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  History from the grass roots . . .

This Week in History is a collection designed to help us appreciate the fact that we are part of a rich history advocating peace and social justice. While the entries often focus on large and dramatic events there are so many smaller things done everyday to promote peace and justice.

To the real peace advocates - YOU!

Publisher, Carl Bunin • Editor, Al FrankDetroit, Michigan
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This week at a glance.

Nov 24

•Darwin publishes evolution theory
•Hollywood Ten charged
•Peoples' Peace Treaty
•Plowshares deface bombers

Nov 25
•Peaceful resistance meets violence
•Hollywood Ten blacklisted
•Iran-Contra Scandal unravels

Nov 26
•U.N. finds capital punishment ineffective
•Indians re-claim Plymouth Rock
•Reagan props up Saddam

Nov 27
•No-Conscription Fellowship resists WWI
•India's leader: End arms race
•Early anti-Vietnam-War protest
•Poor Peoples Campaign kick-off
•Vietnam medics fast for peace

Nov 28
•Electrical workers unite
Nov 29
•Warren Commission
•McNamara resigns

Nov 30
•Anti-war senator runs for president
•Handgun Prevention Act
•Thousands v. WTO in Seattle

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November 24, 1859
British naturalist Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which explained his theory of evolution.

The basis for the theory is natural selection, the process by which organisms change over time as a result of changes in heritable (genetically based) physical or behavioral traits. Such changes allow an organism to better adapt to its environment and help it survive and have more offspring.
Evolution is now universally accepted among scientists, and is the organizing principle upon which modern biological and related sciences are based.

Behind the Controversy: How Evolution Works Darwin and "On the Origin of Species"

Charles Darwin
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November 24, 1947

A group of writers, producers and directors that became known as the "Hollywood 10" were cited for contempt of Congress when they refused to cooperate at hearings about alleged Communist influence in the movie industry.

Following their appearance in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under Representative John Parnell Thomas (R-New Jersey), the House of Representatives voted 346-17 for the citations. All were convicted and sentenced to 6-12 months in prison. The charges were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Hollywood 10

Invoking their 5th Amendment right not to be witnesses against themselves, and their 1st Amendment right to freely associate with whom they choose, the Hollywood 10 refused to answer the question, "Are you a member of the Communist Party or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"
Others cooperated: the mother of actor and dancer Ginger Rogers testified her daughter had been asked to say in a film, "Share and share alike, that's democracy," a line from a script written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. Rogers said this was "definitely Communist propaganda."

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November 24, 1970

14 American students met with Vietnamese in Hanoi to plan the "Peoples' Peace Treaty" between the peoples of the United States, South Vietnam and North Vietnam.

It begins, "Be it known that the American people and the Vietnamese people are not enemies. The war is carried out in the names of the people of the United States and South Vietnam, but without our consent. It destroys the land and people of Vietnam. It drains America of its resources, its youth, and its honor."
The treaty was ultimately endorsed by millions.

Read the treaty


"...Seven hundred million are you listening?
Most of what you read is made of lies…
Let it fill the air, tell the people everywhere
We, the people here don't want a war…"

- Bobby Darin
from A Simple Song of Freedom


"Thank you . . . I love all that you do and thank you again, for always reminding me of the amazing energy, fearless commitment, vision, and love that's been going on in this old world despite what the media likes to tell us every day!  You make a difference. Be well."
Molly McKasson
- Tucson, AZ

November 24, 1983

On Thanksgiving Day seven Plowshares activists hammered and poured blood on B-52 bombers converted to carry cruise missiles at Griffiss Air Force Base near Syracuse, New York.

Bloody handprint on missile.

Watch Plowshares history video
Read more

Listen to them discuss their efforts


November 25, 1913

Indians marching with Mohandas Gandhi for recognition of their religious and cultural legitimacy, and individual freedom, were attacked by police, leaving five dead (shot from the back according to the inquest) and nine wounded. He was marching with more than 2000 striking miners from Natal to Transvaal provinces in South Africa in violation of the law.
Gandhi in his publication, Indian Opinion, had advocated the end of a £3 tax on ex-indentured Indians. He had lamented the violence that had been inflicted on his peaceful marchers.

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November 25, 1947

Film industry executives, meeting in New York, announced that the “Hollywood Ten” directors, producers, and writers who had refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) would be fired or suspended, and not hired in the future, thus “blacklisted.”


Who were the Hollywood Ten?


"...I have read you for so long it seems like I must have met you.THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO!!!!!!!!!!!! I admire you greatly. Keep up the great work! It is like having a college class every time I see TODAY IN PEACE AND JUSTICE!! (with a TERRIFIC PROFESSOR!!)..."
- Stewart McMillin
Detroit, MI

November 25, 1986

President Ronald Reagan and Attorney General Edwin Meese revealed that $30 million in profits from secret arms sales to Iran had been diverted to support the Nicaraguan contra insurgents in violation of U.S. law. What became known as the Iran-Contra Affair was revealed three weeks after a Lebanese magazine reported arms had been sold in violation of U.S. policy. Reagan & Meese
continued (info, photos, links). . .


