Peace & Justice History: January-March

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.
January 1 1808 The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807, enacted March 2, 1807, took effect, stating no new slaves were to be imported into the United States. Article 1 Section 9 of the United States Constitution protected the slave trade for twenty years: “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” The United Kingdom passed a similar act on March 25, 1807. Neither act forbade slavery – just the importation of new slaves.
January 1 1831 William Lloyd Garrison first published The Liberator (four hundred copies printed in the middle of the night using borrowed type), which became the leading abolitionist paper in the United States. He labeled slave-holding a crime and called for immediate abolition.
January 1 1847 Capital punishment was made illegal in Michigan, the first state to do so, and the first English-speaking government in the world to totally abolish the death penalty for ordinary crimes.
January 1 1919 Suffragists led by Alice Paul’s National Woman’s Party greeted the New Year by conducting the first of several “Watch Fire” demonstrations in front of the White House, which involved burning copies of President Woodrow Wilson’s speeches in an urn. Soldiers and sailors rushed the White House demonstration and overturned the urn. Suffragists rekindled the urn and kept it burning for several days.
January 1 1986 The arrest of 10 anti-nuclear activists for trespassing at Nevada Test Site culminated a 54-day encampment at the main Test Site gate. The camp establishes momentum for what became a movement of over 10,000 arrests in numerous Test Site protests over the following years. The site was established on 11 January 1951 for the testing of nuclear devices; 100 atmospheric tests were conducted in the 1950s. When underground explosions ended in 1992, the Department of Energy estimated that more than 300 megacuries (11 EBq) of radioactivity remained in the environment at that time, making the site one of the most radioactively contaminated locations in the United States.
January 2 1492 The kingdom of Granada fell to the Christian forces of King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella I, and the Moors lost their last foothold in Spain. In 1502 the Spanish crown ordered all Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity. The next century saw a number of persecutions, and in 1609 the last Moors still adhering to Islam were expelled from Spain.
January 2 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt shut down the Post Office in Indianola, Mississippi when white supremacists threatened the postmistress, Minnie M. Cox, an African-American. The president told the citizens that they would receive no mail until Mrs. Cox could safely resume her post.
January 2 1962 The Weavers, one of the most significant popular-music groups of the postwar era, had their scheduled appearance on the NBC Jack Paar Show canceled when they refused to sign an oath of political loyalty.
January 2 1980 On a strong reaction to the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter asked the Senate to postpone action on the SALT II nuclear weapons treaty and recalled the U.S. ambassador to Moscow. These actions sent a message that the age of detente and the friendlier diplomatic and economic relations t between the United States and Soviet Union had ended.
January 3 1521 Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, which excommunicated Martin Luther, the chief catalyst of Protestantism, from the Catholic Church.
January 3 1834 Escalating the tensions that would lead to rebellion and war, the Mexican government imprisoned the Texas colonizer Stephen Austin in Mexico City.
January 3 1961 In the climax of deteriorating relations between the United States and Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba, President Dwight D. Eisenhower closed the American embassy in Havana and severed diplomatic relations. The action signaled that the United States was prepared to take extreme measures to oppose Castro’s regime, which U.S. officials worried was a beachhead of communism in the western hemisphere.
January 3 1970 On her first day as a member of Congress, Bella Abzug (D-New York) introduced a resolution calling for the withdrawal of troops from Southeast Asia. Ms. Abzug became an antiwar activist in the 1960s A founder of Women Strike for Peace, she became its chief lobbyist, protesting nuclear testing and, later, the Vietnam War.
January 4 1965 In his State of the Union address, President Lyndon Baines Johnson laid out a list of legislation needed to achieve his plan for a Great Society. The 1965 State of the Union address heralded the creation of Medicare/Medicaid, Head Start, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the White House Conference on Natural Beauty. Johnson also signed the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Act, out of which emerged the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through the Economic Opportunity Act, Johnson fought a War on Poverty by implementing improvements in early childhood education and fair employment policies.
January 4 1965 Hundreds of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) supporters, who had journeyed by bus from Mississippi, supported the Challenge to the seating of the Mississippi delegation. It is illegal to carry signs or conduct a protest inside Capitol buildings, so they lined the underground tunnels that Representatives use to reach the House chamber.
Stokely Carmichael reported: “On opening day, as congressmen and their aides made their way through these tunnels, they turned a corner and found themselves passing between two lines of silent, working Black men and women from Mississippi. The people, spaced about ten feet apart, stood still as statues, dignified, erect, utterly silent. … It’s hard to describe the power of that moment. All seemed deeply affected in some way. To those passing congressmen, the issue of Southern political injustice could no longer remain an abstract statistic, distant, and dismissable.”
January 5 1455 Pope Nicholas V wrote the bull Romanus Pontifex to Alfonso V of Portugal. As a follow-up to the Dum diversas, it extended to the Catholic nations of Europe dominion over discovered lands during the Age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian lands, it encouraged the enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples in Africa and the New World.
January 5 1527 Felix Manz, the first Anabaptist martyr, was sentenced to death and drowned in Zurich, Switzerland, for preaching against infant baptism.
January 5 1916 Helen Keller delivered her “Strike Against War” speech at Carnegie Hall, New York City, under the auspices of the Women’s Peace Party and the Labor Forum. She called for American workers to go on strike against World War I and refuse to work for the war machine.
January 5 2012 Police fired tear gas and beat protesters to force them out of a square they had occupied in an overnight sit-in in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano as part of demonstrations over soaring fuel prices. About 300 people were wounded and 19 protesters arrested and later released. The government announced the end of fuel subsidies earlier in the week, causing petrol prices to instantly double in a country where most people live on less than two dollars per day.
January 6 1941 “In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Speech.
January 6 2015 More than 70 Navajo people have joined a prayer walk across the American Southwest protesting a fracking oil pipeline in New Mexico. The walk aims to galvanize Native American communities to demand more from oil companies that profit from the reservations’ natural resources. The group calls this 1,000-mile protest their Journey for Existence, commemorating the 150th anniversary of “The Long Walk,” where thousands of Diné (Navajo people) were marched at gunpoint for hundreds of miles into Bosque Redondo, a concentration camp where they would stay for four years.
January 7 1919 Beginning of “Tragic Week” (“Semana Trágica”) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentine Regional Workers’ Federation had called for a general strike after a police shooting. Thirty thousand infantrymen were called out to squash the strike; by week’s end, 700 workers were killed and 4,000 injured.
January 7 1955 Marian Anderson became the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. On that occasion, she sang the part of Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Anderson said later about the evening, “The curtain rose on the second scene and I was there on stage, mixing the witch’s brew. I trembled, and when the audience applauded and applauded before I could sing a note, I felt myself tightening into a knot.”
January 8 1790 George Washington delivered the first State of the Union Address, speaking about issues that still concern us today. Regarding guns, he said “A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite . . .” Regarding the obligation of the government to promote science and literature, he said: “To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways – by convincing those who are intrusted with the public administration that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness – cherishing the first, avoiding the last – and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.”
January 8 1918 President Woodrow Wilson delivered his Fourteen Points speech to Congress, articulating the ideas that would form the backbone of American foreign policy as the nation inched toward superpower status in the early 20th century. Wilson advocated equal trade conditions, arms reduction and national sovereignty for former colonies of Europe’s weakening empires and urged the establishment of an international governing body of united nations affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.
January 9 1776 Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense,” setting forth his arguments in favor of American independence. Pamphlets were an important medium for the spread of ideas in the 16th through 19th centuries. He wrote: “This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”
January 9 1966 Mississippi civil rights activist Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer was killed by the KKK. He was a wealthy businessman who offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed on this day. Dahmer died later from severe burns.
January 9 1979 In an effort to call attention to the poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to quality education affecting millions of children throughout the developing world, the United Nations proclaimed 1979 the “International Year of the Child.” To publicize the proclamation and raise money for UNICEF—the United Nation’s Children’s Fund—a concert fundraiser featuring dozens of 70s pop stars was staged and broadcast world-wide from New York. Royalties from the Bee Gees’ contribution to the effort, “Too Much Heaven,” went on to be a #1 pop hit and raised more than $7 million for the charitable programs of UNICEF.
January 10 1919 The House of Representatives refuse to seat Victor Berger, duly elected Representative from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because he was a Democratic Socialist who vigorously opposed US participation in World War I and was indicted under the new Espionage Act for these views. A special election was held to fill the vacant seat. The citizens of Milwaukee re-elected him and Congress again refused to seat him. Berger was again elected – and finally seated – in 1922 and served for three terms,. He fought for a proposed old-age pension, unemployment insurance, and public housing.
January 10 1920 The League of Nations formally came into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, took effect.
January 10 1923 Four years after the end of World War I, President Warren G. Harding ordered U.S. occupation troops stationed in Germany to return home.
January 10 1946 The first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convened at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. On January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.
January 10 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Congress for a six-percent surcharge tax on personal and corporate incomes to fund the war in Vietnam. The tax proposal, approved by Congress in March, backfired and Johnson’s popularity waned. The Viet Cong’s surprise Tet Offensive in January 1968 convinced the majority of the public and many U.S. political and military leaders that the war could not be won. Johnson realized support for his administration had disintegrated and decided not to run for re-election in 1968.
January 10 1983 Months of acrimonious controversy came to a boil when construction crews arrived in Point Pleasant, PA to begin work on the massive water supply project project . Opponents charged that the pump would dry up the river, killing fish in the stream and plant and animal life along the waterway and nearby creeks. The construction crews were met by hundreds of demonstrators (Including Abbie Hoffman, who lived nearby) organized by Del-AWARE using the slogan “Dump the Pump,” who refused to let the crews pass. A court order was obtained to bar the protesters from the site. On Jan. 11, the protesters refused to step aside. Hundreds were arrested; many were sentenced to jail on civil disobedience charges. The protesters managed to elect new county commissioners and get an injunction, but courts ruled that the contracts were binding and the pump was built in 1989.
January 11 49 BCE The idiom “Crossing the Rubicon” means to pass a point of no return, and refers to Julius Caesar’s army’s crossing of the Rubicon River on this day, which was considered an act of insurrection and treason. Julius Caesar uttered the famous phrase “alea iacta est”—the die is cast—as his army marched through the shallow river.
January 11 1912 Women working in the textile factories of Lawrence, Massachusetts walked out en masse and started a two month strike that would later become known as the Bread and Roses strike, after a line in a speech given by Rose Schneiderman “The worker must have bread, but she needs roses, too.”
January 11 1944 In his 1944 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a Second Bill of Rights, guaranteeing a broad range of social and economic rights. FDR did not push the issue and the idea quickly vanished.The President: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are:The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation; The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation; The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living; The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad; The right of every family to a decent home; The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health; The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; The right to a good education.”
January 11 1949 On Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., the cornerstone was laid at the first mosque of note in the United States, intended to serve as a national mosque for all American Muslims.
January 11 2002 The first of the detainees/enemy combatants arrived at Guantánamo Bay, the U.S. military base on the southeastern coast of Cuba.
January 11 2006 The British weekly New Scientist said Norway is to build a “doomsday vault” in a mountain close to the North Pole that will house a vast seed bank to ensure food supplies in the event of catastrophic climate change, nuclear war or rising sea levels.
January 11 2008 In France militant French farmer Jose Bove and about 15 supporters called off their hunger strike in its eighth day after the government ordered the suspension of the use of genetically modified corn.
January 11 2014 In Spain tens of thousands of protesters marched in Bilbao in support of jailed members of the Basque separatist group ETA, calling for inmates to be moved to jails closer to their homes.
January 12 1954 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced U.S. would go beyond of President Harry Truman’s doctrine of “containing Communism” for a new policy: “. . . there is no local defense which alone will contain the mighty landpower of the Communist world. Local defenses must be reinforced by the further deterrent of massive [nuclear] retaliatory power.”
January 12 1957 The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other African-American clergymen who wanted to press for civil rights long denied members of their community.
January 12 1962 Federal workers were guaranteed the the right to join unions and bargain collectively after President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988.
January 12 1987 Twenty West German judges were arrested for blockading the U.S. Air Force base at Mutlangen, West Germany where Pershing II nuclear-armed cruise missiles were deployed
January 13 1898 French writer Emile Zola’s newspaper editorial, “J’accuse,” was printed. The letter exposed a military cover-up regarding Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French army captain, who had been accused of espionage in 1894 and sentenced in a secret military court-martial to imprisonment in a South American penal colony. Two years later, evidence of Dreyfus’ innocence surfaced, but the army suppressed the information. Zola’s letter criticized the military for concealing its mistaken conviction.
January 13 1958 Linus Pauling presented the “Scientists’ Test Ban Petition” to the United Nations, signed by over 11,000 scientists (including 36 Nobel laureates) from 49 countries. It called for an end to nuclear weapons testing for its detrimental health (especially genetic) and ecological effects. Pauling was forced to resign as Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Caltech.
January 13 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed the first African-American cabinet member, making Robert C. Weaver (pictured on the left) head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the position that former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro now holds.
January 14 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring aliens from World War II-enemy countries—Italy, Germany and Japan—to register with the United States Department of Justice. A follow-up to the Alien Registration Act of 1940, Proclamation No. 2537 facilitated the beginning of full-scale internment of Japanese Americans later in the year.
January 14 1963 George Wallace was sworn in as Governor of Alabama. In his inaugural address he called for “segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever!”
January 14 1966 A march in Atlanta was held to protest the ouster of Julian Bond from the Georgia House of Representatives. Members of the General Assembly considered him unfit to serve after he endorsed a statement critical of U.S. involvement in Vietnam issued by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
January 14 1975 After 37 years of investigations of freedom of belief and association, almost all of which involved left-wing, labor and liberal individuals and groups, the House of Representatives abolished the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
January 14 1986 In an 8-1 Decision, the Supreme Court ruled in Bowen v. Roy that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment “simply cannot be understood to require the Government to conduct its own internal affairs in ways that comport with the religious beliefs of particular citizens.” A Native American parent in Pennsylvania, Roy, argued that it was part of his religion to believe that control over one’s life was essential to spiritual purity and “becoming a holy person.” Assigning a Social Security number to his daughter, who was named Little Bird of the Snow, would “rob her of her spirit” and prevent her from acquiring spiritual power as she grew up.
January 15 1944 Igor Stravinsky orchestrated ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ for the Boston Symphony, featuring a dominant 7th chord. Someone alerted the Boston police, who arrived at Symphony Hall and accused him of ‘tampering with public property.’ He pulled the piece from the program.
January 15 1950 At the National Emergency Civil Rights Conference, more than 4,200 delegates from fifty-eight national organizations met in Washington to lobby their congressman to support the president’s civil rights program and a permanent Fair Employment Practices Committee. The conference was the largest lobbying effort in the history of the nation. Despite their efforts, the Senate refused to pass the measure. Opposition came from Southern Democrats and Mid-Western Republicans.
January 15 1969 Janet McCloud, her husband Don and four others from the Tulalip Indian tribe were tried for one of their “fish-ins” on the Nisqually River in Washington state. Despite century-old treaties granting them half the salmon catch in their ancestral waters, state game officials harassed and arrested Indian fishermen. All were found not guilty and five years later a US District Court ruled in favor of 14 treaty tribes, including the Tulalip, upholding the language of their treaties.
January 16 1979 Faced with strikes, violent demonstrations, an army mutiny and clerical opposition to his repressive rule, the Shah of Iran, its hereditary monarch since 1941, was forced to flee the country. He had been installed in a CIA- and British-engineered 1953 coup which overthrew elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq, whose government had voted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry. Fifteen days after the Shah’s abdication, an Islamist state under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was established.
January 16 1990 In the wake of vicious fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Azerbaijan, the Soviet government sent in 11,000 troops to quell the conflict. Over the next two years, ethnic violence in Azerbaijan continued, and the weakening Soviet regime was unable to bring a lasting resolution to the situation. Less than two years later, Gorbachev resigned from power and the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
January 16 2001 A fuel supply tanker to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific ran aground off the island of San Cristobal. Marine experts warned of an ecological disaster to the Archipelago, which is home to thousands of unique animal and plant species. Eventually, as much as 180 thousand gallons of fuel escaped into the water. A June 2002 report found the slick’s effects had been very damaging to the ecology – up to 62% of the marine iguana population on one island had been killed off.
January 16 2013 Hundreds of demonstrators angered at the conduct of outgoing Kenyan legislators doused 221 empty coffins with gasoline and set them on fire Wednesday, causing an inferno outside Parliament’s main entrance. Organizers of the protest said the coffins represented the end of an era of Parliament’s 221 legislators and burning the coffins symbolized the start of a new era away from the dishonorable acts that Parliament was known for in the last five years. The legislators’ term ended earlier this week. Police looked on as the caskets made of thin wood burned to ashes as protesters shouted and screamed in exhilaration. photo
January 17 1893 A group of American sugar planters under Sanford Ballard Dole overthrew Queen Liliuokalani, the Hawaiian monarch, and established a new provincial government with Dole as president. The coup occurred with the foreknowledge of John L. Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawaii; 300 U.S. Marines from the U.S. cruiser Boston were called to Hawaii, allegedly to protect American lives.
January 17 1899 Under orders from President William McKinley, Commander Edward D. Taussig of the USS Bennington landed on Wake and formally took possession of the island for the United States. Located approximately halfway between Honolulu and Manila, it was a good location for a telegraph cable station and a coaling station.
January 17 1961 In his farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the American people to keep a careful eye on what he called the “military-industrial complex” that has developed in the post-World War II years.
January 17 1970 Some 300 Chicano activists gathered in Crystal City, Texas, to form an independent political party. La Raza Unida Party addressed a broad cross-section of issues: restoration of land grants, farm workers’ rights, enhanced education, voting and political rights.
January 17 1972 A 300-page report by the U.S. Surgeon General reached the “tentative and limited” conclusion about “a causal relation between viewing violence on television and aggressive behavior.”
January 18 1958 Hockey player Willie O’Ree of the Boston Bruins took to the ice for a game against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).
January 18 1962 The U.S. began spraying herbicides on foliage in Vietnam to eliminate jungle canopy cover for Viet Cong guerrillas (a policy known as “territory denial”). The U.S. ultimately dropped more than 20 million gallons of such defoliants, sparking charges the United States was violating international treaties against using chemical weapons. Many of the herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, manufactured by Dow Chemical, Monsanto and others, were later found to cause birth defects and rare forms of cancer in humans.
January 18 1965 In Stanford v. Texas, the US Supreme Court added another level of constitutional consideration for the issuance of search warrants when articles of expression, protected by the First Amendment, are among the items to be taken. In effect, when a state issues a warrant that includes the order to seize books, it must accord the “most scrupulous exactitude” to the language of the Fourth Amendment. John Stanford, a stalwart of the San Antonio peace movement, died in 2013.
January 18 1968 The singer Eartha Kitt was asked her opinion about crime and juvenile delinquency at a White House luncheon and replied that it was not an issue of “delinquency,” instead young Americans were “angry because their parents are angry . . . because there is a war going on that they don’t understand . . . You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street.” Within hours she was on a CIA watch list and her career in the U.S. was ruined for 10 years. She said she never regretted the stand she took that day, but learned that “…if you tell the truth – in a country that says you’re entitled to tell the truth – you get your face slapped and you get put out of work.”
January 18 1985 For the first time since joining the World Court in 1946, the United States walked out of a case, concerning U.S. paramilitary activities against the Nicaraguan government, charging that the case was a “misuse of the court for political and propaganda purposes.”
January 19 1920 Led by the Filipino Federation of Labor, 3,000 Filipino workers on the sugar plantations of Oahu, Hawaii, went on strike. Their ranks swelled to 8,300 when Japanese workers organized by the Japanese Federation of Labor joined in their efforts to obtain a living wage, and maternity benefits for women workers. Strikers were evicted from company housing and the resulting crowded, primitive condition made them especially vulnerable in the flu epidemic, in which 150 died. The strike ended in July, with their demands being met half-way.
January 19 1968 At Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, seven black GIs (Kenneth Calloway, Tyrone Exum, Alton Jones, Chip Maxwell, Robert Meek, Ronald Saunders, Zachary Scott) distributed pamphlet that said in part: “What happens when, or rather if, a brother comes back from Vietnam? He still has to be bothered by the same old honkie racism. On Christmas leave, a train of GIs stopped in Texas. Some black troops went into a restaurant to eat, but were made to sit in the ‘Black Section’ or to take the food outside and eat. One brother sat at the ‘white’ counter for forty-five minutes to an hour and wasn’t served. He was wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army, but he was still black.”
January 19 1994 The “Shoes for Guns” firearm buy-back effort began in Chicago. More than 1,100 Chicago area residents traded firepower for footwear during a three-day exchange. A wide variety of weapons, from flare pistols to handguns to a projectile launcher, was collected at five police area headquarters. In return, each gun owner received a $100 gift certificate for Foot Locker merchandise.
January 20 1942 Nazi officials meet in a Berlin suburb to devise a plan that would render a “final solution to the Jewish question” in Europe. Various gruesome proposals were discussed, including mass sterilization and deportation to the island of Madagascar. SS General Heydrich proposed transporting Jews from every corner Europe to concentration camps in Poland and working them to death. Although the word “extermination” was never uttered during the meeting, the implication was clear: anyone who survived the harsh conditions of a work camp would be “treated accordingly.” Months later, the “gas vans” in Chelmno, Poland, which were killing 1,000 people a day, proved to be the “solution” they were looking for–the most efficient means of killing large groups of people at one time.
