O’Brien v. United States, that the First Amendment did not protect the burning of a draft card as free speech.
October 15 1966 The “Endangered Species Preservation Act” became law. It allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify plant and animal varieties threatened with extinction, and to acquire land to preserve their habitats
October 15 1969 The Peace Moratorium held on this day is believed to have been the largest demonstration in US history with an estimated two million people involved. In towns and cities throughout the US, students, working men and women, school children, the young and the old, took part in religious services, school seminars, street rallies and meetings. Supporters of the Vietnam Moratorium wore black armbands to signify their dissent and paid tribute to American personnel killed in the war since 1961. The focal point was Washington DC, where more than 40 different activities were planned and about 250,000 demonstrators gathered to make their voices heard.
October 15 1911 A group of young Mexicans joined the global Indignados/Occupy movement of protesters who are ‘indignant’ over the effects of the economic policies that have led to the profound crisis affecting much of the world by camping out in front of the Mexico City Stock Exchange.
October 16 1649 The colony of Maine granted religious freedom to all citizens
October 16 1995 The Million Man March convened in Washington, DC. inviting “a million sober, disciplined, committed, dedicated, inspired black men to Washington for a day of atonement.” Speakers included Rosa Parks, Stevie Wonder, and Maya Angelou.
October 18 1859 John Brown led a small group on a raid against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry in an attempt to start an armed revolt against the institution of slavery.
October 16 1901 President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute and the most prominent African American of his time, to a meeting in the White House. The meeting went long and the president asked Washington to stay for dinner, the first black person ever to do so.
October 17 1968 Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos were forced to return their awards because they raised their fists in a black-power salute during the medal ceremony. When they got to the podium for the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos were wearing Olympic Project for Human Rights badges on their tracksuits. (Silver medalist Peter Norman, an Australian, wore one too.) They wore no shoes, to symbolize the poverty that plagued so many black Americans. Carlos wore a necklace of black beads, he said, “for those individuals that were lynched or killed that no one said a prayer for, that were hung tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.” Smith wore a black scarf. Both bowed their heads, raised their gloved hands and remained silent while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played. The two men received death threats for years. In 2005, San José State University unveiled a 20-foot-tall statue honoring the two men.
October 17 1975 Muhammad Ali led a one mile march through Trenton, NJ in support of freeing Rubin Carter (The Hurricane), culminating in a rally of 1600 demonstrators outside the state capitol. When Carter was eventually released, he said: “Hate got me into this place, love got me out.”
October 18 1648 The Shoemakers Guild of Boston became the first labor union in the American colonies.
October 18 1767 Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon completed their survey of the boundary between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland as well as areas that would eventually become the states of Delaware and West Virginia. The Penn and Calvert families had hired Mason and Dixon, English surveyors, to settle their dispute and stop border violence over the boundary between their two proprietary colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland. In the years that followed, the Mason-Dixon Line would become the dividing line between north and south, slave & free state.
October 18 1864 Abraham Lincoln, then a Congressional hopeful, delivered a speech regarding the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which Congress had passed five months earlier. In his speech, the future president denounced the the act and outlined his views on slavery, which he called “immoral.” As Lincoln campaigned over the next several years, he continually referred to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the seeming inevitability that Kansas should become a slave state as “a violence . . . it was conceived in violence, passed in violence, is maintained in violence, and is being executed in violence.”
October 18 1998 British police arrested former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet for questioning about “crimes of genocide and terrorism that include murder.”
October 19 1960 Martin Luther King, Jr., and 36 others were jailed after being arrested during a sit-in at the at the Magnolia Room at Rich’s Department Store. where they requested service and were refused on account of their race. Charges were dropped for the sit-in arrest, but King was sentenced to serve four months in a Georgia prison on an old traffic charge. He was then transferred in the middle of the night to the state prison in Reidsville, Georgia. Many people, including his wife Coretta, feared that he might be lynched in the process.
October 20 1934 Georgia Tech refused to play its scheduled football game against the University of Michigan if Willis Ward, an African-American on the Michigan team, was allowed to play. The Michigan coach decided not let Ward play; future President Gerald Ford was anguished about the decision — even threatening to quit the team — but started for Michigan at the insistence of his friend Ward.
October 20 1947 The Red Scare kicks into high gear as a Congressional committee begins investigating Communist influence in Hollywood. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) grilled a number of prominent witnesses, asking “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Some witnesses—including director Elia Kazan, actors Gary Cooper and Robert Taylor and studio honchos Walt Disney and Jack Warner—gave the committee names of colleagues they suspected of being communists. A small group known as the “Hollywood Ten” resisted, claiming that the hearings were illegal and violated their First Amendment rights. They were all convicted of obstructing the investigation and served jail terms.
October 20 1975 The Supreme Court ruled in Baker vs Owen that teachers could spank students if the students were told in advance of the behavior that would warrant such punishment
October 21 1921 President Warren G. Harding delivered a speech in Birmingham, Alabama in which he condemned lynchings—illegal hangings committed primarily by white supremacists against African Americans in the Deep South. It was the first speech in the South by a sitting president on race. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week. Harding explained that race was becoming an issue and could no longer remain a solely regional concern. Harding spoke of the great migrations of black laborers to the North during World War I, the meritorious service given by black soldiers during the war, and then spoke of political equality as a guarantee of the U.S. Constitution: “Let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote.” While white listeners fell largely silent, African Americans cheered from their segregated section of the park. Calling for “an end of prejudice” Harding went further than any president since Abraham Lincoln.
October 21 1950 Chinese troops occupied Tibet.
October 21 2003 Four male models posed in front of a banner to promote PETA’s campaign “Bare Skin, Not Bear Skin” in London. PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) were campaigning against The Household Guards bear skin hats that can use as many as two entire bear hides to make just one hat.
October 21 2012 In Zaragoza, Spain, around 1,000 people got together for a lunch prepared from leftover food in good condition. They were part of a movement called “Comida Basura: Tu basura es mi tesoro” (Waste Food: Your Trash, My Treasure), a citizen’s platform combating food waste, created in Madrid in 2010. It promotes activities like collecting food in good condition that has been thrown out by supermarkets, asking for leftovers at restaurants and organizing soup kitchens.
October 22 1963 A coalition of Chicago civil rights groups staged Freedom Day, a mass boycott and demonstration against segregated schools and inadequate resources for black students. Almost half of Chicago’s public school students skipped class, leaving many schools on the South and West Sides virtually empty.
October 22 1975 Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, was given a “general” discharge by the air force after publicly declaring his homosexuality on the cover to Time Magazine. In 1979, after winning a much-publicized case against the air force, his discharge was upgraded to “honorable.” In 1988, Matlovich died at of complications from AIDS. He was buried with full military honors at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His tombstone reads, “A gay Vietnam Veteran. When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
October 22 1995 Native American groups protested at the World Series opener claiming that the use of Indian mascots and symbols by the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians encourages racism and stereotyping. “We’re the only race of people that has sports mascots and sports teams named after them,” said Ken Rhyne, a co-director of the American Indian Movement.”If it was the Atlanta Negros, the Atlanta Hispanics, any situation like that, the stadium would be burned down overnight.”
October 23 1915 More than 25,000 women marched in New York City demanding the right to vote. It began at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and continued until long after dark, attracting a record-breaking crowd of spectators. Five years later, the 19th amendment was passed, granting 26 million women (half of the population at the time) the right to vote. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that they are carrying ballot boxes on stretchers. Clever, those women!
October 23 1947 The NAACP filed formal charges with the United Nations accusing the United States of racial discrimination. “An Appeal to the World,” edited by W.E.B. DuBois, was a factual study of the denial of the right to vote, and grievances against educational discrimination and lack of other social rights. This appeal spurred President Truman to create a civil rights commission.
October 23 1956 A group of engineering students in the Hungarian capital of Budapest decided to hold a demonstration – not about the situation in Hungary, but about Poland, where a revolt in the Polish city of Poznan had been crushed by the Soviet army in June. Word quickly spread through the city, and people started coming out of their shops, factories and houses to join the march. As 23 October progressed, tens of thousands of people poured on to the street – and the initial demonstration very quickly turned into something else altogether: a full-scale revolt against the regime and its Soviet masters.
October 24 1940 The 40-hour workweek went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, requiring employers to pay overtime and restricting the use of child labor.
October 24 1975 Iceland’s women refused to do any work — outside or inside the home — taking “the day off” from paid labor, housework, and child care. An estimated 90 percent of Icelandic women participated and 25,000 — a tenth of the population — gathered at a rally in Reykjavik. The country was basically shut down.
October 24 2005 Brandi Valladolid and Christina Cho, members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), protest in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) near the City Hall in Seoul, South Korea. They and other demonstrators from the PETA protest to pressure KFC to eliminate abuses that chickens suffer on the factory farms and in the slaughter houses: live scalding, life long crippling and debarking.
October 24 2010 A “Stop Eviction!” campaign was launched in Spain to gain the support of municipalities to prevent evictions and to shelter families that had been evicted in vacated housing with affordable rents. They also lobbied for the ability to return property to the bank in exchange for cancellation of the debt. Activists paralyzed the first home eviction on 2 November by protesting outside the home when law enforcement arrived to evict a single father who would have lost custody of his son had he lost his house. By 2009, the global financial crisis created high unemployment rates throughout Spain. For many homeowners, the inability to pay their mortgages meant that they risked eviction while continuing to pay back their loans, creating the combination of homelessness and growing debt.
October 25 1973 President Nixon vetoed the War Powers Resolution, which would limit presidential power to commit armed forces abroad without Congressional approval. The bill, introduced by Senator Jacob K. Javits of New York, required the president to report to Congress within 48 hours after commitment of armed forces to foreign combat and limited to 60 days the time they could stay there without Congressional approval. Nixon claimed that the bill imposed “unconstitutional and dangerous restrictions” on presidential authority. Congress passed the law over Nixon’s veto on November 7, 1973
October 26 1918 Speaking from the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia as head of the Mid-European Union, Tomáš Masaryk called for the independence of the Czechoslovaks and other oppressed peoples of Central Europe. A month later he was elected president of the new Czech Republic.
October 26 1920 The Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland, Terence McSwiney, died after a two-and-a-half-month hunger strike in a British prison cell, demanding independence for Ireland.
October 26 1970 “Doonesbury”, a cartoon series addressing political and social issues written by Garry Trudeau, and initially published in a the Yale Daily News when Trudeau was a student, debuted in 28 newspapers.
October 26 2015 A group of Mexican farmers took over the Mexican side of the Bridge of the Americas, upset over low market prices for their farm products as American produce floods the market. They are also protesting an increase in the cost of electricity, diesel, seeds and fertilizer. They first gathered at the Chamizal in Juarez around midday, then rode onto the bridge on horseback and on tractors. The blockade stopped late that evening when the protesters agreed to meet with officials in Mexico City.
October 27 312 In a battle that traditionally marks the beginning of the Christian era in Europe, Constantine’s army, wearing the cross, defeated the forces of Maxentius at Mulvian Bridge in Rome.
October 28 1659 William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, two Quakers who came from England in 1656 to escape religious persecution, were hanged from an elm tree on Boston Common for their religious beliefs. The two had violated a law passed by the Massachusetts General Court the year before, banning Quakers from the colony under penalty of death.
October 28 1940 In Greece, Oxi Day (meaning Day of No) marks the refusal of Greece to submit to the Axis Powers.
October 28 1965 In a bold statement of interfaith relations, Nostra aetate, the “Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions” of the Second Vatican Council, is promulgated by Pope Paul VI: “In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.” The declaration also absolves the Jews of responsibility for the death of Jesus, reversing Innocent III’s 760-year-old declaration. (read the whole document)
October 29 1915 Jane Addams, founder of Hull House in Chicago and a leading American social activist, wrote to United States President Woodrow Wilson, warning him of the potential dangers of readying the country to enter the First World War. “At this crisis of the world, to establish a ‘citizen soldiery’ and enormously to increase our fighting equipment would inevitably make all other nations fear instead of trust us,” Addams wrote.
October 29 1940 First compulsory peacetime draft in United States begun.
October 29 1969 The judge ordered that “Chicago Eight” defendant Bobby Seale be gagged and chained to his chair during his trial. Seale and his seven fellow defendants had been charged with conspiracy to cross state lines with intent to cause a riot during the anti-war demonstrations in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Judge Julius Hoffman gave the order to gag Seale after he repeatedly shouted accusations and insults at the judge and prosecution and disrupted the court proceedings.
