February

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February is Black History Month



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.
Greensboro first day: Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960.

Four students returned the next day, and the same thing happened. Similar protests subsequently took place all over the South and in some northern communities. By September 1961, more than 70,000 students, both white and black, had participated, with many arrested, during sit-ins.

On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“Segregation makes me feel that I'm unwanted," Joseph McNeil, one of the four, said later in an interview, “I don't want my children exposed to it.”
Listen to Franklin McCain’s account of what happened Newspaper report of the time

February 1, 1961
On the first anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in, there were demonstrations all across the south, including a Nashville movie theater desegregation campaign (which sparked similar tactics in 10 other cities). Nine students were arrested at a lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and chose to take 30 days hard labor on a road gang. The next week, four other students repeated the sit-in, also chose jail.


February 1, 1968

Saigon police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan summarily executed Nguyen Van Lem, suspected leader of a National Liberation Front (NLF aka Viet Cong) assassination platoon, with a pistol shot to the head on the street. AP photojournalist Eddie Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of the incident became one of the most famous, ubiquitous and lasting images of the war in Vietnam, affecting international and American public opinion regarding the war.

General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes Nguyen Van Lem a NLF officer.


February 2, 1779

Anthony Benezet and John Woolman, both prominent Quakers (Society of Friends), urged refusal to pay taxes used for arming against Indians in Pennsylvania. Since William Penn established the state two generations earlier, the Friends had dealt with the Indian tribes nonviolently, and had been treated likewise by the native Americans. Benezet and the Quakers were also early and consistent opponents of slavery.

More about Anthony Benezet



February 2, 1848
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in the Mexican city of the same name, ending the Mexican War. In 1845 Congress had voted to annex Texas, and President James K. Polk sent General Zachary Taylor and troops to patrol the border, newly defined by Congress as the Rio Grande, though it previously had been the Nueces River.
Following an encounter between Mexican and U.S. troops, Polk called for Congress to declare war on Mexico. General Winfield Scott and troops eventually seized Mexico City.
The treaty’s provisions called for Mexico to cede 55% of its territory (present-day California, Nevada and Utah, New Mexico, most of Arizona,
and portions of New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado), and to recognize the Rio Grande as the southern border of Texas, in exchange for fifteen million dollars in compensation for war-related damage to Mexican property. According to the treaty, U.S. citizenship was offered to any Mexicans living in the 500,000 sq miles (1.3 million sq km) of new U.S. territory.
Remarkable site on the Mexican War with great depth and creativity Land ceded to the U.S. after the Mexican War.


February 2, 1931
The first of well over 400,000 Mexican-Americans from across the country, some of them citizens and many of them U.S. residents for as long as 40 years, were "repatriated" as Los Angeles Chicanos were forcibly deported to Mexico.
More on those deported, Los Repatriados


February 2, 1932
The Conference on the Reduction and Limitation of Arms, the world’s first disarmament meeting, opened in Geneva, Switzerland. Sponsored by the League of Nations, and attended by delegates from 60 nations, no agreement was reached. The U.S. delegation called for the abolition of all offensive weapons as the basis for negotiations but found little support.


February 2, 1966

 

The first burning of Australian military conscription papers as a protest against the Vietnam War occurred in Sydney, Australia.



February 2, 1970

Bertrand Russell, mathematician, Nobel laureate in literature and philosopher of peace, died in Penryndeudreaeth, Merioneth, in Wales at age 97.
Bertrand Russell later in life Bertrand Russell at age 10
“Patriots always talk of dying for their country but never of killing for their country.”
— Bertrand Russell
 
More of Russell’s wisdom


February 2, 1980
Reports surfaced that the FBI had conducted a sting operation targeting members of Congress. In what became known as ''Abscam,'' members suspected of taking bribes were invited to meetings with FBI agents posing as Arab businessmen, offering $50,000 and $100,000 payments for special legislation.
Audio and video recordings of the meetings were made surreptitiously. Six members of the house were convicted of accepting bribes. Another member of the House and one senator were targeted but took no money.
 
FBI agents in Abscam sting operation
Actual FBI videotape of one attempted scam


February 2, 1989

Soviet participation in the war in Afghanistan ended as Red Army troops withdrew from the capital city of Kabul. They left behind many of their arms for use by Afghan government forces. They were driven out principally by the insurgent mujahadin, armed through covert U.S. funding.

Read more
“Charlie Wilson’s War” movie trailer


February 2, 1990

South African President F.W. De Klerk unbanned (lifted the legal prohibition on) opposition parties: the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-Africanist Congress and the South African Communist party were officially considered legal. He also announced the lifting of restrictions on the UDF, COSATU and thirty-three other anti-apartheid organizations, as well as the release of all political prisoners and the suspension of the death penalty. This was the result of his negotiations with the imprisoned Nelson Mandela, a leader of the ANC.

The ecstatic reaction to De Klerk’s beginning the end of apartheid on BBC video


February 3, 1816

Paul Cuffee, a shipowner and a free negro (born to slave parents in Massachusetts), arrived in Sierra Leone with 38 African Americans intent on setting up a colony for free blacks from the United States. He had earlier set up the Friendly Society of Sierra Leone, a trading organization, to encourage commerce between England, the U.S. and the British colony on the Atlantic coast of Africa.

More on Paul Cuffee



February 3, 1893

Abigail Ashbrook of Willingboro, New Jersey, refused to pay taxes because she was denied the right to vote because she was a woman.


February 3, 1964

In New York City, more than 450,000 students, mostly black and Puerto Rican, comprising nearly half the citywide enrollment, boycotted the New York City schools to protest the system's de facto segregation. The Parents' Workshop for Equality, led by Reverend Milton Galamison, had proposed a plan to integrate the city's schools but it was rejected by the school board. Freedom Schools were set up for the kids during the one-day direct action.
More detail on one of the largest collective civil rights actions in history


February 3, 1973

Three decades of armed conflict in Vietnam officially ended when a cease-fire agreement signed in Paris the previous month went into effect. Vietnam had endured almost uninterrupted hostility since 1945, when a war for independence from France was launched. A civil war between the northern and southern regions of the country began after the country was divided by the Geneva Convention in 1954 following France’s military defeat and troop withdrawal. American military "advisors" began arriving in 1955.
Between 1954 and 1975, 107,504 South Vietnamese government troops, approximately 1,000,000 North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front soldiers, and 58,209 American troops died in combat. The number of Vietnamese civilian deaths is unknown, estimated between one and four million killed, and millions
more wounded or affected by defoliants such as Agent Orange.


February 3, 1973

President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, intended to avoid species extinction, especially through loss of habitat.


February 3, 1988

 

The U.S. House of Representatives rejected President Ronald Reagan's request for at least $36.25 million in aid to the Nicaraguan Contras, an insurgent group trying violently to overthrow the Sandinista government.



February 3, 1994

President Bill Clinton lifted the trade embargo against Vietnam, which had been in place since the end of the Vietnam war.