January 20 1949 In his inaugural address, President Harry S. Truman calls for a “bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped nations.” The resulting Point Four program (so-called because it was the fourth point in Truman’s speech) resulted in millions of dollars in scientific and technical assistance—as well as hundreds of U.S. experts—sent to Latin American, Asian, Middle Eastern, and African nations.
January 20 1920 The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded by Roger Baldwin, Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, labor leaders Rose Schneiderman and Duncan McDonald, Rabbi Judah Magnes, and others, to protect the rights guaranteed in the the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights.
January 20 1953 Organizers of President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration canceled plans for a performance of composer Aaron Copeland’s classical orchestral work, Lincoln Portrait, at the ceremony because Copeland was active in left-wing politics.
January 20 1955 A group of student activists from Morgan State College and the Baltimore chapter of CORE ((Committee on Racial Equality)) staged a “sit-in” at the Read’s Drug Store central Howard and Lexington location at the same time another group of Morgan State students held a week-long demonstration at the nearby Read’s in Northwood Shopping Center. African-Americans were allowed to shop in the store, located near their campus, but not to eat at the lunch counter. The sit-in lasted for less than half an hour before the students left voluntarily. Read’s announced two days later, “We will serve all customers throughout our entire stores, including the fountains, and this becomes effective immediately”.
January 20 1970 In Welsh v. United States the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that a man can be a conscientious objector even if he does not claim the status for religious reasons.
January 21 1661 The Quaker (Society of Friends) Peace Testimony was presented to King Charles II of England. The testimony begins: “We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world….”
January 21 1977 President Jimmy Carter granted an unconditional pardon to hundreds of thousands of men who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War. Some 100,000 young Americans went abroad in the late 1960s and early 70s to avoid serving in the war, most to Canada. During his 1976 presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter promised to pardon draft resisters as a way of putting the war and the bitter divisions it caused firmly in the past. Carter’s decision generated a good deal of controversy. Heavily criticized by veterans’ groups and others for allowing lawbreakers to get off without punishment, the pardon also came under fire from amnesty groups for not addressing deserters, soldiers who were dishonorably discharged or civilian anti-war demonstrators who had been prosecuted for their resistance.
January 22 1905 A group of workers led by the radical priest Georgy Apollonovich Gapon marched to the czar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to make their demands for reform. Imperial forces opened fire on the demonstrators, killing and wounding hundreds. Strikes and riots broke out throughout the country in outraged response to the massacre, to which Nicholas responded by promising the formation of a series of representative assemblies, or Dumas, to work toward reform.
January 22 1908 Katie Mulcahey became the first woman to run afoul of New York City’s just-passed ban on females smoking in public. Declaring, “No man shall dictate to me,” Mulcahey served a night in jail after being unable to pay a $5 fine.
January 23 1953 The Arthur Miller drama “The Crucible,” opened on Broadway. It was a parable that reflected the climate of fear that pervaded American society and the politics of its time, witchcraft in the late 17th century, communism in the mid-20th. In both times there existed also the fear of false accusation.
January 22 1936 In San Francisco 5 Filipino men appeared before a municipal judge on vagrancy charges and admitted to intermingling with white girls. Police chief Quinn instructed police officers to take into custody all white girls seen with Filipinos, together with their escorts.
January 22 1973 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that Americans have a constitutional right to privacy, and thus women may terminate a pregnancy.
January 23 1976 The Continental Walk for Disarmament & Social Justice began in Ukiah, California, heading for Washington, D.C. Its purposes were “to raise the issue of disarmament through unilateral action . . . to educate about non-violent resistance as a means superior to armament . . . and to demonstrate how global and domestic and economic problems are interconnected with militarism and the causes of war . . . .” Initiated by the War Resisters League, and co-sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, American Friends Service Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Catholic Peace Fellowship, Clergy and Laity Concerned, SANE, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the walk took 10 months and covered 8,000 miles through 34 states.
January 23 1991 ACT UP staged its “Day of Desperation” protest in response to President George HW Bush spending a billion-dollars-a-day on the Gulf War while claiming there was no money for much-needed increases in AIDS programs. Activists disrupted the CBS Evening News live broadcast on the night of the 22nd shouting “Fight AIDS, not Arabs!” On the 23rd, multiple actions took place in all five boroughs, culminating in a massive action in Grand Central Station, where a banner reading “MONEY FOR AIDS NOT FOR WAR” was raised with helium balloons to the ceiling.
January 23 1997 To protect an old growth forest in Northern California a group who called themselves the Redwood Rabbis assembled between 100 and 250 activists to hold a ceremony for the Jewish New Year of the Trees (Tu BiShvat) at which they wore prayer shawls and someone recited the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning, in honor of the creatures that had lived in the now destroyed area of forest. The local Sierra Club chapter made a presentation and then the activists walked onto company land and planted the seeds. Two years later, the loggers agreed to preserve a 7,470 acre part of the Headwater Forest and change their practices in other parts of the forests they owned.
January 24 1772 Czar Peter the Great capped his reforms in Russia with the “Table of Rank” which decreed a commoner could climb on merit to the highest positions.
January 24 1955 Ira Hayes, a Native American who was one of six US Marines to raise the US flag at Iwo Jima, died of exposure and acute acute alcoholism in a cotton field on the Pima reservation.
January 24 1987 About 20,000 civil rights demonstrators marched through predominantly white Forsyth County, Ga., a week after a smaller march was disrupted by Ku Klux Klan members and supporters. photo
January 24 2002 In Juneau, Alaska, Joseph Frederick (18) displayed a banner reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” as the Olympic torch passed by. The head teacher at his high school suspended him and Frederick sued in return. The case moved up to the US Supreme Court. In 2007 the US Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Morse v. Frederick that schools may punish youths for statements that might promote drug use.
January 24 2004 Some 2,000 opponents of the World Economic Forum marched in Davos, Switzerland to protest the meeting, which they say is elitist and does nothing for ordinary people.
January 24 2013 In Canada Theresa Spence, a chief from a remote Ontario reserve, agreed to end her hunger strike after talks with other native groups and opposition political parties. Spence traveled to Ottawa in December and set up camp on a small island in the Ottawa River to raise awareness about living conditions for natives across Canada.
January 25 1776 The Continental Congress authorized the first national War memorial in honor of Brigadier General Richard Montgomery, who had been killed during an assault on Quebec three weeks before. Although originally intended for Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Congress eventually decided to place the memorial in New York City. In 1788, it was installed beneath the portico of St. Paul’s Chapel, which served as George Washington’s church during his time in New York as the United States’ first president, and where it remains to this day.
January 25 1930 Mahatma Gandhi issued the Declaration of Independence of India. To achieve this goal Gandhi adopted the non-violent tactic of challenging the British monopoly on salt. Gathering supporters as he walked 241 miles in 24 days to the sea where he made salt. Salt was sold, illegally, all over the seacoast of India and the British government incarcerated over sixty thousand people. This march was a key turning point in India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule.
January 26 1788 The first 736 convicts banished from England to Australia landed in Botany Bay. Over the next 60 years, approximately 50,000 criminals were transported from Great Britain. The accepted wisdom of the ruling classes in 18th century England was that criminals were inherently defective, could not be rehabilitated and required separation from the “genetically pure” and law-abiding citizens. Accordingly, lawbreakers had to be either killed or exiled, since prisons were too expensive.
January 26 1972 In response to the Australian Government’s refusal to recognize Aboriginal land rights. four men arrived in Canberra from Sydney to establish the Aboriginal Tent Embassy by planting a beach umbrella on the lawn in front of Parliament House. The Embassy succeeded in uniting Aboriginal people throughout Australia in demanding uniform national land rights and mobilized widespread non-indigenous support for their struggle. In July 1972, police moved in, removed the tents and arrested eight people. In October 1973, around 70 Aboriginal protesters staged a sit-in on the steps of Parliament House and the Tent Embassy was re-established. The sit-in ended when the Prime Minister agreed to meet with protesters. On the twentieth anniversary of its founding, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was re-established on the lawns of Old Parliament House; it has existed on the site since that time. in 1995 the site of the Tent Embassy was added to the Australian Register of the National Estate as the only Aboriginal site in Australia that is recognized nationally as a site representing political struggle for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
January 26 1980 At the request of President Jimmy Carter, the U.S. Olympic Committee voted to ask the International Olympic Committee to cancel or move the upcoming Moscow Olympics in response to the Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan the previous month. The US ended up boycotting the games; almost a decade passed before the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan.
January 27 1945 The Red Army of the Soviet Union liberated the German Nazis’ largest concentration camps: the Auschwitz main camp, the Birkenau death camp and the Monowitz labor camp in southwestern Poland.
January 27 1968 The subways and elevated trains in Chicago began allowing anti-Vietnam War ads. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) had refused to carry the ads for two years. The Illinois ACLU sued on behalf of the Chicago Women for Peace and the North Shore Women for Peace, chapters of the Women Strike for Peace organizations. The federal judge dismissed the suit when the CTA capitulated and agreed to carry the ads. The ad, addressed to President Lyndon Johnson, read: “War is Not Peace. Tyranny is Not Freedom. Hate is Not Love. End the War in Vietnam.”
January 28 1573 Frightened and inspired by the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of French Protestants the previous August, Polish and Lithuanian nobility signed a document guaranteeing religious freedom for adherents of all religious faiths. Signatories also pledged to support each other, even if those who belong to different religions. Members of radical religious sects elsewhere in Europe found a safe haven in Poland.
January 28 1985 “We Are the World,” the song and charity single written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, was recorded by the supergroup USA for Africa. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it raised more than $50 million for African Famine relief.
January 29 1933 As many as 100,000 workers gathered in Berlin to protest the likelihood of Adolf Hitler becoming German Chancellor.
January 29 1996 Three Ploughshares activists, Lotta Kronlid, Andrea Needham and Joanna Wilson, caused millions in damage and were arrested in Warton, Lancashire, England, for disarming a British Aerospace F-16 fighter jet destined to be sold to Indonesia for use in its illegal occupation and genocide of the people of East Timor.
January 29 2009 The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama, revised the old requirement involving the deadline for filing equal pay discrimination suits. The old deadline required that suits be filed within 180 days from the first paycheck the employee received. The new statute of limitations begins with the each new paycheck. The law was prompted by the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber, decided on May 29, 2007, which ruled against Lilly Ledbetter because she had not filed her complaint within the required 180 days after receiving her first paycheck.
January 30 1948 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, was assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic.
January 30 1956 As Martin Luther King, Jr. stood at the pulpit, leading a mass meeting during the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, his home was bombed. King’s wife and 10-week-old baby escaped unharmed. Later in the evening, as thousands of angry African Americans assembled on King’s lawn, he appeared on his front porch, and told them:
“If you have weapons, take them home . . . We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence . . . We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us.”
January 30 1972 In [London]Derry, Northern Ireland, 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators were shot dead by British Army paratroopers in an event that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The protesters, all Northern Catholics, were marching in protest of the British policy of internment of suspected Irish nationalists. British authorities had ordered the march banned, and sent troops to confront the demonstrators when it went ahead. The soldiers fired indiscriminately into the crowd of protesters, killing 13 and wounding 17.
January 30 2010 Thousands of protesters from across Japan marched in central Tokyo to protest the U.S. military presence on Okinawa.
January 31 1865 The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The amendment read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
January 31 1876 The U.S. government ordered that all Native Americans had to move to reservations by this date or be declared hostile.
January 31 1915 Poison gas has been in use since ancient times. Arsenical smokes were known to the Chinese as far back as c. 1000 BC; In the second century BC, writings in China describe the use of bellows to pump smoke from burning balls of mustard and other toxic vegetables into tunnels being dug by a besieging army. Other Chinese writings dating around the same period contain hundreds of recipes for the production of poisonous or irritating smokes for use in war. The Battle of Bolimów, fought by the Germans and Russians in Poland, was the first attempt by the Germans at a large-scale use of poison gas; the eighteen thousand gas shells they fired proved unsuccessful when the xylyl bromide—a type of tear gas—was blown back at their own lines. The gas caused few, if any, casualties since the cold weather caused it to freeze, rendering it ineffective. The 1928 Geneva Protocol prohibit the use of “asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices” and “bacteriological methods of warfare,” although some countries, in particular, the US and Russia, continue to research and stockpile chemical weapons.
January 31 1938 Pecan shellers in San Antonio went on strike when the owners of the company announced a pay cut. When reduction in pay was announced, the workers walked out of the shacks and the next day the strike was officially called by the Pecan Shelling Workers’ Union. During the 1930s, the biggest employer of Hispanic women in San Antonio was the pecan shelling industry. Shellers worked twelve-hour days, seven days a week for $1.50 to $2.00. The working conditions of these women were difficult. On the West side of the city, there were about 400 shacks with around 100 or so workers in each. In these shacks were long tables with women huddled around them, poor lighting, no indoor toilets or washbowls, and inadequate ventilation. The air was contaminated by a fine brown dust from the pecans, which contributed to the high death rate due to tuberculosis.
January 31 1971 The Winter Soldier Investigation began in Detroit, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). It was intended to publicize war crimes and atrocities by the United States Armed Forces and their allies in the Vietnam War. The VVAW challenged the morality and conduct of the war by showing the direct relationship between military policies and war crimes in Vietnam. The three-day gathering of 109 veterans (including John Kerry) and 16 civilians took place in Detroit, Michigan. Discharged servicemen from each branch of military service, as well as civilian contractors, medical personnel and academics, all gave testimony about war crimes they had committed or witnessed during the years of 1963–1970. A complete transcript was later entered into the Congressional Record by Senator Mark Hatfield, and discussed in the Fulbright Hearings in April and May 1971
January 31 2006 The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications.
February 1 1861 Texas became the seventh state to secede from the Union when a state convention voted 166 to 8 in favor of the measure. Governor Sam Houston refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy and was replaced in March 1861 by his lieutenant governor. The Texas Ordinance of Secession reads, in part: In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color–a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.
February 1 1862 “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was first published in “Atlantic Monthly” as an anonymous poem. The lyric was the work of Julia Ward Howe and was based on chapter 63 of the Old Testament’s Book of Isaiah. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” soon became the most popular Union marching song of the Civil War. Julia Ward Howe (b.1819-1908) was an influential social reformer and wife of fellow reformer and educator Samuel Gridley Howe. She was prominent in the anti-slavery movement, woman‘s suffrage, prison reform and the international peace movements.
February 1 1928 The Post Office Banned “Protest Against the Marines in Nicaragua” stickers on Envelopes. Attaching stickers with political messages to first-class mail was used by activists in the 1920s and 1930s. The stickers were similar to non-political ones related to holidays or charitable cases. In this and other cases, the Post Office banned some stickers because they criticized the U. S. Government.
February 1 1939 Some 4,00 prisoners at California’s San Quentin Prison, went on a hunger strike in protest against the monotony of prison menus.
February 1 1960 Four black college students sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and were refused service because of their race. To protest the segregation of the eating facilities, they remained and sat-in at the lunch counter until the store closed.
February 1 1968 Saigon’s police chief, Nguyen Ngoc Loan, executed a Viet Cong suspect with a gunshot to the head. This became one of the most famous images of the war in Vietnam and had tremendous effect on international and American public opinion regarding the war.
February 1 1976 In San Francisco more than 1,000 people took part in the Continental Walk for Peace and Social Justice led by comedian Dick Gregory and Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy.
February 1 1992 President George Bush & Russian President Boris Yeltsin declared an official end to Cold War
February 1 1999 Jerry Falwell’s National Liberty Journal newspaper issued a “parental alert” which warned that Tinky Winky, a character on the children’s show “Teletubbies,” might be gay. In an article entitled “Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet,” Falwell writes: “He is purple – the gay-pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle – the gay-pride symbol.”
February 1 2002 In Israel over 100 reserve combat officers denounced the army for immoral behavior toward Palestinian civilians and placed ads in newspapers including Haaretz: “We will no longer fight beyond the Green Line with the aim of dominating, expelling, starving and humiliating an entire people.”
February 1 2004 In Haiti, tens of thousands of government opponents marched peacefully to demand President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s resignation. A day earlier Aristide vowed to disarm politically affiliated gangs, reform the police force and implement other measures to end the country’s recent unrest.
February 1 2006 In West Virginia the deaths of 2 mine workers prompted Gov. Joe Manchin to call for all coal companies in the state to halt production and perform safety checks.
February 1 2007 The National Academy of Engineering announced that the 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability would go to Abul Hussam, a chemistry professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. He had developed an inexpensive, easy-to-make system for filtering arsenic from well water, and planned to use most of the $1 million engineering prize to distribute the filters to needy communities around the world.
February 1 2011 In Egypt more than a quarter-million people flooded Cairo’s main square in a stunning and jubilant array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals, mounting by far the largest protest yet in a week of unrelenting demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power.
February 2 1779 Anthony Benezet refused to pay taxes to support Revolutionary War.
February 2 1848 The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the Mexican-American War in favor of the United States and adding an additional 525,000 square miles to United States territory, including the area that would become the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, as well as parts of Colorado and Wyoming. President Polk ignited the Mexican-American War when he sent his Commanding General of the Army Zachary Taylor and his troops to claim territory along the Rio Grande River between the U.S. and Mexico. Polk insisted Mexico had invaded the U.S. when an earlier skirmish between American and Mexican troops erupted over the ill-defined territorial boundaries of Texas. Polk was a firm believer in America’s “Manifest Destiny” of increased U.S. territorial expansion in order to bring democracy and Protestant Christianity to a “backward” region.
February 2 1932 First world disarmament convention opened, Geneva, Switzerland.
February 2 1931 The first of well over 400,000 Mexican-Americans, many US citizens living here as long as 40 years, were “repatriated” from the nation as Los Angeles Chicanos are deported to Mexico.
February 2 1934 The San Francisco Police Commission promulgated a set of regulations regarding dance permits to Barbary Coast nightclubs which included a prohibition against “colored and white people dancing together.”
February 2 1948 President Harry Truman sent to Congress a 10-point civil rights program calling for measures against lynching, poll taxes and job discrimination.
February 2 1971 The Ramsar Convention, officially titled “The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat,” was developed and adopted by participating nations at a meeting in Ramsar, Iran. It came into force on December 21, 1975. The US ratified the Ramsar agreement in 1986.
February 2 1989 The USSR’s nine years of participation in the war in Afghanistan ended as Red Army troops withdrew from the capital city of Kabul, driven out principally by the insurgent mujahadin, who were armed through covert U.S. funding. By the time the final Soviet soldiers had left Afghanistan more than 15,000 of them had been killed and 50,000 injured, including over 10,000 left permanently disabled. Estimates vary on Afghan casualties, but the low end runs to a million dead while the high end suggests the total might be double that, with three million injured and more than a million permanently disabled. By 1986 half of all refugees on the planet were Afghan nationals.
February 2 1990 South African President deKlerk lifted the ban on opposition groups; African National Congress (ANC) is now legal.
February 2 1997 In Belgium some 20 thousand demonstrators joined workers of bankrupt Forges de Clabecq, a steel firm, to protest job losses and social injustice.
February 2 2004 The Save the Peaks Coalition formed to address environmental and human rights concerns with Arizona Snowbowl’s proposed developments on the San Francisco Peaks, land that has spiritual and cultural significance to at least 13 surrounding tribes. This coalition (made up of tribal and spiritual leaders, citizens, agencies, business, and conservationists) rallied to protest the “clearcutting of approximately 30,000 trees, that is home to threatened species, making new runs and lifts, more parking lots, and building a 14.8 mile buried pipeline to transport up to 180 million gallons (per season) of wastewater to make artificial snow on 205 acres.”
February 2 2008 In Turkey tens of thousands of secular Turks rallied against a plan by the government to allow women students to wear the Muslim headscarf at university, a move they say will usher in a stricter form of Islam.
February 3 1865 The Hampton Roads Conference was attended by President Abraham Lincoln and the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander H. Stephens, in an attempt to end the American Civil War. The four-hour meeting aboard the Union steamboat River Queen anchored in Hampton Roads in Virginia, also included Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward, Confederate Assistant Secretary of War John Campbell and Senator R.M.T. Hunter. Lincoln‘s peace offer required rebel states to return to the Union, accept the freedom of their slaves and to disband their army. Even though military defeat was imminent, the Confederate representatives did not have the authority to accept any peace offer without a guarantee of independence for the Confederacy, therefore, no agreement was reached. The war ended on May 9.
February 3 1893 Abigail Ashbrook of Willingboro, New Jersey, refused to pay taxes because, as a woman, she was denied the right to vote.
February 3 1941 In United States v. Darby Lumber Co. the US Supreme Court upheld the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, ruling that Congress can fix minimum wages and maximum hours for US workers.
February 3 1964 In New York City, 464,000 students, mostly black and Puerto Rican, comprising nearly half the citywide enrollment, boycotted the New York City schools for one day to protest the system’s de facto segregation, 10 years after Brown v. Board of Education.
February 3 1973 Four decades of armed conflict in Vietnam officially ended when a cease-fire agreement signed in Paris the previous month came into effect. Vietnam had endured almost uninterrupted hostility since 1945, when a war for independence from France was launched. A civil war between northern and southern regions of the country began after the country was divided by the Geneva Convention in 1954, with American military “advisors” arriving in 1955. Between 1969 and 1972, 107,504 Saigon government troops, approximately 400,000 North Vietnamese (DRV/NLF) soldiers and 15,315 American troops, died in combat. The number of civilian deaths is unknown, although it has been estimated that 150,000 civilians died in South Vietnam for each year of American President Nixon’s presidency.