October 30 1918 Roger Baldwin, future director of the ACLU, was convicted of refusing to cooperate with the draft and sentenced to prison. His statement to the judge at the time of his sentencing was published as “The Individual and the State,” widely circulated: “The compelling motive for refusing to comply with the draft act is my uncompromising opposition to the principle of conscription of life by the State for any purpose whatever, in time of war or peace. I not only refuse to obey the present conscription law, but I would in future refuse to obey any similar statute which attempts to direct my choice of service and ideals. I regard the principle of conscription of life as a flat contradiction of all our cherished ideals of individual freedom, democratic liberty and Christian teaching. I am the more opposed to the present act, because it is for the purpose of conducting war.”
October 30 1971 La Raza Unida held its first state convention in San Antonio and decided to place the independent party on the 1972 general election ballot . Delegates from nine Texas counties attended. During 1972 party members conducted petition and voter registration drives, and campaigned for six state-wide candidates, including Ramsey Muñiz for governor.
October 30 2010 Daily Show host Jon Stewart led 200,000 people in a Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall in Washington, DC promoting a return to reasoned discussion in America’s political life.
October 31 1579 Priest and scholar Martin Luther approached the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nailed a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation. The term “Protestant” (meaning “protester”) first appeared in 1529, when Charles V revoked a provision that allowed the ruler of each German state to choose whether they would enforce the Edict of Worms. A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants.
October 31 1687 According to the legend of the Charter Oak, Joseph Wadsworth spirited the Royal Charter of 1662 out of Sanford’s Tavern and the clutches of Sir Edmund Andros, ran across the bridge over the Little River, and deposited it in the hollow of an ancient oak tree on the grounds of Samuel Wyllys’ house in Hartford. Although historical evidence for this event is lacking, the legend has endured, and long ago became Connecticut’s defining political legend, in which Hartford residents resisted the attempt by an agent of the British crown to usurp their rights.
October 31 1950 Earl Lloyd became the first of three African Americans who began to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA) when he started with the Washington Capitols. He and Jim Tucker went on to become the first African Americans to play on a championship team in 1955 as members of the Syracuse Nationals, which is now the Philadelphia 76ers.
November 1 1929 Australia abolished peace-time compulsory military training.
November 1 1963 The “Freedom Vote” held on this day was a mock election in Mississippi involving officially unregistered African American voters, organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to dramatize the fact that only 7 percent of the potentially eligible African-American voters were actually registered. The Freedom Vote inspired Freedom Summer, in which about 1,000 white northern college students were recruited to help African-Americans register to vote
November 1 1988 In Texas Monthly, Inc. v. Bullock the Supreme Court ruled that exempting religious publications from the state sales tax in Texas violated the Establishment Clause. By restricting the tax exemption to religious groups, Texas has made each taxpayer a donor to those religions.
November 1 1990 McDonald’s, under pressure from environmental groups, said it would replace plastic food containers with paper.
November 2 1966 A Federal Court District Judge ruled that the Girard College Board of Trustees could not deny admission to seven African American applicants solely on the basis of race. The college was founded in 1848 by Philadelphia merchant and banker Stephen Girard, who stipulated in his will that it was to be for the education of fatherless white boys between the ages of six and ten. In 1965, Cecil B. Moore, a criminal defense attorney, announced that the NAACP would file a lawsuit challenging a previous court rulings that upheld the exclusion of African American students from Girard College. Picketing began in May, 1965; the Philadelphia Police Department, having received word that protesters might attempt to scale Girard College’s ten-foot high walls, sent 1,000 officers to patrol the scene. The officers were met by thirty-eight demonstrators. After more than three years of nonviolent actions — including a speech my Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — the first African American Boys were admitted in 1968. (The school started admitting girls in 1984.)
November 2 1981 In United States v. Lee the Supreme Court will rule unanimously that people don’t deserve automatic tax exemptions for religious reasons. Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote: “The difficulty in attempting to accommodate religious beliefs in the area of taxation is that ‘we are a cosmopolitan nation made up of people of almost every conceivable religious preference.’ … “If, for example, a religious adherent believes war is a sin, and if a certain percentage of the federal budget can be identified as devoted to war-related activities, such individuals would have a similarly valid claim to be exempt from paying that percentage of the income tax. The tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge the tax system because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief.”
November 2 2002 The German Freethinker Settlers monument was dedicated in Comfort, Texas. The monument was originally supposed to be placed in the Comfort Park in 1998, but an outcry against atheists prevented this from happening. The Cenotaph’s plaque says that the German Freethinkers “advocated reason and democracy over religious and political autocracy,” and “They accepted no religious dogma, built no churches and supported secular education.”
November 3 1783 Washington ordered the Continental Army disbanded
November 3 1883 The U.S. Supreme Court, in its decision Ex Parte Crow Dog, declared Native Americans were not subject to U.S. law: “It tries them, not by their peers, nor by the customs of their people, nor the law of their land, but by superiors of a different race, according to the law of a social state of which they have an imperfect conception, and which is opposed to the traditions of their history, to the habits of their lives, to the strongest prejudices of their savage nature; one which measures the red man’s revenge by the maxims of the white man’s morality.” Displeased by the Supreme Court’s decision, Congress passed the Major Crimes Act of 1885in response: placed seven serious felony offenses under the jurisdiction of the federal government. (The case arose when Crow Dog (pictured on the right) was accused of killing Spotted Tail (left.))
November 3 1933 Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, criticized the ideology of “rugged individualism” as a “doctrine of the devil” and “dog eat dog” in a speech at Philadelphia Board of Trade. He said: “Rugged individualism means exploitation of the weak by the strong and it secures unconscionable profits out of overburdened women working in sweatshops, and from little children toiling at the machines. … Rugged individualism has become a museum piece. Cooperation is now the watchword. We acknowledge our interdependence on each other We realize that we will either go up or down together.”
November 3 1978 Madalyn Murray-O’Hair was arrested at an Austin city council meeting for talking while the council held its customary prayer. She was charged with disrupting a public meeting, a Class B misdemeanor that comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. She spent one day in jail.
November 4 1811 A group of men in Bulwell, England, armed with hammers, axes and pistols, broke into the workshop of a master weaver and smashed six mechanized looms the men thought threatened their jobs. They continued their attacks for months, with over a thousand knitting machines destroyed. Thousands of troops were sent to stop the rebellion. The workers called themselves “Luddites,” which has since become a term used for those who fear or oppose technology.
November 4 1924 Miriam Amanda (Ma) Ferguson was elected as the first woman governor of Texas and the second in the nation (She was inaugurated fifteen days after Wyoming’s Nellie Ross.) Part of her platform was condemnation of The Ku Klux Klan. In 1923 the Klan controlled city governments in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Wichita Falls, and probably had a majority in the House of Representatives of the Thirty-eighth Texas Legislature. The Klan’s paid membership swelled to as many as 150,000. Its candidate for governor, Felix D. Robertson, a member of the Dallas Klan, was defeated in the primary by by Ma Ferguson, and dissension within the organization and growing anti-Klan sentiment combined to weaken its influence greatly. By 1928 the membership had declined to around 2,500,
November 4 1956 In response to protests that began in October, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest. The city endured days of heavy shelling and street battles, and Hungarians started to flee at the rate of thousands a day to neighboring Austria. By the time the borders were fully sealed, some 180,000 Hungarian refugees had made their way to Austria and 20,000 had headed south into Yugoslavia. Within days of the exodus starting, an extraordinary operation sprang up in Austria, not only to care for the refugees, but to move them out of the country almost as fast as they arrived. In the end, 180,000 were resettled from Austria and Yugoslavia to a total of 37 different countries – the first 100,000 of them in under ten weeks. The 1956 uprising and its aftermath helped shape the way humanitarian organizations were to deal with refugee crises for decades to come. The episode also left an indelible mark on international refugee law and policy.
November 4 1960 Jane Goodall first observed chimpanzees creating tools. At Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, she observed two chimps pick up small twigs, strip off the leaves, and use them as tools to fish for termites in the ground to eat for a snack. This was the first time that an animal was observed to modify an object to create a tool to use for a specific purpose. “It isn’t only human beings who have personality, who are capable of rational thought [and] emotions like joy and sorrow,” she later noted.
November 4 1992 In Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah the Supreme Court ruled unanimously to strike down city ordinances outlawing animal sacrifices. The justices recognized that the law was designed specifically to harm the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, a Santeria group which uses animal sacrifices as part of its religious rituals.
November 4 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was fatally shot minutes after attending a peace rally held in Tel Aviv’s Kings Square in Israel
November 5 1872 Susan B. Anthony and fourteen other women were arrested for illegally attempting to vote, in Rochester, NY. This was a violation of the Enforcement Act of 1870, which made it illegal to vote if you did not have the right to vote. Anthony was arrested, tried, found guilty and fined $100 plus court costs.
November 5 1917 In Buchanan v. Warley, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a Louisville, Kentucky, ordinance that prohibited the sale of real estate to African-Americans. The Court ruled that the law was a violation of “freedom of contract” under the Fourteenth Amendment, not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The Court wrote: “The effect of the ordinance under consideration was not merely to regulate a business or the like, but was to destroy the right of the individual to acquire, enjoy, and dispose of his property. Being of this character, it was void as being opposed to the due process clause of the constitution.”
November 5 1911 Italians were the first to drop bombs from airplanes when they bombed an oasis in Libya.
November 5 1959 The Baptist General Convention of Texas advised its 1.6 million members to think carefully before voting for a Roman Catholic political candidate. It resolved: “Theoretically, a Roman Catholic has as much right to be elected to public office as anyone else. Practically, it must be remembered that the Catholic Church rejects as a ‘shibboleth of doctrinaire secularism’ the American doctrine of separation of church and state.”
November 5 1982 Thirty six were arrested for blocking the corporate entrance at Honeywell, Minnesota’s largest defense contractor. The “Honeywell Project,” a local campaign against the arms maker, dogged the company for over three decades. It continues today, targeting Alliant Technologies, the arms-making branch of Honeywell that was spun off in the 1990s, a manufacturer of artillery shells made with depleted uranium.
November 6 1913 Mohandas K. Gandhi led 2,500 ethnic Indian miners, women and others from South Africa’s Natal province across its border with Transvaal in the Great March, a violation of the pass laws restricting the movement of all non-whites in the country. Gandhi and many others were arrested and jailed after refusing to pay a fine.
November 6 1962 The 17th session of the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 1761 condemning apartheid in South Africa and called on all member states to terminate diplomatic, economic and military relations with the country.
November 6 1964 At a staff retreat held by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) following Freedom Summer an anonymous paper. “Women in the Movement,” was circulated and generated considerable controversy. The paper drew a parallel between the place of African-Americans in society at large and that of women in the movement, arguing that they had been excluded from leadership positions and assigned to do menial office tasks. It is often written that SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael responded by stating publicly that the place of women in the movement is “prone.” Women who were present recall that he said it as a joke, and that they and others understood it as a joke at the time.
November 7 1837 Abolitionist editor Elijah Lovejoy died defending his printing press, Alton, IL
November 7 1916 Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Missoula, Montana, became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Just after her term began, on April 6, 1917, the House held a vote on whether to enter World War I. Rankin cast one of fifty votes against the resolution, later saying, “I felt the first time the first woman had a chance to say no to war she should say it.”
November 7 1919 On the second anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, agents of the Bureau of Investigation (under the direction of their newly-appointed director, J. Edgar Hoover) executed a series of well-publicized and violent raids against the Union of Russian Workers in 12 cities, claiming they were immigrants with divided loyalties plotting to overthrow the government of the United Stated. Newspaper accounts reported some were “badly beaten” during the arrests. Many later swore they were threatened and beaten during questioning. Government agents brought in some American citizens, passers-by who admitted being Russian, some not members of the Russian Workers. Others were teachers conducting night school classes in space shared with the targeted radical group. Called the “Palmer Raids” because they were directed by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, the raids continued through January. Of the 10,000 arrested, 3,500 were held by authorities in detention and 556 resident aliens were eventually deported under the Immigration Act of 1918.
November 7 1949 Pope Pius XII called upon all Catholic judges around the world to refuse to issue sentences based upon laws which are considered unjust under Catholic doctrine. He singled out divorce, saying that Catholic judges cannot grant civil divorces for Catholic couples except where there are “reasons of great moment.”
November 7 1973 New Jersey became the first state to allow girls into the little league.
November 8 1901 In what has come to be known as the “Gospel Riots,” Christians in Athens, Greece, rioted over the translation of the gospels into modern Greek. Poet Alexandros Pallis, who undertook the translation at the behest of Queen Olga, was denounced as a traitor, and newspapers which published or supported the publication of the translations were burned .The military was called in to put down the riots; before they are over, eight people were killed. Translations of the New Testament into modern Greek were not legalized in Greece until 1924.