February 4, 1882

The American Colonization Society established the first settlement in what would become the west African state of Liberia. The new arrivals to the island called Perseverance were freeborn blacks from the U.S. who had emigrated with the encouragement of influential white Americans and funding from Congress. The colony was governed by whites for twenty years.

Read more
American Colonization Society ship leaving New York City bound for Liberia.


February 4, 1913

Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama.
She grew up to become civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

The Neville Brothers music video says thank you in “Sister Rosa”
(after short ad)
A teenage Rosa Parks poses with friend Samson Smith


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. Reagan described it as ''loaded with waste and larded
with pork.''


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. In addition to the official Spanish, as many as 200 languages or dialects are spoken among Colombia’s peoples.


U'wa people Boys on the Amazon
More on Colombia’s indigenous peoples


February 4, 1996

Start of a week of marches for peace by thousands in Grozny, the embattled capital of Chechnya.


February 4, 2004

The Massachusetts Supreme Court declared that gays were entitled to nothing less than marriage under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. They ruled that Vermont-style civil unions would not suffice, declaring they created an "unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."

In the news

The actual text of the decision in Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health




February 5, 1830

America’s first daily labor newspaper began publication in New York City.

George Henry Evans, a 29-year-old journeyman printer, was the publisher of "New York Daily Sentinel."

George Henry Evans


February 5, 1991

49 German troops conscientiously objected to serving in Turkey during the Gulf War. The German peace movement actively supported U.S. soldiers stationed there by helping them file for conscientious objector (CO) status. By the end of the month, there were nearly 30,000 civilian COs refusing to serve in the military.



February 5, 2007


Lieutenant Ehren Watada faced a court martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq and for publicly criticizing the war, the first officer since Vietnam to be so tried. A volunteer from Hawaii who joined the U.S. Army prior to the invasion in 2003, he had refused to serve because:
"It would be a violation of my oath because this war to me is illegal in the sense that it was waged in deception, and it was also in violation of international law.”
Lieutenant Ehren Watada
Initially having served in South Korea, he learned more about the Iraqi conflict and the bogus claims of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. He offered to resign or serve in Afghanistan but was refused:
"Mistakes can happen but to think that it was deliberate and that a careful deception was done on the American people – you just had to question who you are as a serviceman, as an American."


February 6, 1899

Spain agreed to abandon all claims of sovereignty over Cuba, the cession of Puerto Rico and Guam, the cession of the Philippine Islands; and in exchange the U.S. agreed to pay $20,000,000 in a treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate on this day.
The previous July the U.S. took control of Gantanamo Bay, blockaded Cuba’s other ports and destroyed the Spanish fleet at Santiago Bay.
The U.S. Army, landed at Guanica, near Ponce, Puerto Rico, and shortly took possession of the island with the exception of San Juan.
The Spanish Pacific fleet was destroyed and the U.S. took control of Manila, the capital, and Luzon, the main island of the Philippines a few weeks later.



February 6, 1943

The U.S. government required the 110,000 disposessed Japanese Americans forcibly held in concentration (internment) camps to answer loyalty surveys.


Some of the interned were U.S. citizens, and some volunteered to serve in the armed forces during the war with Japan.
The Nisei, as they were known, were kept in the camps until the end of World War II.
The Manzanar Relocation Center, a one of the concentration camps where Japanese-Americans were forced to live throughout World War II.


February 6, 1956

Autherine Lucy was excluded from classes 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.

Crowds of students, townspeople and members of the Ku Klux Klan shouted, “Kill her!” among other things. It is unclear why the University did not suspend the students who were among the rioters.
Lucy had originally applied for graduate study in library science in 1952, and had been accepted until the University realized her race, and claimed state law prevented her admission.

Autherine J. Lucy and her attorney Thurgood Marshall
A graduate of traditionally black Miles College, she was only admitted with the help of the National Association for Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund (NAACP-LDEF) and lawyers Thurgood Marshall (later a Supreme Court justice), Constance Baker Motley (future federal judge) and Arthur Shores (elected to Birmingham City Council).
Read more  


February 6, 1959
The United States successfully test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), known as Titan, from Cape Canaveral. It was a two-stage rocket designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Titans were also capable of boosting satellites and spacecraft into orbit. Before the last was produced in 2002, they launched several two-man Gemini missions in the 1960s and launched the first spacecraft to land on Mars.
First test launch of Titan booster rocket from
Cape Canaveral, Florida.


February 6, 1961

The civil rights jail-in movement began when ten negro students in Rock Hill, South Carolina, were arrested for requesting service at a segregated lunch counter. They refused to post bail and demanded jail time rather than paying fines, refusing to acknowledge any legitimacy of the laws under which they were arrested.
Charles Sherrod More about Charles Sherrod 
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to Charles Sherrod, Diane Nash
and the others in jail:

‘‘You have inspired all of us by such demonstrative courage and faith. It is good to know that there still remains a creative minority who would rather lose in a cause that will ultimately win than to win in a cause that will ultimately lose.’’


February 6, 1985

The Molesworth Common Peace Camp, just outside the Royal Air Force Base there, was evicted by the British Army. The 300 inhabitants and their many supporters had been nonviolently protesting the siting of nuclear-tipped U.S. cruise missiles at the base. Peace camps were established at several locations in Europe in the early 1980s to protest the destabilizing nuclear weapons buildup.

Molesworth Common peace camp



 February 7, 1926

"Negro History Week" was observed for the first time, conceived by Dr. Carter G. Woodson as an opportunity to study the history and accomplishments of African Americans. Dr. Woodson was the founder, in 1915 Chicago, of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. There he first published the Journal of Negro History,
currently known as The Journal of African American History (www.jaah.org).

Woodson was a graduate of the University of Chicago, the Sorbonne, and was the second black man ever to receive his doctorate from Harvard.
He chose February because it is the birth month of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass; now it is designated Black History Month.

More on Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s
life and work
:
Dr. Carter G. Woodson
Top L-R: Frederick Douglass, former slave and abolitionist leader; Muhammad Ali, poet, World Champion, the greatest; Maya Angelou, poet, novelist, voice of wisdom; Malcolm X, strong and clear-eyed brother seeking freedom and honor and dignity ; Harriet Tubman, liberator and conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Below: Jimi Hendrix, prolific guitar genius, rock ‘n’ roll writer; Nat “King” Cole, jazz composer, pianist and singer; Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., pastor, scholar and author, leader of a people, inspiration to peacemakers.


February 7, 1971

Women in Switzerland were granted the right to vote in national elections and to stand for parliament for the first time in their nation's history. This happened through a national referendum in which only men could vote, passing 621,403 to 323,596. A previous referendum in 1959 failed 2-1.



February 7, 1986

Haitian self-appointed President-for-Life Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier fled his country after being ousted by the military, ending 28 years of authoritarian family rule.