February 3 1994 President Bill Clinton lifted the trade embargo against Vietnam, which had been in place since the Vietnam war.
February 3 1998 Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker, the first female inmate to be put to death by the state in 135 years.
February 3 2006 In Bangladesh nearly 1,150 people were arrested in Dhaka, a day before opposition supporters were due to converge on the city in a campaign to oust the government.
February 4 1794 France’s First Republic (Convention) voted for the abolition of slavery in all French colonies. The abolition decree stated that “the Convention declares the slavery of the Blacks abolished in all the colonies; consequently, all men, irrespective of color, living in the colonies are French citizens and will enjoy all the rights provided by the Constitution.” Slavery was restored by the Consulate in 1802, and was definitively abolished in 1848 by the Second Republic.
February 4 1987 The U.S. House of Representatives overrode President Ronald Reagan’s second veto (401-26) of the Clean Water Act. The law provided funds for communities to build waste treatment facilities and to clean up waterways.
February 4 1944 The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals was formed by Sam Wood, King Vidor & Walt Disney and others. Their statement of principles included, “In our special field of motion pictures, we resent the growing impression that this industry is made of, and dominated by, Communists, radicals, and crackpots. ” In 1947 Ayn Rand wrote a pamphlet for the Alliance, entitled Screen Guide for Americans, citing examples of films that in her view contained hidden Communist messages. Examples included “The Best Years of Our Lives” (because it portrayed businessmen negatively, and suggested that bankers should give veterans collateral-free loans) and “A Song to Remember” (because it implied that Chopin sacrificed himself for a patriotic cause rather than devoting himself to his music.) The organization disbanded in 1975.
February 4 1990 The Colombian government recognized native rights to half of its 69,000 square miles of forest in the Amazon River basin, home to 55,000 indigenous people.
February 4 2004 The Massachusetts Supreme Court (Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health) declared that gays were entitled to nothing less than marriage under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
February 4 2006 Tens of thousands of people filled a plaza near the Thai parliament, chanting slogans demanding that PM Thaksin Shinawatra step down amid allegations of official corruption. Thaksin said he would step down if the king asked.
February 4 2007 In Bangladesh, some three million Muslims raised their hands in prayer for global peace, putting aside their country’s sometimes violent struggle with political corruption and Islamic extremists, at one of the world’s largest religious gatherings. The annual World Congregation of Muslims, or “Bishwa Ijtema,” has been held each year since 1966 on the banks of the River Turag in Tongi, just north of the capital, Dhaka.
February 4 2008 Hundreds of thousands of Colombians wearing white T-shirts marched in their homeland and abroad to demand that FARC, the country’s largest rebel group, stop kidnapping people and release those it holds.
February 5 1631 Roger Williams arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England. Williams, a Puritan, worked as a teacher before serving briefly as a colorful pastor at Plymouth and then at Salem. Within a few years of his arrival, he alarmed the Puritan oligarchy of Massachusetts by speaking out against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension and to confiscate Indian land. In October 1635 he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the General Court. After leaving Massachusetts, Williams established a settlement, located in present-day Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters, and many dissatisfied Puritans came. Among those who found a haven in the religious and political refuge of the Rhode Island Colony were some of the first Jews to settle in North America and the Quakers.
February 5 1840 In Damascus, Syria, Father Thomas, the superior of a Franciscan convent, disappeared with his servant. Thirteen prominent Jews were falsely accused of the ritual murder of the Franciscan monk and his servant. Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, backed by other influential westerners, led a delegation to the ruler of Syria and Egypt, Muhammad Al, secured the unconditional release and recognition of innocence of the prisoners and persuaded Sultan Abdülmecid I to issue a firman (edict) intended to halt the spread of blood libel accusations in the Ottoman Empire.
February 5 1937 President Franklin Roosevelt announced a controversial plan to expand the Supreme Court to as many as 15 judges, allegedly to make it more efficient. Critics immediately charged that Roosevelt was trying to “pack” the court and thus neutralize Supreme Court justices hostile to his New Deal. During the previous two years, the high court had struck down several key pieces of New Deal legislation on the grounds that the laws delegated an unconstitutional amount of authority to the executive branch and the federal government. Confident after his landslide reelection in November, Roosevelt issued a proposal to provide retirement at full pay for all members of the court over 70. If a justice refused to retire, an “assistant” with full voting rights was to be appointed, thus ensuring Roosevelt a liberal majority. In July the Senate struck it down by a vote of 70 to 22
February 5 1969 Ten students—six women and four men—removed their clothes at Grinnell College, Iowa, to protest a talk by Bruce Draper, representative of Playboy Magazine. “We protest Playboy’s images of women as lapdog playthings,” they announced. Five women (described as “girls” in a Kansas newspaper) were charged with indecent exposure and eventually found guilty in 1971.
February 5 1983 Former Nazi Gestapo official Klaus Barbie (1913-1991), expelled from Bolivia, was brought to trial in Lyon, France. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
February 5 1985 Australian Prime Minister Robert Hawke refused to allow the US to use bases to monitor an MX missile test.
February 5 1990 The Nepali Congress passed a resolution officially launching a “country-wide peaceful mass movement.” Shortly thereafter, as many as 475 opposition party members, human rights advocates, students, lawyers and journalists were arrested. In a number of incidents, police opened fire indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed demonstrators. Estimates of the number killed range from 50 to several hundred.
February 5 1994 White separatist Byron De La Beckwith was convicted in Jackson, Miss., of murdering civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963, and was immediately sentenced to life in prison.
February 5 1997 In Ecuador hundreds of thousands began a 48-hour general strike against President Abdala Bucaram to protests economic austerity, nepotism and corruption.
February 5 2004 Journalists at Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper left their offices after the Supreme Court upheld that it was a crime to work without a government license.
February 5 2006 In Bangladesh at least 40,000 opposition supporters converged on Dhaka to demand the ouster of the government after a three-day protest march marked by heavy security and the arrest of key activists.
February 6 1790 The last stone of the Bastille, torn down by order of the French revolutionary leaders, was presented to the National Assembly.
February 6 1820 The first organized immigration of freed slaves to Africa from the United States departed New York harbor on a journey to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in West Africa. The immigration was largely the work of the American Colonization Society; the expedition was also partially funded by the U.S. Congress, which in 1819 had appropriated $100,000 to be used in returning displaced Africans, illegally brought to the United States after the abolishment of the slave trade in 1808, to Africa. In 1821, the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia south of Sierra Leone. Most Americans of African descent were not enthusiastic to abandon their homes in the United States for the West African coast. However, between 1822 and the American Civil War, some 15,000 African Americans settled in Liberia, which was granted independence by the United States in 1847 under pressure from Great Britain.
February 6 1918 Britain granted women 30 and over the right to vote.
February 6 1922 The Washington Disarmament Conference came to an end with signature of final treaty forbidding fortification of the Aleutian Islands for 14 years. The US, UK, France, Italy & Japan signed the Washington naval arms limitation.
February 6 1956 Autherine Lucy was excluded from classes (She was planning on obtaining a Masters degree in Library Science) just three days after becoming the first black person allowed to attend the University of Alabama. Her suspension “for her own safety” followed three days of riots over her Supreme Court-ordered enrollment. In the photo she is pictured with Roy Wilkens and Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court Justice-to-be.
February 6 1971 Three hundred residents of Pharr, Texas started a protest march against segregation, a large economic gap, inferior access to education, and police brutality. By the time the march made its way to the police station, it had grown to roughly 3,000 people. Though the protest was peaceful, police and firefighters sprayed high-pressure firehoses on marchers and used tear gas against them. In response, residents began throwing bottles and bricks. Police opened fire, and Alfonso Laredo Flores, 22, a bystander, was killed. Several protesters were tried in court and sentenced to five years in jail; the deputy sheriff, who killed Flores, faced no charges.
February 6 2007 n France nearly 60 nations pledged not to use children to wage war and to disarm and rehabilitate underage soldiers. The Paris Commitments agreement was seen as a strong moral step against the problem, though it carried no legal weight. They also signed a treaty that bans governments from holding people in secret detention, but the United States and some of its key European allies were not among them.
February 6 2011 Police on Easter Island raided the grounds of a luxury hotel to evict the last of dozens of indigenous protesters battling for ancestral lands and a larger share of profits from the tourists who come to see the Pacific Island’s mysterious statues of giant heads.
February 6 2012 Brazil requested an injunction to stop Twitter users from alerting drivers to police roadblocks, radar traps and drunk-driving checkpoints could make it the first country to take Twitter up on its plan to censor content at governments’ requests.
February 7 1497 Followers of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects thought to provoke sin, such as such as cosmetics, art, and books, in Florence, Italy, on the Shrove Tuesday festival. The event is often referred to as the “bonfire of the vanities.”
February 7 1812 Lord Byron, in his first speech before the House of Lords, denounced a death penalty measure for rebellious laborers.
February 7 1926 “Negro History Week” was observed for the first time. Today it has been lengthened, and is known as African-American history month.
February 7 1947 Both Arab and Jewish groups formally rejected a British proposal to split Palestine into two separate nations.
February 7 1966 A federal court declared Alabama’s law excluding women from jury duty to be unconstitutional.
February 7 1971 In a national referendum in which only men could vote, women in Switzerland were granted the right to vote in national elections and to stand for parliament.
February 7 1993 Women’s tribunal against rape in war was established in Zagreb, Croatia, the first International Criminal Tribunal set up in Europe since World War II. According to the 2001 Amnesty International Report “Bosnia-Herzegovina: Foča verdict – rape and sexual enslavement are crimes against humanity”, this verdict of the tribunal represented a milestone in women’s human rights defense: rape and sexual enslavement are recognized as crimes against humanity, contrasting the theory by which female torture is a factor “intrinsic” to wars.
February 7 2006 The owner of a Mexican newspaper in Nuevo Laredo said there will be no more investigative coverage of drug gangs, a day after the paper’s offices were sprayed with bullets and a reporter hospitalized with five gunshots.
February 7 2012 In Jamaica, roughly 2,000 firearms were melted down in a blazing furnace as part of an effort designed to combat gun trafficking and corruption while reducing violent crime.
February 7 2014 Spain’s Cabinet approved a bill amending previous legislation that granted nationality by naturalization to Sephardic Jews who chose to apply for it. The reform will allow dual nationality, enabling people who can prove Sephardic ancestry to also retain their previous citizenships.
February 8 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Severalty Act, designed to end tribal life, which divided tribal lands into small plots for distribution to tribal members. American citizenship was granted to Native Americans who accepted their land and lived apart from the tribe. Congress hoped that this would encourage Native Americans to “adopt the habits of civilized life.”
February 8 1940 The Lodz ghetto was created for Jews being gathered in territories conquered by the Nazis. Called the “Ghetto Litzmannstadt” in German, this would become the second-largest ghetto in German-occupied Poland (the Warsaw ghetto will be the largest). The Nazis only intend for the Lodz ghetto to be a temporary housing solution, but soon the Jews living here are working for major industrial firms supplying much-needed war supplies. Because of this the Lodz ghetto will be the last ghetto liquidated. It’s only in August, 1944 that the Nazis transport the last residents to the Auschwitz and Chelmno extermination camps.
February 8 1944 Harry S. McAlpin became the first African American journalist admitted to a White House press conference. The break through came just days after 13 African American publishers met with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and presented him with 21 goals for a post-war America. These goals included: Abolition of the color bar in industry; Equal opportunity for employment; Equality in all public educational facilities; Unrestricted suffrage in national, state and municipal elections, including primaries; Full government protection of all civil rights and liberties; Government refusal to impose, enforce or sanction patterns of racial segregation; Full protection and equality of treatment and opportunity for [Black] members of the U. S. Armed Forces; Extension of the Social Security plan; and Application of the Atlantic Charter to all colonial and other exploited peoples.
February 8 1964 Congress debated an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1963 which would have removed the protection of prohibitions against religious discrimination from atheists. Proposed by Ohio Republican John Ashbrook, the amendment read: “…it shall not be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to hire and employ any person because of said persons’ atheistic practices and beliefs.” The amendment was passed by the House of Representatives, 137-98 but it failed to pass the Senate.
February 8 1968 In what is now known as the Orangeburg Massacre, three black students were killed and 50 wounded in a confrontation with highway patrolmen at a South Carolina State University rally supporting 15 civil rights protesters arrested the day before at Orangeburg’s only bowling alley, still segregated years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had outlawed discrimination based on race in such public accommodations.
February 8 1978 The deliberations of the Senate were broadcast on radio for the first time as members opened debate on the Panama Canal treaties.
February 8 2003 The US Navy conducted its last scheduled round of weapons tests on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. A 2013 report said that the US Navy had fired more than 300,000 munitions in Vieques from the mid-1940s to 2003, taking control of 77 percent of the land.
February 8 2008 In Rwanda members of the Chamber of Deputies (Lower House) of Parliament voted in favor of a controversial new law aimed at stopping “genocide ideology,” a term for the outlook that perpetrators of genocide foster to fan divisive hate campaigns between different groups of Rwandans. Parliament adopted the law in June.
February 8 2011 In Brazil over half a million people, most of them Brazilians, called via petition on newly elected President Dilma to halt plans to construct the Belo Monte Dam. Outside the Presidential Palace, several hundred people gathered in protest including indigenous chiefs in full tribal regalia and community leaders from the Xingu River Basin, and delivered the petition signatures to the Dilma Government.
February 8 2014 In Spain thousands of women marched in the streets of Madrid to protest against the Spanish government’s plan to restrict access to abortion.
February 9 1267 Synod of Breslau ordered Jews of Silesia to wear special caps.
February 9 1780 Capt. Paul Cuffee and six other African-American residents of Massachusetts petitioned the state legislature for the right to vote; the court awarded them equal rights.
February 9 1830 When Peggy O’Neale Timberlake, an innkeeper’s daughter of much beauty & boldness, married Beloved & Respected Comrade Leader Secretary of War John Eaton, tongues wagged & other Washington wives would not entertain her because of her “reputation.” Beloved & Respected Comrade Leader President Jackson, still bitter about the gossip that sent his wife Rachel to her grave, called a cabinet session to discuss Mrs. Eaton’s morals. After declaring her innocent, he angrily replaced his entire Cabinet.
February 9 1863 Henri Dunant addressed the Geneva Society for Public Welfare and asked the members to form a volunteer society to aid wounded soldiers. The International. Committee of Red Cross (which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1917, 1944 and 1963) was formed. The red cross design based on the Swiss flag with the colors reversed.
February 9 1886 President Grover Cleveland declared a state of emergency in Seattle because of anti-Chinese violence, sparked by intense labor competition and in the context of an ongoing struggle between labor and capital in the Western United States. A mob affiliated with a local Knights of Labor chapter formed small committees to carry out a forcible expulsion of all Chinese from the city.
February 9 1933 The Oxford Union, Oxford University’s debating society, endorsed, 275-153, a motion stating “that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country,” a pacifist stand widely denounced by Britons.
February 9 1964 The “GI Joe” action doll debuted.
February 9 2000 In Turkey Kurdish rebels of the PKK announced that they had given up their war and would press their cause “within the framework of peace and democracy.”
February 9 2008 Egypt’s highest civil court ruled that 12 Coptic Christians who had converted to Islam could return to their old faith, ending a yearlong legal battle over the predominantly Muslim state’s tolerance for conversion.
February 9 2011 Indonesia’s biggest palm oil producer pledged to follow new standards to protect carbon-rich forests and peatlands, in a move cautiously welcomed by environmentalists including Greenpeace.
February 9 2012 The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota sued some of the world’s largest beer makers for $500 million claiming they knowingly contributed to alcohol-related problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
February 9 2014 In Bosnia hundreds marched in Sarajevo to protest alleged police abuse of people arrested during anti-government protests and to call for their release.
February 10 1535 Twelve nude Mennonite Anabaptists ran through the streets of Amsterdam, shouting,”Truth is naked.” They were put to death.
February 10 1846 the Mormons of Nauvoo, Illinois, begin a long westward migration that eventually brought them to the valley of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been persecuted for their beliefs ever since Joseph Smith founded the church in New York in 1830. In 1839, Smith hoped his new spiritual colony of Nauvoo in Missouri would provide a permanent safe haven, but angry mobs murdered Smith and his brother in June 1844 and began burning homes. Convinced that the Mormons would never find peace in the United States, Smith’s successor, Brigham Young decided that the Mormons would move to the Mexican-controlled Southwest. On this day in 1846, Young abandoned Nauvoo and began leading 1,600 Mormons to Utah and the freedom to practice their religion peaceably.
February 10 1961 Voice of Nuclear Disarmament pirate radio station began operation off shore, using the audio channel of BBC television after they closed down at 11 p.m. It was run by John Hasted, an activist in the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament and urged people to attend their rallies.
February 10 2004 The French National Assembly voted 494 to 36 (with 31 abstentions) to ban hijabs and all other conspicuous religious symbols being worn by students in state schools. The ban also applied to large Christian crosses, Sikh turbans, and Jewish skullcaps; however, it is generally agreed that Muslim headscarves and veils are the primary target.
February 11 1812 Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed a re-districting law that favored his party, giving rise to the term “gerrymandering.” His district was shaped like a salamander.
February 11 1852 The 1st British public female toilet opened at Bedford Street in London.
February 11 1902 Police beat up universal (male) suffrage demonstrators in Brussels. Voting was limited to male property owners.
February 11 1971 The treaty on non-militarization of sea bed was signed in London, Moscow & Washington. It bans the emplacement of nuclear weapons or “weapons of mass destruction” on the ocean floor beyond a 12-mile coastal zone and allows signatories to observe all seabed “activities” of any other signatory beyond the 12-mile zone to ensure compliance.
February 11 1978 Native Americans began The Longest Walk, a march from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to Washington, D.C. The Walk was intended to be a reminder of the forced removal of American Indians from their homelands across the continent, and drew attention to the continuing problems plaguing the Indian community, particularly joblessness, lack of health care, education and adequate housing.
February 11 1990 Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in a South African prison following months of secret negotiations with South African President F.W. de Klerk. He spent most of his sentence on Robben Island, off Cape Town, doing hard labor.
February 11 2001 In Ukraine some 5-10 thousand protesters called for the resignation of Pres. Kuchma. Kuchma fired two top security officials amid the growing scandal of a journalist killed while investigating graft.
February 11 2013 Zimbabwe police raided the offices of a member organization of Crisis in Zimbabwe, an alliance of rights groups, and seized files on political violence, funding details, DVD display materials, mobile phones and other equipment. Officials of the widely respected Zimbabwe Peace Project were accused of illegal importation of goods and “possessing articles for criminal use.”
February 12 1486 In Toledo, Spain, some 750 lapsed Christians were paraded through the streets of Toledo from the Church of San Pedro Martir to the cathedral in order to be reconciled to the Christian faith. In the Auto da Fe at Toledo the Jews were forced to recant, fined 1/5 of their property and permanently forbidden to wear decent clothes or hold office. An auto-da-fé (from Portuguese, meaning “act of faith”) was the ritual of public penance of heretics and apostates that took place when the Inquisition had decided their punishment, followed by the execution by the civil authorities of the sentences imposed.
February 12 1793 Congress passed the first fugitive slave law, requiring all states, including those that forbade slavery, to forcibly return slaves who had escaped from other states to their original owners.
February 12 1909 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded by sixty Americans, both black and white, in a call to safeguard civil, legal, economic, human, and political rights of black Americans. The call was partly in reaction to a race riot in 1908 in Springfield, Illinois, home of Abraham Lincoln, who had been born exactly 100 years ago.
February 12 1950 Albert Einstein warned against the hydrogen bomb on US national TV. “If successful,” Einstein warned, “radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere, hence the annihilation of any life on earth, has been brought within the range of technical possibilities.” When The Washington Post reported the next morning that “Einstein Fears Hydrogen Bomb Might Annihilate ‘Any Life,’” the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover ordered a full domestic intelligence report on the scientist, and the INS began a five-year examination of the possibility of deporting him.
February 12 1961 College students in San Antonio organized a stand-in at the downtown Majestic Theater . Theaters typically admitted blacks through a “colored” entrance and required them to sit in the balcony. Twenty- five white and Hispanic students paired with black students to would attempt to buy tickets at the main entrance. When the blacks were refused admittance into the theater, the pair would move to the end of the line and start the process again. This non-violent protest tied up the lines at the theater for three hours. The protest caused no arrest and no change in policy had occurred that day. Similar stand-ins also occurred in March, June, and July. Mixed groups of blacks and whites were allowed to buy tickets and sit anywhere in the theater in December of 1961. The other twenty-seven theaters of San Antonio soon followed the Majestic.
February 12 1993 About 5,000 demonstrators marched on Atlanta’s State Capitol to protest the Confederate symbol on the Georgia state flag.
February 12 2002 Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic went on trial at The Hague, Netherlands, on charges of genocide and war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. The prolonged trial ended without a verdict when the so-called “Butcher of the Balkans” was found dead at age 64 from an apparent heart attack in his prison cell in 2006.
February 12 2005 In northern Brazil Dorothy Stang S.N.D (73), an American nun, was shot to death. She had spent decades fighting efforts by loggers and large landowners to expropriate lands and clear large areas of the Amazon rainforest. In 2006 Amair Feijoli da Cunha (38) pleaded guilty and said he offered money to two gunmen to shoot nun, at the behest of ranchers Vitalmiro Moura and Regivaldo Galvao.
