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This week at a glance.

April 27

•A union for all workers
•First Social Security payment
•16 say no to a second world war
•1 person-1 vote in South Africa

April 28
•Women's Peace Congress
•Protest blocks RR to nuclear weapons plant
•One year later, same place
•Protest blocks RR to nuclear power plant

April 29
•Nuclear foes arrested in Britain
•Protesting the hand about to feed him

April 30
•Quakers see alternative to military service
•King speaks out on the war
•Mothers of the disappeared

May 1
•Memorial Day
•1st May Day for workers
•Catholic Worker publishes
•An illegal Twist
•Clamshell Alliance tries to stop nuclear plant
May 2
•Outrage in Birmingham
•Poor People converge on the capital

May 3
•Haymarket Riot
•Children attacked as they march for integration
•All Things Considered

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April 27, 1936

The UAW (United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America), gained autonomy from the AFL (American Federation of Labor), becoming the first democratic, independent labor union concerned with the rights of unskilled and semi-skilled laborers.

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April 27, 1937

The Social Security Administration began operation by making its first payment to an American protected under the law, principally the elderly, and children who’ve lost their parents. 

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Peace quote

"We cannot have peace if we are only concerned with peace. War is not an accident. It is the logical outcome of a certain way of life. If we want to attack war, we have to attack that way
of life. -
AJ Muste

Nelson Mandela
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April 27, 1942

Sixteen pacifists, including Evan Thomas and A.J. Muste, refused to register for the World War II draft. Muste was a Quaker activist, founder of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and author of two pamphlets that same year, War Is the Enemy and Wage Peace Now.
A.J. Muste still working for peace 25 years later
with Dorothy Day, leader of the Catholic Worker movement.

April 27, 1994

South Africa held its first multiracial elections and chose anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela (with more than 62% of the vote) to head a new coalition government that included his African National Congress Party.

More on that historic election

Nelson Mandela casting his first vote


April 2
8, 1915

The International Conference of Women for a Permanent Peace convened on this day in 1915 at The Hague in the Netherlands. More than 1,200 delegates from 12 countries—Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Poland, Belgium and the United States—were all dedicated to the cause of peace and a resolution of the great international conflict that is now referred to as World War I.

The conference selected a delegation of women that spent May and June meeting with government officials of the belligerent nations to demand an end to the war.

Often called the Women's Peace Congress, the meeting was the result of an invitation by a Dutch women's suffrage organization, led by Aletta Jacobs, to women's rights activists around the world. Jacobs believed that a peaceful international assemblage of women would "have its moral effect upon the belligerent countries," as she put it.
Aletta Jacobs, Dutch suffragist and an organizer of the Women's Peace Congress
This was the origin of the organization known today as the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
More background and documents from the Swarthmore Peace Collection:
WILPF history
See what's happening on WILPF's 100th anniversary

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Peace quote

"Women will soon have political power. Woman suffrage and permanent peace will go together. When a country is in a state of mind to grant the vote to its women, it is a sign that that country is ripe for permanent peace. Women don't feel as men do about war. They are the mothers of the race. Men think of the economic results, women think of the grief and pain."

- Dr. Alleta Jacobs

April 28, 1978

At the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility, near Denver, over 5,000 protested and nearly 300 were arrested over the following eight months for blocking railroad tracks entering the plant where plutonium bombs used
as detonators in hydrogen bombs
were produced.

Demonstrators blocking the rail line into the Rocky Flats weapons facility
Concert at the Rocky Flats demonstration in 1979

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Peace quote

"We shouldn't be exporting uranium because you're exporting cancer."
- Dr. Helen Calldicott/Sydney Morning Herald, July 2006

April 28, 1979

A few weeks after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania [see March 28, 1979], a crowd of close to 15,000 assembled at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production plant near Denver, Colorado. Singers Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt took the stage along with various speakers including Dr. Helen Caldicott. The following day, 286 protesters, including Pentagon Papers source Daniel Ellsberg, were arrested for trespassing in their civil disobedience at the Rocky Flats facility.

April 28, 1996

Sixty-one were arrested for dismantling railroad tracks leading out of the Gundremmingen nuclear power station in Bavaria, Germany.


April 29, 1968

Actress Vanessa Redgrave was among 826 British anti-nuclear protesters arrested during a London demonstration protesting the Vietnam War.

Film from the BBC and their take on the demonstration that day
Peace message, Vanessa Redgrave, 1968
photo: Frank Habicht

Peace quote

“The British and American governments are about to destroy all hopes for peace anywhere in our world for ever. This war has already begun.”
Vanessa Redgrave

April 29, 1962

Nobel Prize-winner (for chemistry in 1954) Linus Pauling picketed the White House with others protesting the resumption of nuclear weapons testing. He had been invited there by President John Kennedy, to be honored at a dinner along with other Nobelists.

Peace quote

"The problem of an atomic war must not be confused by minor problems such as Communism versus capitalism. An atomic war would kill everyone, left,
right, or center."