Policies begun by his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, had forced many to flee Haiti (the western portion of the island of Hispaniola), leaving it the poorest and most illiterate nation in the hemisphere. Deforestation (for cooking fuel and heat) eliminated forest cover on 98% of the country, in turn leading to significant annual loss of topsoil, often making agriculture unsustainable.


Jean-Claude `Baby Doc' Duvalier with his father Francois `Papa Doc' Duvailer.
Some Haitian history


February 7, 1991

The Reverend Jean-Bertrand Aristide was sworn in as Haiti's president after winning the country’s first-ever democratic election. Haiti had achieved its independence from France in 1804 but had a long succession on unstable governments, as well as significant U.S. control in the first half of the 20th century, including military occupation from 1915 to 1934.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in exile during the 1991-94 military junta.
Archive of Haitian history


February 8, 1962

More than 20,000 attended a demonstration in Paris against the Secret Army Organization (Organisation de l'Armée Secrète or OAS), a group of European-Algerians which used terrorist methods to keep Algeria a French colony.
They set off bombs in Metropolitan France and made multiple attempts on President Charles DeGaulle’s life.

DeGaulle had chosen a referendum among Algerians to decide their independence; Europeans were outnumbered 9:1 by the native population of Sunni Muslim Arabs and Berbers.
The demonstration was held in violation of a declared state of emergency (because of OAS actions) and, in the subsequent rioting, at least eight people were killed and 240 injured (half of them police officers).

The terrorist crimes of the OAS


February 8, 1968

The Orangeburg Masssacre

Three black students were killed and 50 wounded in a confrontation with highway patrolmen at a South Carolina State rally supporting arrested civil rights protesters. Orangeburg’s only bowling alley, the All Star, was still segregated years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had outlawed discrimination based on race in such public accommodations.
On the previous two days, college students had entered the bowling alley, refusing to leave after they were not allowed to bowl. Fifteen of the second group were arrested.

The Orangeburg Massacre



February 8, 1980

President Jimmy Carter unveiled a plan to re-introduce
draft registration.


February 9, 1780

Captain Paul Cuffe, his brother John, two free negroes, and other residents of Massachusetts petitioned the state legislature for the
right to vote.

A few years earlier, Cuffe and his brother had refused to pay local taxes, reasoning that there was a connection between an obligation to pay taxes to a government and the right to vote for that government.

Cuffe’s memoir available
Captain Paul Cuffee
Cuffe’s career as ship captain, shipowner, African colonizer and generous citizen


February 9, 1950

United States Senator Joseph P. McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) accused more than 200 staff members in the State Department of being Communists, launching his anti-red crusade.
He made the allegation in a public speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, saying that state was infested with communists, and brandished a sheet of paper which he said contained the alleged traitors' names.

"I have here in my hand," he said, "the names of 205 men that were known to the Secretary of State [Dean Acheson] as being members of the Communist party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department." The number changed repeatedly over the following months. Some years later, he confided the paper was actually just a laundry list.

Anti-Communist fear ran high in the U.S. at the time. Federal civil servant and Soviet spy Alger Hiss had been recently convicted, and a communist government had just come into power in China. Those accused by McCarthy and others often lost their jobs, regardless of the validity of the accusation of their connection to the Communist Party.
McCarthy’s career of irresponsible accusation

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post sees McCarthy echoes in Karl Rove-inspired politics   Released 50 years later, transcripts of closed committee hearings reveal more abuse


February 9, 1964
  The G.I. JOE action figure made its debut as an 11.5 inch "doll" for boys with 21 moving parts, named after the movie, The Story of G.I. JOE.

 


Puts you in the action!



February 9, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson ordered a U.S. Marine Corps Hawk air defense missile battalion deployed to Da Nang, South Vietnam, to provide protection for the key U.S. air base there. American military advisers had been in country since the defeat and withdrawal of the French in 1954, but this was the first commitment of combat troops to South Vietnam.
There was considerable reaction around the world to this new level of U.S. involvement. Both the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union threatened to intervene if the United States continued its military support of the South Vietnamese government.
In Moscow, some 2,000 demonstrators, led by Vietnamese and Chinese students and clearly supported by the authorities, attacked the U.S. Embassy. Britain and Australia supported the U.S. action, but France called for negotiations.
A Marine HAWK missile launcher is in position at the Danang Airfield.


February 9, 2002
Ten thousand, organized by Gush Shalom (peace bloc in Hebrew), a coalition of Israeli peace groups, marched in Tel Aviv against the Ariel Sharon government's increasingly brutal attacks on Palestinian civilians. The harsh tactics were part of Israel’s continuing occupation of the West Bank (of the Jordan River) and the Gaza Strip, territory beyond Israel’s internationally recognized 1967 borders.


February 9, 2003
Six weeks before the Iraq War began, Secretary of State Colin Powell on ABC-TV's “This Week” dismissed the need for U.N. weapons inspectors to continue searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

He said the administration saw no further need for ''inspectors to play detectives or Inspector Clouseau running all over Iraq.'' Clouseau was the bumbling detective played originally by Peter Sellers (and lately Steve Martin) in the Pink Panther films.

Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presenting evidence at the United Nations
U.N. weapons inspectors, left, and Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate members visit a Baghdad storage facility in this photo taken Feb. 5, 2003, just hours before U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared at the U.N. Security Council to offer evidence of alleged Iraqi attempts to hide banned weapons.



February 10, 1961

The Voice of Nuclear Disarmament, a pirate radio station, began operation offshore of Great Britain. It was run by John Hasted, a physicist, a musician, and a radio expert in World War II. He was active with mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell in the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament, a group that practiced Gandhian an nonviolent civil disobedience.

Pirate radio ship


February 10, 1964

Bob Dylan’s ''The Times They Are A-Changin’'' was released. The album’s title song captured the emerging, principally generational gap in American culture concerning war and racism.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
watch video (1964)
the lyrics
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February 10, 2003

Iraq acceded to U-2 surveillance flights over its territory, meeting a key demand by U.N. inspectors searching for banned weapons of mass destruction (WMD) there.

The 60 weapons inspectors in Baghdad and Mosul were under the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), led by Hans Blix, and the International Atomic Energy Agency under Mohamed El Baradei.
The U.N. had destroyed all of Iraq’s banned weapons by 1994, as well as production and development facilities later, though Saddam Hussein expelled the U.N. representatives in 1998.
U-2 spy plane.

The economic and trade embargo during the inter-war period prevented resumption of the weapons programs. CIA and other intelligence estimates, however, insisted upon the existence of WMDs in Iraq. None have ever been found.
Hans Blix gives his report at the UN as Mohamed El Baradei listens.


February 11, 1790

The Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, composed mostly of Quakers and Mennonites, petitioned Congress for emancipation of all slaves. Benjamin Franklin had become vocal as an abolitionist and in 1787 began to serve as President of the Society which not only advocated the abolition of slavery, but made efforts to integrate freed slaves into American society.
The proposed resolution was immediately denounced by pro-slavery congressmen and sparked a heated debate in both the House and the Senate.