February 12 2008 US filmmaker Steven Spielberg abandoned his role in the Beijing Olympics and a host of prominent figures accused China of not doing enough to press its ally Sudan to end devastating violence in Darfur.
February 12 2008 England’s commissioner for children and a civil liberties group joined in on a campaign to ban high-frequency devices intended to drive misbehaving children away from shops and other areas.
February 13 1689 The British Parliament adopted the Bill of Rights. It limited the right of a king to govern without the consent of Parliament.
February 13 1907 English suffragettes stormed the British Parliament and 60 women were arrested.
February 13 1943 The Arkansas state legislature passed the Alien Land Act “to prohibit any Japanese, citizen or alien, from purchasing or owning land in Arkansas.” This act was later ruled unconstitutional, and after the two Japanese relocation camps in the state closed, several families remained in Arkansas, though all but one left within a year’s time to escape the system of peonage that was common for agricultural workers.
February 13 1967 Carrying huge photos of Vietnamese children who had been victims of Napalm (a flammable defoliant used extensively in the war there), 2,500 members of the group Women Strike for Peace stormed the Pentagon, demanding to see “the generals who send our sons to Vietnam.” When Pentagon guards locked the main entrance doors, the women took off their shoes and banged on the doors with their heels. They were eventually allowed inside, but Defense Secretary Robert McNamara would not meet with them.
February 13 1969 In North Carolina the Afro-American Society students of Duke Univ. led a black student takeover of the Allen Building to spark University action on the concerns of Black students. The takeover brought attention to issues such as establishment of an Afro-American studies program, a black cultural center, and increasing the number of black faculty and students.
February 13 1991 Two precision-guided missiles destroyed the Amiriyah subterranean bunker in Baghdad, which was being used as an air-raid shelter by 408 Iraqi civilians during the first Gulf War, making it the single most lethal incident for non-combatants in modern air warfare. The U.S. had detected signals coming from the bunker and thought it was a military command and control center.
February 13 2002 The US House of Reps. voted 240-189 to ban unlimited “soft money” donations to national parties as part of the Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill. Individual contributions were raised from 1k to 2k.
February 13 2008 Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd makes a historic apology to the Indigenous Australians and the Stolen Generations, the children of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who were removed from their families by the Australian Federal and State government agencies and church missions, under acts of their respective parliaments. It is now known as “Sorry Day.”
February 13 2008 In Greece thousands of demonstrators marched through Athens and Thessaloniki to protest government social security reforms as a Greek general strike shut down schools, hospitals and all public services.
February 13 2013 In Washington DC celebrities and activists were arrested after tying themselves to the White House gate to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. Sierra Club Director Michael Brune was also arrested, the first time in the group’s history that club leader was arrested in an act of civil disobedience.
February 13 2014 In India a lawmaker sprayed pepper spray inside Parliament, creating chaos that left his colleagues coughing and crying as they were ushered from the hall. Lawmakers had been set to vote on a long-contentious proposal to create the new southern state of Telangana from mostly poor, inland districts of Andhra Pradesh state.
February 14 1920 The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago to encourage women to vote and to provide information about candidates. Women’s suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League as a successor to the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the largest suffrage group in the country. Six months later, the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote was ratified.
February 14 1957 The “Southern Leadership Conference” was formed in New Orleans, Louisiana. Officers were elected which included: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as President, Dr. Ralph David Abernathy as Financial Secretary-Treasurer, Rev. C. K. Steele of Tallahassee, Florida as Vice President, Rev. T. J. Jemison of Baton Rouge, Louisiana as Secretary, and Attorney I. M. Augustine of New Orleans, Louisiana as General Counsel. In August the name was changed to “Southern Christian Leadership Conference” at its first convention in Montgomery, Alabama.
February 14 1974 The Soviet authorities formally charged Russian writer Alexandr Solzhenitsyn with treason one day after expelling him from the country. The writer, 55, who had already spent ten years in prison under Stalin for his dissident writings, had been under investigation for six weeks after his novel Gulag Archipelago, depicting life in the labor camps, was published in the West. He lived in exile in Switzerland until 1976 when he and his family went to live in Vermont. With the collapse of the Soviet system, the charges against Solzhenitsyn were dropped, but he didn’t return to his homeland until 1994.
February 14 1985 By a vote of 636-267 the U.S. Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Jews accepted women as rabbis.
February 14 2004 In France thousands of people marched to protest a law banning the Islamic coverings and other religious apparel in public schools.
February 14 2011 As a part of Arab Spring, the Bahraini uprising, a series of demonstrations, amounting to a sustained campaign of civil resistance, in the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain begins with a ‘Day of Rage’. Inspired by the successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, Bahraini youth organized protests using social media websites. Thousands of Bahrainis participated in 55 marches in 25 locations throughout Bahrain. Security forces responded to the peaceful protests by firing tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and birdshot. More than 30 protesters were injured and one was killed by birdshot.
February 15 1798 The first fist fight occurred in Congress. Roger Griswold, of Connecticut, attacked Matthew Lyon on the floor of the House of Representatives. Griswold, a Federalist, walked up to Lyon’s desk hitting him about the head and shoulders with his hickory walking stick. Lyon, a Republican from Vermont, responded by grabbing a pair of fireplace tongs and beating Griswold back. A brawl ensued and the men threw fists before Congressional members pulled apart the two.
February 15 2003 In the single largest day of protest in world history, millions on 6 continents demonstrated against the U.S./U.K. plans to invade Iraq. Total participation is estimated at 25 million in more than 100 countries.
February 15 2003 Papal envoy Cardinal Roger Etchegaray and Monsignor Franco Coppola of the Vatican Secretariat of State met in Iraq with Saddam Hussein. The two men were sent by Pope John Paul II in an effort to find some way to prevent war between Iraq and the United States.
February 15 2010 In Antarctic waters Peter Bethune, a member of the US-based Sea Shepherd activist group, jumped aboard the Shonan Maru 2 from a Jet Ski with the stated goal of making a citizen’s arrest of the ship’s captain and presenting him with a $3 million bill for the destruction of a protest ship last month. The Japanese government said Bethune would be charged with trespassing and assault and tried under Japanese law.
February 15 2010 When homelessness doubled before the Olympic Games in Vancouver, hundreds of people came to Pigeon Park to put pressure on the federal government to establish a National Social Housing Policy, to raise awareness of the magnitude of homelessness in Vancouver and to expose the government’s failure to keep their promise of an Olympic housing legacy. The group set up an ‘Olympic Tent City’ in the area for the homeless. Native elders then led a march through the neighborhood while beating their hand drums, arriving at the ‘Olympic Tent City’. The campaigners then distributed 500 tents which bore slogans like ‘Housing is a Right!’ and ‘End Homelessness Now!’ throughout the Downtown Eastside. Their campaign also included handing out leaflets, activists sleeping alongside the homeless in Red Tents, concerts, street theatre, marches and hunger strikes.
February 15 2013 Angry about joblessness and cuts in wages, pensions and unemployment benefits, together with a growing tax burden, a group of people attending the debate in the Portuguese Parliament spontaneously began to sing “Grândola, Vila Morena,” a symbol of the peaceful Apr. 25, 1974 “carnation revolution” that overthrew the dictatorship that came to power in 1926. The protesters stressed that “there were no insults or strong words; we simply sang, and the head of government had to stop speaking, drowned out by the chorus of voices singing ‘Grândola, Vila Morena’.”
February 16 1941 A pastoral letter was read in the majority of Norwegian pulpits telling the fascist regime to “end all which conflicts with God’s holy arrangements regarding truth, justice, freedom of conscience and goodness..”
February 16 1956 Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, a Democrat from Harlem, New York helped to block a bill that provided federal aid to local schools on this day. He did so with an amendment, which became known as the “Powell Amendment,” that would deny funds to schools that were racially segregated. Powell repeatedly blocked federal aid to education legislation from the time of the Brown v. Board of Education decision on May 17, 1954, until the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
February 16 1956 Britain abolished the death penalty.
February 16 1966 The World Council of Churches, meeting in Geneva, urged immediate peace in Vietnam. Their statement read, in part: “We join with all men of goodwill in remembering the suffering of a people which has already suffered too long, the diversion of human resources from constructive to destructive ends, the danger of escalation into world conflict, the recognition that there does not exist an international community under the rule of law nor sufficient understanding to achieve it.”
February 16 1982 Citizens’ Action for Safe Energy (CASE) succeeded in stopping construction of Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant near Inola, Oklahoma. Public Service of Oklahoma announced the cancellation, the first of its kind solely due to citizen protest.
February 16 2013 In Bangladesh an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated in Dhaka demanding move severe punishment for war criminals from the country’s 1971 liberation war.
February 17 1600 Giordano Bruno , an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, and astrologer was burned at the stake for heresy in Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori. He is known for his cosmological theories: he proposed that the stars were just distant suns surrounded by their own exoplanets and raised the possibility that these planets could even foster life of their own. He also insisted that the universe is in fact infinite and could have no celestial body at its “center.” He is considered by some to be the first martyr of science.
February 17 1820 The Senate passed the Missouri Compromise, an attempt to deal with the dangerously divisive issue of extending slavery into the western territories. In exchange for admitting Missouri without restrictions on slavery, the Compromise called for bringing in Maine as a free state. The Compromise also dictated that slavery would be prohibited in all future western states carved out of the Louisiana Territory that were higher in latitude than the northern border of Arkansas Territory. Whether or not to allow slavery in the states of Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska caused the same difficulties several decades later, leading the nation toward civil war.
February 17 1897 The forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, was founded in Washington, D.C. By Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst.
February 17 1929 LULAC – The League of United Latin American Citizens,– was founded at Salón Obreros y Obreras in Corpus Christi, Texas. It is the oldest and largest continually active Latino political association in the United States and was the first nationwide Mexican-American civil-rights organization. Its founding grew out of the rise of the Texas-Mexican middle class and resistance to racial discrimination. There are now more than 50 LULAC councils just in San Antonio: find one here.
February 17 1975 Several hundred residents of Wyhl, Germany, located just outside of the Kaiserstuhl wine-growing area in the southwestern corner of Germany, occupied the site of a nuclear power plant with the intent of halting construction. The contractor had begun building despite a court order to suspend doing so. Police responded to the protesters with dogs, water cannon and arrests. By the following week, however, over 25,000, from the nearby university town of Freiburg, had joined the occupation, and police withdrew. Following the negotiated withdrawal of the occupiers, a panel of judges permanently banned construction of the plant, and the land is now a nature preserve. Anti-nuclear success at Wyhl inspired nuclear opposition in the rest of Europe and North America.
February 17 1997 The Virginia House of Delegates voted to retire the state song “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia,” and make it the state song emeritus. Some of the lyrics were offensive to African-Americans. video
February 17 2000 Russia was accused by human rights groups and refugees of brutality toward Chechens in camps. Vladimir Putin named Vladimir Kalamanov, the head of the migration service, to look into allegations of torture, rape and executions by Russian soldiers against Chechen civilians.
February 17 2003 Uzbek journalist Ergash Bobozhonov (61), who wrote articles published abroad criticizing corruption among officials, was arrested and faced charges including libel.
February 17 2011 In Wisconsin 14 Democratic lawmakers disappeared as the state Senate was about to begin debating a measure by Gov. Scott Walker that would eliminate collective bargaining for most state public employees. Protesters filled the Capitol for a 3rd day.
February 17 2012 Protesters from the Ngobe-Bugle tribe set up roadblocks of stones and branches in Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui in western Panama on the border with Costa Rica in a dispute over mineral exploitation on their lands.
February 17 2012 Sudanese police raided student dormitories at Khartoum’s main university, beating and arresting hundreds of students in the latest crackdown on youth protesters. Students at the university began protesting in late December to demand compensation for people displaced from their homes by construction of a dam near the city of Dammir. They also have been calling for the right to form a student union and for an end to police violence.
February 18 1688 Mennonites, who had emigrated to Pennsylvania five years before, wrote a protest against slavery: “There is a saying, that we shall doe to all men, like as we will be done our selves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are. And those who steal or robb men, and those who buy or purchase them, are they not all alike? Here is liberty of conscience, which is right and reasonable; here ought to be likewise liberty of ye body, except of evildoers, which is another case. But to bring men hither, or to robb and sell them against their will, we stand against. “
February 18 1787 Austrian emperor Josef II banned children under 8 from working in factories,”unless there is a need for it.”
February 18 1943 Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, the leaders of the German youth group Weisse Rose (White Rose), were arrested by the Gestapo for opposing the Nazi regime. The White Rose was composed of university students who spoke out against Adolf Hitler and his regime. During the summer of 1942, Scholl and a friend composed four leaflets which exposed and denounced Nazi and SS atrocities, including the extermination of Jews and Polish nobility, and called for resistance. On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie left a suitcase filled with copies of yet another leaflet in the main university building. The pair were spotted by a janitor, reported to the Gestapo and arrested. Turned over to Hitler’s “People’s Court,” the Scholls, along with another White Rose member who was caught, were sentenced to death. They were beheaded on February 23, but not before Hans Scholl proclaimed “Long live freedom!”
February 18 1990 The Jana Andolan’ (People’s Movement) officially started on Democracy day in Nepal. Jana Andolan was a multiparty movement in Nepal that brought an end to absolute monarchy and the beginning of constitutional democracy.
February 18 2006 At a meeting of the World Council of Churches in Brazil, a coalition of American churches sharply denounced the US-led war in Iraq, accusing Washington of “raining down terror” and apologizing to other nations for “the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown.” They also warned the United States was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a “culture of consumption” and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming.
February 18 20011 Tens of thousands of Albanian opposition supporters marched peacefully through the capital to demand the government resign over corruption allegations.
March 3 1861 Tsar Alexander II of Russia issued his decree abolishing Serfdom stimulated in part by his view that “it is better to liberate the peasants from above” than to wait until they won their freedom by risings “from below”.
February 19 1919 A Pan-African Congress was organized by W.E.B. DuBois in Paris, France, to coincide with the Versailles Peace Conference after World War I. The Congress’s aim was to call the issue of “international protection of the natives of Africa” to the attention of the United States and the European colonial powers who were making momentous decisions on the nature of the post-war world.
February 19 1942 Ten weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military in scattered locations around the country, where they were imprisoned for the next two and a half years.
February 19 1993 A Superior Court judge ruled that a gay group has the right to march in South Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, concluding that it came within the state civil rights law’s definition of a “public accommodation.” The group appealed to the US Supreme Court, which overturned the decision. Justice David H. Souter said in his opinion for the Court that a parade was a form of expression with which the government may not interfere, even for the “enlightened” purpose of preventing discrimination. “One important manifestation of the principle of free speech is that one who chooses to speak may also decide what not to say,” he said. It was not until the 2015 parade that the sponsors relented and allowed two LGBT groups to march.
February 20 1856 Romania abolished the slavery of Gypsies, or Roma. When the Roma arrived in Romania in the 14th century they were forced into slavery, becoming possessions of the state, monasteries or private citizens. Their owners were free to do as they wished with them, short of killing them. photo
February 20 1871 In what has come to be called the Walker County Rebellion, the Texas Governor imposed martial law on Walker County with the authority to try citizens before a military tribunal. It started the previous December when a freedman, Sam Jenkins testified against several whites in a case of assault; his corpse appeared along a road outside Huntsville several days later. Four Whites were charged in his murder and, when three were found guilty, gunfire erupted in the courtroom. In the trials that followed ten citizens, including the sheriff, faced charges, resulting in seven convictions.
February 20 1942 The vast majority of teachers in German-occupied Norway refused to comply with the forced Nazification of the school system. The government had ordered display of the portrait of German-installed Minister President Vidkun Quisling in all classrooms, revision of the curriculum and textbooks to reflect Nazi ideology, and teaching of German to replace English as their second language. The teachers organized: 12,000 (of 14,000) wrote the same letter to the education department refusing membership in the newly formed Nazi teachers’ association.
February 20 1934 Utopian Society in Los Angeles starts chain-letter campaign informing US citizens that “Profit is the root of all evil.”
February 20 1972 Paul McCartney’s song, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish,” was immediately banned from airplay by the BBC.
February 20 1997 Nearly 100,000 marched in Paris against new anti-immigration bill sponsored by the far right.
February 20 2011 Inspired by uprisings and revolutions in other North African countries, in what has come to be known as the February 20 Movement, thousands of Moroccans rallied in the capital, Rabat, to demand that King Mohammed give up some of his powers, chanting slogans such as “Down with autocracy” and “The people want to change the constitution.” Protests were also held in Casablanca and Marrakesh. Protests have continued nearly every Sunday, with thousands marching in cities around Morocco calling for governmental reform.
February 20 2014 In Albania more than 5,000 opposition supporters marched peacefully through the capital Tirana, accusing the government of failing to fight poverty and unemployment.
February 21 1958 The peace symbol, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, is designed and completed by Gerald Holtom.
February 21 1965 Malcolm X, 39, was shot and killed as he began a speech to 400 of his followers at the Audubon Ballroom in New York. Earlier that same year, Malcolm broke with the Nation of Islam and went on a life-altering pilgrimage to Mecca. When he returned, Malcolm said he had met “blonde-haired, blued-eyed men I could call my brothers.” He returned to the United States with a new outlook on integration and an openness to the nonviolent principles and tactics of the Civil Rights Movement.
February 21 2001 The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to protect state governments from federal suits for damages filed by disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court ruled that state workers cannot use federal disability-rights law to win monetary damages for on-the-job discrimination.
February 21 2005 An Atomic Testing Museum opened in Las Vegas.
February 21 2006 The US Supreme Court ruled that federal narcotics do not trump the religious expression rights of a Brazilian-based sect that uses a hallucinogenic tea in a sacrament. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, with some 130 members in the US, had filed suit after federal authorities intercepted a shipment of hoasca, whose ingredients included a hallucinogenic plant, and threatened prosecution.
February 21 2009 In Ireland around 100,000 people filled the streets of Dublin in protest at the government’s handling of the country’s economic crisis.
February 21 2011 In Algeria about 500 students rallied in the capital, part of the wave of unrest in Arab world to register discontent with national governments. The students want the government to scrap a new law that dilutes the value of their diplomas by giving equal status to less-qualified degree holders in the job market.
February 21 2012 In Russia Pussy Riot performed a punk rock song in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In the song, the group prayed to the “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin” to “chase Putin out,” in part of the growing protest movement against Vladimir Putin.
February 22 1860 Shoe-making workers of Lynn, Mass, struck successfully for higher wages. The strike in Lynn and Natick, Massachusetts, spread throughout New England and involved 20,000 workers.
February 22 1902 A fistfight broke out in the US Senate. Senator Benjamin Tillman, a white supremacist, suffered a bloody nose for accusing his fellow South Carolina Senator John McLaurin of bias on the Philippine tariff issue.
February 22 1974 Organic farmer Sam Lovejoy cut down the weather tower for proposed nuclear plant in Montague, Massachusetts, just 50 miles upwind from Walden Pond. It was the first act of civil disobedience against nuclear power in America.
February 22 1974 Cesar Chavez began a UFW march from Union Square in San Francisco to Gallo Winery headquarters in Modesto.
February 22 1993 The UN passed Resolution 808 that established the Hague Int’l. War Crimes Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1 January 1991.
February 22 2001 A UN tribunal on Yugoslav War Crimes found 3 Bosnian Serbs guilty of crimes against humanity for the rape, torture and enslavement of Muslim women in Foca between 1992-1993. The landmark case established rape and sexual enslavement as a crime against humanity. They were sentenced to 28, 20 and 12 years, respectively.
February 22 2007 Abdel Kareem Nabil (22), an Egyptian blogger arrested in 2006, was convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced to four years in prison in Egypt’s first prosecution of a blogger. Nabil was convicted for calling Islam a brutal religion in a piece he wrote in 2005 after Muslim worshipers attacked a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria.
February 22 2011 Democratic members of the Indiana House of Representatives left Indianapolis to deny Republicans a quorum hoping to kill legislation that included a bill allowing workers in private-sector unions the right to opt out of their dues or fees.
February 22 2011 Serb nationalist Vojislav Seselj deliberately revealed the names of 11 witnesses whose identities were being shielded by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal at the start of his contempt of court trial. Seselj has been in custody at the tribunal for eight years since turning himself in to face charges of plotting ethnic cleansing and inciting atrocities by Serb forces in Bosnia and Croatia as the former Yugoslavia crumbled in the 1990s.
February 22 2011 In Venezuela protesting students ended a three-week hunger strike, saying they stopped because the Organization of American States is discussing their allegations of human rights abuses by Venezuela’s government.
February 23 1883 American Anti-Vivisection Society formed in Pennsylvania, inspired by Britain’s recently passed Cruelty to Animals Act 1876. The Society began with the goal of regulating the use of animals in science and society.
February 23 1954 The first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine begins in Pittsburgh. Salk campaigned for mandatory vaccination, claiming that public health should be considered a “moral commitment.” His sole focus had been to develop a safe and effective vaccine as rapidly as possible, with no interest in personal profit. When asked who owned the patent to it, Salk said, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” Until the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world. The 1952 U.S. epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation’s history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children.
February 23 1982 Wales declared itself a nuclear-free zone. It has just one remaining nuclear power plant left at Wylfa on Anglesey, generating about 15% of the country’s electricity. The process of decommissioning the Wylfa plant should be completed by the year 2125.