Linus Pauling
February 13, 1950

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April 30, 1917

The American Friends Service Committee was founded to provide young Quakers and other conscientious objectors the opportunity to serve those in need as an alternative to military service in what was later known as World War I. They worked with British Friends assisting refugees from that conflict.
Quaker values in action
AFSC history AFSC today

April 30, 1967

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a sermon entitled, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" at Riverside Church
in New York City.
“The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism.”
Listen to or read the speech

Peace quote

"Our scientific power has outrun our
spiritual power.
We have
guided missiles and misguided men."
- Martin Luther King, Jr

April 30, 1977

A group of 14 mothers who had met in the waiting rooms of police stations while trying to discover the whereabouts of their children, organized the first of a continuing series of demonstrations in front of the Presidential Palace on the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their children were among the “disappeared” (los desaparecidos), victims of the Argentina’s “dirty war” against its own people.
Each Thursday afternoon they gathered at the Plaza to demand that the fate of the victims be made known. Some of the mothers, including Azucena de Villaflor, their first president, themselves disappeared. In spite of this, the group soon counted some 150 members and eventually grew to several thousand in 1982-83.
The mothers created a formidable national network and obtained the support of Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Argentina’s Dirty War

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1, 1865

Memorial Day was started by former slaves in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.
They dug up the bodies and worked for
2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom.
They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.

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May 1, 1886

May Day was called Emancipation Day in 1886 when 340,000 went on strike (though it was Saturday it was a regular day of work) in Chicago for the 8-hour workday.

May 1, 1890
May Day labor demonstrations spread to thirteen other countries; 30,000 marched in Chicago as the newly prominent American Federation of Labor threw its weight behind the 8-hour day campaign.


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May 1, 1933

The Catholic Worker newspaper was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Dorothy Day said, "God meant things to be much easier than we have made them," and Peter Maurin wanted to build a society "where it is easier for people to be good."

Dorothy Day   Peter Maurin

Read more about the Catholic Worker


". . . Y'all were the top result when I googled "black lives matter buttons"--- a few etsy shops also sold 'em, but when I saw that you made them in Detroit from union sources, you had my $6.75."
– Seattle, WA

May 1, 1967

Soviet youths openly defied police and danced the twist in Moscow's Red Square during May Day celebrations. In the early ‘60s the Twist had been banned in Buffalo, New York, and Tampa, Florida. The religious right claimed the Twist was actually a pagan fertility dance.

Are you old enough to remember Chubby Checker?

There's more peace and justice history to see

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May 1, 1977
Following a 24-hour occupation at the site of two proposed nuclear power plants in Seabrook, New Hampshire, 1,414 people were arrested.

The non-violent civil disobedience, organized by the Clamshell Alliance, became a model for anti-nuclear direct actions across the country. National and international news coverage brought the issue of nuclear power into public focus and no nuclear reactors were ordered after that time. Those plants already approved eventually went online, including Seabrook Unit I, but Unit II was never built. 

There is still no permanent methed for long-term safe storage of highly redioactive nuclear waste generated by such plants. Most of the radioisotopes in high-level waste have extremely long half-lives (some longer than 100,000 years).
Currently, it is stored on-site at nuclear plants around the country.
Seabrook 1977 - the movie 10 Blows That Stopped Nuclear Power:
The nuclear waste problem

From 1975 and reissued by
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May 2, 1963
Hundreds of children ranging in age from six to eighteen were arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, as they marched from Kelly Ingram Park, across from 16th Street Baptist Church, to downtown singing, “We Shall Overcome.”
Part of an ongoing effort to end segregation in that city, and following the arrests of many adults including Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the children had volunteered to minimize the threat to families if a breadwinner were jailed. A judge had issued an order preventing any of 133 civil rights leaders from organizing a demonstration.
Birmingham, the capital of Alabama, had been the site of 18 unsolved bombings in black neighborhoods over recent years, and the place where mobs had attacked Freedom Riders on Mother’s Day in 1961. Leaving the park in groups of fifty, the kids were put in vans by police, led by Eugene “Bull” Connor, until there were 959 filling the city jails.

Peace quote

"I submit that an individual who breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law."
- Martin Luther King, Jr

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May 2, 1968

The Poor People's Campaign began with groups from several locations around the U.S. setting out for Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the living conditions of the poorest Americans. It was conceived and organized by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and, following his assassination the previous month, led by his successor at the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Reverend Ralph David Abernathy.

The first wave of demonstrators arrived in Washington on May 11. One week later, Resurrection City was built on the Washington Mall, a settlement of tents and shacks to house the protesters.

Resurrection City
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May 3, 1886
At Haymarket Square in Chicago, a rally was being held because of a strike at the McCormick Harvester plant and, just two days after the enormous May Day turnout. Though the mass meeting was peaceful, a force of 176 police officers arrived, demanding that the meeting disperse. Someone, unknown to this day, then threw a bomb at the police.
In their confusion, the police began firing their weapons in the dark, killing at least three in the crowd and wounding many more. Seven police died (only one by the bomb), the rest probably by police fire.
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-Cathy, Terra Haute, IN

May 3, 1963
In Birmingham, Alabama, Public Safety Commissioner and recently failed mayoral candidate Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor used fire hoses and police dogs on children near the 16th Street Baptist Church to keep them from marching out of the "Negro section" of town.

With no room left to jail them (after arresting nearly 1000 the day before), Connor brought firefighters out and ordered them to turn hoses on the children. Most ran away, but one group refused to budge.
The firefighters turned more hoses on them, powerful enough to break bones. The force of the water rolled the protesters down the street. In addition, Connor had mobilized K-9 (police dog) forces who attacked protesters trying to re-enter the church.
Pictures of the confrontation between the children and the police were televised across the nation.

Peace quote

“Bring on your tear gas, bring on your grenades, your new supplies of Mace, your state troopers and even your national guards. But let the record show we ain't going to be turned around."
- Ralph Abernathy

May 3, 1971

The first broadcast of National Public Radio’s evening news and public affairs program, "All Things Considered," was aired on about 90 public radio affiliates around the country. The main story was the disruptive anti-Vietnam protests in Washington.

It is now the third most listened-to radio program
in the U.S.

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