November 8 1966 Texas finally voted to abolish the $2 poll tax for state and local elections. The 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964, abolished the use of the poll tax as a pre-condition for voting in federal elections, but made no mention of state elections. In the 1966 case of Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the US Supreme Court overruled its 1937 decision in Breedlove v. Suttles, and extended the prohibition of poll taxes to state elections, declaring that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
November 8 1972 The Trail of Broken Treaties (also known as the Pan American Native Quest for Justice), a cross-country protest in the United States by American Indian and First Nations organizations, reached its destination at the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC, a week before the presidential election. It was designed to bring attention to American Indian issues, such as treaty rights, living standards, and inadequate housing. The Nixon Administration refused to meet with the protesters to receive the Twenty-Point Position paper, creating a conflict that culminated with the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building by participants. Ultimately the stand-off ended, with the federal government making concessions to the protesters, and including further treaty negotiations.
November 8 2013 For the First Time Ever, a prosecutor was sentenced to jail for wrongfully convicting an innocent man. Former Williamson County District Attorney and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime’s only eyewitness that Morton wasn’t the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson’s career flourished, and he eventually became a judge. n today’s deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. He had already resigned from the bench.
November 9 1938 In an incident known as “Kristallnacht,” Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, also called the “Night of Broken Glass,” some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps.
November 9 1989 The Berlin Wall, built to stop the exodus from the Communist-controlled East in 1961, was opened in response to nonviolent popular action.
November 10 1898 A mob of as many as 2,000 whites roamed the streets of Wilmington, burned the offices of the black-owned Wilmington Record newspaper, murdered perhaps dozens of black residents, ran black and white Republican leaders out of town and forced the legally elected Republican city government to resign. The city officials were replaced by a slate of white supremacist Democrats chosen by a secret committee. Although an exact death toll is unknown, the county coroner performed 14 inquests after the riot and the report found evidence the number might have been as high as 60. The rioters also expelled at least 20 specifically targeted individuals from Wilmington, putting them at gunpoint on northbound trains. Some 2,100 other residents, mostly blacks, left the city in the following days and weeks in a mass exodus. It is the only successful coup d’etat in US history.
November 10 1928 The first installment of All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque’s acclaimed novel of World War I, appears in the German magazine Vossische Zeitung, marking him as an eloquent spokesperson for a generation that had been, in his own words, “destroyed by war, even though it might have escaped its shells.” Remarque would go on to publish nine more novels, all dealing with the horror and futility of war and the struggle to understand its purpose. His last novel, The Night in Lisbon, condemned World War II as Adolf Hitler’s attempt to perpetrate the extermination of Jews and other “nonpeople” on behalf of the “master race.” His German citizenship was revoked in 1938.
November 11 1620 Forty one separatists fleeing persecution in England sign the Mayflower Compact while still aboard the ship Mayflower, creating the first governing document for the colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is the first written American constitution and it will remain in effect until 1691.
November 11 1918 At 11 o’clock in the morning of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the First World War comes to an end. “The War to End All Wars” took the life of some 9 million soldiers; 21 million more were wounded. Civilian casualties caused indirectly by the war numbered close to 10 million. At the peace conference in Paris in 1919, Allied leaders would state their desire to build a post-war world that would safeguard itself against future conflicts of such devastating scale. The Versailles Treaty, signed on June 28, 1919, would not achieve this objective.
November 11 1934 The Rev. Charles Edward Coughlin, pastor of the Shrine of the Little Flower in Detroit, Michigan, announced the creation of the National Union for Social Justice (Union Party), an ultra-nationalistic worker’s rights political party which opposed monetary policies perceived as benefiting the wealthy at the expense of the workers. He was one of the first political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience; thirty million listeners tuned to his weekly broadcasts during the 1930s. He was forced off the air in 1939 when he began to use his radio program to issue antisemitic commentary and support the fascist policies of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
November 11 1941 A Roman Catholic priest in Berlin, Provost Lichtenberg, preached in a sermon that he wanted to be deported to the East with the Jews to be and pray with them. He was.
November 11 2004 Greenpeace launched what was to be a 5-year-long “ Kleercut” campaign, protesting Kimberley-Clark’s clearcutting of the ancient Boreal Canadian forests to make their tissue products. They used label transformation for the brand Kleenex (one of Kimberley-Clark’s largest grossing products) a play on clearcut logging. For their beginning action, the environmentalists crafted mock Kleenex boxes out of 3 large trucks that drove through the streets of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. By the next year, Greenpeace organized the “Boreal Day of Action”. On a single day, Greenpeace activists organized over 350 events in over 200 cities throughout the US and Canada.
November 12 1779 Twenty slaves petitioned New Hampshire’s legislature to abolish slavery. They argued that “the god of nature gave them life & freedom upon the terms of most perfect equality with other men; that freedom is an inherent right of the human species, not to be surrendered but by consent.”
November 12 1864 Union General William T. Sherman orders the business district of Atlanta, Georgia, destroyed before he embarks on his famous March to the Sea, to prevent the Confederates from recovering anything once the Yankees had abandoned it
November 12 1893 The Durand Line, the 2,250-kilometre (1,400 mi) long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, was established by agreement between Sir Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat and civil servant of British India, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Amir, to fix the limit of their respective spheres of influence and improve diplomatic relations and trade. The Durand Line cuts through the Pashtun tribal areas and further south through the Balochistan region, politically dividing ethnic Pashtuns, as well as the Baloch and other ethnic groups, who live on both sides of the border. The border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan has long been one of the most dangerous places in the world.
November 12 1948 An international war crimes tribunal in Tokyo passes death sentences on seven Japanese military and government officials, including General Hideki Tojo, who served as premier of Japan from 1941 to 1944. Other tribunals sitting outside Japan judged some 5,000 Japanese guilty of war crimes, of whom more than 900 were executed.
November 12 1981 After 10 years of organizing and protesting the building of the Orme Dam, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation of Arizona won the struggle when Interior Secretary James Watt announced that Orme Dam would not be built. The dam was a Central Arizona Project plan that would have flooded more than half the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation reservation, most of their farmland, and the remnants of ancestral homeland.
November 12 2014 The U.S. and China agreed to cut greenhouse gases, with U.S. President Barack Obama setting a goal of at least a 26 percent reduction over 2005 levels by 2025; China’s Xi Jinping made the nation’s first commitment on this issue.
November 13 2014 The Vatican announced it will install showers for the homeless in public restrooms on the grounds of St. Peter’s Square; Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski also requested several local parishes around Rome to do the same.
November 13 1933 The first recorded “sit-down” strike in the U.S. was staged by workers at the Hormel Packing Company in Austin, Minnesota. Although the company tried to bring in scab (strike-breaking) workers, within four days Hormel agreed to submit wage demands to binding arbitration.
November 13 1956 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional in public transportation. The case, Browder v. Gayle, was brought by four women, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith, who had refused to surrender their bus seats to whites in Montgomery (months before Rosa Parks had done so), and had been arrested for violating Alabama law which required segregation on public buses.
November 14 1935 A supplementary decree to the Nuremberg Laws that had been enacted in September defined who was considered Jewish in Nazi Germany. The Reich Citizenship Law officially came into force on this date. The laws were expanded on 26 November to include Romani (Gypsy) people and Black people.
November 14 1940 German bombers devastated the English city of Coventry, demolishing tens of thousands of buildings and killing hundreds of men, women, and children. The verb “Koventrieren” passed into the German language, meaning “to annihilate or reduce to rubble.” Almost 500 German bombers unleashed some 150,000 incendiary bombs and more than 500 tons of high explosives on the British industrial city. Of the 568 people killed, more than 400 were burned so badly they could not be identified.
November 14 1968 Edcouch-Elsa was thrust into the national spotlight when Mexican-American students from both the high school and junior high school walked out of class in protest. They were seeking redress for unfair treatment by teachers and administration, the dilapidated conditions of their schools, and for the punishment received for speaking Spanish in school.
November 11 1727 The NY General assembly permits Jews to omit phrase “upon the faith of a Christian” from abjuration oath.
November 15 1928 Charles Lee Smith, New York president of the Association for the Advancement of Atheism, was convicted in the Municipal court of Little Rock, Arkansas, for violating a city ordinance that prohibited the use of the name of God except in cases of “veneration and worship.” Smith received the maximum sentence: a fine of $100 and 30 days in jail.
November 13 1953 Mrs. Thomas J. White, a member of the Indiana Textbook Commission, called for all references to Robin Hood and the Quakers be removed from Indiana schools and textbooks because both support Communism. According to White: “They want to stress [Robin Hood] because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the communist line.” and regarding the Quakers: “Quakers don’t believe in fighting wars. All the men they can get to believe that they don’t need to go to war, the better off the Communists are.”
November 15 1957 US Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) founded
November 15 1965 In Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that people have the right to refuse to register with the government as members of the Communist Party. This struck down the 1950 Subversive Activities Control Act. According to the Court, such a requirement would violate a person’s self-incrimination rights under the Fifth Amendment.
November 16 1945 UNESCO was founded by the United Nations to promote international collaboration through education, science, and culture, with the goal of fostering peace and universal respect for justice and human rights. UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
November 16 1989 Six Jesuit priests — Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín Baró, Segundo Montes, Joaquín López y López, Amando López and Juan Ramón Moreno — their housekeeper, Elba Ramos and her 16-year-old daughter, Celina, were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained and -supported death squads in El Salvador. In 1995 the United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador linked the slayings to 19 members of the armed forces who were graduates of the School of the Americas (SOA, now known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), a facility run by the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Georgia.
November 16 1999 Upon receiving a five day warning notice that their “Esperanza” community garden on Manhattan’s Lower East Side was scheduled to be demolished to make way for luxury condos, ,activists set up camp in the garden, making sure that at least two people were in the garden at all times. They also made a giant sculpture in the shape of a coqui, a small frog that is the national symbol of Puerto Rico. In a popular Puerto Rican myth, a monster approaches a forest, threatening to destroy it, but the coqui steps up and scares the monster away with its call. Despite its small size, it triumphs over the monster. Activists and gardeners constructed the giant coqui out of canvass and wire mesh to look out over the garden fence. Coqui had a platform inside that could fit 5 people, equipped with a space heater, a phone, a digital clock, a paper lantern, and “lockdowns” to which people could chain themselves in the event of a bulldozer threat. The two plastic eyes also gave perfect views up and down the block so activists could see whether or not a bulldozer was coming. Students, neighbors, gardeners, and activists took turns sleeping in Coqui overnight. After two months of occupation, police moved in, tearing down the fence and sawing off the chains on the activists. Thirty one people were arrested. Fifteen minutes later, the bulldozer had demolished the majority of the garden. Although this garden was destroyed, the action lead to new laws which protected other gardens in New York.
November 17 1734 New York newspaper publisher Peter Zenger was arrested and imprisoned for seditious libel against New York Governor William Cosby.
November 17 1959 Both Harvard and Yale Universities withdrew from federal student-loan programs in protest of the requirement that students who receive loans sign an anti-communist loyalty oath.
November 17 1980 More than 2,000 women, including writers Grace Paley & Maya Angelou, surrounded the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. to weave, dance, chant, demonstrate and perform civil disobedience to communicate to national leaders and military commanders that they regarded the defense plans of the nation to be lethal to the Earth.
November 18 1888 The National Women’s Christian Temperance Union was organized in Cleveland, Ohio
November 18 1993 South Africa’s ruling National Party, and leaders of 20 other parties representing both blacks and whites, approved a new national constitution that provided fundamental rights to blacks and other non-whites, ending the apartheid system. Long lines, pictured below. formed for South Africa’s first democratic multi-racial election on April 26, 1994.
November 18 2014 Angela Navarro, then 17, was caught crossing the border illegally with her parents after a devastating hurricane in Honduras left them homeless. Her parents were granted citizenship but she was not. For ten years she lived in the US illegally, worked as a cook, married a US citizen and had two children. When she was threatened with deportation, a Philadelphia church affiliated with the New Sanctuary Movement offered her a room in the church on this day, where she lived for 58 days while advocates worked to get her legal status. Federal guidelines prohibited arrests that take place in
religious facilities unless there was some threat to public safety or national security. On January 14 she was granted reprieve, which allows her to obtain a work permit, temporary social security card, and the ability to apply for a green card.
November 19 1863 Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.
November 19 1915 Joe Hill, a labor organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and framed for murder, was killed by firing squad in the courtyard of the Utah State Penitentiary in Salt Lake City. His final words were “Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize!” Watch Bruce Springsteen sing the song “Joe Hill.”
November 19 1977 In an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat traveled to Jerusalem in Israel to seek a permanent peace settlement with Egypt’s Jewish neighbor after decades of conflict.