February 23 2011 In Yemen thousands streamed into a square in Sanaa, trying to strengthen the hold of anti-government protesters after club-wielding backers of President Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to drive them out.
February 24 1803 The US Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Marshall, decided the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison and confirmed the legal principle of judicial review—the ability of the Supreme Court to limit Congressional power by declaring legislation unconstitutional—in the new nation.
February 24 1942 Some 1,600 Pittsburg, Ca., residents of Italian descent were evacuated. Nationwide some 600,000 of 5 million Italians were undocumented and deemed “enemy aliens” until Oct 12.
February 24 1969 One hundred Texas Rangers were sent to Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, the oldest Black college west of the Mississippi, in response to nonviolent student demonstrations concerning substandard dorm conditions. The Rangers swept the dorms for weapons, found none, but still closed the campus for several weeks. Wiley students held lunch counter sit-ins in 1960 that desegregated Marshall.
February 24 1983 A US congressional commission, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, released a report condemning the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a “grave injustice.”
February 24 1988 Affirming the right to satirize public figures, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 8-0 to overturn the $200,000 settlement awarded to the Reverend Jerry Falwell for his emotional distress at being parodied in Hustler magazine, ruling that, although in poor taste, Hustler‘s parody fell within the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech and the press.
February 24 1999 In England a government report that found London’s police force to be “riven with pernicious and institutionalized racism” was made public.
February 24 2012 In New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless and six other protesters boarded the ship Noble Discoverer in a bid to prevent it sailing to the Arctic, where it has been contracted by Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell to conduct exploratory drilling. On Feb 27 police arrested Lawless along with five other Greenpeace activists. They were arrested three days later.
February 24 2014 In Lebanon, actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie completed a surprise 3-day visit to Lebanon to draw attention to the challenges facing thousands of Syrian refugee children and to highlight the massive displacement Syria’s three-year conflict has created.
February 25 1536 Jacob Hutter (d.1536), Anabaptist evangelist from South Tyrol, was burned as a heretic in Austria. He had founded of a “community of love” in 1528, whose members shared everything.
February 25 1870 Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, was sworn into the U.S. Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in Congress.
February 25 1932 British volunteers organize nonviolent “Peace Army” to attempt to intervene in fighting in China.
February 25 1941 A general strike was called in Amsterdam to protest Nazi persecution of Jews under the German Nazi occupation. The previous weekend 425 Jewish men and boys had been imprisoned. Truck drivers, dock and metal workers, civil servants and factory employees — Christians, Liberals, Social Democrats and Communists — answered the call and brought the city to a standstill.
February 25 1957 The US Supreme Court voided Michigan law banning sale of books that might corrupt youth. In Butler v. Michigan Justice Frankfurter wrote: “The State insists that, by thus quarantining the general reading public against books not too rugged for grown men and women in order to shield juvenile innocence, it is exercising its power to promote the general welfare. Surely, this is to burn the house to roast the pig.“ He added: “ The incidence of this enactment is to reduce the adult population of Michigan to reading only what is fit for children.” The book at the center of the controversy was John Howard Griffin’s “The Devil Rides Outside,” a fictional account of a young man’s experiences when his music studies lead him to a monastery in the French countryside.
February 25 1963 In Edwards v. South Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of all Americans to hold public demonstrations to redress their grievances. The 187 petitioners consisted of African-American high school and college students who peacefully assembled at the Zion Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina on March 2, 1961. The students marched in separate groups of roughly 15 to South Carolina State House grounds to peacefully express their grievances regarding civil rights of African-Americans. The crowd of petitioners did not engage in any violent conduct and did not threaten violence in any manner, nor did crowds gathering to witness the demonstration engage in any such behavior. Petitioners were told by police officials that they must disperse within 15 minutes or face arrest. The petitioners failed to disperse, opting to sing religious and patriotic songs instead. Petitioners were convicted of the common law crime of breach of the peace. The Supreme Court argued the arrests and convictions of 187 marchers were an attempt by South Carolina to “make criminal the peaceful expression of unpopular views” where the marchers’ actions were an exercise of First Amendment rights “in their most pristine and classic form.”
February 25 1968 Folk singer Pete Seeger, who had been blacklisted in the 1950s because of his leftist political views, was initially banned by CBS from singing the song, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy, on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in September 1967. On this day, however, he was allowed to sing the song about the American quagmire in the Vietnam War.
February 25 1972 The Rochester, NY, Junior Chamber of Commerce chapter was suspended by the national organization because it admitted women as members.
February 25 1986 In the face of nonviolent mass demonstrations against his rule, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and his entourage fled the presidential palace in Manila, airlifted by U.S. helicopters to exile in Hawai’i.
February 25 1999 A 100-page summary of a 3,600 page report by the UN mandated Historical Clarification Committee was released. It indicated that the US government and US corporations played a key role in maintaining the right-wing military governments during most of the 36 years of civil war in Guatemala. The report documented a genocide against Mayan Indians with a death toll of some 200,000. The Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (UNRG) was responsible for 3% of the atrocities. The Guatemalan Army was blamed for 93% of the human rights abuses.
February 26 1885 At the Congress of Berlin, the colonial powers superimposed their domains on Africa. More than a thousand indigenous cultures and regions of Africa we carved into 50 arbitrary countries, dividing coherent groups of people and merged together disparate groups who did not get along. At the time of the conference, only the coastal areas of Africa were colonized by the European powers. At the Berlin Conference the European colonial powers scrambled to gain control over the interior – 80% –of the continent.
February 26 1966 4,000 people picketed outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York as President Lyndon Johnson received the National Freedom Award.
February 26 1968 Thirty-two African nations agreed to boycott the Olympics because of the presence of South Africa.
February 26 1970 The U.S Army announced that it would stop monitoring peaceful antiwar protests, and also that it would stop keeping lists of the names of individual protesters. The Army admitted to having files on 18.5 million people. The ACLU had filed suit to stop the practice.
February 26 1972 West Virginia coal slag heap, which had doubled as a dam, suddenly collapses, flooding the 17-mile ling Buffalo Creek Valley. 118 die, 14 mining camps leveled, & 5,000 people left homeless.
February 26 1977 Members and supporters of the Texas Farm Workers Union began a 420-mile march from San Juan (in the Valley) to Austin to Lobby for passage of a new state law granting fieldworkers the right to vote on union representation
February 26 1998 An international Citizens’ Weapons Inspection Team, led by Canadian Member of Parliament Libby Davies was denied entry to determine the presence or absence of weapons of mass destruction at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington, a nuclear submarine base less than 100 miles from Canada. The group hoped to “illustrate the paradoxical behavior by nuclear weapons states . . . threatening military force to ensure that a Third World Country has no weapons of mass destruction.”
February 26 2003 Anti-war protesters made their voices heard in Washington, swamping Senate and White House telephone switchboards, fax machines and e-mail boxes with hundreds of thousands of messages opposing military action against Iraq.. By day’s end, Win Without War claimed that the number of calls and faxes exceeded 1 million. So many calls were received for the virtual anti-war protest that the Capitol’s phone system jammed.
February 26 2009 Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense for President Barack Obama, ended the prohibition of news media coverage of ceremonies for the return of U.S. war dead at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The ban on news coverage had been instituted by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney as part of the preparations for the first invasion of Iraq in 1991. Critics of the war argued that Cheney sought to shield the American public from the cost of the war in terms of American casualties.
February 26 2012 In Malaysia thousands rallied in Kuantan against an Australian miner’s rare earths plant in the biggest protest yet over fears it will produce radioactive waste harmful to them and the environment.
February 27 1943 The Rosenstrasse protest began, a nonviolent protest in “Rose street” in Berlin carried out by the non-Jewish wives and relatives of Jewish men who had been arrested and locked up in a provisional collecting center rather than being shipped to the death camp at Auschwitz like the rest of Berlin’s Jews. The protests continued for more than a week, under threat of death from the Gestapo, until the men were released.
February 27 1946 James Oppenheim’s poem “Bread & Roses” was published in Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) Industrial Solidarity. It was set to music and became an anthem of the labor and women’s movements, sung here by Joan Baez and her sister Mimi Fariña. As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men, For they are women’s children, and we mother them again. Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes; Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
February 27 1967 Wharlest Jackson, the treasurer of the NAACP chapter in Natchez, Miss., was one of many Blacks who received threatening Klan notices at his job. After Jackson was promoted to a position previously reserved for whites, a bomb was planted in his car. It exploded minutes after he left work one day, killing him instantly.
February 27 1968 CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite‘s commentary on the progress of the Vietnam War solidified President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s decision not to seek reelection in 1968. Cronkite, who had been at Hue in the midst of the Tet Offensive earlier in February, said: “Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I‘m not sure.” He concluded: “It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out…will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.” Johnson called the commentary a “turning point,” saying that if he had “lost Cronkite,” he‘d “lost Mr. Average Citizen.” On March 31, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.
February 27 1973 Members of the American Indian Movement occupied the hamlet of Wounded Knee in South Dakota, the site of the 1890 massacre of Sioux men, women and children. They protested illegal and discriminatory acts on the part of the Pine Ridge Sioux Tribal Council. The FBI was called in and a siege lasted for 69 days with 2 AIM leaders killed.
February 27 1997 Legislation banning most handguns in Britain went into effect.
February 28 1823 US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, in the case of <i>Johnson v. M’Intosh</i>, first applied the Doctrine of Discovery and the Law of Nations in the United States. Marshall traced the outlines of the “discovery doctrine”—that a European power gains radical title (also known as sovereignty) to the land it discovers. As a corollary, the discovering power gains the exclusive right to extinguish the “right of occupancy” of the indigenous occupants, which otherwise survived the assumption of sovereignty. Marshall further opined that when they declared independence from Great Britain, the United States government inherited the British right of preemption over Native American lands.
February 28 1854 The Republican Party was formed in Ripon, Wisconsin, by anti-slavery abolitionists, in reaction to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which left the issue of slavery up to individual states.
February 28 1919 Mohandas Gandhi launched his campaign of non-cooperation with Imperial British control of India. He called his overall method of nonviolent action Satyagraha, meaning “truth-force”.
February 28 1947 Peace Memorial Day, also called 228 Memorial Day, in Taiwan, commemorates a 1947 a horrific incident of government oppression. The massacre marked the beginning of the Kuomintang’s White Terror period in Taiwan, in which thousands more inhabitants vanished, died, or were imprisoned. Estimates of the number of deaths vary from 10,000 to 30,000 or more. The subject was officially taboo for decades. On the anniversary of the event in 1995, President Lee Teng-hui addressed the subject publicly, a first for a Taiwanese head of state.
February 28 1966 Avraham “Abie” Nathan flew to Egypt in hisrickety plane, which he named Shalom 1 (“Peace 1”), carrying a message of peace. He landed in Port Said, where he was arrested. He asked to meet Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to deliver a petition calling for peace between Israel and Egypt. He was refused and deported back to Israel, where he was arrested again for leaving the country by an illegal route.
February 28 1994 NATO was involved in actual combat for the first time in its 45-year history when four U.S. fighter planes operating under NATO auspices shot down four Serb planes that had violated the U.N. no-fly zone in central Bosnia.
February 28 2000 Bowing to international pressure, Jorg Haider resigned as leader of Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party. Haider had come under scrutiny for his reported admiration of Hitler when his party was included in a government coalition.
February 28 2007 In Namibia hundreds of people protested a visit by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, holding signs reading, “Go home dictator.” The local National Society for Human Rights called Mugabe’s three-day state visit an insult to Namibia.
February 28 2008 The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a government may not deport an individual to a state where he may be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
February 29 1940 African-American actress Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in the classic film Gone With the Wind. Her acceptance speech acknowledged the racial significance of her winning the Oscar. At the awards ceremony at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, however, she was forced to sit in the back of the room at a separate table from the white attendees.
February 29 1960 Alabama Governor John Patterson warned Alabama State students at their state capitol protest that “someone is likely to get killed” if demonstrations in Montgomery continued. The students ignored him, showing up a thousand strong the next day. Some of the students were expelled for protesting at the capitol and at a local lunch counter. They were reinstated the following year, however, after Fred Gray, a black lawyer, took the case to court.
February 29 1968 After four summers of racial violence in American cities (1964–1967), President Lyndon Johnson appointed the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to study the causes of the riots and make recommendations for improving American race relations. The Kerner Commission (as it has always been known) delivered its report on this day, opening with the blunt warning that America was moving toward “two societies, one black, one white.” The report is still a valuable resource on the riots of the 1960s, conditions in African-American communities at the time, and the state of police-community relations. “Kerner” of the report’s name was Illinois Governor Otto Kerner, chair of the Commission.
February 29 2000 Doris Haddock (90), known as “Granny D.” completed a 3,200 mile trek to Washington from California to urge Congress to enact campaign finance reform.
February 29 2008 The Ninth US circuit Court of appeals ruled that the US Navy must protect endangered whales from the potentially lethal effects of underwater sonar during anti-submarine training off the Southern California coast, rejecting President Bush’s attempt to exempt the exercises from environmental laws.
March 1 1691 Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne and Tituba were arrested for the supposed practice of witchcraft in Salem, Mass.
March 1 1841 John Quincy Adams (74), former US president, concluded his defense of “the Mendi people,” a group of Africans who had rebelled and killed the crew of the slave ship Amistad, while enroute from Cuba to Haiti. They faced mutiny charges upon landing on Long Island, but Adams won their acquittal before the Supreme Court.
March 1 1919 A 55-page report by the National Civil Liberties Bureau, “War-Time Prosecutions and Mob Violence” documented incidents of mob violence against alleged dissenters or people who seemed insufficiently loyal to the U.S.; criminal prosecution of anti-war activists under the Espionage Act; denial of the right of freedom of assembly to anti-war groups; violations of protection against unreasonable search and seizure in raids on radical groups; and the mistreatment of conscientious objectors in jails and military prisons. The National Civil Liberties Bureau was established during World War I to assist conscientious objectors and fight violations of freedom of speech and press, as well as due process rights; it was to morph into the ACLU.
March 1 1919 The March 1st Movement began, one of the earliest public displays of Korean resistance during the occupation of Korea by Japan. Inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” speech at the Paris Peace Conference in January, which outlined the right of national self-determination, 33 activists convened at a restaurant in Seoul, read aloud and signed the a Korean Declaration of Independence, and sent a copy to the Governor General. The movement leaders then telephoned the central police station to inform them of their actions and were arrested afterwards. Between March 1 and April 11, approximately 2 million nonviolent Koreans had participated in more than 1,500 demonstrations, many who were massacred by the Japanese police force and army.
March 1 1943 More than 70,000 rallied at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, calling on the U.S. government to reconsider its refusal to offer sanctuary to Jewish refugees of Nazi Germany. Information about Nazi atrocities against Jews had leaked out of Europe; fragmentary reports had appeared in the US press in 1941. In May 1942, the Polish-Jewish underground smuggled out a report which estimated that 700,000 Polish Jews had already been killed by the Germans. In August 1942, Rabbi Wise, head of the American Jewish Congress, received a cablegram revealing the existence of a comprehensive German plan to murder the Jews of Europe. In November, 1942, after the US government confirmed the general accuracy of the information in the cable, Wise appealed to President Roosevelt to make an effort to stop the German murder plan.
March 1 1960 1,000 Black students marched from Alabama State College and prayed and sang the national anthem on the steps of the old Confederate Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. After this march, the president of the university expelled 9 students identified as leaders and suspended 20 other students, under pressure from the governor’s office. As a result of this, students at the college voted to boycott classes and exams.
March 1 1961 President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps. Its purpose was described as “To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.”
March 1 1981 Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands began a hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland; he died 65 days later.
March 1 1997 In Austria it was announced that the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra would allow Ann Lelkes, a harpist who had played with the orchestra for 26 years, to become an official member, in face of a threatened boycott of its 1997 U.S. tour of the VPO. The orchestra chair at the time opposed women, claiming an orchestra containing women ran the risk of being paralyzed by “mass pregnancy.” He also said it was an orchestra of white men playing music by white men for white men.
March 1 2005 The US Supreme Court, in Roper v. Simmons, ruled that it is unconstitutional to impose the death penalty for people who committed the crime before the age of 18. The court concluded, under the “evolving standards of decency test,” that such executions were cruel and unusual punishment because psychological and sociological evidence shows that juveniles lack the maturity and sense of responsibility of adults.
March 2 1789 Pennsylvania ended its prohibition on theatrical performances. Pennsylvania Quakers lumped the theater in with bearbaiting and bullbaiting, cock fighting, equestrian performances and horse racing and tight-rope dancing, which they felt encouraged idleness and drew “great sums of money from weak and inconsiderate persons.” In 1859 the Privy Council in England struck down the Pennsylvania legislature’s attempt to ban all theater in the colony but the First Continental Congress in 1774 banned all theatrical performances and other “diversions and entertainments.”
March 2 1807 The U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States. . .from any foreign kingdom, place, or country.” The widespread trade of slaves within the South was not prohibited, however, and children of slaves automatically became slave themselves, thus ensuring a self-sustaining slave population in the South.
March 2 1819 Congress passed the Steerage Act of 1819, the first US immigration law, which reformed the chaotic passenger trade to America. After the Peace Treaty of Vienna in 1809 ended the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, immigration to the New World, interrupted by the war, boomed. Ship-owners crammed their vessels to the limit with human cargo; this overcrowding, coupled with shortages of food and water, caused the outbreak of disease and death. The new law specified that any vessel which arrived at an American port could not carry more “than two persons for every five tons of such ship or vessel, according to customhouse measurement.”
March 2 1867 The Peonage Abolition Act was passed by Congress abolishing debt bondage and indentured servitude in the territory of New Mexico and elsewhere in the United States. This was a clarification of the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, which was passed three years earlier.
March 2 1907 The Expatriation Act, which became law on this day, contained a provision that stripped the citizenship from U.S. women who married foreign nationals. This provision was repealed by the Cable Act on September 22, 1922.
March 2 1955 A full nine months before Rosa Parks’ famous arrest, Claudette Colvin was dragged from a Montgomery bus by two police officers, arrested and taken to an adult jail to be booked. She was only 15 years old and was the first person to be arrested for defying bus segregation in Montgomery.
March 2 1815 The US declared war on the “Barbary Pirates” to stop their practice of capturing ships, enslaving the crew, and demanding ransom for release of the cargo and crew. The Barbary States was a collective name given to a string of North African Mediterranean seaports stretching from Tangiers to Tripoli. In 1662 Great Britain revived the practice of paying tribute to the pirates. When the US became independent, the pirates demanded the same from Washington. At one point, one fifth of the national treasury was spent paying off pirates. Jefferson, who had always favored declaring war on the pirates, “showed the flag” when he became president. In 1805 eight US Marines and a force of 600 soldiers of fortune marched from Egypt , fought “on the shores of Tripoli,” as memorialized in the Marine Corps Hymn, and wrested concessions from the pirate kings. Ten weeks after the end of the War of 1812, the United States formally declared war against Algiers and dispatched ten tall ships under the command of Stephen Decatur. Algiers swiftly capitulated, followed by Tunis and Tripoli. The pirates never again molested any American ships and the European powers soon followed the American example of refusing to pay tribute.
March 2 1964 Actor Marlon Brando John Yaryan (an Episcopal minister from San Francisco) were arrested at a “fish-in” at Frank’s Landing, Washington, in support of Native American fishing rights. The next day, Brando and a group of around 1,000 Native Americans and supporters marched in Olympia, and Brando and some of the leaders had a meeting with the Governor.
March 2 1985 The Gordo cartoon strip, one of the first in the US to celebrate Mexican culture, ended. Gus Arriola (1917-2008) had begun the strip in 1941. photo
March 2 1989 Twelve European Community nations agree to ban the production of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the century. CFCs have been widely used as refrigerants, propellants (in aerosol applications), and solvents. They contribute to ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere
March 2 2001 In Afghanistan the Taliban began the destruction of the giant Buddha of Bamiyan despite international protests. The United Nations tried in vain to persuade Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban to reverse its decision to destroy a pair of giant, ancient statues of Buddha and other Buddhist relics that the regime considered idolatrous.
March 2 2010 In London, England, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a former Pakistani lawmaker and the leader of a global Muslim movement, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, that he calls an absolute condemnation of terrorism. The 600-page fatwa bans suicide bombing “without any excuses, any pretexts, or exceptions.” The religious scholar is the founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran, a worldwide movement that promotes a nonpolitical, tolerant Islam.
March 2 2011 British, French and Tunisian planes began airlifting 85,000 refugees to Cairo, mostly Egyptian guest workers. They had fled to Djerba on the Libya-Tunisia border, displaced by the civil war in Libya waged against the dictatorship of Muammar Qadaffi. Tunisia,disrupted by the first stirrings of the “Arab Spring,” was unable to deal with the crisis at their border.
March 2 2014 In Hong Kong thousands marched to support press freedom and denounce violence following the Feb 26 attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to, former editor of the Ming Pao newspaper.
March 3 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the conscription act compelling U.S. citizens to report for duty in the Civil War or pay $300.00. 86,724 men paid the exemption cost to avoid service. The inequality of this arrangement led to the Draft Riots in New York.
March 3 1865 The US Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was established to help destitute free blacks.
March 3 1871 Congress passed the Indian Appropriation Act, which revoked the sovereignty of Indian nations and made Native Americans wards of the American government. The act eliminated the necessity of treaty negotiating and established the policy that tribal affairs could be managed by the U.S. government without tribal consent.