More on early Abolitionist and Anti-Slavery Movements


February 11, 1916

Emma Goldman was arrested for lecturing on birth control, presumed a violation of the 1873 Comstock Law which prohibited distribution of literature on birth control, considered obscene under the act.
Goldman considered such knowledge essential to women's reproductive and economic freedom; she had worked as a nurse and midwife among poor immigrant workers on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1890s. She also organized for womens’ suffrage, later opposed U.S. involvement in World War I, and was imprisoned for allegedly obstructing military conscription.

“. . . those like myself who are disseminating knowledge [of birth control] are not doing so because of personal gain or because we consider it obscene or lewd. We do it because we know the desperate condition among the masses of workers and even professional people, when they cannot meet the demands of numerous children.”

– Goldman letter to the press following her arrest

Emma Goldman speaking on Birth Control -Union Square, New York City May 20, 1916

Emma Goldman’s courageous efforts

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February 11, 1937

Forty-eight thousand General Motors workers won their 44-day sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan. On December 30 workers at Fisher Plants 1 & 2 sat down and refused to leave, forcing workers around them to stop work and preventing the next shift from starting.

The sit-down strike ended when the company agreed to recognize the United Automobile Workers union as the representative bargaining agent for the striking hourly employees. Other automakers gradually accepted the legitimacy of the union. The success of the sit-down was an inspiration to workers in other industries to organize their own unions.

Nearly 100 images on the Flint sit-down from
Detroit’s Wayne State University Walter Reuther Archive


February 11, 1978

Native Americans began The Longest Walk, a march from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to Washington, D.C.

Native American Activism:
1960s to Present

A Brief History
of the
American Indian Movement

photo Ilka Hartmann for larger image click

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, 1979

Poet John Trudell, a former national chairman of the American Indian Movement (AIM), burned an upside-down flag and spoke from the steps of the FBI building in Washington, D.C. during a vigil for Leonard Peltier. Peltier, also a leader of AIM, was imprisoned (and is still today after 30 years), and is considered a political prisoner by Amnesty International.
Twelve hours later Trudell’s wife Tina, her mother, and their three children died in an arsonist's attack of their home on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada. The FBI did not investigate even though the crime fell under its jurisdiction.

Learn about Leonard Peltier Remembering John Trudell


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. (Frederik Willem) de Klerk.
In 1952, Mandela became deputy national president of the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black political organization in South Africa, having joined as a young lawyer in 1944.

He advocated nonviolent resistance to apartheid – South Africa's institutionalized system of white supremacy, black disenfranchisement and rigid racial segregation.

However, after the massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, Mandela helped organize a paramilitary branch of the ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.

He and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1993 "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”

Read more
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February 12, 1809

Charles Robert Darwin, who first described the process of evolution of species in the plant and animal kingdoms through natural selection, was born.
It is now celebrated as Darwin Day, when the common language of science, bridging language and culture, is recognized and appreciated
.
Darwin Day ideas
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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. The call was issued on the centennial of his birth, and principally written by Oswald Garrison Villard, president of the N.Y. Evening Post Company: "If Mr. Lincoln could revisit this country in the flesh, he would be disheartened and discouraged.”

Oswald Garrison Villard
NAACP’s beginnings:


February 12, 1947

An estimated 400-500 veterans and conscientious objectors from World Wars I and II burned their draft cards during two demonstrations, in front of the White House and at New York City’s Labor Temple, in protest of a proposed universal conscription law.
This was the first peacetime draft-card burning.



February 12, 1993

About 5,000 demonstrators marched on Atlanta's State Capitol to protest the Georgia state flag (on left) because its principal element was the Confederate battle flag. That flag was adopted in 1956 by the state legislature in reaction to the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education ordering the racial integration of public schools. Several newspaper editorials opposed the flag as well as 18 local patriotic organizations, including the United Daughters of the Confederacy, stating the flag "would cause strife."

In 2001 the Georgia state flag was redesigned, shown above.


February 12, 1997

In "Prince of Peace Plowshares," six activists poured blood and symbolically disarmed U.S.S. The Sullivans, a nuclear-capable Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. All were eventually convicted of destruction of government property and conspiracy.
Read more about this action


February 13, 1912

Labor leader Mary Harris "Mother" Jones was placed under house arrest at Pratt (Kanawha Co.), West Virginia, for inciting to riot. An organizer for the United Mine Workers, she had come to the Paint Creek and Cabin Creek mines where a long and nasty struggle had escalated.

Jones was known for her fiery (and often obscene) verbal attacks on coal operators and politicians. A native of Ireland, she had been organizing for more than 15 years.

The coal operators had hired mine guards to intimidate the workers and discourage formation of a union. Besides asking to be paid what other area miners were making, the union demanded
• the right to organize
• recognition of their rights to free speech and assembly
• an end to blacklisting of union organizers
• alternatives to company stores
• an end to the practice of using mine guards
• prohibition of cribbing
• installation of scales at all mines for accurately weighing coal
unions be allowed to hire their own checkweighmen to make sure the companies' checkweighmen were not cheating the miners who were not paid hourly, but by the ton.
68 years old (though claiming to be over 80) and suffering from pneumonia, Jones was never charged with a crime (martial law had been declared). A few weeks later, the new governor, Henry Hatfield, was sworn in and examined Mother Jones (he was also a doctor) but refused to release her from house arrest for two months.
Mother Jones biography Mother Jones magazine
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February 13, 1960

France became the world’s fourth nuclear power, conducting its first plutonium bomb test at the Reggane base in the Sahara Desert in what was then French Algeria. "Gerboise Bleue" was detonated from a 330-foot tower and had a yield of 60-70 kilotons (equivalent to nearly 70,000 tons of TNT).



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.

Senator Jacob Javits (R-New York) agreed to meet a few hundred of the women, but he was booed by the women when he denied the U.S. was using toxic gas in Vietnam.



February 13, 1968
Five soldiers were arrested at a pray-in for peace in Vietnam at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Two were court-martialed for refusing to stop praying. The pray-in was repeated a year later.


February 13, 1991

Two precision-guided missiles destroyed the Amiriyah subterranean bunker in Baghdad while being used as an air-raid shelter by 408 Iraqi civilians during the first Gulf War. The resulting deaths of all inside made it the single most lethal incident for non-combatants in modern air warfare. The U.S. had detected signals coming from the bunker and considered it a military command and control center.
There was an antenna atop the bunker but it was connected by cable to the actual command center 300 yards away, which was not hit by the 2000 lb. bombs which landed precisely on their intended target, penetrating ten feet of hardened concrete. Only 3% of the 250,000 bombs and missiles fired during that conflict were considered such “smart bombs.”
Visitors tour the Amiriyah Bunker.
The Iraqi government has preserved the bunker as a public memorial.