November 20 1962 President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order mandating an end to housing discrimination. The presidential order, which came in the midst of an upsurge in the civil rights movement, banned federally funded housing agencies from denying mortgages to any person based on race, color, creed or national origin. Although Executive Order 11063 was an important symbolic step in curbing de facto segregation in housing, it was left it up to the individual housing and funding agencies to police themselves resulting in noncompliance in states and localities with long histories of racial segregation. Not until President Lyndon Johnson signed Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act in 1968 were any legal teeth attached to the fair housing law..
November 20 1959 The United Nations proclaimed “The Declaration of the Rights of the Child,” because “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
November 20 1945 The International War Crimes Tribunal began in Nuremberg, Germany, and continued until October 1, 1946, establishing that military and political subordinates are responsible for their own actions even if ordered by their superiors.
November 21 1927 U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of nine-year old Chinese-American Martha Lum, who was removed from the Rosedale Consolidated School in Bolivar County, Mississippi solely because she was of Chinese descent. In Lum v. Rice, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state’s rights and Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” applied to Asian American students, or as the court said, students of the “yellow race.”
November 21 1966 National Organization for Women (NOW) founded in Chicago.
November 21 1967 President Lyndon Johnson sighed the Air Quality Act, beginning the war on pollution in America.
November 21 1975 A Senate committee issued a report charging that U.S. government (CIA) officials were behind assassination plots against Fidel Castro and Patrice Lumumba of the Congo and were heavily involved in plots that led to the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam, General Rene Schneider of Chile, and Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic.
November 21 1991 President Bush signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, making it easier for workers to sue in job discrimination cases
November 21 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, ending the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, initialed at Wright-Patterson AFB; formally signed in Paris on Dec. 14.
November 22 1909 Clara Lemlich, who had been listening for four hours to men speak about the disadvantages of the (mostly female) shirtwaist workers going on a general strike, rose and declared (in Yiddish) that the shirtwaist workers would go on a general strike. Her declaration received a standing ovation. In what came to be called “The Uprising of the 20,000,” 15,000 shirtwaist workers walked out of the factories, with 5,000 more joining the strike the following day. The strike lasted until February 1910 and ended in a “protocol of peace” which allowed the strikers to go back to work and met the demands of the workers, which included better pay, shorter hours, and equal treatment of workers who were in the union and workers who were not.
November 22 1919 The Bogalusa Labor Massacre occurred. African American labor organizer Sol Dacus was threatened by agents of the Great Southern Lumber Company. White union members, including the AFL district rep, came to his defense and four were murdered. Stephen Norwood wrote: “The gun battle in Bogalusa, when white union men took up arms and gave their lives to defend their black comrade, represents probably the most dramatic display of interracial labor solidarity in the Deep South during the first half of the 20th century.
November 22 1968 What is believed to be the first interracial kiss on U.S. broadcast television occurred in an episode of Star Trek between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols.
November 22 1972 Circumpolar peoples from Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, & Sweden meet in Copenhagen to demand self-government & control over Arctic land & resources.
November 22 2004 The “Orange Revolution” began in the Ukraine in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the presidential election, which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud. It is credited with being the first Internet / mobile phone-organized mass protest.
November 23 1938 Harold L. Ickes, United States Secretary of the Interior, suggested opening Alaska as a safe haven for Jews fleeing persecution in Germany and other European nations. According to Ickes, Alaska would be perfect for this because it’s the only U.S. possession which has not yet been fully developed and thus has plenty of open space, both physically and economically, for large numbers of new people to move in to.
November 23 2006 1,700 Houston janitors began a strike to secure family health care, fair wages, full-time work (instead of 4-hour shifts), and better working conditions.
November 23 1173 BCE The first ever recorded labor strike occurred in Deir el Medina, Ancient Egypt when workers did not receive their rations. The sit-down strikes occurred in the 12th century BC, on the 21st day of the second month in the 29th year of the reign of the pharaoh Ramses III, while Ramses was fighting a series of wars and engaging in an extensive building campaign. The strikers were hereditary craftsmen who worked on the tombs of the pharaohs, the vast complexes that to this day draw visitors from all over the world to the Valley of the Kings.
November 24 408 Roman emperors Honorius and Theodosius II decree that it is now forbidden to do anything at all that is contrary to Catholicism. According to this new imperial decree: “The new and unaccustomed audacity of Donatists, heretics, and Jews reveals their desire to create confusion about the sacraments of the Catholic faith. Such audacity is a pestilence and a contagion and must not be allowed to spread more widely. We command, therefore, that the penalty of a just chastisement shall be visited upon anyone who tries to do anything that is contrary or opposed to the Catholic sect.”
November 24 1869 Women from 21 states met in Cleveland to organize the American Women Suffrage Association.
November 24 1947 A group of writers, producers and directors that became known as the “Hollywood 10″ were cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about alleged Communist influence in the movie industry.
November 24 1993 Congress voted to formally apologize to Hawaii for the 1893 overthrow of the government of Queen Lydia Liliuokalani.
November 24 1987 The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to scrap short- and medium-range missiles in the first superpower treaty to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons.
November 24 2013 Objecting to the halt of talks about building a close relationship with the European Union, the perception of widespread government corruption, abuse of power, and violation of human rights in Ukraine, 100,000 Ukrainians joined protests in Kiev and launched an occupation of Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square.) Police set up a cordon to contain the crowd; when protesters attempted to break through, police fired tear gas. In late February 2014, President Yanukovych and many other high government officials fled the country.
November 25 1867 Alfred Nobel invented dynamite.
November 25 1960 Harvest of Shame, a documentary by Edward R. Murrow that showed the plight of agricultural workers, was aired on CBS the day after Thanksgiving. An investigative report intended “to shock Americans into action”, it was “the first time millions of Americans were given a close look at what it means to live in poverty” via their televisions.
November 25 1984 Three dozen English musicians gathered in a London studio to record Do They Know It’s Christmas to raise money to send food to starving families in Ethiopia. Music sales for Band Aid, the world’s first charity super-group raised $14 million.
November 25 1999 The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution designating November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The resolution, which was introduced by the Dominican Republic, marked the anniversary of the death of three sisters, Maria, Teresa, and Minerva Mirabel, who were brutally murdered there in 1960.
November 25 1988 2,000 march in NY city to protest sale of furs. Over 50 other cities hold demonstrations.
November 25 1986 President Ronald Reagan and Attorney General Edwin Meese revealed that $30 million in profits from secret arms sales to Iran had been diverted to support the Nicaraguan contra insurgents in violation of U.S. law, in what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.
November 26 2013 After 8 years of negotiation and organizing, the New York University (NYU) Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC) won voluntary recognition from NYU, partially in response to a letter signed by 1300 graduate student employees in support of unionization, making NYU the first private university in the United States to recognize a graduate student union. Ultimately, their agreement guaranteed minimum annual raises, dramatically improved and made less expensive healthcare and dental coverage, a family health care fund, a tax deductible child care fund, and formal labor-management committees to resolve future labor disputes and ensure input from graduate students in future labor policy.
November 26 1968 U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution against capital punishment following an official report which said, “Examination of the number of murders before and after the abolition of the death penalty does not support the theory that capital punishment has a unique deterrent effect.”
November 26 1970 American Indian Movement (AIM) activists celebrated Thanksgiving by occupying Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Known as the National Day of Mourning, this annual event was sparked by Commonwealth of Massachusetts officials censoring a speech to be given by Frank James (Wamsutta), an Aquinnah Wampanoag, at the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. The reason given was “…the theme of the anniversary celebration is brotherhood and anything inflammatory would have been out of place.”
November 26 1983 Despite frequent and consistent reports of Iraqi use of chemical weapons (mustard gas), a clear violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, Ronald Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 114, stating that the United States would do “whatever was necessary and legal” to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran and calling for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities.
November 27 1025 In what came to be known as the 1st Crusade, Pope Urban II called on all Christians to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims and reclaim the Holy Land: “Deus vult (God wills it)!” At the Council of Clermont in France, the pope promised absolution and remission of sins for all who died in the service of Christ.
November 27 1967 Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. announced the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign, a movement to broadly address economic inequalities with nonviolent direct action.
November 27 1969 U.S. Army medics stationed in Pleiku stage a fast on Thanksgiving Day to protest the Vietnam War.
November 27 2013 As pressure to use hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to release methane (natural gas) from shale rock formations in the UK began to grow. Frack Free Manchester established the ‘Barton Moss Community Protection Camp’ in a rural area near Eccles in the northwest of England, near Manchester, a major city. People brought tents and began camping beside the road near the test drill site. Their primary method of action was nonviolent intervention. They tried to prevent or delay the traffic into and out of the testing site.
November 28 1911 Mexican Revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata proclaimed the Plan of Ayala, denouncing President Francisco I. Madero for his perceived betrayal of the revolutionary ideals and setting out his vision of land reform, “Reforma, Libertad, Justicia y Ley!” (“Reform, Freedom, Justice and Law!”), later (after Zapata’s death) shortened to “Tierra y Libertad!” (“Land and Freedom!”
November 28 1918 Regaining independence in 1918 following the 123-year period of partition and foreign rule, Poland immediately granted women the right to vote and be elected as of this date.
November 28 1943 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt joined British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at a conference in Tehran, Iran to discuss strategies for winning World War II and potential terms for a peace settlement. In a joint declaration issued December 1, they recognized “the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace which will command the goodwill of the overwhelming mass of the peoples of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations.”
November 28 1991 The U.S. Congress passed the Comprehensive Threat Reduction Act (the Nunn-Lugar legislation), which provided up to $400 million to assist with the destruction of Soviet nuclear and chemical warheads.
November 29 1781 The captain and crew of the slave ship Zong threw overboard 133 of their still-living human cargo. They had run short of food and water, and historically the insurance company would reimburse slavers “when slaves are killed, or thrown into thrown into the sea in order to quell an insurrection” but would refuse to pay out if the enslaved people died from disease or malnutrition. The company filed a claim when they reached Jamaica but the insurers, smelling fraud, balked at payment. It went to court. The solicitor general argued: “What is this claim that human people have been thrown overboard? This is a case of chattels or goods. Blacks are goods and property; it is madness to accuse these well serving honourable men of murder. They acted out of necessity and in the most appropriate manner for the cause. . . The case is the same as if horses had been thrown overboard.” The court agreed. No one was ever prosecuted for this crime, but the Zong killings offered a powerful example of the horrors of the slave trade, stimulating the development of the abolitionist movement in Britain. JMM Turner’s painting, “The Slave Ship,” was inspired by the Zong atrocity.
November 29 1864 Colonel John Chivington and his Colorado volunteers, many of them drunk, massacred a peaceful village of Cheyenne camped near Sand Creek in Colorado Territory, setting off a long series of bloody retaliatory attacks by the Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapah
November 29 1947 Despite strong Arab opposition, the United Nations voted for the partition of Palestine and the creation of an independent Jewish state.
November 29 2015 In protest of the French government’s ban on pro-environmental demonstrations in Paris, would-be protesters have placed 22,000 pairs of shoes at Place de la Republique. The black shoes front and center were personally donated by Pope Francis in solidarity.
November 30 1216 In the Fourth Council of the Lateran headed by Pope Innocent III ruled that Jews and Muslims must wear distinguishable dress (Latin habitus). Canon 68 reads, in part: “In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews or Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any difference. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress.”
November 30 1909 In Weems v. United States, a case from the Philippines, the Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that a sentence of 15 years imprisonment (while being chained from wrist to ankle and forced to work at “hard and painful labor”) for defrauding the government constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”
November 30 1987 In Lyng v. Northwest Indian CPA, by a 5-3 vote, the Supreme Court allowed a road to be built through sacred Indian lands. The Court acknowledged that the road will in fact be devastating to their religious practice, but Justice Sandra Day O’Conner writes in the majority opinion: “Whatever rights the Indians my have to the use of the area, however, those rights do not divest the Government of its right to use what is, after all, its land.”
November 30 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The Brady Bill requires that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer—unless an exception applies. Firearm transfers by unlicensed private sellers that are “not engaged in the business” of dealing firearms are not subject to the Brady Act. The Act was named for Jim Brady, press secretary to President Ronald Reagan when both he and the president were shot during an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr.
December 1 1742 Empress Elisabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Russia, proclaiming “The Russian people have been groaning under the enemies of the Christian faith, but she has delivered them from the degrading foreign oppression.” Part of the impetus for this action resulted from the outcome of one of her wars with Sweden. Russia had acquired the Baltic territories of Livonia and Courland, which were inhabited by a fairly large Jewish population. Annexation made them all Russian subjects, but the Empress did not want them at all, much less the prospect of their leaving the provinces and coming into Russia proper.
