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This week at a glance.

July 24

•Executive privilege rejected by Court
•Americans and Canadians join hands
•Greenham campers tag weapons

July 25
U.S. invades Puerto Rico
•First underwater
atomic test
•Treaty bans atomic tests
•Kings joins northern opponents of segregation

July 26

•July 26th
•SNCC leader arrested
•Rights of disabled Americans protected

July 27
Riot in Chicago
•Coup in Guatemala
•Weep and Disarm for Children

July 28
Former slaves become citizens
•New Yorkers march against lynching
•More troops to Vietnam
•San Francisco bans handguns
July 29
•Grape boycott supports workers
•Death penalty declared unconstitutional

July 30
•Columbus sails; Jews expelled
•Action prevents greater crime

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July 24, 1974

The United States Supreme Court (U.S. v. Nixon) unanimously ordered President Richard Nixon to surrender tape recordings of White House conversations regarding the Watergate affair. Speaking for the Supreme Court in front of a packed and hushed courtroom, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (a Nixon appointee) rejected President Nixon's claims of executive privilege (virtually total confidentiality for the White House) because the need for fair administration of criminal justice must prevail.

The White House feared review of the recordings by a U.S. district judge would reveal, among other crimes, impeachable offenses.

Great resources (including for teaching) on this case:

Listen to the tapes online

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Lock HIM Up!Trump Lock Him Up button

July 24, 1983

Canadians and Americans spanned the international border at Thousand Islands Bridge, linking New York and Ontario, to protest nuclear weapons and border harassment of peace activists.

Thousand Islands Bridge

from the '80s

Union printed Detroit made

July 24, 1983

Women tagged a U.S. warplane with anti-nuclear graffiti at Greenham Common, an air base in England. The Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp had been set up just outside the perimeter of the base in 1981 to get U.S. Cruise missiles, some of which were deployed at the base, out of their country. Other tactics included disrupting construction work at the base, blockading the entrance, and cutting down parts of the fence.

Read more about The Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp


July 25, 1898  

With 16,000 troops, the United States invaded Puerto Rico at Guánica, asserting that they were liberating the inhabitants from Spanish colonial rule, which had recently granted the island’s government limited atonomy. The island, as well as Cuba and the Philippines, were spoils of the Spanish-American War which ended the following month. Puerto Rico remains a U.S. commonwealth today.

N.Y. 17th Volunteer Regiment marching through Puerto Rico
Famed American poet Carl Sandburg saw active service in Puerto Rico, beginning with the invasion in Guánica. Sandburg wrote about these experiences in his book entitled “Always the Young Strangers”
(New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1953).

More on the invasion

¿Habla Espanol?

(paz=peace in spanish)

July 25, 1946

The first underwater atomic device was detonated at Bikini Atoll, one of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. It was the second of two bombs, Able and Baker, that comprised Operation Crossroads; each weapon had a yield equivalent to 23,000 tons of TNT (23 kilotons).

The U.S. Navy conducted the tests to determine the effect of such weapons on ships at sea.More than 130 newspaper, magazine and radio correspondents from seven nations were present for the tests.

More on Operation Crossroads

1" pin

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July 25, 1963 

The Limited Test Ban Treaty was initialed following 10 days of intense negotiations among the the U.S.S.R.*, U.S. and United Kingdom. The treaty prohibits nuclear weapons tests “or any other nuclear explosion” in the atmosphere, in outer space, or under water; it does not ban underground tests. The nuclear powers (only three then, nine today) accepted as a common goal “an end to the contamination of man's environment by radioactive substances.” 185 countries have signed the treaty so far but Israel, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea never signed or later withdrew.
* Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, commonly referred to as the Soviet Union, included Russia and 14 countries and was dissolved in the early ‘90s.
Status of Nuclear Weapons States and Their Nuclear Capabilities

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July 25, 1965

Martin Luther King, Jr., participated in protests against housing segregation in Chicago. His Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) joined with the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO), led by Al Raby, a black schoolteacher, in the Chicago Freedom Movement.