February 14, 1957

The organization that would shortly be called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) chose its leadership at a meeting
in New Orleans.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Ralph David Abernathy led the group which sought to coordinate civil rights protests throughout the South.
Organizers of bus boycotts, inspired by the one in Montgomery, Alabama, had met in Atlanta a month earlier. Duringthat meeting Dr. Abernathy’s home and church were bombed.

Reverend Ralph David Abernathy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


February 14, 1971

President Richard Nixon ordered a secret taping system to be installed for his offices in the White House.

Listen in on the presidents


 



February 14, 1989

At a meeting of the presidents of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, the Sandinista government of Nicaragua agreed to release a number of political prisoners and hold free elections within a year. In return, Honduras promised to close bases established by the U.S. and used by and for the anti-Sandinista Contra rebels. Just over one year later, elections were held, and the results recognized
(the Sandanista party won) by all sides despite millions of U.S. dollars used to organized and influence the elections.


February 15, 1898

The man-of-war (battleship) USS Maine was sunk in Cuba’s Havana Harbor as the result of an explosion, 260 American naval personnel dying as a result, another 58 wounded. An insurrection against Spanish colonial rule in Cuba had persisted for years, and brutal Spanish tactics had engendered strong American reaction. That is why Consul General Fitzhugh Lee had asked President William McKinley to send the Maine “for the moral effect it might have.”
Spain’s Governor-General Weyler had forced 300,000 Cubans into towns and cities to insulate them from the insurgents but had made no preparations for their food, housing or health care. Half of the reconcentrados, as they were called, died as a result. Pres. McKinley had tried since coming into office to reach a settlement through negotiation but Spain rejected his efforts. Following the sinking of the Maine, popular opinion in the U.S. moved toward war with Spain, partially in response to inflammatory press coverage. Congress then voted McKinley $50,000,000 to be used for the national defense at his discretion, and provided for a contingent increase of the army to 100,000 men.
The cause of the explosion ???


February 15, 1998

About 2,000 people – including a tractor convoy consisting of over 100 farmers – staged a demonstration in the north German town of Ahaus in protest against the planned shipment of nuclear waste to a storage facility in the town.
A consignment of full CASTOR (Casks for Storage and Transport of Radioactive Material) containers was expected at the Ahaus interim nuclear storage site within the next two weeks.


February 15, 2002

President George W. Bush approved Nevada's Yucca Mountain as the site for long-term disposal of 70,000 metric tons (77,000 tons) of highly radioactive nuclear power plant waste.
12 years and $6.8 billion worth of study and construction had gone into the site 90 miles from Las Vegas.
It is officially estimated that, by the time it is completed in 2017, the total construction cost will be $23 billion.
2000 additional metric tons of such waste are generated by U.S. nuclear power plants each year, leading to concerns that the facility would be full shortly after its opening. All such waste is currently stored onsite at individual nuclear power plants.
Problems with the Yucca Mountain site
What are the alternatives FAQs on Yucca Mountain


February 15, 2003

The world said NO to war...

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. Reported totals included 1 to 2 million in London and Rome; 1.3 million in Barcelona, Spain (a city of 1.5 million); 500,000 each in Berlin, Paris, Madrid, and New York. Smaller demonstrations were held in over 600 cities and towns across the U.S., including tens of thousands in several cities, and 150,000 the following day in San Francisco.
Total participation is estimated at 25 million in more than 100 countries.



February 16, 1936
A coalition known as the Popular Front (Frente Popular), comprised of socialists, communists, republicans, and labor groups, narrowly won a majority in the Cortes, Spain’s parliament, defeating the National Front.


February 16, 1959

Fidel Castro was sworn in as Cuba’s youngest prime minister after leading a years-long guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile.

Fidel Castro

Castro, who had become commander-in-chief of Cuba's armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced the more moderate Jose Miro Cardona as head of the country's new provisional government.

Fulgencio Batista
More background on Fidel
As reported at the time, including a filmed interview with Castro in English


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.
CASE’s founder, Carrie Barefoot Dickerson, known as Aunt Carrie, and her husband, Robert, spent nearly a decade and all their financial assets organizing folks around Tulsa and the state. The Dickersons’ principal concern was the potential damage to health near the plant, and elsewhere through uranium mining and processing.
Aunt Carrie, her allies and their success watch video (2011)


February 16, 1996

 

Seven activists were arrested for blocking the road to the ceremony commissioning the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Greeneville at the Norfolk (Virginia) Naval Base.



February 16, 1996
The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), representing Mexico’s southern indigenous peoples, and the Mexican federal government signed the San Andrés Accords.
Begun in 1994 in Chiapas state, the EZLN had pushed the government for
• Basic respect for the diversity of the indigenous population of Chiapas;
• The conservation of the the natural resources within the territories used and occupied by indigenous peoples;
Subcommandate Marcos, leader of the Zapatistas, and two of his officers
• A greater participation of indigenous communities in the decisions and control of public expenditures;
• The participation of indigenous communities in determining their own development plans, as well as having control over their own administrative and judicial affairs;
• The autonomy of indigenous communities and their right of free determination in the framework of the State.


February 16, 2005 

The Kyoto Protocol went into effect after countries responsible for 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions had ratified the treaty, following Russia’s agreement to its terms. The agreement’s purpose was to reduce such gases to 12% below their levels in 1990 by 2012 and, thus, slow global warming.  

180 countries had agreed (except for the United States and Australia, two of the world’s top emitters of GHG per capita) to rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol on July 29, 2001, in Bonn, Germany. President George W. Bush withdrew the U.S. from the process shortly after he took office that same year. His reasoning was that, since India and China had not signed on, they would gain a competitive advantage. The U.S. is now responsible for 15.6% of the earth’s GHG (with 5% of its population).

History, background on the Kyoto Protocol



February 17, 1958

The first meeting of Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was held. CND developed the peace symbol which became its logo.

CND history


February 17, 1975

Several hundred residents of Wyhl, 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 had joined the occupation, and police withdrew for eight months.
This is believed to have been the first such nuclear plant site takeover in the world. The occupation was nonviolent, and a sort of village sprang up with a “Friendship House” and a “popular university.” Local farmers supported the occupiers with food.

Stand-off between anti-nuclear
activists and police at Wyhl, Germany
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.


February 18, 1688

Francis Daniel Pastorius and three other Pennsylvania Quakers (members of the Society of Friends) made the first formal protest against slavery in the new world. At the Thones Kunders House in Germantown (now part of Philadelphia) they signed a proclamation denouncing the importation, sale, and ownership of slaves: ". . . we shall doe [sic] to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent or colour they are."

More on Germantown Society of Friends



February 18, 1961


In London, Sir Bertrand Russell, 88, led a march of 20,000 and sit-down of 5,000 in an anti-nuke rally outside the U.K. Defense Ministry, and was jailed for seven days. It was the first public demonstration organized by the Committee of 100, the direct action wing of the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament.