March 3 1873 The Comstock Act was passed by Congress. Named after Anthony Comstock, a U.S. postal inspector, it became the most notorious censorship law in American history. The law was used to censor publications, particularly with regard to information and devices related to birth control. The Comstock Law prohibited: “[any] obscene book, pamphlet, paper, writing, advertisement, circular, print, picture, drawing or other representation, figure, or image on or of paper or other material, or any cast instrument, or other article of an immoral nature, or any drug or medicine, or any article whatever, for the prevention of conception . . .” It was not until 1932 in the case of United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries that the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not interfere with doctors providing contraception to their patients.
March 3 1913 More than 8,000 women marched for women’s suffrage in Washington DC. This was the march in which the young Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, was arrested and jailed. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was an outspoken, African American journalist, famous for leading an anti-lynching campaign at the turn of the century; she was also a founder of a suffrage club in Chicago. When she arrived in Washington, she was told that Black women had to march in the back rather than with her state delegation; the Nation’s Capital was a segregated, southern city. Incensed, she first decided not to march at all. Half way through, she defiantly joined the Illinois delegation, flanked by two of her White supporters.
March 3 1953 In Guatemala, Jacobo Árbenz declared the seizure of idle lands held by the United Fruit Company, granting the land to peasants who had been victims of peonage (debt slavery.) The CIA armed, funded, and trained a force of 480 men led by Carlos Castillo Armas, which invaded Guatemala on 18 June 1954, backed by a heavy campaign of psychological warfare, including bombings of Guatemala City and an anti-Árbenz radio station claiming to be genuine news. Árbenz resigned on 27 June Armas became President on 7 July 1954. A series of U.S.-backed authoritarian governments ruled Guatemala until 1996.
March 3 1919 The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Socialist anti-war activist Charles T. Schenck, and in the decision created the “clear and present danger” test for determining whether speech is protected by the First Amendment. In Schenck v. United States the Court convicted Schenck of distributing leaflets opposing American participation in World War I. The effect of the decision was to deny First Amendment protection for virtually any criticism of the government during war time.
March 3 1952 In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a New York state law that prohibited communists from teaching in public schools. The majority decision supported the belief, according to the New York Times, that “the state had a constitutional right to protect the immature minds of children in its public schools from subversive propaganda, subtle or otherwise, disseminated by those ‘to whom they look for guidance, authority and leadership.’” The dissenting opinion from justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, and Felix Frankfurter charged that the New York statute “turns the school system into a spying project.” The law remained in force until another Supreme Court decision in 1967 (Keyishian v. Board of Regents) declared most of its provisions unconstitutional.
March 3 2003 In the first-ever worldwide theatrical act of dissent, there were at least 1,029 stagings of Lysistrata, the 2400-year-old anti-war comedy by Greek playwright Aristophanes. The performances all occurred on the same day in 59 countries to express opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The play tells of Athenian and Spartan women who unite to deny their lovers sex in order to stop the 22-year-long Peloponnesian War between the two city-states. Desperate for intimacy, the men finally agree to lay down their swords and see their way to achieving peace through diplomacy
March 3 2013 Swiss citizens voted on a plan, the “Rip-Off Initiative,” to boost shareholders’ authority over executive pay. 68% voted in favor.
March 4 1789 The U.S. Constitution took effect and the first session of the U.S. Congress was held in New York City. In September 1787, at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the new Constitution was signed by 38 of 41 delegates but would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states. Five states—Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut—ratified it quickly. Others opposed the document for its lack of constitutional protection for such basic political rights as freedom of speech, religion, and the press, and the right to bear arms. In February 1788, a compromise was reached in which the other states agreed to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would immediately be adopted. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, making it binding. On September 25, 1789 the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution—the Bill of Rights—and sent them to the states for ratification.
March 4 1917 Jeannette Rankin of Montana becomes the first female member of the United States House of Representatives.
March 4 1933 In his first inaugural address, delivered in the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt said: “. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
March 4 1933 Frances Perkins became the U.S. Secretary of Labor (1933-1945) and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. Having personally witnessed workers jump to their death during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Perkins promoted and helped pass strong labor laws.
March 4 1969 The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded. From its founding document: “Misuse of scientific and technical knowledge presents a major threat to the existence of mankind. Through its actions in Vietnam our government has shaken our confidence in its ability to make wise and humane decisions.”
March 4 1969 In a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals face-off, attorney Sylvia Roberts lifted a 34-pound typewriter that phone company secretaries were required to move by themselves, dismissing the long held strength prejudices against women who were thus barred from higher paying men-only jobs. The attorney then pointed out the phone company weight restriction for men before they were entitled to get help was only 25 pounds – five pounds less than a secretary who was paid considerably less was required to handle alone The landmark case was Weeks v Southern Bell; Lorena Weeks had been denied a higher-paying switchman’s job because of her sex.
March 4 1986 Christine Craft lost a U.S. Supreme Court decision to reinstate a $325,000 judgment in her lengthy suit against a TV station in Kansas City that had fired her because she was “too unattractive, too old and not deferential enough to men.” She had won the trial court decision but an appeals courts threw out the monetary award. Only Justice Sandra Day O’Connor voted to reinstate the judgment when the matter went before the U.S. Supreme Court. The finding of prejudice was never questioned.
March 4 1997 The Brazil Senate allowed women to wear slacks. The rules in the US Senate did not permit women to wear pants on the Senate floor until 1993, when Senators Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley Braun flouted the rules and forced the change. The rule specified that if trousers were worn by women, a jacket must also be worn.
March 4 1998 In Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc.: The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also apply when both parties are the same sex.
March 4 2009 The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, was charged with war crimes over the conflict in Darfur, becoming the first sitting head of state issued with an arrest warrant by the international criminal court (ICC). The indictment included five counts of crimes against humanity: murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape. The two counts of war crimes were for directing attacks on the civilian population and pillaging. More than 200,000 people had been killed in Darfur since 2003.
March 4 2012 ProFlowers of San Diego said it has suspended advertising on the Rush Limbaugh radio show, becoming the 7th advertiser in recent days to do so, due to his comments about Georgetown Univ. law student Sandra Fluke. He had called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she testified in support of health insurance that covers birth control for women. Within the week 42 advertisers had dropped his show.
March 5 1616 The Catholic Church’s Congregation of the Index banned Catholics from reading “On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres” (1543) by Nicholas Copernicus. The prohibition was officially lifted in 1835.
March 5 1927 In China, a civil war began, pitting against each other the forces loyal to the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China and forces loyal to the Communist Party of China. Americans there, fearful for their safety, requested protection. The American Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic fleet transferred some Marines from Guam and the Philippines to China. As conditions became more critical, the 4th Regiment along with the Expeditionary Battalion landed in Shanghai on March 5, 1927, commanded by Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler. By April 1927, Marine forces in China stood at 271 officers and 4843 enlisted men. The “China Regiment” was to remain in Shanghai for 15 years. In 1935 Gen. Butler wrote a book, War Is a Racket, describing and criticizing the imperialist motives behind U.S. involvement in wars such as this one.
March 5 1946 Speaking as a private citizen, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his “Sinews of Peace” speech at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri. Best remembered for the memorable first use of the phrase “Iron Curtain” to describe the political and philosophical division between the USSR and the rest of Europe, his analysis of the Soviet threat was not received well favorably in the US, which still, in the aftermath of World War II, still looked upon the USSR as an important ally. Churchill also laid out his hopes for the New United Nations: “We must make sure that its work is fruitful, that it is a reality and not a sham, that it is a force for action, and not merely a frothing of words, that it is a true temple of peace in which the shields of many nations can some day be hung up, and not merely a cockpit in a Tower of Babel.” This subtle and important speech is well worth listening to in its entirety. video
March 5 1975 Peace activist Fred Moore and Berkeley Free Speech Movement veteran Lee Felsenstein started The Homebrew Computer Club, an outgrowth of the store-front based People’s Computer Company, in Menlo Park, CA. The meeting inspired Steve Wozniak to design and build the first Apple computer. Moore and Felsenstein envisioned that the democratization of computing power would transform community organizing and peacemaking.
March 5 1994 The Ukraine, having voluntarily agreed to give up its nuclear weapons following the collapse of the Soviet Union, began their transfer to Russia. Ukraine, which had the world’s third largest weapons stockpile, rid itself of all 1300 warheads within about two years.
March 5 2004 In Nepal some 10,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of the capital, the latest protest against the king for dismissing an elected government and replacing it with one loyal to the monarchy.
March 5 2010 It was reported that the advocacy group Big Brother Watch found, through a series of Freedom of Information requests, that many local governments, called councils in Britain, are installing microchips in trash cans distributed to households, but in most cases have not yet activated them — in part because officials know the move would be unpopular. Proponents called it a bid to push recycling. Microchips were first fitted into some British trash bins eight years ago, and the debate over whether the state has the right to weigh or otherwise analyze residents’ refuse has surfaced periodically since.
March 5 2011 Egyptians stormed the government’s main security headquarters and other offices and seized documents to keep them from being destroyed to hide evidence of human rights abuses. The 500,000-strong internal security services were accused of some of the worst human rights violations while attempting to suppress dissent against former president Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
March 5 2012 In Australia New South Wales officials said Muslim women will have to remove veils to have their signatures officially witnessed under the latest laws giving state officials authority to look under religious and other face coverings.
March 5 2012 Invisible Children, an organization founded in 2004 to bring awareness to the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa, which abducts children and forces them to be soldiers, launched the Stop Kony campaign with the release of Kony 2012.
March 6 1820 The Missouri Compromise, enacted by Congress, was signed by President James Monroe. This compromise provided for the admission of Missouri into the Union as a slave state, but prohibited slavery in the rest of the northern Louisiana Purchase territory. The compromise was invalidated in the 1856 Scott vs. Sanford case.
March 6 1857 The U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott decision (Dred Scott v. Sandford) which declared that an escaped slave, Scott, could not sue for his freedom in federal court because he was not a citizen. Those of African descent could never be considered citizens but “as a subordinate and inferior class of beings,” according to the Court. Chief Justice Roger Taney stated in his opinion that the “unhappy Black Race. . . had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it.”
March 6 1957 Ghana became the first black African country to become independent from colonial rule. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah became independent Ghana’s first leader.
March 6 1982 The University for Peace near San Jose, Costa Rica, was founded. The U.N.-mandated graduate school of peace and conflict studies had been chartered by the General Assembly for research and the dissemination of knowledge specifically aimed at training and education for peace.
March 6 1988 The board of trustees at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a liberal arts college for the deaf, selected Elisabeth Zinser, a hearing woman, to be school president. Outraged students shut down the campus, forcing the selection of a deaf president, I. King Jordan, instead.
March 6 2005 In Turkey riot police kicked and beat women and young people who had gathered for an unauthorized demonstration in Istanbul marking International Women’s Day.
March 6 2009 An Indian businessman in his successful $1.8 million bid for Mohandas Gandhi’s eyeglasses and other items, despite initially protesting the auction as a “crass commercialization” of the pacifist leader’s legacy. The items were owned by James Otis, a California peace activist. He offered to donate the Gandhi memorabilia to the Indian government if they would agree either to devote an addition 5% of their GNP to programs serving the poor or include the items in an exhibit about nonviolence that would travel to 78 countries, one country for every tear of Gandhi’s life. The Indian government refused, claiming it would be an infringement of their sovereignty. The high bidder said he would give the items to the Indian government to display in a museum.
March 6 2014 In Ukraine two FEMEN protesters were arrested in Crimea’s capital Simferopol after staging a topless demonstration against Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in front of the regional parliament. FEMEN, a group of topless female activists, describes itself as “fighting patriarchy in its three manifestations – sexual exploitation of women, dictatorship and religion” and has stated that its goal is “sextremism serving to protect women’s rights”
March 6 2014 The Russian protest group Pussy Riot was attacked by a group of men who poured rubbish and bright green paint over them and shouted obscenities at them at a McDonald’s restaurant in Nizhny Novgorod. The group had gone to the city to visit a prison where the inmates had appealed for help from their new organization, Justice Zone, set up to defend the rights of prisoners. video
March 7 321 Emperor Constantine I decreed that the dies Solis Invicti (sun-day) is the day of rest in the Empire.
March 7 1932 The Ford Hunger March began on Detroit’s east side, seeking relief during the Great Depression. Facing hunger and evictions, workers had formed neighborhood Unemployed Councils. At the Detroit city limit, the marchers were met by Dearborn police and doused by fire hoses. Despite the cold weather, they continued to the Employment Office of the Ford River Rouge plant, from which there had been massive layoffs. Five workers were killed and nineteen wounded by police and company guards armed with pistols, rifles and a machine gun.
March 7 1965 525 civil rights advocates began a 54-mile march on a Sunday morning from Selma, Alabama, to the capital of Montgomery, to promote voting rights for blacks. Just after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the outskirts of Selma, the marchers were attacked in what became known as Bloody Sunday. Enforcing an order by Governor George Wallace, the group was broken up by state troopers and volunteer county sheriffs who used tear gas, nightsticks, bullwhips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. John Lewis, then head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a leader of the march (and now a member of Congress from Georgia), suffered a fractured skull.
March 7 1988 A Federal Court ruled that a peace group must have the same access to students at high school career days as military recruiters. The judge held that the city’s board of education excluded the Atlanta Peace Alliance from school career days solely “to suppress” the viewpoint of its members, and by so doing violated their First Amendment rights.
March 7 2014 Hundreds of people protested in the streets in Indian-controlled Kashmir over the expulsion of dozens of Kashmiri college students because they cheered for the Pakistani cricket team over India’s.
March 8 1908 Thousands of workers in the New York needle trades (primarily women) demonstrated and began a strike for higher wages, a shorter workday and an end to child labor.This event became the basis for International Women’s Day celebrated all over the world since March 8, 1945.
March 8 1948 The US Supreme Court, in the case of McCollum vs. the Board of Education, struck down voluntary religious education classes in Champaign, Ill., public schools, saying the program violated separation of church and state.
March 8 1957 The 1957 Georgia Memorial to Congress, a joint resolution by the legislature of the state of Georgia, and approved by Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin, urged the Congress of the United States to declare the 14th and 15th Amendments null and void because of purported violations of the Constitution during the post-Civil War ratification process. The Memorial, part of Georgia’s “continuing battle for segregation,” followed the Supreme Court’s ruling, in Brown v. Board of Education, that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from discriminating against racial minorities in public schools. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
March 8 1965 In United States v. Seeger the Supreme Court expanded the right of conscientious objections to military service. A unanimous Court embraced a broader definition of “supreme being” to include a “sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God” of people who adhered to traditional religious faiths and who had been granted conscientious objector status in the past.
March 8 1966 A bomb planted by Irish Republican Army militants destroyed Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin.
March 8 1968 Some 1,500 students demonstrated in Warsaw following a government ban on the performance of a play by Adam Mickiewicz, (Dziady, written in 1824). Within four days, protests spread to Krakow, Lublin, Gliwice, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Poznan, and Lodz.
March 8 1979 Cesar Chavez led some 5,000 striking farmworkers on a march through the streets of Salinas, California.
March 8 1983 La Ragnatela (Spider’s Web) Women’s Peace Camp created at Comiso, Sicily, Italy, the first overseas site for U.S. cruise missiles.
March 8 1983 While addressing the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, U.S. President Ronald Reagan labels the Soviet Union an “evil empire”: Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness—pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the State, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world…. So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely..uh..declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.
March 9 1841 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Africans who seized control of the Cuban ship Amistad had been illegally forced into slavery, and thus were free under American law. Despite an international ban on the importation of African slaves, Cuba continued to transport captive Africans to its sugar plantations until the 1860s, and Brazil to its coffee plantations until the 1850s. Early in the morning of July 2, 1839, in the midst of a storm, the Africans rose up against their captors and, using sugar-cane knives found in the hold, killed the captain and a crewmember. Two other crewmembers were either thrown overboard or escaped, and the two Cubans who had purchased the slaves were captured. A U.S. Navy ship seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island and the Africans were imprisoned pending an investigation of the Amistad revolt. Despite Cuban demands for the return of the 34 supposedly Cuban-born slaves, American abolitionists advocated the return of the illegally bought slaves to Africa. The Supreme Court ruled that the Africans had been illegally enslaved and had thus exercised a natural right to fight for their freedom. In November, with the financial assistance of their abolitionist allies, the Amistad Africans returned to West Africa.
March 9 1953 In the case of United States v. Reynolds , the Supreme Court established the “state secrets” doctrine, which allows the government to withhold documents from court proceedings on the grounds that their release would reveal state secrets and damage national security. The “state secrets” doctrine lay dormant for about 20 years; but beginning in the 1970s, both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations began making significant use of it to cloak in secrecy their actions in the national security area.
March 9 1954 CBS television broadcast the See It Now episode, “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy.” video
March 9 1960 Lonnie C. King, Jr., together with Atlanta University Center students, including Roslyn Pope, Julian Bond, Herschelle Sullivan, Carolyn Long, Frank Smith, Joseph Pierce and others, authored An Appeal for Human Rights which was published as an advertisement in various Atlanta area newspapers.
March 9 1964 The Supreme Court issued its New York Times vs. Sullivan decision, which said public officials who charged they’d been libeled could not recover damages for a report related to their official duties unless they proved actual malice on the part of the news organization.
March 10 1959 In Lhasa, 300,000 Tibetans surrounded Norbulinka Palace, preventing the Dalai Lama from accepting an invitation to tea and a cultural event issued by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which was suspected to be a ruse to kidnap the Dalai Lama and whisk him away to Beijing. By March 17, Chinese artillery was aimed at the palace, and the Dalai Lama was evacuated to neighboring India. Early on March 21, the Chinese began shelling Norbulinka, slaughtering tens of thousands of men, women and children still camped outside.
March 10 1971 The US Senate approved an amendment to lower the voting age to 18. On June 30, 1971, the amendment received ratification by the 38 required states, and became law.
March 10 1971 In France a group of homosexuals of both sexes disrupted a live general public radio show, devoted to “Homosexuality, that painful problem,” and put the newly-born gay movement on the French political map.
March 10 1988 Prior to the 50th anniversary of the Anschluss, Austrian President Kurt Waldheim apologized on his country’s behalf for atrocities committed by Austrian Nazis.
March 10 1999 Pres. Clinton visited Guatemala and acknowledged the U.S. role in Central America’s “dark and painful period” of civil wars and repression. He apologized for US support of rightist regimes that ruled the country for 3 decades.
March 11 1811 Ned Ludd led a group of workers in a wild protest against mechanization. Members of the organized bands of craftsmen who rioted against automation in 19th century England were known as Luddites and also “Ludds.” The movement, reputedly named after Ned Ludd, began near Nottingham as craftsman destroyed textile machinery that was eliminating their jobs. By the following year, Luddites were active in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Leicestershire. Although the Luddites opposed violence towards people (a position which allowed for a modicum of public support), government crackdowns included mass shootings, hangings and deportation to the colonies. It took 14,000 British soldiers to quell the rebellion. The movement effectively died in 1813 apart from a brief resurgence of Luddite sentiment in 1816 following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
March 11 1968 Cesar Chavez ended a 23-day fast for U.S. farm workers in a Delano, California, public park with 4000 supporters at his side, including Senator Robert Kennedy (D-New York). Cesar Chavez led the effort to organize farm workers into a union for better pay, working and living conditions.
March 11 1988 Ten days of protest and direct action began, demanding an end to nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site. The site, larger than the state of Rhode Island, is an outdoor laboratory and national experimental center for testing nuclear weapons. The actions resulted in over 2,200 arrests, the largest number of arrests in U.S. history for a political protest outside Washington, D.C.
March 11 2003 Following the strong words used by the French President Jacques Chirac opposing US policy in Iraq, some American restaurants, including the ones in the House of Representatives, renamed “French Fries” “Freedom Fries.”
March 11 2005 Turkey’s state institution over religious life issued a sermon to be preached at some 75,000 officially registered mosques on the dangers posed to national unity by Christian missionaries.
March 11 2011 More than 85,000 Wisconsin citizens rallied outside the Capitol in Madison to welcome the return to the state of fourteen Democratic state senators. Known as the Wisconsin 14, they had left the state to deny the senate a quorum, thus delaying passage of legislation which took away public employees right to collectively bargain and restricting other rights of union members.
March 12 295 Maximilian of Thebeste (near Carthage in North Africa) was beheaded by the Romans after refusing military service; he said his Christian beliefs did not permit him to become a soldier.
March 12 1912 Workers led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) won the Lawrence, Massachusetts, “Bread & Roses” textile strike after 32,000 workers (mostly young female immigrants) stayed out for nine weeks. They were striking for a wage increase, double time for overtime and safer working conditions: the equipment was dangerous and the air quality caused lung disease in about one-third of the workers before the age of twenty-five.
March 12 1930 Gandhi’s Salt March began from Ahmadabad, India, with 76 followers to protest the salt tax. Great Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple of the Indian diet. Citizens were forced to buy it from the British, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also exerted a heavy salt tax. Defying the Salt Acts, Gandhi reasoned, would be a simple way for many Indians to break an unjust law nonviolently (civil disobedience), increasing the pressure for independence from the British Empire. By the time Gandhi had covered the 241 miles to the coastal city of Dandi on the Arabian Sea, the number of marchers had grown into the thousands.