More on the CCCO

Martin Luther King talks to Al Raby of Chicago's Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO)

as they lead the march down State Street.

To King's right is Jack Spiegel of the United Shoeworkers, and to Raby's left is King assistant Bernard Lee.

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July 26, 1953
In his first move to overthrow the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, 26-year-old Fidel Castro led 134 other young revolutionaries to unsuccessfully attack the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Castro had concluded that armed struggle was the only way to unseat Batista, who had taken power in a military coup in 1952.
The Cuban Revolution is known as the July 26 Movement, and is celebrated annually there.
The Moncada Barracks, still showing a few bullet holes and pockmarks from that fateful early morning assault in 1953, is now both a historic site and an elementary school.

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July 26, 1967
H. Rap Brown, then head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was ordered arrested by then-Governor Spiro Agnew, who accused him of inciting a riot through his speech two days earlier at a civil rights rally in Cambridge, Maryland.
At the event, Brown declared, “Black folks built America, and if America don’t come around, we’re going to burn America down . . . If Cambridge doesn't come around, Cambridge got to be burned down.”
Shortly after the speech, Brown was hit in the head by buckshot from a policeman’s shotgun. That night the segregated elementary school on the black side of town and 20 businesses burned down (there was no looting), some along Race Street, the racial divide which neither black nor white were expected to cross.
H. Rap Brown following the disturbances in
Cambridge, Maryland.
What happened in Cambridge

"Revolution comes
when human beings
set out to correct

H. Rap Brown

July 26, 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. It prohibited discrimination based on disability in employment, in public accommodation (e.g., hotels, restaurants, retail stores, theaters, health care facilities, convention centers, parks), in transportation services, and in all activities of state and local governments.
The law did not go into effect until January 26, 1992.

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July 27, 1919

A riot began in Chicago when police refused to arrest a white man who was responsible for the death of a young black man, Eugene Williams. The 29th Street Beach on Lake Michigan was used by both black and white Chicagoans. But the man had been throwing stones at the black boys swimming there before hitting Williams.

The Coroner’s report on the riot described the events as follows: “Five days of terrible hate and passion let loose, cost the people of Chicago 38 lives (15 white and 23 colored), wounded and maimed several hundred, destroyed property of untold value, filled thousands with fear, blemished the city and left in its wake fear and apprehension for the future . . . .”
The city’s booming economy, especially jobs in the stockyards, had drawn many blacks during the Great Migration from the South, more than doubling their population in just three years. Only one policeman died in the chaos, Patrolman John Simpson, 31, an African American working out of the Wabash Avenue Station.

Gangs and the 1919 Chicago Race Riot.

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July 27, 1954
The democratically elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, after receiving 65% of the vote, was overthrown by CIA-paid and -trained mercenaries. There followed a series of military dictatorships that waged a genocidal war against the indigenous Mayan Indians and against political opponents into the '90s. Nearly 200,000 citizens died over the nearly four decades of civil war.
“They have used the pretext of anti-communism. The truth is very different. The truth is to be found in the financial interests of the fruit company [United Fruit, which controlled more land than any other individual or group in the country. It also owned the railway, the electric utilities, telegraph, and the country's only port at Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic coast.] and the other U.S. monopolies which have invested great amounts of money in Latin America and fear that the example of Guatemala would be followed by other Latin countries . . . I took over the presidency with great faith in the democratic system, in liberty and the possibility of achieving economic independence for Guatemala.” Jacobo Arbenz
More about Arbenz The real coup story through official U.S. documents

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July 27, 1996

Known as the “Weep for Children Plowshares,” four women were arrested for pouring their own blood on weaponry at the Naval Submarine Base at Groton, Connecticut, on the morning of the launch of the last-built Ohio-class submarine, the U.S.S. Louisiana. The 18 such submarines carry about half of the U.S. nuclear deterrent – 24 Trident I & II missiles with a range of 7400 km (4600 miles), each with several warheads known as MIRVs (multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles).