December 1 1862 President Lincoln gave the State of the Union message to the 37th Congress. “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present… As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.”
December 1 1891 The International Peace Bureau was launched in Rome, Italy, “. . . to coordinate the activities of the various peace societies and promote the concept of peaceful settlement of international disputes.” The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910.
December 1 1948 Costa Rican President Jose Figueres helped draft a constitution that abolished the military and guaranteed free elections with universal suffrage. He symbolically took a sledge hammer to the military headquarters, the Cuartel Bellavista, and announced it would be turned into a cultural center. “We are the sustainers of a new world in America. Little Costa Rica offers its heart and love to civilian rule and democracy,” he said.
December 1 1955 Rosa Parks, a black seamstress active in the local NAACP, was arrested by police in Montgomery, Alabama, after refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man.
December 1 1959 Representatives of 12 countries, including the United States and the Soviet Union, signed a treaty in Washington setting aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, free from military activity.
December 1 1971 In Santiago, Chile, students began a 2-day against the Allende government. The government banned public demonstrations and declared a state of emergency.
December 1 1984 Rosa Parks was arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington, DC, on the anniversary of her arrest in Montgomery 29 years earlier, as part of an ongoing protest against apartheid.
December 1 1989 Day Without Art began on this date as the national day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis. To make the public aware that AIDS can touch everyone, and inspire positive action, some 800 U.S. art and AIDS groups participated in the first Day Without Art, shutting down museums, sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or sponsoring special exhibitions of work about AIDS. Since then, Day With(out) Art has grown into a collaborative project in which an estimated 8,000 national and international museums, galleries, art centers, AIDS service organizations, libraries, high schools and colleges take part.
December 1 1998 In Canada a new gun control law went into effect that required all 3 million gun owners to be licensed and every one of an estimated 7 million rifles and handguns to be registered.
December 1 2003 In Canada a coalition of energy and forest companies and Indian tribes and environmental groups announced a framework for forest and wetland conservation to conserve at least 50% of Canada’s sub-Arctic boreal forests.
December 1 2005 South Africa’s highest court ruled it is unconstitutional to prevent gay people from marrying, paving the way for the country to become the first to legalize same-sex unions on a continent where homosexuality remains largely taboo.
December 2 1917 Dorothy Day and seven other suffragists, who had been arrested for picketing the White House to demand women’s suffrage and were sentenced to jail, announced on this day that they would sue for damages because of their brutal treatment in jail. They planned to ask for $50,000 each in damages. Lucy Burns, one of the women planning to sue, alleged that she had been manacled to the door of her cell and threatened with a “strap and buckle gag.”
December 2 1942 Enrico Fermi, the Italian-born Nobel Prize-winning physicist, directed and controlled the first self-sustaining fission reaction in his laboratory beneath the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, making the atomic bomb possible and ushering in the nuclear age
December 2 1946 The Protocol to the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) was signed was signed in Washington, DC. The International Whaling Commission (IWC), formed in 1948, prohibited the hunting of gray whales worldwide when their numbers were down to the thousands. Scientific studies and the commercial reality of fewer whales led to the implementation of bans on hunting many whale species such as the humpback whale in 1963 followed in 1965 by a hunting ban on the blue whale (the largest creature known to have ever existed). The IWC adopted a moratorium on whaling in 1982. Although the IWC attempted to ban all commercial whaling in 1986, some countries refused to agree.
December 2 1954 The U.S. Senate voted 65 to 22 to condemn Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for conduct unbecoming of a senator for his controversial investigation of suspected communists in the U.S. government, military, and civilian society. What is known as “McCarthyism” began on February 9, 1950, when McCarthy, an obscure Republican senator from Wisconsin, announced that he had a list of 205 communists who had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. The unsubstantiated declaration, little more than a publicity stunt, thrust Senator McCarthy into the national spotlight. Televised hearings earlier in 1954 exposed the senator as a reckless tyrant who never produced proper documentation for any of his claims
December 2 1960 The first “stand-in” for racial integration occurred in Austin, Texas, when About 100 students, a biracial group with 20 African Americans, stood in line at the Texas Theater, which was next door to the YMCA. The line snaked down the sidewalk as the protest lasted an hour before the group returned to the Y. Persons would line up at the box office, and when their turn came to purchase a ticket, would politely ask, “Is this theater open to all Americans?” When told it was limited to white customers only, the person would return to the end of the line and repeat the process. This had the effect of both raising the issue and clogging up the line. For the next five months, the SDA organized two or three stand-ins a week with 100 – 150 participants. Picketers were added and carried signs which read, “Your money spent here supports segregation.”In September, 1961 a deal was brokered: If the stand-ins ceased, the theaters agreed to a one-month trial period in September where African American UT students (who would be required to show IDs) would be allowed into the theaters. After a month, if there had been no objections from other patrons and business was unaffected, the theaters would quietly open their doors to all persons. Within a year, most of the shops along the Drag had integrated as well.
December 2 1964 Mario Savio made a speech on behalf of the Free Speech Movement that caused hundreds of students to take over Sproul Hall in Berkeley. Police moved in the next day and arrested 780, which prompted a student strike. “There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies on the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve go to make it stop.”
December 2 1972 In Australia Neville Bonner (1922-1999) became the first Aborigine to be elected to the federal Parliament.
December 2 1980 Three American nuns and a lay worker were abducted, raped and shot in San Salvador. Peasants discovered their bodies the next day and buried them. Nuns Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, and lay worker Jean Donovan were raped and shot by guardsmen. The murders occurred as the US began a 10-year $7 billion aid effort to prevent left-wing guerrillas from coming to power. Five national guardsmen were later convicted in the killings, and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
December 2 2012 In Hungary thousands of people attended an anti-Nazi rally in Budapest to protest a call by far-right lawmaker Marton Gyongyosi to screen Jews for national security risks.
December 3 1946 In support of 400 Oakland, California department store workers who had been striking since October to gain recognition for their union, 100,000 workers from 142 AFL unions representing all types of worker, declared a “work holiday” and walked off their jobs, calling it a “work holiday.” City and union leaders reached a compromise agreement, which restored workers to their jobs on December 5. In the wake of the general strike, populist politics in Oakland experienced an uptick in energy and popularity, and eventually elected four labor-sponsored candidates to the city council.
December 3 1984 An explosion at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India lead to the worst industrial accident in history. At least 2,000 people died and another 200,000 were injured when toxic gas enveloped the city of nearly a million people.
December 3 1997 An international treaty banning land mines was signed by 122 countries. It comprehensively prohibits the use, production, trade or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. Buried landmines kill about 15,000 people every year worldwide. The United States and approximately forty other countries have yet to sign the treaty.
December 3 1833 Oberlin College, the first college to enroll men and women on equal terms and the first school in America to advocate the abolition of slavery and to accept African-American men and women on equal terms with white students, was founded in Ohio.
December 3 2011 Thousands protested in India against the country’s decision to compete in the London Olympics despite sponsorship of the Games by Dow chemical, a US firm linked to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
December 4 1938 Latina civil rights activist, Luisa Moreno founded “El Congreso del Pueblo de Habla Española” or the The Spanish-Speaking Peoples Congress. This congress was the first of its kind with the objective to bring together all Spanish speaking people residing in the U.S. The first meeting was held in Los Angeles with large representation by Cubans and Spaniards from Florida, Puerto Ricans from New York, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans from the Southwest.
December 4 1979 César Chávez was sentenced to 20 days in jail for refusing to call off the United Farm Workers’ consumer boycott of Bud Antle, Inc., the country’s second largest lettuce grower. The boycott had been called to pressure Antle to negotiate with the Farm Workers.
December 4 1969 Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark 22, were shot to death by 14 police officers as they lay sleeping in their Chicago, IL, apartment. While authorities claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police who were there to serve a search warrant for weapons, evidence later emerged that the FBI, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Hampton.
December 4 2013 The Green Climate Fund, designed as the UN’s most important funding body in the battle on climate change in developing nations, launched its headquarters in South Korea.
December 5 1484 During what is known as the Little Ice Age, the grip of freezing weather, failing of crops, rising crime, and mass starvation resulted in an increasing fear of witches. On the request of German inquisitor Heinrich Kramer, Innocent VIII issued the papal bull known as Summis desiderantes, which supported Kramer’s investigations against magicians and witches. Over the next 300 years as many as 200,000 accused witches were executed. The assets of the “witches,” mostly women deemed to be heretics, were seized by the Church.
December 5 1952 Five thousand people died in London when a toxic fog blanketed the city for five days. A high-pressure system had parked over London and caused a temperature inversion that prevented the smoke from the record amount of coal being burned into the skies from rising. The city shut down:visibility was zero, and the poisoned air reeked of rotten eggs from the sulfur. Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956, which restricted the burning of coal in urban areas and authorized local councils to set up smoke-free zones. Homeowners received grants to convert from coal to alternative heating systems. In the United States, The Federal Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 was implemented for research into causal analysis and control of car-emission pollution.
December 5 1953 The Montgomery Bus Boycott began.
December 5 1979 Feminist Sonia Johnson was formally excommunicated by the Mormon Church because of her outspoken support for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
December 5 2002 Trent Lott, Senate Republican leader from Mississippi, made remarks that supported Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 1948 segregationist platform. The resulting firestorm prompted Lott to resign his leadership position.
December 5 2009 In Indonesia an ecumenical group launched more than 10,000 twinkling paper lanterns into the night sky above Carnaval Beach in Jakarta, setting a world record. Freedom Faithnet Global said it organized the lantern release as a symbol of hope and prayer as part of annual celebrations. This year’s celebrations have an environmental focus.
December 6 1810 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla issued a decree abolishing slavery in Mexico.
December 6 1987 On the eve of Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s arrival in the United States for a summit meeting with President Ronald Reagan, more than 200,000 protesters in Washington protested Soviet policies concerning Russian Jews. The protests succeeded in focusing public attention on human rights abuses in Russia.
December 6 2012 A treaty that African nations hope will lead to the fair and humane treatment of people displaced in their own countries went into force today, more than three years after it was conceived by the African Union. 15 African nations have ratified the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.
December 7 1971 The Hoe Avenue Peace Meeting was called to propose a general truce and an unprecedented New York City inter-gang alliance. The meeting was a success but while no lasting peace was ever established, a subsequent negotiation established a procedure for dealing with conflicts to avoid street “warfare”. The meeting is notable as one of the first attempts by street organizations to broker a truce between groups of different ethnic backgrounds.
December 7 1982 The first execution by lethal injection takes place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Charles Brooks, Jr., convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, received an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol, the barbiturate that is known as a “truth serum” when administered in lesser doses.
December 8 1596 Luis de Carabajal, 1st Jewish author in America, was executed in Mexico. The nephew of Luis Carvajal, a Jewish convert to Catholicism and governor of the province of Nuevo Leon, was accused of relapsing into Judaism. He was tried by Spanish Inquisitors and under torture gave out 116 names of other Judaizers that included his mother and 23 sisters. They were eventually strangled with iron collars and burned to death. Photo
December 8 1863 President Abraham Lincoln offered his conciliatory plan for reunification of the United States with his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, allowing for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders. It also allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. The Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.
December 8 1927 The founding of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) on this date was prompted by anti-Catholic bigotry across the country in the 1920s prompted by Al Smith’s run for the Democratic nomination. Many of the attacks on Catholics and Catholic politicians were led by the Ku Klux Klan. The NCCJ worked to promote religious and racial tolerance from its founding until the present. It is now known as the National Conference for Community and Justice.
December 8 1930 Nazi youths rioted in Berlin over the release of the movie All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues), from the book by Erich Maria Remarque which he based upon his experiences in the trenches in World War I.
December 8 1949 The 1949 Geneva Conventions were adopted on this day. The Geneva Conventions became relevant to the war on terror because the administration of George W. Bush argued that the U.S. was not bound by the Conventions. The Supreme disagreed, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on June 29, 2006, holding that the U.S. was indeed bound to honor the Conventions.
December 8 1953 Eisenhower delivered his “Atoms for Peace” address to the UN. He called on both the US and Soviet Union to abandon their nuclear arsenals. The “Atoms for Peace” program spread nuclear technology to nations that agreed not to use it for military purposes.
December 8 1971 In Wisconsin v. Yoder the Supreme Court decided 6 to 1 that a compulsory education law in Wisconsin violated the Free Exercise Clause for Amish parents who want to remove their children from school before they reached high school.
December 8 1982 The Supreme Court, in Brown v. Socialist Workers Party, upheld the right of the Socialist Workers Party not to disclose the names and addresses of its campaign contributors as required by the Ohio Campaign Expense Reporting Law. The Court held that the First Amendment protects the disclosure of information about the supporters of minority political parties when there is a “reasonable probability of threats, harassment, or reprisals” against those individuals.