March 12 1943 Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” premiered in Cincinnatti. Asked by conductor Eugene Goossens to compose a fanfare celebrating US entry into WWII, he instead riffed off a quote by vice president Henry A. Wallace who proclaimed the dawning of the “Century of the Common Man.”
March 12 1972 “The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind.” was presented publicly at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. It was translated into 30 languages and 10 million copies of the book were sold. Describing a computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth with finite resource supplies, it presented a model based on five variables: world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resources depletion.
March 12 2000 Pope John Paul II asked God’s forgiveness for the sins of Roman Catholics through the ages, including wrongs inflicted on Jews, women and minorities.
March 12 2000 In Morocco some 500,000 Muslim fundamentalist marched in Casablanca in opposition to the government’s plan to extend women’s rights. In Rabat another 200-300,000 people marched in support of the plan.
March 12 2012 In Guatemala Pedro Pimentel Rios, a former member of the elite Kaibiles Corp team of the Guatemalan military, was sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for his role in the killings of 201 people in the December, 1982 El Mozote massacre. Rios was extradited from the United States in July.
March 13 1945 Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace organization, was founded in France. From their website: “Pax Christi is a ground up organization – it began with a few committed people who spoke out, prayed and worked for reconciliation at the end of the second world war, and is now active in more than 60 countries and five continents, with more than 60,000 members worldwide.”
March 13 1964 Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in Queens, New York while Winston Mosley raped & fatally stabbed her in three separate attacks occurring over a period of more than half an hour. Although 38 people witnessed some or all of the crime, as Genovese cried for help, no one called for help until she was already dead, 35 minutes after the assault began.
March 13 1968 Clouds of nerve gas drifted outside the Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, poisoning 6,400 sheep in nearby Skull Valley.
March 13 2014 Czech priest and intellectual Tomas Halik (65) won the 2014 Templeton Prize. Halik pushed for religious and cultural freedoms after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and became a leading advocate of dialogue among different faiths and non-believers.
March 14 1891 The largest mass lynching in U.S. history took place in New Orleans— the victims were Italian-Americans. Teddy Roosevelt, not yet president, famously said it was “a rather good thing.” The response in The New York Times referred to the victims of the lynchings as “… sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins.” An editorial the next day argued that: “Lynch law was the only course open to the people of New Orleans. …” John Parker, who helped organize the lynch mob, later went on to be governor of Louisiana. In 1911, he said of Italians that they were “just a little worse than the Negro, being if anything filthier in [their] habits, lawless, and treacherous.” The men had been accused, tried and acquitted of assassinating the New Orleans Police Chief.
March 14 1980 Archbishop Oscar Romero of Guatemala delivered his last sermon, ten days before his assassination. He said, in part: “I would like to make a special appeal to the men of the army, and specifically to the ranks of the National Guard, the police and the military. Brothers, you come from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, “Thou shalt not kill.” No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order. “
March 14 1990 Sixteen disability-rights activists from ADAPT (Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit) were arrested at the U.S. Capitol demanding passage of what would become the Americans With Disabilities Act.
March 14 2005 Following the murder of former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafik Hariri in February, a million people took to the streets protesting in Beirut, demanding Syrian withdrawal and the arrest of his killers.
March 14 2012 The International Criminal Court at The Hague convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga of using child soldiers, a verdict hailed as a legal landmark in the fight against impunity for the world’s most serious crimes.
March 14 2014 The city of Paris, France announced it would provide free public transportation for three days in an effort to combat smog and air pollution. Authorities asked commuters to use the free public transportation, electric car shares, or bike sharing, hoping that it will help lessen pollution.
March 14 2016 DC activists scaled an art installation and unfurled banners inside the Ronald Reagan Building, in front of the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) information office, calling for USAID to break ties to the controversial Agua Zarca dam project being built in Honduras. USAID works with the dam builder through its Corporate Social Responsibility program. The action was carried out in solidarity with Berta Cáceres and COPINH. Berta was murdered for her opposition to the project and for defending her people’s lands. The following day, another COPINH leader, Nelson Garcia, was assassinated in Honduras. video
March 15 1942 More than 1,300 Norwegian teachers were arrested by the German Nazi-installed government run by Vidkun Quisling after 12,000 of 14,000 nationwide had refused to join the new teachers’ association and resisted nazification of the curriculum. Half were held in a concentration camp outside the capital of Oslo. The rest were shipped to the Arctic for forced labor alongside Russian prisoners of war.
March 15 1965 President Lyndon Johnson went on national television to pledge his support to the Selma protesters (who had been twice turned back by Alabama state troopers on their attempted march to Montgomery) and call for the passage of a new voting rights bill that he was introducing in Congress. “There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem,” he said. “…Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negros, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”
March 15 1993 The United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador concluded that most of the murder and human rights abuses during its civil war had been committed by the U.S.-backed Salvadoran government through its various military, security and allied paramilitary organizations.
March 15 2006 In China, eight aphorisms by Pres. Hu Jintao were issued on a $1 poster with plain, black Chinese characters above a photo of the Great Wall: Love, do not harm the motherland. Serve, don’t disserve the people. Uphold science; don’t be ignorant and unenlightened. Work hard; don’t be lazy and hate work. Be united and help each other; don’t gain benefits at the expense of others. Be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the expense of your values. Be disciplined and law-abiding instead of chaotic and lawless. Know plain living and hard struggle, do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.
March 15 2008 In Qatar the consecration of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary was held. This became Qatar’s first Roman Catholic church, ending decades of clandestine worship for tens of thousands of foreign workers. The $15 million, 2,700-seat church was built on land donated by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
March 15 2016 Oaxaca’s congress awarded Cultural and Intangible Heritage status to the designs, costumes, handicrafts as well as the languages spoken by the Indigenous peoples of a community called Mixe. The ruling concluded that Indigenous peoples and communities have the social right to maintain, develop, preserve and protect their own identities and the elements that comprise them. The declaration comes after French designers used a traditional blouse of the community of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, Mixe, and presented it as their own design in July 2015. The two designers, Antik Batik and Isabel Marant, repackaged the blouse and put a US$365 price tag on it, causing outrage.
March 16 1190 The entire Jewish community of York, England, perished while observing Shabbat ha-Gadol, the last sabbath before Passover. Gathered together inside Clifford’s Tower, the keep of York’s medieval castle, for protection from the violent mob outside, many of the Jews took their own lives; others died in the flames they had lit, and those who finally surrendered were massacred and murdered. This occurred just after the beginning of the Third Crusade. “Before attempting to revenge ourselves upon the Moslem unbelievers, let us first revenge ourselves upon the ‘killers of Christ’ living in our midst!”
March 16 1960 Lunch counter sits-ins were scheduled to begin in San Antonio on March 17, but most were integrated the day before, making San Antonio the first major southern city to integrate. Joske’s, a large department store, only integrated its basement restaurant; NAACP-organized sit-ins began on April 23rd. All Joske’s restaurants were finally integrated in late summer.
March 16 1972 Reference librarian Zoia Horn refused to testify against the Harrisburg Seven who were on trial for an alleged conspiracy to kidnap then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Five of the seven were current or former Catholic priests or nuns.
Horn had been implicated by an ex-convict informer placed in the Bucknell University library by the FBI. Though given immunity from self-incrimination, Zoia objected to the idea that libraries could become places of infiltration and spying. Charged with contempt of court, she was sent to jail for 20 days until a mistrial was declared. Judith Krug, longtime director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, said that Horn was “the first librarian who spent time in jail for a value of our profession.”
March 16 1988 Iraqi forces acting under orders from President Saddam Hussein attacked the Kurdish village of Halabja with a variety of poison gasses including mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin, tabun, and VX. About 5,000 non-combatant men, but mostly women and children, died from the chemical weapons. This was part of Saddam’s al-Anfal campaign, a slow genocide of the Kurds in Iraq. About 2000 villages were emptied and leveled as well as a dozen larger towns and cities, tens of thousands were killed.
March 16 1996 For the first time, ordinary citizens were allowed inside the central archives of the former East German secret police, the hated Stasi security agency.
March 16 1997 Jordan’s King Hussein knelt in mourning with the families of seven Israeli schoolgirls gunned down by a Jordanian soldier. One by one, Hussein visited the homes of the seven bereaved families whose daughters were slaughtered on a hilltop in the Jordan Valley known as “The Island of Peace,” shaming and saddening the king, who faces considerable public opposition to the peace process at home. Hussein knelt at the feet of stricken parents and friends sitting shiva in the tradition of Jewish mourning. He held their hands, offered personal words of condolence and hugged and kissed them. “I feel that if there is anything left in life, it will be to ensure that all the children enjoy the kind of peace and security that we never had in our times,” Hussein said.
March 16 2003 Rachel Corrie, an American college student in Gaza to protest Israeli military and security operations, was killed when run over by a bulldozer while trying to stop Israeli troops from demolishing a Palestinian home. The 23-year-old from Olympia, Washington, was a member of International Solidarity Movement and was the first nonviolent western protester to die in the occupied territories.
March 16 2012 On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, activists dressed up as leprechauns appeared in front of the Embassy of Ireland in Washington, D.C. to protest Irish taxpayer money being used to pay debts of the Anglo-Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society. The event was organized by Jubilee Network USA, an alliance of labor organization and churches promoting global economic justice, in association with civil groups in Ireland. ‘These debts are not the responsibility of the Irish people, and they should not be forced to pay,’ the activists wrote in a letter presented to the Embassy.
March 17 1780 George Washington granted the Continental Army a holiday “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence”. That winter in Morristown, NJ was the coldest on record, the encampment buried at times under six feet of snow. As many as ¼ of the soldiers were Irish, eager to fight against the British Crown. St. Patrick’s Day appeared to Washington the perfect occasion to give the men their first day off in more than a year.
March 17 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt first likened crusading journalists to a man with “the muck-rake in his hand” in a speech to the Gridiron Club in Washington, DC, as he criticized what he saw as the excesses of investigative journalism.
March 17 1968 The oil supertanker Amoco Cadiz ran aground and, in the worst oil spill ever, lost its entire cargo of 1,619,048 barrels. A slick 18 miles wide and 80 miles long polluted approximately 200 miles of France’s Brittany coastline.
March 17 1968 After a peaceful anti Vietnam War rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, attended by some 10,000 people, violence broke out when the protesters marched to the US Embassy. When they refused to disperse they were charged by police mounted on horses., and some fought back More than 80 were injured and 200 arrested.
March 17 1996 30,000 marched in Villahermosa, Mexico, in support of a campaign to blockade state-owned oil wells that had displaced thousands of poor people.
March 17 2003 President George W. Bush warned U.N. weapons inspectors to leave the Iraq within 48 hours. They were in country searching for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), conducting 900 inspections at 500 locations in four months. Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, and Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the inspectors had found no WMDs, or any evidence of a renewed Iraqi nuclear weapons program. Despite increasing cooperation from Iraqi authorities relenting to international pressure, the inspectors were unable to complete their work due to the American threat of war.
March 17 2003 Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, resigned from the British Cabinet in disagreement with government plans for the invasion of Iraq, saying: “I can’t accept collective responsibility for the decision to commit Britain now to military action in Iraq without international agreement or domestic support.”
March 17 2004 Angola rejected genetically modified food aid. Angola’s council of ministers decided to follow five other southern African countries in rejecting unmilled GM seeds from the US which could be planted and cross-pollinate local corn crops. Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho decided last year to ban unmilled seeds.
March 17 2006 Nearly 1,000 Egyptian judges held a half-hour silent protest to demonstrate for full judicial independence and against the government’s order to interrogate six of their colleagues who criticized recent elections.
March 18 1834 Six farm laborers from Tolpuddle, Dorset, England were sentenced to be transported to Australia for “ swearing a secret oath,” in actuality, for forming a trade union. They are now celebrated as the Tolpuddle Martyrs in an annual festival.
March 18 1871 The Paris Commune was declared, a radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871.
March 18 1895 202 African Americans sailed from Savannah, GA to make a new home in Monrovia, Liberia, an African colony formed by freed slaves. (1895)
March 18 1922 Gandhi’s “Great Trial” for writing seditious articles opposing British colonial rule began in Ahmedabad, India. Gandhi, aged 53, described himself as a farmer and weaver by profession, and spoke in his own defense, pleading guilty. “I hold it to be a virtue to be disaffected towards a government which, in its totality, has done more harm to India than any other system . . . . ” . . . I do not ask for mercy. I am to invite and cheerfully submit to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of the citizen.”
March 18 1942 The War Relocation Authority was created to “Take all people of Japanese descent into custody, surround them with troops, prevent them from buying land, and return them to their former homes at the close of the war.” 120,000 men, women, and children were rounded up on the West Coast and housed in camps little better than prison. In 1990, reparations were made to surviving internees and their heirs in the form of a formal apology by the U.S. government and a check for $20,000.
March 18 1958 Thomas Merton wrote in his diary, ““In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers….There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.””
March 18 1963 The Supreme Court ruled on Gideon v. Wainwright, holding states must supply free legal counsel to all poor persons facing criminal charges.
March 18 1967 The first big oil spill: US supertanker “Torrey Canyon” ran aground off Land’s End, Cornwall, England, releasing 119,000 tons of oil.
March 18 1970 The first strike against the U.S. government and the first mass work stoppage in the 195-year history of the Postal Service began with a walkout of letter carriers in Brooklyn and Manhattan who were demanding better wages. Ultimately, 210,000 (in 30 cities) of the nation’s 750,000 postal employees participated in the wildcat strike. With mail service virtually paralyzed in New York, Detroit, and Philadelphia, Pres. Nixon declared a state of national emergency and assigned military units to New York City post offices. The stand-off ended one week later. Congress voted a six percent raise for the workers retroactive to December.
March 18 1970 Country Joe McDonald was convicted of obscenity and fined $500 for leading a crowd in his infamous Fish Cheer
(“Gimme an F !”) at a concert in Massachusetts. It was the band’s introduction to “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag,” a Vietnam protest song.
March 18 2011 As a means to thwart a growing reform movement in the kingdom of Bahrain, the government destroyed the structure in the middle of the Pearl Roundabout, the focal point of demonstrations over the previous six weeks. Groups of Shiite Muslims, treated as second-class citizens by the ruling Sunni government led by the ruling al-Khalifa family, had gathered there repeatedly.
March 19 1643 The Edict of Pacification, was signed at the Château of Amboise by Catherine de’ Medici, acting as regent for her son Charles IX of France. The treaty officially ended the first phase of the French Wars of Religion by guaranteeing the Huguenots religious privileges and freedoms. It allowed open and unregulated Protestant services in the private households of nobles and in one suburb of a pre-determined town in each district.
March 19 1649 The House of Commons abolished the House of Lords. Following his defeat in the English Civil War, Charles I was beheaded. On March 17 the monarchy was abolished. In 1660, Charles II was crowned king and everyone pretended the past 11 years had never happened.
March 19 1970 200 women seized the New York offices of “Ladies Home Journal,” demanding what they call a “Women’s Liberated Journal.”
March 19 1978 50,000 marched in Amsterdam to protest U.S. deployment of the neutron bomb in Europe. The neutron bomb was a tactical (artillery shell) enhanced-radiation weapon. It killed people with a neutron flux that penetrated armor but was effective only over a limited area, leaving little fallout or residual radiation. It did minimal damage, however, to physical structures.
March 19 1989 In Cyprus, 4,500 joined Women’s Walk Home nonviolent crossing of Green Line that partitioned the Greek and Turkish areas of the island.
March 19 2003 The United States initiated war on Iraq. President Bush and his advisers built much of their case for war on the idea that Iraq possessed or was in the process of building weapons of mass destruction. No WMD were ever found.
March 19 2006 In Seville, Spain, Muslim and Jewish leaders met in a rare face-to-face forum and appealed to their faithful not to view each other as enemies and keep religion from being hijacked by extremists. The 4-day meeting, called the Second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, was sponsored by Hommes de Parole, a peace foundation based in Paris.
March 20 1815 Switzerland was declared neutral by the great powers of Europe at the Vienna Congress following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. The confederation of 22 cantons (member states) had its current borders established with its neighbors France, Germany, Austria and Italy.
March 20 1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential novel about slavery, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, was first published in book form by J.P. Jewett of Boston. The text had previously been serialized in the anti-slavery newspaper, the National Era. 10,000 copies were sold in the first week, 300,000 within the first year. The many different editions published in Europe sold an aggregate of one million copies in the first year. It was the second best-selling book of the 19th century after the Bible.
March 20 1854 The Republican Party of the United States was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin by anti-slavery activists, modernizers, ex-Whigs, and ex-Free Soilers. Early Republican ideology was reflected in the 1856 slogan “free labor, free land, free men”, which had been coined by Salmon P. Chase, a Senator from Ohio “Free labor” referred to the Republican opposition to slave labor and belief in independent artisans and businessmen. “Free land” referred to Republican opposition to plantation system whereby slaveowners could buy up all the good farm land, leaving the yeoman independent farmers the leftovers.
March 20 1915 The British government signed a secret agreement with Russia regarding the hypothetical post-World War I division of the former Ottoman Empire. By the terms of the agreement, Russia would annex Constantinople (now called Istanbul), the Bosporus Strait (a waterway connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and marking the boundary between the Asian and European halves of Turkey), and more than half of the European section of Turkey. Britain also promised Russia future control of the Dardanelles Strait and the Gallipoli peninsula. In return, Russia would agree to British claims on other areas of the former Ottoman Empire and central Persia, including the oil-rich region of Mesopotamia (now Iraq.)
March 20 1924 The Virginia Legislature passed two closely related eugenics laws: SB 219, entitled “The Racial Integrity Act” and SB 281, “An ACT to provide for the sexual sterilization of inmates of State institutions in certain cases”, henceforth referred to as “The Sterilization Act”. The Racial Integrity Act required that a racial description of every person be recorded at birth, and felonized marriage between “white persons” and non-white persons. The law was the most famous ban on miscegenation in the US, and was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 1967, in Loving v. Virginia. Virginia repealed the sterilization in 1979. In 2001 the House of Delegates voted to express regret for the state’s selecting breeding policies that had forced sterilizations on some 8,000 people. The Senate soon followed suit.
March 20 1948 “Gentleman’s Agreement” won the Academy Award for best picture of 1947. Based on Laura Z. Hobson’s 1947 novel of the same name, the film is about a journalist (played by Gregory Peck) who poses as a Jew to research an exposé on antisemitism.
March 20 1991 The US Supreme Court ruled in United Auto Workers v. Johnson Controls, Inc., that employers could not adopt “fetal protection” policies barring women of child-bearing age from certain hazardous jobs.
March 20 1998 Despite the efforts of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators, a train hauling 60 tons of nuclear waste arrived in the north German town of Ahaus from Walheim in the south. Twice the train was stopped by protesters chained to the tracks; 300 were arrested with police using water cannon in response to rocks and sticks being thrown at them. The size of the security deployment, outnumbering the protesters ten to one, necessitated the postponing of ten days of football (soccer) matches.
March 20 2004 In Guyana thousands marched through Georgetown, demanding the government order an independent investigation into claims of a state-sponsored hit squad blamed for more than 40 killings in the past year.
March 20 2011 In Saudi Arabia dozens of Saudi men and women, outnumbered by anti-riot police, protested outside Riyadh’s Interior Ministry, demanding the release of thousands of detainees held without trial for years.
March 20 2011 Thousands of Moroccans demonstrated in Casablanca, Rabat and other cities calling for more democracy and social justice despite recent promises of deep political reform.
March 20 2011 In Taiwan some 2,000 anti-nuclear protesters demonstrated, demanding an immediate halt to the construction of an atomic power plant.
March 21 1937 The colonial military governor revoked a permit for the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico to march in Ponce on Palm Sunday in support of Puerto Rican independence. The marched anyway and were fired upon as they began. Eighteen Nationalists and 2 policemen died; 200 others, Nationalists and bystanders, were injured, 150 arrested. This incident is known as Masacre de Ponce.
March 21 1960 South African police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators in the black township of Sharpeville near Johannesburg. The demonstrators were protesting the establishment of apartheid pass laws which restricted movement of non-whites. Sixty nine were killed and 176 wounded when police fired on the crowd, 63 of them shot in the back.
March 21 1965 3,200 civil rights demonstrators, led by Martin Luther King Jr., begin a historic march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capitol at Montgomery. Federalized Alabama National Guardsmen and FBI agents were on hand to provide safe passage for the march, which twice had been turned back by Alabama state police at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.
March 21 2003 The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa was released. The Commission was charged with investigating and providing “as complete a picture as possible of the nature, causes and extent of gross violations of human rights” under the racial separatist apartheid regime from 1960 until the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994, South Africa’s first black president. But the Commission sought to go beyond truth-finding to promote national unity and reconciliation, to facilitate the granting of amnesty to those who made full factual disclosure, to restore the human and civil dignity of victims by providing them an opportunity to tell their own stories, and to make recommendations to the president on measures to prevent future human rights violations. Archbishop Desmond Tutu concluded in his foreword to the report, “Quite improbably, we as South Africans have become a beacon of hope to others locked in deadly conflict that peace, that a just resolution, is possible. If it could happen in South Africa, then it can certainly happen anywhere else. Such is the exquisite divine sense of humour.”