Trident sub being loaded Details of the action  


July 28, 1868

Passed in the wake of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing due process, equal protection of the law, and full citizenship to all males over 21, including former slaves,
went into effect.
More on the amendment and the context of post-Civil War Reconstruction
Booklet on the 14th Amendment from the Damon Keith Collection of
African-American Legal History at Wayne State University Law School

Inspired by the U.S.
Declaration of Independence


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July 28, 1917

Anti-Lynching Parade in New York City, 1917 W.E.B. DuBois and others organized a silent parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City against the lynching of negroes and segregationist Jim Crow laws. There had been nearly 3,000 documented cases of hangings and other mob violence against black Americans since the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.

Read about W.E.B. DuBois

Strange Fruit, the song about lynching, and the film

W.E.B. DuBois
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July 28, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson ordered 50,000 troops to Vietnam to join the 75,000 already there. By the end of the year 180,000 U.S. troops will have been sent to Vietnam; in 1966 the figure doubled. In addition to countless Vietnamese deaths, close to 1900 Americans were killed in 1965;
the following year the number more than tripled.

David Douglas Duncan, photographer.
Lyndon Johnson told the nation
Have no fear of escalation

I am trying everyone to please
Though it isn’t really

We’re sending fifty thousand more

To help save Vietnam
from Vietnamese

President Johnson explained: “We intend to convince the communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms or by superior power.”

"Pfc. John L. Lewis decorates his helmet with good luck tokens.
[Khe Sanh, February 1968.]" Life [Asia edition]. 18 Mar. 1968. cover.
— part of Tom Paxton’s anti-Vietnam-war song, “Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation”
Full lyrics of the song

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

Mario Savio, Berkeley Free Speech Movement, 1964

gun control

¿Habla Espanol?
(Si Se Puede=Yes We Can in Spanish)

July 28, 1982

San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban the sale and possession of handguns. The law was struck down by state courts, which ruled the local law to be in violation of the California constitution which gives the state the sole power to regulate firearms.


July 29, 1970

After a five-year strike, the United Farm Workers (UFW) signed a contract with the table grape growers in California, ending the first grape boycott.
Signing the contract

Exploring the United Farm Workers' History

July 29, 1972

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty to be cruel and unusual punishment by a 5-4 vote. The Court called the wide discretion in application of capital punishment, including the appearance of racial bias against black defendants, “arbitrary and capricious” and thus in violation of due process guarantees in the 14th Amendment
[see July 28, 1868].
Influence of race on imposition of the death penalty

with every order


July 30, 1492

The same month Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain for his “expedition of discovery to the Indies” [actually the Western Hemisphere], was the deadline for all “Jews and Jwesses of our kingdoms to depart and never to return . . .” lest they be executed. Under the influence of Fr. Tomas de Torquemada, the leader of the Spanish Inquisition, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had ordered the expulsion of the entire Jewish community of 200,000 from Spain within four months. Spain’s Muslims, or Moors, were forced out as well within ten years.
The edict of expulsion from Spain signed by
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
All were forced to sell off their houses, businesses and possessions, were pressured to convert to Christianity, and to find a new country to live in. Those who left were known as Sephardim (Hebrew for Spain), settling in North Africa, Italy, and elsewhere in Europe
and the Arab world.
Most went to Portugal, were allowed to stay just six months, and then were enslaved under orders of King John. Those who made it to Turkey were welcomed by Sultan Bajazet who asked,
“How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king, the same Ferdinand who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?”

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July 30, 1996

Four Ploughshares activists in Liverpool, England, were acquitted of all charges (illegal entry and criminal damage) on the basis of their having prevented a greater crime, after having extensively damaged an F-16 Hawk fighter jet to be sold to the Indonesian government for use in its genocidal occupation of East Timor.
Seeds of Hope-East Timor Ploughshares:
the action and the aftermath

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