December 8 1998 In Knowles v. Iowa, the Supreme Court ruled that police cannot search people and their cars after merely ticketing them for routine traffic violations.
December 8 2005 The Third Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions established the Red Crystal as an emblem that can be used by states that have difficulty with either the Red Cross or the Red Crescent because of perceptions that they may have religious significance. The emblems are used throughout the world to protect medical personnel, buildings and equipment in time of armed conflict.
December 9 1905 France’s Chamber of Deputies passed “An Act for the Separation of Church and State,” ending Napoleon’s Concordat of 1801 and establishing state secularism in France. The new law terminated economic support for religious organizations; Napoleon had agreed to fund religious groups as compensation for the confiscation of church property during the French Revolution. The new law recognized the importance of every individual’s freedom of conscience and the neutrality of the government in all religious matters, the backbone of France’s laïcité — French for “laicism,” a term which in French describes the complete absence of religion in all government affairs.
December 9 1917 British troops, known as the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and under the command of General Edmund Allenby, entered Jerusalem, ending 700 years of Muslim rule of the city, 400 of those under the Ottoman Turks. The city surrendered without a battle, beginning 30 years of British control over Palestine. Allenby promised, “Since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people, I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.”
December 9 1948 The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The document is often referred to as the Genocide Convention. The United States did not ratify it until November 4, 1988 — 40 years later. The leader of the ratification campaign in the U.S. Senate was Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire, who spoke on the subject every day the Senate was in session for 20 years.
December 9 2013 A Paris auction of sacred objects from the Hopi and San Carlos Apache Native American tribes kicked off despite objections from the US and activists. The auction fetched more than 550,000 euros. On Dec 11 a US charitable foundation said that it was the anonymous bidder that paid $530,000 for 24 Native American masks in the auction and will return them to the Hopi Nation in Arizona and the San Carlos Apache tribe
December 9 2014 The US Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9/11 terror attacks. President Barack Obama said the interrogation techniques “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies.”
December 10 1869 Governor John Campbell signed a bill that granted women in the Wyoming Territory the right to vote as well as hold public office. Esther Morris had pressed state senator William Bright to sponsor the suffrage bill. Wyoming became the 1st US state to enfranchise women.
December 10 1898 In France, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally ending the Spanish-American War and granting the United States its first overseas empire. The Spanish empire was virtually dissolved as the United States took over much of Spain’s overseas holdings. Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the United States, the Philippines were bought for $20 million, and Cuba became a U.S. protectorate. Philippine insurgents who fought against Spanish rule during the war immediately turned their guns against the new occupiers, and 10 times more U.S. troops died suppressing the Philippines than in defeating Spain.
December 10 1945 “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” first published. The Bulletin was founded by Manhattan Project scientists who “could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work.” The organization’s early years chronicled the dawn of the nuclear age and the birth of the scientists’ movement, as told by the men and women who built the atomic bomb and then lobbied with both technical and humanist arguments for its abolition. Today, it engages science leaders, policy makers, and the interested public on topics of nuclear weapons and disarmament, the changing energy landscape, climate change, and emerging technologies.
December 10 1948 The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since 1950 the anniversary of the declaration has been known as Human Rights Day.
December 10 1972 Amnesty International, founded in London in 1961, launched its first worldwide campaign for the abolition of torture on Human Rights Day, with the aim to make torture “as unthinkable as slavery.”
December 10 1977 On UN Human Rights Day, the Soviet Union placed 20 prominent dissidents under house arrest, cutting off telephones and threatening to break up a planned silent demonstration in Moscow’s Pushkin Square.
December 10 1984 The United Nations adopted the Convention Against Torture, often abbreviated CAT, on this day. Officially the Convention Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or other Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the CAT was ratified by the U.S. Senate, and thereby became American law, on October 21, 1994.
December 10 2010 Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir arrested a college lecturer on charges he gave his students an English exam filled with questions attacking India’s crackdown on demonstrations in the disputed region. The exam written by Noor Mohammed Bhat and administered to students across the region on Dec 8 included questions such as, “Are the stone pelters real heroes? Discuss.”
December 10 1997 Julia Butterfly (23), nee Julia Hill, climbed into a redwood tree in Humboldt County, Ca., on Pacific Lumber Co. property and remained there for over 2 years. She named the tree Luna and in her meditations came up with the equation: truth + hope = action + change. Julia ended her protest Dec 18, 1999. A deal was reached to preserve Luna and a 200-foot buffer in exchange for a $50,000 payment to Pacific Lumber, which would be donated to Humboldt State Univ. for scientific research.
December 11 1851 In Philadelphia 37 men, on trial in federal court for defying the Fugitive Slave Law, were deemed not guilty by a jury with 15 minutes of deliberation.
December 11 1961 A U.S. Supreme Court decision (Garner v. Louisiana) outlawed the use of disorderly conduct statutes as grounds for arresting African Americans students sitting-in at segregated public facilities to obtain equal service.
December 11 1964 The U.S. Post Office announced that it would dismantle over 5,000 “observation stations” in men’s restrooms in post offices across the country. Postmaster General John A. Gronouski called the practice “An unfortunate invasion of privacy,” but he did not think the Post Office “violated anyone’s rights.” The “observation stations” were small rooms with one-way glass, from which postal inspectors could secretly observe restroom patrons. The Post Office claimed they were created because of thefts of government property by postal employees, but many people believe they were created to observe homosexual activity. None were installed in women’s restrooms “because of the low percentage of women employees” in the Post Office and “other reasons.” It is most likely that the snooping in men’s rooms was a legacy of the homophobic panic that swept the country, and Washington in particular, in the 1950s, and is known as the “lavender scare.”
December 11 1980 President Carter signed into a law legislation creating a $1.6 billion environmental “superfund” to pay for cleaning up chemical spills and toxic waste dumps. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA or Superfund) was established by the US Congress to clean up America’s worst hazardous waste sites. The fund was established in response to toxic chemicals seeping into a housing development at Love Canal in New York.
December 11 1984 More than 20,000 women turned out for an anti-nuclear demonstration at Greenham Common Air Base in England, where U.S. nuclear-armed cruise missiles were deployed.
December 11 1997 The 55-member Organization of the Islamic conference ended their meeting in Iran with the declaration that “the killing of innocents is strictly forbidden in Islam.” The group also called for full respect for the dignity and rights of Muslim women.
December 11 2002 A Nicaraguan judge ordered three U.S. companies to pay $490 million to 583 banana workers allegedly affected by the use of the pesticide Nemagon.
December 11 2006 Frustrated in their attempts to demand transparency, activists opposed to the introduction of casino gambling in Philadelphia sent an “ultimatum” to the Pennsylvania gaming commission chairman and the governor Governor that demanded the release of documents pertaining to projected casino costs and revenues, as well as site designs for the five proposals. The activists vowed to conduct a nonviolent “citizens’ document search” of the PGCB offices in Harrisburg if the documents were not released by December 1. On this date, about fifty demonstrators from Casino-Free Philadelphia converged on the gaming commission office in Harrisburg chanting anti-casino slogans. Fourteen of the protesters sought to enter the elevator to search for the documents, but were barred from the elevators by police. When they refused to do so, police arrested them. The citizens’ document search received considerable press coverage, and drew attention to the secrecy of the PGCB. In the next several years, this led to a series of investigative reports detailing benefits received by Board members, and legislation aimed at reducing corruption on the Board.
December 11 2014 Brazil’s National Truth Commission report named 377 people allegedly responsible for 434 deaths and disappearances, and thousands of acts of torture during the military regime of 1964-1985.
December 11 2015 At least 200 students from the DuSable Campus in Chicago walked out of class Friday as part of a demonstration to bring back their librarian and stop the library from closing. Students grabbed books from the school library and took a seat on the floor in the hallway to conduct a “read-in.” They were informed a week later that the proposed cut was canceled.
December 12 1830 The State of Georgia made it unlawful for the Cherokee to meet in council — unless it is for the purpose of “giving” land to whites.
December 12 1906 Theodore Roosevelt nominated Oscar Straus to be secretary of commerce and labor; Straus became the first Jewish Cabinet member.
December 12 1983 Seventy people are arrested in Boston outside a hotel where a “New Trends in Missiles” trade conference is being held. Inside the hotel, more than 1,000 cockroaches are let loose to symbolize the likely survivors of nuclear war.
December 12 2006 Online political groups, the Campaign to Defend the Constitution and the Christian Alliance for Progress, demanded that Wal-Mart dump Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a new computer game in which players must either kill or convert non-Christians.
December 12 2007 The UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal at The Hague sentenced former Bosnian Serb general Dragomir Milosevic (b.1942) to 33 years imprisonment for the shelling of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, one of the court’s toughest sentences. In 2009 UN judges trimmed the sentence from 33 to 29 years but upheld his convictions for leading troops who terrorized Sarajevo with a deadly rain of shells and sniper bullets.
December 12 2009 Houston became the largest US city to elect an openly gay mayor, with voters handing a solid victory to City Controller Annise Parker (53) after a hotly contested runoff.
December 12 2009 A Palestinian man made homeless by last winter’s Gaza war was the first to receive a UN-funded mud brick home, with UN aid officials saying they’re reverting to ancient building techniques because Israel won’t allow concrete and other construction materials into blockaded Gaza.
December 13 1937 During the Sino-Japanese War, Nanking, the capital of China, fell to Japanese forces, and the Chinese government fled. To break the spirit of Chinese resistance, Japanese General Matsui Iwane ordered that the city of Nanking be destroyed. Much of the city was burned, and Japanese troops launched a campaign of atrocities against civilians. In what became known as the “Rape of Nanking,” the Japanese butchered an estimated 150,000 male “war prisoners,” massacred an additional 50,000 male civilians, and raped at least 20,000 women and girls of all ages, many of whom were mutilated or killed in the process. Shortly after the end of World War II, Matsui was found guilty of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and executed.
December 13 1964 In El Paso, Texas, President Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion that diverted the Rio Grande, reshaping the U.S.-Mexican border and ending a century-old dispute.
December 13 1975 During a time of heightened unease between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority in Thailand, five young Muslims were stopped and murdered by soldiers in the Pattani region. More than 3,000 university students protested outside the Pattani Provincial Hall, where they presented the government with a list of four demands, including that the murder suspects to be investigated and prosecuted if found guilty. The protests continued for 47 days, swelling to as many as 50,000 participants. The government met all of the protesters demands.
December 13 1982 In Larkin v. Grendel’s Den the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that a Massachusetts law which allows schools and churches to prevent the issuance of alcohol permits to establishments within 500 feet is unconstitutional because it substitutes religious decision-making for public legislative authority.
December 13 1989 In response to the State of New York’s decision to build a nuclear waste dump, the Allegany County Nonviolent Action Group (ACNAG) was formed by concerned residents who determined that nonviolent resistance was the only way to stop the dump from being built. On this date, members of ACNAG prevented a technical team from carrying out their tests. ACNAG surrounded the technical team along with their sheriff escort. They promised to keep their arms linked until the technical team agreed to stop their work and leave the county. When the landowner complained that the technical team hadn’t asked his permission to enter the land, the Sheriff cited the technical team for trespassing. The campaign ended in April of the next year when Governor Cuomo dropped the nuclear waste proposal.
December 13 2006 Botswana’s High Court ruled that the country’s Bushmen were entitled to live and hunt on their ancestral lands in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, in judgment hailed as victory for the hunters.
December 13 2006 A group of about 300 Mazahua Indians briefly seized a water treatment plant on Mexico City’s western outskirts and temporarily cut off one of the main sources of water for the metropolis of 18 million people. The protest was motivated by demands for more government development aid.
December 13 2007 Malaysia said it has arrested five leaders of ethnic Indian rights group Hindraf under controversial security laws that allow for detention without trial.
December 13 2010 In response to the Smithsonian Institution’s removal of late artist David Wojnarowicz’s video installation about the AIDS epidemic, thought by some to be obscene and demeaning to Christianity, Mike Blasenstein stood at the exhibit’s entrance playing “A Fire in My Belly” on his iPad around his neck while attempting to distribute flyers regarding censorship. After a mere ten minutes, Blasenstein and videographer Mike Iacorone were wrestled to the ground by guards. The Smithsonian banned both men from their museums for a year. In response, Blasenstein and Iacorone rented a trailer and parking spaces outside of the museum in protest until the exhibit’s closing on February 13. Under the name “The Museum of Censored Art,” they had volunteers working full time getting passers-by to sign petitions to restore the video to the gallery.