March 21 2009 More than 100,000 people marched in Naples to commemorate the victims of the mafia and demand an end to the stranglehold of organized crime on southern Italy. The march was organized by Libera (Free), an association of civil society groups involved in many anti-mafia activities, including acquiring farms and buildings confiscated from the mafia and using them for social good, such as school and drug rehabilitation centers. photo
March 21 2013 Australian PM Julia Gillard delivered a historic national apology in Parliament to the thousands of unwed mothers who were forced by government policies to give up their babies for adoption over several decades.
March 21 2013 In France the Union of Jewish French Students sued Twitter for some $50 million for failing to honor a court ruling to identify users who post Holocaust jokes and calls to kill Jews.
March 21 2014 Turkey blocked access to Twitter after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “rip out the roots” of the social network where links have proliferated to recordings that appear to incriminate him and other top officials in corruption.
March 22 1765 The British government passed the Stamp Act, which levied a direct tax on everything printed for commercial and legal use in the colonies, from insurance policies to playing cards. The colonists argued that Parliament could not impose taxes upon them without their consent and, believing this right to be in peril, rioted and intimidated all the stamp agents responsible for enforcing the act. Not ready to put down the rioters with military force, Parliament eventually repealed the legislation. However, the disruption of the Stamp Act helped plant seeds for a far larger movement against the British government and the eventual battle for independence.
March 22 1968 Several far-left groups, a small number of prominent poets and musicians, and 150 students, occupied an administration building at Paris University at Nanterre and held a meeting in the university council room dealing with class discrimination in French society and the political bureaucracy that controlled the university’s funding. The university’s administration called the police, who surrounded the university. After the publication of their wishes, the students left the building.
March 22 1980 30,000 marched in Washington, DC against re-introduction of draft registration. Denise Levertov’s lines from her poem,
“A Speech for Antidraft Rally, D.C., March 22, 1980” “…Let our different dream, / and more than dream, our acts / of constructive refusal generate / struggle. And love. We must dare to win / not wars, but a future / in which to live.”
March 23 1966 Breaking 400 years of Roman Catholic and Anglican Church estrangement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, made an official visit to Pope Paul VI.
March 23 1984 One thousand boats, known informally as the Auckland Harbour Peace Squadron, demonstrated against arrival of the nuclear submarine, U.S.S. Queenfish in New Zealand.
March 24 1919 The League of Women Voters was established , symbolically timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of women’s voting rights,, established for the first in the world in the territory of Wyoming in 1869.
March 24 1949 President Harry S Truman signed a U.S. resolution authorizing $16 million in aid for Palestinian refugees displaced and facing starvation as a result of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, half of the United Nations aid package. At the signing, the president stated his hope that before the relief money ran out, the means will be devised for the permanent solution of the refugee problem. Truman argued that U.S. aid would contribute to the long-term stability of the Middle East through integrating Palestinian refugees into the economic life of the area.
March 24 1965 The first Teach-In on the Vietnam War was held at the University of Michigan a month after President Lyndon Johnson ordered bombing of North Vietnam. The U-M teach-in was among the first of a new form of campus protest that was to spread nationwide, a means of mobilizing students to examine policies of their government that they previously had taken for granted.
March 24 1967 Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. led an anti-war march for the first time in Chicago, opposing the Vietnam War by saying:
“Our arrogance can be our doom. It can bring the curtains down on our national drama . . . Ultimately, a great nation is a compassionate nation The bombs in Vietnam explode at home—they destroy the dream and possibility for a decent America . . . .”
March 24 1980 The archbishop of San Salvador, Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was assassinated while consecrating the Eucharist during mass. Romero, a well-known critic of violence and injustice, was perceived in the right-wing civilian and military circles of El Salvador as an enemy. Romero had exhorted the police and soldiers to disobey orders to kill innocent people, refusing to be silenced.
March 24 1978 The tanker Amoco Cadiz splits in two off the coast of France during strong winds dumping 220,000 tons of crude oil on the Brittany coast line. The spill has created an oil slick 18 miles wide and 80 miles long causing an environmental ecological disaster in the area.
March 24 1973 At the end of 1972, the “Chipko,” or” tree-hugging” movement was started in Uttar Pradesh, India, inspired by the mythical story of Amrita Devi who died while trying to save a tree that loggers were cutting down in order to build a new palace. Their goals were protection and conservation of forests, judicious and equitable use of trees by villagers, protection of ancient village forest rights, cessation of granting more favorable forest contracts to outside companies. On this date, when the axemen showed up in Mandal to fell trees that would be used to make cricket bats and tennis rackets for the export market, , they were met by hundreds of villagers who blocked their paths and prevented them from entering the forests. They used slogans and songs: one of their oft-repeated chants was “Let us protect and plant the trees/Go awaken the villages/And drive away the axemen”. Eventually the Forest Department canceled the outside company’s contract and awarded the allotment to the local cooperative.
March 24 1989 The Exxon Valdez, a 987-foot oil tanker, ran aground on a reef and ripped holes in its hull, spilling crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The Tanker spilled over 200,000 Barrels of Oil or more than 11 million gallons of crude oil leaving a Five Mile Slick making it one of the largest and most devastating environmental disasters at sea. Three months later, when environmentalists and biologists did a study, it was found that nearly 250,000 seabirds,3,000 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles and up to 22 killer whales died as a result of the spill, and the fish stocks in the area were also devastated due to the oil .
March 24 2009 China, claiming that the clips were fabricated by supporters of the Dalai Lama, blocked access to YouTube video-sharing because of it showing videos of soldiers beating Tibetan monks and passers-by.
March 24 2010 El Salvador President Mauricio Funes publicly apologized on behalf of the state for the 1980 assassination of Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Funes said Romero was killed by right-wing death squads “who unfortunately acted with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents.”
March 24 2010 A Zimbabwean rights group that organized a photo exhibit documenting human rights violations scrambled to re-hang its damaged displays just minutes before the show was slated to begin. Police had confiscated the photos a day earlier, but the show’s organizers won a court ruling ordering the photos’ return to the independent downtown Gallery Delta.
March 24 2011 Hundreds of Jordanians set up a protest camp in a main square in the capital to press demands for the ouster of the prime minister and wider public freedoms.
March 24 2011 In Syria thousands called for liberty in the southern city of Daraa, defying a deadly government crackdown as they took to the streets in funeral marches for protesters killed by police gunfire.
March 25 1634 The Roman Catholic Church made its first steps in North America when the colony ships “Dove” and “Ark” arrived in Maryland with 128 Catholic colonists selected by Lord Baltimore. The purpose of the Maryland colony was to demonstrate that Catholics and Protestants could live together as equals.
March 25 1811 Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism.
March 25 1872 Toronto printers went on strike for a 9-hour workday and a 54-hour workweek—the first major strike in Canada. When the editor of the Globe newspaper had thirteen of them arrested, 10,000 turned out to support them. Later that year unions were made legal in Canada.
March 25 1895 Coxey’s “Army” heads peacefully from Ohio for Washington DC to protest the unemployment caused by the Panic of 1893 and to lobby for the government to create jobs which would involve building roads and other public works improvements, with workers paid in paper currency which would expand the currency in circulation, consistent with populist ideology.
March 25 1911 Within 18 minutes, 147 people, mostly Italian & Jewish immigrant women and girls working in sweatshop conditions, died when the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory, occupying the top floors of a ten-story building on New York’s Lower East Side, was consumed by fire. Approximately 50 died as they jumped from windows to the street; others were burned or trampled to death, desperately trying to escape via illegally locked stairway exits. The incident was a turning point in labor law, especially concerning health and safety.
March 25 1965 Viola Gregg Liuzo, a housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car.
March 25 1969 The newly wed John Lennon and Yoko Ono-Lennon began their seven-day “bed-in for peace” against the Vietnam War in the presidential suite of the the Amsterdam Hilton in The Netherlands. Their doors were open to the media from 10am to 10pm. They invited all to think about and talk about creating peace.
March 25 1977 In Argentina political writer Rodolfo Walsh was murdered one day after writing the “Open Letter to the Military Junta” on the first anniversary of the military coup. He had reported on tortures, mass killings, and thousands of disappearances.
March 25 1998 Clinton visited Rwanda. Shaken by horror stories from the worst genocide since World War II, President Clinton grimly acknowledged during his Africa tour that “we did not act quickly enough” to stop the slaughter of up to 1 million Rwandans four years earlier.
March 25 2005 Some 1000 Belarusian demonstrators tried to rally outside the office of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to demand his ouster, but they were beaten back by riot police swinging truncheons.
March 25 2010 Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed into law America’s first blanket “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) framework law. It ordered manufacturers to assume the cost of disposing their products following consumer use. Maine’s EPR law for electronic waste went into effect in 2004.
March 26 1812 A political cartoon in the Boston Gazette coins the term “gerrymander” to describe oddly shaped electoral districts designed to help incumbents win reelection. The term is derived from Governor Elbridge Gerry, who redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander.
March 26 1948 The American GI Forum was established in Corpus Christi by Dr. Hector P. Garcia to address the concerns of Mexican-American veterans, who were segregated from other veterans groups. Initially formed to request services for World War II veterans of Mexican descent who were denied medical services by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the AGIF soon spread into non-veteran’s issues such as voting rights, jury selection, and educational desegregation, advocating for the civil rights of all Mexican Americans. Its first campaign was on the behalf of Felix Longoria, a Mexican American private who was killed in the Philippines in the line of duty. Upon the return of his body to Texas, he was denied funeral services by a White American-owned funeral home. Dr. Garcia requested the intercession of then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who secured Longoria’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
March 26 1977 Jimmy Carter became the first president to invite lesbian and gay activists to the White House to discuss policy.
March 26 1979 In a ceremony at the White House, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed an historic peace agreement, ending three decades of hostilities between Egypt and Israel and establishing diplomatic and commercial ties. For their achievement, Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize for Peace. Sadat’s peace efforts were not so highly acclaimed in the Arab world—Egypt was suspended from the Arab League, and on October 6, 1981, extremists assassinated Sadat in Cairo
March 26 1999 Ex-miners in England won their case for compensation in a deal worth £2 billion for lung disease caused by working underground in the coal mining industry. Lawyers for the miners claimed that the industry had known for decades that dust produced in the coal mining process could cause lung disease but not enough was done to protect them. Many of these miners were working underground in the 1950s before health and safety laws ensured there were dust masks and showers at collieries.
March 26 2016 In Yemen, tens of thousands took to the streets to protest the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led offensive against Houthi rebels on the first anniversary of the campaign. The protests were said to be the largest in Yemen since the 2011 demonstrations forced the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led intervention began last March, more than 6,200 people have been killed in Yemen, about half of them civilians. photo
March 27 1912 In Washington, D.C., Helen Taft, wife of President William Taft, and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, plant two Yoshina cherry trees on the northern bank of the Potomac River, near the Jefferson Memorial. The event was held in celebration of a gift, by the Japanese government, of 3,020 cherry trees to the U.S. government. After World War II, cuttings from Washington’s cherry trees were sent back to Japan to restore the Tokyo collection that was decimated by American bombing attacks during the war.
March 27 1961 After a decade of prodding and threats of direct action by the NAACP, San Francisco got it’s first Black milk delivery driver. Mayor George Christopher, owner of Christopher Dairy Farms, had hired William Garrick to run a route in South San Francisco serving schools and restaurants. The mayor blamed the delay on the union, claiming that “I have been trying to hire a Negro driver for years but Teamster Local 226 wouldn’t let Negroes into the union.” The Teamster called the mayor a “blankety-blank liar.”
March 27 1962 Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel of Louisiana, called for all Roman Catholic schools in the city of New Orleans to end their segregation policies. Protesters gathered outside his residence carrying signs declaring that the Bible preaches segregation.
March 27 1969 The first Chicano Youth Liberation Conference was held by the Crusade for Justice; the poet known as Alurista presented his poem on the myth of Aztlán, which captured the imagination of the conference.
March 27 2006 “Shooting Dogs,” a new film on Rwanda’s genocide, reduced many survivors to tears at its premiere in Kigali. The film’s title refers to the way UN troops shot dogs eating the corpses that littered the streets of the Rwandan capital. The next day President Paul Kagame said the movie would help to ensure memories of the mass murder were kept alive.
March 27 2013 In Germany work crews backed by about 250 police removed parts of the Berlin Wall known as the East Side Gallery before dawn to make way for an upscale building project, despite demands by protesters that the site be preserved.
March 27 2014 The Philippines signed a peace accord with the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, ending decades of conflict.
March 28 1930 The City of Constantinople changed to Istanbul. Constantinople (“City of Constantine”) was the principal official name of the city from the Fifth Century throughout the Byzantine period, and the Ottoman Empire. İstanbul was the common name for the city in normal speech in Turkish even before the conquest of 1453. In 1928, the Turkish alphabet was changed from Arabic script to Latin script. After that, Turkey started to urge other countries to use Turkish names for Turkish cities. Letters or packages sent to “Constantinople” instead of “Istanbul” were no longer delivered by Turkey’s postal service, which contributed to the eventual worldwide adoption of the new name.
March 28 1937 Pope Pius XI issued his encyclical Firmissimam Constantiam on the revolution in Mexico. He stated that it is possible to launch a just insurrection against your own government and use violence against state powers that: “arise against justice and truth even to destroying the very foundations of authority…and make use of public power to bring it to ruin.”
March 28 1942 Minoru Yasui, a U.S. born lawyer, walked into a Portland, Oregon police station at 11:20 pm, presenting himself for arrest to test the constitutionality of WWII-era curfew orders targeted at Japanese-Americans. His case, along with those of fellow dissenters Gordon Hirabayashi & Fred Korematsu, reached the US Supreme Court, where the orders were upheld. Yasui was sentenced to one year in prison and given a $5,000 fine; he spent the remainder of the war years in an internment camp. In 1986, his criminal conviction was overturned by the federal court.
March 28 1964 Three hundred were arrested during a sit-down protest at U.S. Air Force headquarters in Ruislip, England. The protest was organized by the Committee of 100, a group using nonviolent direct action to campaign for British unilateral nuclear disarmament. Conceived by the president of the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament, Bertrand Russell (he resigned this post soon after), and a young American academic named Ralph Schoenman, they proposed mass civil disobedience in resisting nuclear weapons, challenging the authorities to “fill the jails” with the intention of causing prison overload and large-scale disorder.
March 28 1979 In the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history, a cooling system on the Unit Two reactor failed at Three Mile Island in Middletown, Pennsylvania. This led to a partial meltdown that uncovered the reactor’s core. Radioactive steam leaked into the atmosphere, prompting fears for the safety of the plant’s 500 workers and the surrounding community.
March 28 1998 More than 100,000 people rallied in Paris and 40 other cities across France to protest the ultrarightist National Front (FN) party. The lead banner read: “Together for liberty, equality, and fraternity.” Chants included, “F like fascist, N like Nazi,” and “Down! Down! Down with the National Front!”
March 28 2006 More than a million people, mostly students, took to the streets in France disrupting air, rail and bus travel in a nationwide protest over the “Contrat première embauche” (CPE – First Employment Contract or Beginning Workers Contract) which would make it much easier for workers under twenty-six years old to be fired. The CPE was scrapped by Prime Minister Chirac on April 10 under the pressure of ongoing protests.
March 28 2009 Thousands of people marched through London to demand action on poverty, climate change and jobs. The Put People First alliance of charities and unions walked from The Embankment to Hyde Park for a rally. Speakers called on the G20 leaders to pursue a new kind of global justice.
March 28 2009 Tibetans rallied against the China’s new holiday, Serfs Liberation Day, on the 50th anniversary of Beijing’s crushing of a Tibetan uprising that led to the Dalai Lama’s exile. The Chinese claim that it is honoring what it calls the liberation of slaves from brutal feudal rule. The Tibetan government-in-exile said that the new holiday is aggravating problems in the region and would be a day of mourning for Tibetans around the world.
March 28 2013 Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of two young women at Rome’s Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center, a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.
March 29 1925 Black leaders in Charleston, West Virginia, protested the showing of D. W. Griffith’s movie, Birth of a Nation, scheduled to open at the Rialto Theatre on April 1, claiming it violated a 1919 state law prohibiting any entertainment which demeaned another race. Mayor W.W. Wertz and the West Virginia Supreme Court supported their argument and prevented the showing of the film. Protests occurred all over the country.
March 29 1940 IIn Cantwell v. Connecticut the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a statute requiring a license to solicit for religious purposes is a form of prior restraint which vests the state with unconstitutional power in determining which groups must obtain a license and which have a genuine “religious cause”. Newton Cantwell and his two sons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, ignored a New Haven, Connecticut statute requiring that anyone wishing to solicit funds or distribute materials had to apply for a license, believing the requirement was beyond the government’s secular authority. They were convicted under a law which forbade the unlicensed soliciting of funds for religious or charitable purposes, and also under a general charge of breach of the peace because they had been going door-to-door with books and pamphlets in a predominately Roman Catholic area, playing a record entitled “Enemies” which attacked Catholicism.
March 29 2011 India and Pakistan agreed to set up a “terror hotline” to warn each other of possible militant attacks, a move to build trust as the two nuclear foes get their peace process back on track.
March 29 2012 South Korean activists burned pictures of Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda in a protest against Tokyo’s claims to disputed islands. The demonstration was sparked after Japan’s education ministry this week announced the results of its review of a school history book reasserting Japan’s claim to islets, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
March 30 1855 In the Kansas territory’s first election, some 5,000 “Border Ruffians” invaded the territory from western Missouri and forced the election of a pro-slavery legislature. During the next four years, raids, skirmishes, and massacres continued in “Bleeding Kansas.”
March 30 1891 “Sockless” Jerry Simpson called on the Kansas Farmers’ Alliance to work for a takeover of the state government. Angered over low crop prices, high-interest bank loans and unaffordable shipping rates, farmers began to unite in self-help groups like the Grange and the Farmers’ Alliances. Initially, these groups primarily provided mutual assistance to members while agitating for the regulation of railroads and grain elevators. Increasingly, though, they became centers of support for more sweeping political change by uniting to help form the nationwide third-party movement known as the Populists.
March 30 1919 Gandhi called for a day of “hartal”, when all business was to be suspended and people were to fast and pray as a protest against the Rowlatt Bills, which indefinitely extended the emergency measures of preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without trial and judicial review, abbreviated as “No Dalil,No Vakil, No Appeal” (no pleas, no lawyer, no Appeal.)
March 30 1944 The word “gobbledygook” was coined by US Rep. Maury Maverick, a Texas Democrat, in a memo banning “gobbledygook language” at the Smaller War Plants Corporation. It was a reaction to his frustration with the “convoluted language of bureaucrats.”
March 30 2003 Marches and rallies opposing the war on Iraq were held in more than 600 cities around the world. In New York City, participation was pegged at 375,000 by the organizers (100,000 by police estimates.) Police in London, England, said turnout Saturday was 750,000, the largest demonstration ever in the British capital. The organizers put the figure at 2 million. In Germany, 500,000 protested, and 300,000 gathered in 60 towns and cities across France. In China, two small demonstrations were allowed to be held under strict police control: around 150 foreigners marched past the United States embassy and about 100 students gathered at Beijing University. 100,000 people marched through the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. In Latin America there were rallies in Santiago, Mexico City, Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Caracas.
March 30 2011 Hundreds of Inca artifacts were returned Peru after being out of the country for nearly one hundred years. The items had been taken from the ancient site of Machu Picchu and were housed at Yale University in the United States. The government of Peru had waged a lengthy campaign against Yale, saying the artifacts had only been on loan to the university.
March 31 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered the expulsion from Spain before August of all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity under penalty of death.
March 31 1776 Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, urging him and the other members of the Continental Congress not to forget about the nation’s women when fighting for America’s independence from Great Britain. The future First Lady wrote, “I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” It took another 143 years before women were granted the right to vote by the 19th Amendment.
March 31 1933 Congress approved, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed, the Emergency Conservation Work Act (Reforestation Relief Act), which created the Civilian Conservation Corps. The US unemployment rate reached 25%. In its nine years of existence, the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps had a total of 2.9 million men aged 18 to 25 enrolled. The program was designed to provide jobs for young men in the national forests, conservation programs and national road construction. Enacted as one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s first New Deal programs, it lasted until World War II.
March 31 1948 Congress passed a $6.2 billion foreign aid bill, the Marshall Aid Act, to rehabilitate war-torn Europe.
March 31 1968 President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek reelection, ordered partial bombing halt in Vietnam & appointed Averell Harriman to seek negotiated peace talks with North Vietnam.
March 31 1997 Four East Timorese activists were arrested in Warton, at the British Aerospace factory where Indonesian Hawk fighter jets, used in the ongoing occupation & genocide of their homeland, were built.
March 31 2007 Earth Hour was launched in Sydney, Australia as a campaign of WWF-Australia, with 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses turning off their lights to show their support for action to tackle global warming.
March 31 2014 Japan accepted the United Nation’s International Court of Justice’s ruling that Japan must stop whaling in the Antarctic in accordance with a ban on the practice. Australia had brought suit against Japan in 2010. Japan had claimed that they were only whaling for scientific purposes and that Australia’s pursuit of this case was just a way for the country to impose its cultural norms on Japan.
March 31 2016 The Philadelphia City Council apologized. For an incident in 1947 when, Jackie Robinson faced some of the most abhorrent racism of his baseball career during a game against the Phillies, when the team’s manager led the players in hurling taunts and racial slurs. The resolution will be sent to Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson. Phils manager Ben Chapman led the bench in crude taunting of Robinson such as, “Go back to the cotton fields,” and “They’re waiting for you in the jungles, black boy.”

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