The CND today
above: Bertrand Russell and Edith Russell watching the actress Vanessa Redgrave address the Committee of 100 meeting in Trafalgar Square, which preceded the anti-Polaris "sit-in" outside the Ministry of Defence on February 18, 1961. Early CND demonstrator


February 18, 1970

Five of the "Chicago Seven" (Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin) were found guilty of crossing state lines to incite a riot during the 1968 Democratic convention.

The Chicago Seven

John Froines and Lee Weiner had both been charged with making incendiary devices (stink bombs) but were found not guilty of all charges. None of the seven were found guilty of conspiracy. Attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass and defendants Weiner and Dellinger were sentenced for contempt of court, except for Weiner for more than a year. All appealed.

More on the group Summary of the legal issues


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. DuBois, sociologist, historian, novelist, playwright, and cultural critic, served as special representative of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and was assisted by Blaise Diagne, a member of the French Parliament from the West African colony of Senegal.
W.E.B. DuBois, founder of the NAACP and convener
for the Pan-African Congress in Paris
.
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.
DuBois was a moving spirit behind the growing struggle for self-determination among Africans, both on the continent and in the diaspora, and the Pan-African Congresses helped to bring the issues of this struggle to world attention. The Pan-African Congress was re-convened in 1921, 1923, 1927, and 1945. Attendees at the Pan-African Congress.
Biographical sketch of W.E.B. DuBois More depth on the Pan-African Congresses
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February 19, 1942

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, issued a directive ordering all Japanese Americans (Nisei) evacuated from the West Coast of the U.S., and forcing them to live in concentration camps. Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War and military commanders “to prescribe military areas . . . from which any or all persons may be excluded.”
San Francisco Chronicle February 27, 1942
Photo by Dorothea Lange

There was strong support from California Attorney General Earl Warren (later U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice), liberal journalist Walter Lippmann and Time magazine—which referred to California as "Japan's Sudetenland"
Japanese-American child on bus to concentration camp. photo: Dorothea Lange
112,000 citizens of Japanese ancestry were relocated, losing their businesses, homes, and belongings to the white residents of their former neighborhoods.This day is referred to as the "Day of Remembrance.” It has been commemorated every year for 67 years to remind Americans of that miscarriage of justice, and to ensure such things do not happen again.
Japanese American residents board the bus for Camp Harmony, 1942.
Children of the camps Note: In the entire course of the war, 10 people were convicted
of spying for Japan,all of whom were Caucasian
Day of Rememberance "Not Enough People Know About Day of Rememberance"


February 19, 1972

Paul McCartney's song, "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," was immediately banned from airplay by the BBC.
Opening of the song:
Give Ireland back to the Irish
Don’t make them have to take it away
Give Ireland back to the irish
Make Ireland Irish today
Great Britain you are tremendous
And nobody knows like me
But really what are you doin’
In the land across the sea
Tell me how would you like it
If on your way to work
You were stopped by Irish soldiers
Would you lie down do nothing
Would you give in, or go berserk?
 

 


Paul McCartney’s video of the song


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 (formerly head of Nasjonal Samling, the Norwegian fascist party) 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 and 12,000 of 14,000 nationwide wrote the same letter on this day to the education department refusing membership in the newly formed Nazi teachers’ association. Two days later clergy throughout the country read a manifesto against Nazi control of the schools.

How the teachers pushed back

Vidkun Quisling (on right), Germany’s puppet leader in Norway,
allowed Germany to invade his country and declared himself Prime Minister.

In Norway his name has become synonymous with traitor.



February 20, 1956
The U.S. rejected a Soviet proposal to ban nuclear weapons tests and deployment. The U.S. continued atmospheric nuclear testing in the South Pacific and Nevada until 1963.


February 20, 2011
Nearly 40,000 pro-Democracy Moroccans demonstrated peacefully in
57 towns and cities across the country. Though there was sporadic
violence later that night, Interior minister Taeib Cherqaoui called the earlier efforts “the healthy practice of the freedom of expression.”


February 21, 1848
“The Communist Manifesto,” written by 29-year-old Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, was published in London (in German) by a group of German-born revolutionary socialists known as the Communist League.

Friedrich Engels Karl Marx

The political pamphlet — arguably one of the most influential in history — proclaimed that "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles," and that the inevitable victory of the proletariat, or working class, would put an end to class society forever.

Read the Manifesto
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February 21, 1965

Malcolm X, an African-American nationalist and religious leader, was shot and killed in New York City by Black Muslims with whom he had broken the year before, as he began to address his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City’s Washington Heights. His home had been firebombed just a few days earlier. He was 39.

Radio story on the late Manning Marable’s biography,
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinventiion

More on on Malcolm's assassination

MalcolmX.com

“In 1964, after his break with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, and following his trips to Africa and to Mecca, Malcolm was seriously questioning black nationalism. He was also beginning to recognize that MLK’s non-violent methods, far from being passive, were actually creating more change than the separatism of the Nation of Islam.
In this same period MLK was beginning to recognize that Malcolm was advocating self-defense, not violence.
In March Malcolm and Martin encountered one another by chance at a news conference in Washington, D.C. Subsequently Malcolm spoke at several rallies in support of the civil rights movement, and in February 1965, two weeks before his assassination, he went to Selma to meet with King." –Grace Lee Boggs


" You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."

--"Prospects for Freedom in 1965," speech, January 7 1965.

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February 21, 1972

The trial began for Father Philip Berrigan and six other activists (the "Harrisburg Seven") in Pennsylvania. They were charged with conspiring in an alleged plot to kidnap Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Proceedings later ended in a mistrial.

Remembering Fr. Philip Berrigan
Daniel Berrigan, above, and his brother Philip in the documentary, "Investigation of a Flame." The film focuses on the Catonsville action.


February 21, 1975

Former Attorney General John N. Mitchell, Mitchell aide Robert Mardian, and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 21⁄2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up. They were variously convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, fraud, and perjury.
See the new film, Frost/Nixon, for perspective on some of
the issues behind Watergate

 

 

Charlie Rose interview with Peter Morgan, the screenwriter (and author of what was originally a play) and Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, the lead actors


February 21, 2011

Two Libyan Air Force fighter pilots defected to the Mediterranean island of Malta rather than carry out orders they had received to bomb civilian countrymen. Two helicopters with seven others landed in Malta to escape the violence. Colonel Muammar Qadaffi had ordered the attacks in attempt to quell the growing protests against his 42-year dictatorship.
Libya’s ambassadors to China, India, Indonesia and Poland, as well as Libya's representative to the Arab League and most, if not all, of its mission at the United Nations resigned the same day.


February 22, 1943

Sophie Scholl, a 22-year-old White Rose (Weisse Rose) activist at Munich University, was executed after being convicted of urging students to rise up and overthrow the Nazi government.