December 14 1934 The School Defense League (La Liga Pro-Defensa Escolar) was founded at the International Institute in San Antonio. It represented more than forty organizations seeking the improvement of school facilities. The league, headed by Eleuterio Escobar, Jr., grew out of the Committee on Playgrounds and School Facilities under Council 16 of the League of United Latin American Citizens, which Escobar chaired. Within a few months of its formation the committee had developed a coalition for school reform from seventy-three civic, social, labor, and religious groups representing 75,000 persons, and on October 24 sponsored a rally that drew 10,000, mostly women and children. The league fought against overcrowding and the use of dilapidated buildings as schools; it also argued for more teachers, cafeteria space, and playgrounds. It found only eleven schools on the West Side of San Antonio, where much of the Hispanic population lived, but twenty-eight schools elsewhere in town. It also found forty-eight students per room on the west side but only twenty-three in other sections. Finally, the league discovered that the school board allocated $24.50 per pupil to the West Side but $35.96 elsewhere. Overcrowding caused 1,000 first-graders to attend half-day classes on two shifts. To solve the problem the league recommended building five new elementary schools and a junior high school.
December 14 2009 Morocco charged that Aminatou Haidar, a Sahrawi activist on hunger strike in Spain’s Canary Islands, is part of a “systematic, methodical plot devised by Algeria.” Haidar (42) has been on hunger strike for almost a month on Lanzarote, after being refused entry to the Western Sahara, which is territory occupied by and claimed by Morocco.
December 15 1791 The Bill of Rights became law when Virginia ratified the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.
December 15 1941 At Drobytsky Yar, a ravine in Kharkiv, Ukraine, , Nazi troops invading the Soviet Union began killing local residents over the following year. At the end of this period, some 16,000 people, mainly Jews were killed. Notably on December 15, when the temperature was −15 degrees Celsius (+5 °F), ca. 15,000 Jews were shot. Children were thrown into pits alive, to save bullets, in expectation that they would quickly freeze to death.
December 15 1945 General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in the Pacific, brought an end to Shintoism as Japan’s established religion. Allied powers believed that a constitutional form of government could not be put into place as long as the Japanese people regarded the emperor as divine. Hirohito was forced to renounce his divine status and he was reduced to little more than a figurehead.
December 15 1973 The American Psychiatric Association reversed its long-standing position and declared that homosexuality is not a mental illness and “…deplores all public and private discrimination in such areas as employment, housing, public accommodation…”
December 15 1989 A popular uprising that resulted in the downfall of Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu began as demonstrators gathered in Timisoara to prevent the arrest of the Reverend Laszlo Tokes, a dissident clergyman.
December 15 2002 Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong took part in one of the territory’s biggest marches in years, denouncing plans for an anti-subversion law they fear will erode freedom and civil liberties.
December 15 2011 A Thai activist was sentenced to 15 years in prison for insulting the king in the third case in a month involving the strict law against defaming the monarchy that is increasingly being criticized as an infringement on free speech. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, nicknamed “Da Torpedo” for her aggressive speaking style, was arrested in July 2008 after speaking at a rally using impolite language that was recorded by police.
December 16 1773 Some 50-60 “Sons of Liberty” of revolutionary Samuel Adams disguised as Mohawks defied the 3 cents per pound tax on tea boarded a British East India Tea Company ship and dumped 342 chests of British tea into the Boston Harbor in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. Parliament had passed the 1773 Tea Act not to regulate trade or make the colonies pay their own administrative costs, but to save the nearly bankrupt British East India Tea Company. The Tea Act gave the company a monopoly over the American tea trade and authorized the sale of 17 million pounds of tea in America at prices cheaper than smuggled Dutch tea. In spite of the savings, Americans would not accept what they considered to be taxation without representation.
December 16 1826 In a move eerily prescient of the Marx Brothers in their film “Duck Soup,” Benjamin Edwards and about 30 men rode into Nacogdoches and declared the republic of Fredonia, a minor revolution known as the Fredonian Rebellion. Benjamin and his brothers had received a land grant there and settled about fifty families. Afraid they were about to lose their land because of charges of corruption in an election for alcalde in the new territory,=, they declared independence from Mexico. The rebellion was easily crushed.
December 16 1965 High school students in Des Moines, Iowa, were suspended for wearing black armbands to “mourn the deaths on both sides” and in support of Robert Kennedy’s call for a Christmas truce. The students sued the Des Moines School District, resulting in the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of the students, Tinker v. Des Moines. The court observed, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
December 16 2006 Russian authorities pulled hundreds of opposition activists off buses and trains and detained them along with scores of others ahead of a rare anti-government rally in Moscow. More than 2,000 people gathered in Triumfalnaya Square, where leftist and liberal groups demanded that Russian President Vladimir Putin stop what they called Russia’s retreat from democracy.
December 16 2016 Environmentalists filed a lawsuit against the US National Marines Fisheries Service to demand that it force the Navy to consider alternatives to its 5-year plan that will intensify sonar use off southern California and Hawaii. The Navy had already estimated that its activities could kill hundreds of whales and dolphins.
December 17 1843 British author Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Carol” at his own expense. It was one of many public and private efforts by Dickens to bring about social reform: prison visits, charity drives, promotion of the so-called “Ragged Schools” for the poor, cash for a fired worker, or a child’s education.
December 17 1862 Union General Ulysses S. Grant lashed out at at Jewish cotton speculators, who he believed were the driving force behind the black market for cotton, and issued an order expelling all Jewish people from his military district, which encompassed parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. After protests from some of the Jewish families evicted, President Abraham Lincoln ordered Grant to rescind the order.
December 17 1951 The noted African-American singer and civil rights activists Paul Robeson, on behalf of the Civil Rights Congress, presented a petition, “We Charge Genocide,” to the United Nations, charging that the U.S. violated Article II of the U.N. Genocide Convention by failing to prevent the lynching of African-Americans.
December 17 1982 The U.N. passed four resolutions attacking apartheid in South Africa: To organize an international conference of trade unions on sanctions against South Africa (approved 129 to 2); To encourage various international actions against South Africa (126 to 2); Support of sanctions and other measures against South Africa including international sporting events (139 to 1); Cessation of further foreign investments and loans for South Africa (138 to 1). The U.S. was the only country to have voted against all 4 resolutions (joined only by the United Kingdom on two).
December 18 1621 English parliament unanimously declared “Protestation,” or freedom of speech. King James immediately dissolved parliament and had the offending paragraphs deleted from the parliamentary journals. “That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England; and that the arduous and urgent affairs concerning the king, state, and the defence of the realm, and of the church of England, and the making and maintenance of laws, and redress of mischiefs, and grievances which daily happen within this realm, are proper subjects and matter of counsel and debate in parliament; and that in the handling and proceeding of those businesses, every member of the house hath, and of right ought to have, freedom of speech to propound, treat, reason, and bring to conclusion the same . . .”
December 18 1865 The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect.
December 18 1966 Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aired for 1st time on CBS.
December 18 1971 Reverend Jesse Jackson announced in Chicago the founding of Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity).
December 18 1971 Pres. Nixon signed into law the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). It gave large portions of prime bear habitat to the Alutiiq people, who had hunted and fished on the island for 7,000 years. 10% of the state, 44 million acres of land, was ceded to native tribes.
December 18 1979 The UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted with 10 abstentions. It entered into force on Sep 3, 1981.
December 18 1997 Festivus, or the “Festival for the Rest of Us” was made famous by an episode of Seinfeld. It came to be celebrated on Dec 23.
December 18 1999 Julia Butterfly Hill descended from her tiny platform 180 feet up in Luna, a giant Redwood tree, after perching in it for 738 days protecting it from loggers
December 18 2003 Dragan Nikolic (46), former Bosnian Serb prison camp commander who allowed his troops to rape, torture and murder his Muslim prisoners, was sentenced to 23 years in jail at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague.
December 18 2012 In a historic vote for gay rights, the US Senate agreed to do away with the military’s 17-year ban on openly gay troops and sent President Barack Obama legislation to overturn the Clinton-era policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
December 19 1776 Thomas Paine published his first “American Crisis” essay, writing: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
December 19 1832 San Antonio became the first Texas town to present a list of grievances to the legislature of Coahuila y Texas. The document, known as the Bexar Remonstrance, was signed by José Ángel Navarro, alcalde of San Antonio. It sought repeal of that part of the law of 1830 banning immigration from the United States and separation of Texas from Coahuila.
December 19 1940 Civilian Public Service (CPS) camps were established for conscientious objectors following the institution of the first peacetime draft. Followers of the Quakers, Mennonites and Church of the Brethren worked nine-hour days except Sundays, had to pay their own room-and-board and were not released from the camps until 1947. Nearly 12,000 draftees, willing to serve their country in some capacity but unwilling to perform any type of military service, accepted assignments in work of national importance in 152 CPS camps throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, working in soil conservation, forestry, fire fighting and agriculture. Others helped provide social and mental health services.
December 19 1977 Pres. Jimmy Carter signed into law the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The act made it a crime for a US citizen to pay bribes to win contracts abroad. The Lockheed Corp. had bribed Japanese officials for business contracts and caused a furor that brought down the Tokyo government and inspired the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the US.
December 19 2012 A new Gallup poll said seven of the world’s 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America with Panama and Paraguay at the top. The people least likely to report positive emotions lived in Singapore.
December 20 1669 The 1st American jury trial was held in Delaware. Marcus Jacobson was condemned for insurrection and sentenced to flogging, branding & slavery.
December 20 1777 The Kingdom of Morocco became the first country in the world to recognize United States independence, only a year and a half after the U.S. Declaration of Independence was issued. The War of Independence was still in progress, and the result was still far from certain.
December 20 1971 Ten French physicians created a team that later became known as “Doctors Without Borders” (Medecins Sans Frontieres) to help the people in the Nigerian region of Biafra. They formed in frustration with the neutrality of the Int’l. Committee of the Red Cross.
December 20 1985 The passage of US Public Law 99-194 established the position of American Poet Laureate. In 1986 Robert Penn Warren became designated as the 1st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
December 20 1989 The United States invaded Panama in an attempt to overthrow military dictator Manuel Noriega, who had been indicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges and was accused of suppressing democracy in Panama and endangering U.S. nationals. The U.S. invasion of Panama cost the lives of 23 U.S. soldiers and three U.S. civilians. Some 150 PDF soldiers were killed along with an estimated 500 Panamanian civilians. The Organization of American States and the European Parliament both formally protested the invasion, which they condemned as a flagrant violation of international law. In 1992, Noriega was found guilty on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering, marking the first time in history that a U.S. jury convicted a foreign leader of criminal charges. He was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.
December 20 1994 In a striking show of mass defiance, at least 100,000 Chechens lined their last unoccupied highway Tuesday to call for peace as Russian troops stepped up land and air attacks on their tiny breakaway republic. As the Kremlin promised “decisive offensive actions” to press Dudayev into renouncing his oil-rich republic’s claim to independence, fully a tenth of Chechnya’s mostly Muslim population took to its main highway in protest. Men and women, infants and old people walled the 40-mile stretch of the Moscow-Baku highway from the eastern outskirts of Grozny to the Dagestan border. Many carried hand-lettered signs demanding “Freedom for Chechnya” and “Yeltsin! Stop the War!”
December 20 2011 The Bahrain News Agency said the king issued a decree ordering government agencies to reinstate 180 government employees who were fired on suspicion of participating in opposition rallies. Bahraini labor groups claimed up to 2,500 people were purged from jobs during the unrest. The government put the number at 1,623.
December 21 1511 Fray Antonio de Montesinos delivered his first sermon advocating justice for the native peoples of the “New World.” He said, in part: “Tell me by what right of justice do you hold these Indians in such a cruel and horrible servitude? On what authority have you waged such detestable wars against these people who dealt quietly and peacefully on their own lands? Wars in which you have destroyed such an infinite number of them by homicides and slaughters never heard of before. Why do you keep them so oppressed and exhausted, without giving them enough to eat or curing them of the sicknesses they incur from the excessive labor you give them, and they die, or rather you kill them, in order to extract and acquire gold every day.”
December 21 1919 J. Edgar Hoover deported anarchist, feminist Emma Goldman to Russia for agitating against forced conscription in the US.
December 21 1949 The Soviet Union created the International Stalin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples in honor of Joseph Stalin’s seventieth birthday. Following Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in 1956, the prize was renamed as the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples. All previous recipients were asked to return their Stalin Prizes so they could be replaced by the renamed Lenin Prize. In 1991, after the USSR had collapsed, the Russian government, as the successor state to the defunct Soviet Union, ended the award program. Recipients of the prize (as many as 10 were awarded each year) include Paul Robeson, Pablo Neruda, Bertolt Brecht, WEB DuBois, Fidel Castro, Pablo Picasso, Martin Niemöller, Angela Davis and Mahmoud Darwish. The last recipient, in 1990, was Nelson Mandela.