There are many memorials in Bavaria and Germany to Sophie and her group, the White Rose, but little is known outside of Germany. They were medical students who organized nonviolent resistance to Hitler, and were arrested for printing and distributing anti-Nazi flyers.

Sophie, her brother Hans, a former member of Hitler Youth who started White Rose, and Christof Probst, the three young people in the photo, were executed. Few White Rose members survived the war which is why the story is not well known.

Film made about Sophie Scholl’s courage & watch the trailer



February 22, 1967

Indonesian President Sukarno (born Kusno Sosrodihardjo) surrendered all executive authority to military chief-of-staff General Suharto, remaining president in title only. Sukarno had begun the movement for Indonesian independence from Dutch colonial control in 1927. They were supplanted by the Japanese during World War II, but independence was realized following Japan’s defeat. Sukarno was elected president but had declared himself president for life in 1963.

Suharto (right) with predecessor Sukarno

Following a failed communist-led coup within the military, Suharto launched a purge of Indonesian communists that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. In 1967 he assumed full power, and in 1968 was elected president and remained in power for 32 years. He was also responsible for Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor, which left an estimated 100,000 Timorese dead from famine, disease and warfare.

See The Year of Living Dangerously for an excellent dramatic re-creation of the time.(trailer)
More on Suharto And more on Sukarno


February 22, 1974

Farmer Sam Lovejoy toppled the weather tower for a proposed nuclear power plant in Montague, Massachusetts. This was the first act of civil disobedience against the dangers of nuclear power in the U.S. Lovejoy turned himself in to the police, was tried but not convicted.

Sam Lovejoy
The full story of Sam Lovejoy’s action

Ballad of Sam Lovejoy by Rob Skelton



February 22, 1997

Nearly 35,000 marched in Paris against a new anti-immigration bill. Many of the demonstrators chanted "First, second or third generation, we are all children of immigrants." Another 5,000 movie directors, writers, painters, actors, translators, journalists and teachers signed petitions pledging civil disobedience.


February 23, 1982

Wales declared itself a nuclear weapons-free zone.
Its last nuclear power plant, Wylfa at Anglesey with two reactors, was shut down completely in 2015.

Nuclear-free zones


February 23, 2011

Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, fell to rebels after three days of violent clashes with the forces of brutal dictator Colonel Muammar Qaddafi.
“He is gone. A dragon has been slain,” cried Ahmed Al-Fatuuir outside the secret police headquarters. “Now he has to explain where all the bodies are.

Graffiti showing a caricature of Gaddafi reading,
'The Monkey of Monkeys of Africa', a reference to his self-declared title 'The King of Kings of Africa'.


February 24, 1895

José Martí, a Cuban revolutionary, poet, journalist and teacher, began the liberation struggle against Spanish control. He had been forced out of Cuba repeatedly (to Spain) for his opposition to colonial rule, and spent 15 years in the U.S. organizing the revolution just before returning home.

José Martí

I Cultivate a White Rose
By José Martí
I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.
And for the cruel person who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose
.

read about José Martí



February 24, 1965

District 1199 of the health care workers’ union (now Service Employees International Union) in New York City became the first U.S. labor union to officially oppose the war in Vietnam.


February 24, 1966

Barry Bondhus, classified 1-A (fully eligible) for the draft during the Vietnam War, dumped two buckets of manure in file drawers at the Elk River, Minnesota, draft board. A farmer’s son (one of ten brothers) from Big Lake who acted with the full support of his parents, he was charged with destruction of government property.
Father and son, Tom and Barry Bondhus, united in their opposition to the draft.
Photo: Pete Hohn, Minneapolis Tribune

His father, Tom, wrote a declaration of war on the government over their insistence on forcing his boys into the army. He said he was prepared to die to protect his sons but eager to negotiate.“My opinion is that since our constitution guarantees: Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness; and because the army denies all three; the draft is not lawful.”
Barry, sometimes referred to as “the Big Lake One,” who listed his race as “human” on the draft forms, served 14 months in jail and prison for his action.

Perspective on the case and the Bondhus family more than 50 years later



February 24, 1972

Daniel Berrigan (one of the "Catonsville 9") was released after 18 months of a three-year term. He went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where his brother Phil Berrigan was on trial, also for anti-Vietnam War activities [see February 21, 1972].

Investigation of a Flame, a film about the Berrigan brothers and the Catonsville 9



February 24, 1983

A congressional commission released a report condemning the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, calling it a "grave injustice."

Read more



February 24, 2012

Syndicated talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh began a three-broadcast-day-long campaign attacking Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke (rhymes with book) for her testimony before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
The previous week she had been invited to testify on the subject of federal requirements for contraceptive coverage in health insurance policies before the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Instead, Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) declared her testimony inappropriate (she is past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice), instead hearing from five men. Committee member Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney asked, “Where are the women?”
Fluke talked about the high cost of contraception and the non-pregnancy-related importance of such medications for some women.
Limbaugh spent six hours on air demeaning her personally and derided her as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

Watch Sandra Fluke’s testimony:



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 (only two survived the war). 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. The work stoppages spread to Zaanstreek, Kennemerland and Utrecht.
Two days later the strike was called off: nine people were dead, 50 injured and another 200 arrested, some of whom were to die in the concentration camps.
The Dokwerker” is a statue by sculptor Mari Andriessen in Amsterdam’s Jonas Daniel Meyer Square commemorating the February 1941 strike. It is frequestly the rallying point for demonstrations against racism.

Read more download pdf



February 25, 1968

Discussing the war capacity of North Vietnam, a country that had been fighting for its independence for 23 years and had just staged the massive, successful Tet Offensive, U.S. General William C. Westmoreland stated, "I do not believe Hanoi can hold up under a long war."
He was replaced as commander in Vietnam less than four months later.
Vietnam commander General William Westmoreland meeting with President Lyndon Johnson
Westmoreland’s life and career


February 25, 1971

Legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress to forbid U.S. military support of any South Vietnamese invasion of North Vietnam without prior congressional approval. This bill was a result of the controversy that arose following the invasion of Laos by South Vietnamese forces.
On February 8, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam had launched a major cross-border operation into Laos to interdict activity along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and destroy the North Vietnamese supply dumps in the area. The Ho Chi Minh Trail, named for the leader of North Vietnam, was an informal network of jungle trails down which supplies came from the north, supplying insurgents and troops in the south.