December 21 1991 Eleven former Soviet republics and Russia peaceably declared an end to the Soviet Union and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine agreed to cooperate on the basis on sovereign equality.
December 22 1939 “Day of Deliverance” (Urdu: یوم نجات‎) was a celebration day marked by many Indian Muslims and others during the Indian Independence movement. It was led by Muslim League President Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and intended to celebrate the resignation of all members of the rival (Hindu) Congress party from provincial and central offices in protest over their not having been consulted over the decision to enter World War II alongside Great Britain. Gandhi criticized the move as being divisive to Hindu-Muslim unity.
December 22 1982 The National Wildflower Research Center, a nonprofit organization based in Austin, was established to increase public awareness and appreciation of North American flora and to facilitate research on native wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses for their preservation and reestablishment. The idea of a national center to study wildflowers and native plants was formulated by Lady Bird Johnson in response to her lifelong interest in the natural world and her concern, especially during the 1960s, about the rapid disappearance of natural areas. In her words, “the founding of the National Wildflower Research Center was my way of repaying some of the debt for the delight and sustenance Nature has given me all my life.”
December 22 1989 The Romanian army defected to the cause of anti-communist demonstrators, and the government of Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown. The end of 42 years of repressive communist rule came three days after Ceausescu’s security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Timisoara. After the army’s defection, Ceausescu and his wife fled from Bucharest in a helicopter but were captured and convicted of mass murder in a hasty military trial. On December 25, they were executed by a firing squad.
December 22 1997 Paramilitaries associated with the ruling PRI party in Mexico massacred 45 peasants in the village of Acteal in the state of Chiapas. The federal government then occupied the territory with over 70,000 troops and expelled the humanitarian observers who were stationed in the area to monitor the treatment of the indigenous people who lived there
December 22 2002 In Spain tens of thousands of people marched in silence through the coastal city of Bilbao to demand the dissolution of the armed Basque separatist group ETA.
December 23 1919 The British Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 became law when it received Royal Assent. The basic purpose of the Act was, “… to amend the Law with respect to disqualification on account of sex.” Section 1 stated that: “A person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function, or from being appointed to or holding any civil or judicial office or post, or from entering or assuming or carrying on any civil profession or vocation, or for admission to any incorporated society (whether incorporated by Royal Charter or otherwise), [and a person shall not be exempted by sex or marriage from the liability to serve as a juror]”
December 24 1865 In Pulaski, Tennessee, a group of Confederate veterans convenes to form a secret society that they christened the “Ku Klux Klan.” The KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government’s progressive Reconstruction Era-activities in the South, especially policies that elevated the rights of the local African American population. The name of the Ku Klux Klan was derived from the Greek word kyklos, meaning “circle,” and the Scottish-Gaelic word “clan,” which was probably chosen for the sake of alliteration.
December 24 2009 About 200 Israeli teenagers soon to be drafted sent a letter to Israel’s defense minister, saying they won’t enforce any military orders to dismantle settlements in the West Bank because that violates Jewish law.
December 24 2013 Britain posthumously pardoned Alan Turing (1912-1954) for a 1952 gay sex conviction which tarnished the brilliant career of the code breaker credited with helping win the war against Nazi Germany and laying the foundation for the computer age.
December 25 390 In Milan, Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan,urged the emperor Theodosius to perform public penance for his massacre of at least 7,000 citizens of Thessalonica in revenge for a riot. Theodosius went to the Cathedral of Milan with his entourage, shed his royal robes and insignia and bowed down in public penance. One year later he went to Thessolonica and asked forgiveness.
December 25 1914 Just after midnight on Christmas morning, German troops at the front in World War I ceased firing their guns and artillery, and began to sing Christmas carols. At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no man’s land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first the Allied soldiers suspected it to be a trick, but they soon climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the German soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings; the fighting didn’t resume in earnest for several days, and then only at the insistence of the generals.
December 25 1950 Four Scottish students removed the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey and returned it to Scotland. The Stone of Scone is an oblong block of red sandstone that was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland, and later the monarchs of England and the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was found and returned to the Abbey the next April. In 1996, alarmed by the Scottish separatist movement, the Stone was returned to Scotland, where it will be on display in Edinburgh Castle between coronations.
December 26 1862 In Minnesota 38 Santee Sioux were hanged in Mankato for their part in the Sioux Uprising. This marked the end of the US-Dakota War. In 2012 a memorial was unveiled for the 38 hanged men, the largest mass execution in US history.
December 26 1966 The first Kwanzaa, a non-religious African-American holiday that celebrates family, community, and culture for seven days, is organized in Los Angeles by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach.
December 26 1971 Fifteen Vietnam Veterans Against the War activists barricaded and occupied the Statue of Liberty for two days to bring attention to their cause. Simultaneous protests took place at other sites across the country, such as the historic Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia (for 45 minutes) and Travis Air Force Base in California (for 12 hours). VVAW members in California also briefly occupied the South Vietnam Government consulate in San Francisco.
December 26 1996 In Serbia riot police cleared tens of thousands off the streets of central Belgrade but allowed a smaller protest of 15,000 at the pedestrian Square of the Republic. Patriarch Pavle, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, said the street violence of the previous day was caused by the authorities.
December 26 2000 President Clinton signed a ban on cutting shark fins and discarding the fish back to the sea.
December 26 2010 In Russia several thousand people rallied in Moscow to protest the ethnic clashes that have rocked Russia, holding posters reading “Fascists disgrace Russia” and chanting “No to Fascism!”
December 26 2012 Thousands of Iraqi demonstrators massed in Sunni-dominated Anbar province, determined to keep up the pressure on a Shiite-led government that many accuse of trying to marginalize them.
December 27 1657 The Flushing Remonstrance was delivered to Director-General of New Netherland Peter Stuyvesant, in which some thirty residents of the small settlement at Vlishing requested an exemption to his ban on Quaker worship. It is considered a precursor to the United States Constitution’s provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights.
December 27 1900 Abandoning the nonviolent tactics of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), anti-alcohol crusader Carrie Nation took an axe and smashed up the bar at the Carey Hotel in Wichita, Kansas, causing several thousand dollars in damage and landing in jail. The WCTU was founded in 1874 by women “concerned about the problems alcohol was causing their families and society.” At the time, women lacked many of the same rights as men and their lives could be ruined if their husbands drank too much; Nation’s first husband, a doctor, drank himself to death. Nation continued her saloon-smashing campaign across the country and sold souvenir hatchets to help fund her activities. She died in 1911, never living to see nationwide prohibition in America, which was established with the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and went into effect in 1920. Prohibition, considered a failure, was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment
December 27 1925 In Los Angeles Hilario Camino Moncado founded the Filipino Federation of America (FFA), one of the country’s first and largest Filipino organizations.
December 27 1937 Harriet Elizabeth Brown was a Calvert County school teacher in the 1930s. In 1937, she became aware that white teachers were making almost twice the salary of Black teachers who had the same level of education and experience. She contacted NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall who worked with her to sue the county based on a violation of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On this day the case was settled and the Calvert County Board of Education agreed to equalize the salaries of white and Black teachers. The case helped pave the way for the Maryland Teachers Pay Equalization Law and eventually changes in the state and country.
December 27 1944 Sister Sara Salkahazi was killed by the Arrow Cross, the Hungarian allies of the Nazis, for hiding Jews in a Budapest building used by her religious order, the Sisters of Social Service. In 2006 she was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.
December 27 1988 Bulgaria stopped jamming Radio Free Europe after more than 3 decades.
December 27 2012 In Thailand leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, also known as the Yellow Shirts, were indicted for surrounding the prime minister’s office compound and sealing off Parliament during massive anti-government rallies in 2008.
December 28 1793 Thomas Paine was arrested in France for treason, having been tried in absentia on December 26 and convicted. Before moving to France, Paine was an instrumental figure in the American Revolution as the author of Common Sense. Paine moved to Paris to become involved with the French Revolution, but the chaotic political climate turned against him, and he was arrested and jailed for crimes against the country. Paine was opposed to the death penalty and opposed the French revolutionaries who were sending hundreds to the guillotine. He also began writing The Age of Reason, which promoted the controversial notion that God did not influence the actions of people and that science and rationality would prevail over religion and superstition. President James Monroe used his diplomatic connections to get Paine released from Luxembourg Prison in November 1794. He died a poor man in 1809 in New York
December 28 1973 Pres. Nixon signed into law the Endangered Species Act. The first list of endangered species contained Gray whales. The Gray whale was removed from the list in 1994 when the population climbed back to about 22,000.
December 28 1977 Four women in La Paz, Bolivia, initiated a 23-day hunger strike demanding amnesty for political exiles, restoration of jobs for workers terminated for organizing, reinstatement of labor unions and the removal of the military from the tin mines. The women and their hunger strike were supported by fifty other wives of tin miners who had been fired for union activity. The children of the women were also part of the hunger strike. After public criticism arose over the inclusion of children, the women responded saying that the children would eat when adults took their place. Others joined the movement and eventually there were more than 1,380 people fasting. Other nonviolent resistance included churches and universities across Bolivia becoming centers for peaceful demonstrations and in Mexico, groups joined the hunger strike to emphasize solidarity. The overwhelming support for the hunger strike led to the release of most political prisoners and the recognition of trade unions.
December 29 1170 Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four English knights. Barons had heard Henry II cry out, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”
December 29 1845 Texas entered the United States as a slave state, widening the gulf in the United States over the issue of slavery and setting off the Mexican-American War.
December 29 1852 Emma Snodgrass was arrested in Boston for wearing pants.
December 29 1890 In the final chapter of America’s long Indian wars, the U.S. Cavalry killed 146 Sioux at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Throughout 1890, the U.S. government worried about the increasing influence at Pine Ridge of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which taught that Indians had been defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it’s unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated almost 150 Indians were killed, nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men. Conflict came to Wounded Knee again in February 1973 when it was the site of a 71-day occupation by the activist group AIM (American Indian Movement) and its supporters, who were protesting the U.S. government’s mistreatment of Native Americans.
December 29 1998 Leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed over one million lives.
December 29 1995 A US official said the number of detainees on hunger strike at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay more than doubled in the last week, to 84.
December 30 1790 Etta Lubina Johanna Palm d’Aelders, a Dutch feminist outspoken during the French Revolution, gave the address Discourse on the Injustice of the Laws in Favour of Men, at the Expense of Women to the French National Convention.
December 30 1853 James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico, and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, signed the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. The treaty settled the dispute over the location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, and established the final boundaries of the southern United States. For the price of $15 million (later reduced to $10 million) the United States acquired approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona, lobbied for by a group of political and industrial leaders as a strategic location for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad.
December 30 1936 The United Auto Workers union staged its first sit-down strike, at the Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Mich.
December 30 1952 Tuskegee Institute reported that 1952 was the first year in 71 years of record keeping that no one was lynched in the United States.
December 31 1492 The Jews were expelled from Sicily. the Jewish community in Sicily dated back to early Roman times – many had reached Sicily after Pompey’s 63 BC sacking of Jerusalem. – and they were relatively untroubled on the island until the acceptance of the Crown of Aragon in Sicily in 1412. As part of an attempt to maintain Catholic orthodoxy and purify their kingdom of Moorish influence, Ferdinand and Isabella ordered the forced expulsion or conversion of all Jews on pain of death. Many Sicilian Jews fled to neighboring Calabria where the Spanish Inquisition caught up with them again fifty years later.
December 31 1963 President Lyndon Johnson escorted Gerri Wittington, an African-American and one of his personal secretaries in the White House, to the New Year’s Eve Ball at the University of Texas Faculty Club (known as the Forty Acres Club) in Austin, Texas. The club had been racially segregated until that moment. Everyone in the crowded room was reportedly stunned. One person leaned over the Bill Moyers, one of Johnson’s top aides,” and whispered, “Does he know what he is doing?” Moyers replied, “he always knows what he is doing.”
December 31 1967 The Youth International Party was founded. Commonly called Yippies, it was a radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s. They employed theatrical gestures, such as advancing a pig (“Pigasus the Immortal”) as a candidate for President in 1968, to mock the social status quo; some called them “the Groucho-Marxists.”
December 31 1970 The U.S. Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which in 1964 authorized an increase in U.S. military involvement in Vietnam as a response to a later to be revealed as fictitious attack on U.S. naval forces patrolling close to the North Vietnamese border. The resolution was used as the basis for the war, which lasted until 1974 and took the lives of millions of Vietnamese and more than 58,000 Americans.

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