February 25, 1986

The newly elected Philippine president, Corazón Aquino, was sworn in, bringing to an end years of dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos. In the face of massive demonstrations against his rule, President Ferdinand Marcos and his entourage had been airlifted from the presidential palace in Manila by U.S. helicopters.
The newly elected Philippine president, Corazón Aquino, was sworn in, bringing to an end years of dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos. In the face of massive demonstrations against his rule, President Ferdinand Marcos and his entourage had been airlifted from the presidential palace in Manila by U.S. helicopters.
Ferdinand & Imelda Marcos   Corazon Aquino


February 25, 2011

A Day of Rage saw demonstrations across the Middle East. Protesters in Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, and Bahrain showed their support variously for an end to corruption and income inequality, political reform and better public services, and the replacement of long-running dictatorships with democratic regimes.
Day of Rage in Taiz, Yemen
Reports from throughout the region


February 26, 1966

Four thousand picketed outside New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as President Lyndon Johnson received the National Freedom Award. As Johnson began his speech in defense of his Vietnam policies, James Peck of the War Resisters League jumped to his feet and shouted, "Mr. President, peace in Vietnam!"
Julian Bond in 1966

On the streets, meanwhile, activist A.J. Muste presented the crowd's own "Freedom Award" to Julian Bond, who had been denied his seat in the Georgia legislature for refusing to disavow his opposition to the war, and for his support of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.



February 26, 1984

The last of the 1400 peacekeeping troops President Ronald Reagan had sent to the Lebanese capital of Beirut were evacuated. The troops were part of an international force sent to deal with the Lebanese civil war. The president withdrew almost all American troops following the deaths of 241 Marines and 58 French paratroopers in a suicide truck bombing carried out four months earlier by the combined forces of Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah. France withdrew its troops as well.
Three weeks earlier, Reagan had told the Wall Street Journal, “As long as there is a chance for peace, the mission remains the same. If we get out, that means the end of Lebanon.” In a barb directed at House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O'Neill Jr. (D-Massachusetts), Reagan had said, “He may be ready to surrender, but I'm not.
The Beirut barracks bombing remembered News of the withdrawal of peacekeeping troops


February 26, 1998

Libby Davies

An international Citizens' Weapons Inspection Team, led by Canadian Member of Parliament Libby Davies (NDP-Vancouver East), was denied entry to determine the presence or absence of weapons of mass destruction at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington, nuclear submarine base, just 12 km (7 miles) from Seattle and less than 60 km (37 miles) from Canada.

Read more



February 27, 1939

Flint sit-down strikers, 1937 The Supreme Court outlawed sit-down strikes in its decision NLRB v. Fansteel Metallurgical Corp. Such strikes had become a very effective strategy employed by workers to organize unions. The 1937 Flint sit-down strike of autoworkers against General Motors forced GM to recognize the United Auto Workers as the representative of its hourly employees, and negotiate wages and working conditions.
The text of the Supreme Court’s decision:


February 27, 1973

Hundreds of Oglala Lakota Sioux and members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the village of Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
Angered over a long history of violated treaties, mistreatment, family dismemberment, cultural destruction, discrimination, and impoverishment through confiscation of resources, they particularly demanded the U.S. live up to the terms of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. That treaty recognized the Sioux as an independent nation in the western half of South Dakota. Additionally, there had been a recent campaign of harassment and violence by tribal and FBI officials. Wounded Knee was chosen because of the 1890 massacre there of several hundred men, women and children by U.S. troops. The occupation lasted until May.
The Fort Laramie Treaty
 
What happened at Wounded Knee


February 28, 1919

Gandhi, 1919 Mohandas Gandhi launched his campaign of non-cooperation with Imperial British control of India. He called his overall method of nonviolent action Satyagraha, formed from satya (truth) and agraha, used to describe an effort or endeavor. This translates roughly as "Truth-force." A fuller rendering, though, would be "the force that is generated through adherence to Truth."

More on Satyagraha (civil disobedience)

Excerpt from The Core of Gandhi's Philosophy 
by Unto Tahtinen on the concept of Satyagraha


February 28, 1946

Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the newly formed Democratic Republic of Vietnam, facing re-imposition of French colonial rule over his country, sent a telegram to Pres. Harry Truman: “. . . I most earnestly appeal to you personally and to the American people to interfere urgently in support of our independence and help making the negotiations more in keeping with the principles of the Atlantic and San Francisco charters [founding documents of the League of Nations and United Nations].”


February 28, 1954

The U.S. detonated its largest thermonuclear blast ever, in a test of a new hydrogen (fusion) weapon design in the atmosphere at Bikini Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. Castle Bravo had an explosive yield of 15 megatons (equivalent to 15,000,000 tons of TNT), it was double the maximum possible expected by the Atomic Energy Commission.

Carried out in spite of adverse weapon conditions (the monitoring station was downwind at the time of detonation), the unexpected yield created a radioactive fallout plume that contaminated three other atolls of the 29 in the Marshall chain. Though too late to avoid their contamination, hundreds of Marshallese and U.S. servicemen were evacuated.
To avoid another such radiological disaster, future tests required an exclusion zone 1370 km in diameter (850 miles), an area equal to about 1% of the earth’s surface. Because Bikini had been essentially destroyed, subsequent test weapons were detonated from barges.
All about Castle Bravo


February 28, 1958

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was founded in London by philosopher Sir Bertrand Russell, then 86 years old, and the Reverend Canon (Lewis) John Collins of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The peace symbol was originally developed for CND.

History of the CND The CND today


February 28, 1989

The Nevada-Semipalatinsk Movement to Stop All Nuclear Testing was founded in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). Olzhas Suleimenov, a popular Kazakh poet, was chosen to lead this first anti-nuclear non-governmental organization in Kazakhstan, formerly part of the USSR. Nevada-Semipalatinsk ended nuclear arms tests at the Semipalatinsk Polygon. Organizers had been inspired by the large Nevada Test Site anti-nuclear demonstrations and encampments outside Las Vegas in the mid-to-late 1980s.
Read more
a Semipalatinsk test >
< demo at Semipalatinsk, 1990


February 29, 1968

The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (Kerner Commission) warned that racism was causing America to move "toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal." Former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner and his commission were charged by President Lyndon Johnson to look into the causes of the many riots that had taken place in recent years.
Discussion of the Kerner Commission in retrospect


February 29, 19
84

U.S. District Judge Miles W. Lord held the officers of A.H. Robins Company personally liable for the injuries caused by the intrauterine contraceptive device they had produced and sold, the Dalkon Shield. Eighteen women had died, and more than 300,000 ultimately
claimed injury.
The top three executives had to pay $4.6 million personally, and the company paid out $220 million in compensatory and $13 million in punitive damages to thousands of women.

Judge Miles W. Lord
Judge Lord: “The whole cost-benefit analysis is warped.
They say, well you can kill so many people if the benefits are great enough . . .
Once they put a price on human life, all is lost. Life is sacred.
Life is priceless.”
He also criticized Robins’s legal strategy of requiring witnesses to discuss their sex lives: ”You exposed these women, and ruined families and reputations and careers, in order to intimidate those who would raise their voices against you,” he said. “You introduced issues that had no relationship whatsoever to the fact that you implanted in the bodies of these women instruments of death, mutilation and of disease.”
Judge Lord was called before a review panel for his professional and judicial conduct in the case but the charges were dismissed and he continued to serve until retirement.

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