"Happy holidays to you & yours, Carl . I really appreciate reading of the struggles that have been won & lost, ahead of our own times.
It's SO important to remember ..... and to teach others ..... and you allow us to do it in a simple straight forward way.
Very best always."
- PJ the English Lit lady
Miami, FL


November 26, 1968

U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution against capital punishment following an official report which said, “Examination of the number of murders before and after the abolition of the death penalty does not support the theory that capital punishment has a unique deterrent effect.”

More on capital punishment and homicide

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November 26, 1970

American Indian activists marked Thanksgiving with a National Day of Mourning for Native Americans by occupying Plymouth Rock on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the alleged landing spot of the Pilgrims’ landing in Massachusetts colony. Led by Wamsutta Frank James, an Aquinnah Wampanoag elder and music teacher, over 200 Indians seized the Mayflower II and painted Plymouth Rock red.
Day of Mourning demo in downtown Plymouth
James had refused to speak at a state dinner the night before commemorating the 350th anniversary of the landing, and went on to organize United American Indians of New England
Wamsutta Frank James


"What we did in the 1960s and early 1970s was raise the consciousness of white America that this government has a responsibility to Indian people. That there are treaties; that textbooks in every school in America have a responsibility to tell the truth..."
- Dennis Banks

November 26, 1983

President Ronald Reagan ordered military assistance to Iraq in the war Saddam Hussein had begun by invading Iran. To prevent an Iraqi military collapse, the Reagan administration supplied battlefield intelligence on Iranian troop buildups to the Iraqis, sometimes through third parties such as Saudi Arabia.
National Security Decision Directive 114, signed on that day, stated that the United States would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran. It called for heightened regional military cooperation to defend oil facilities, and measures to improve U.S. military capabilities in the Persian Gulf.
The assistance was granted despite frequent and consistent reports of Iraqi use of chemical weapons, a clear violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Mustard gas had been used against Iranian troops and against “human wave” attacks by thousands of Basij (Popular Mobilization Army or People's Army) volunteers.
The full story on U.S.-Iraq relations at that time The Geneva Protocol


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November 27, 1914

The No-Conscription Fellowship (NCF) was founded by two English pacifists, Clifford Allen and Fenner Brockway. They opposed the Military Service Act which introduced conscription, and then mounted a vigorous campaign against the punishment and imprisonment of conscientious objectors.
They were consistently opposed to the war in Europe.

Early Fellowship members
  Fellowship members at a recent protest

Read more about Clifford Allen, Fenner Brockway and No-Conscription Fellowship

More on the No-Conscription Fellowship from the Swarthmore College Peace Collection


"We are all young men, and life is a precious thing to such men...There is one interference with individual judgment that no state in the world has any sanction to enforce - that is, to tamper with the unfettered free right of everyman to decide for himself the issue of life and death."

- Clifford Allen, 1916

November 27, 1957

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, made an impassioned speech appealing to the United States and the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) to end testing and begin nuclear disarmament. The two superpowers were the only nations with atomic weapons at the time.
Nehru had fought to free his country from British colonial authority through acts of nonviolent passive resistance with Ghandi, and they achieved independence. He stressed the urgency for the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to "save humanity from the ultimate disaster.”
Nehru’s Congress Party government nevertheless pursued an aggressive nuclear program, starting in 1948, publicly committed to peaceful purposes exclusively. Nehru acknowledged that the possession of fissionable materials and growing expertise could readily be directed toward production of such weapons. In the absence of universal nuclear disarmament, he feared acquisition of such weapons by potential adversaries. In particular for India, this meant Pakistan or China.
India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru
Nuclear India - a short history

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November 27, 1965

In Washington D.C., 35,000 anti-war protesters circled the White House then marched on to the Washington Monument for a rally against the war in Vietnam.

November 27, 1967

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. announced the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign, a movement to broadly address economic inequalities with nonviolent direct action. "It must not be just black people," argued King, "it must be all poor people. We must include American Indians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and even poor whites."

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November 27, 1969

Over one hundred members of the U.S. 71st Evacuation Hospital and the 44th Medical Detachment at Pleiku, Vietnam, organized a Thanksgiving protest fast called the “John Turkey movement.” In Home before Morning, nurse Lynda Van Devanter recalled her change in attitude.
“Earlier in my tour, when I had heard about the war protesters, I had felt angry at them for not supporting us.  Now I wished I could march with them . . . Most others in Pleiku felt the same way . . . We even held our own Thanksgiving Day fast—the John Turkey movement — as a show of support for those who were trying to end the war through protests and moratoriums. We heard that the fast had spread to units all over Vietnam.”
Nurse Lynda Van Devanter
The fast received considerable media coverage when Denise Murray, a nurse at Pleiku and daughter of a distinguished admiral, made antiwar statements to the press.


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower


November 28, 1891

Early IBEW delegates The National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) was founded when 10 men met at Stolley’s Dance Hall in St. Louis, Missouri. Their goal: the joining together of electricians in a common organization to make a better life for all.
Read more The original logo adopted at the First Convention.

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November 29, 1963

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson establishes the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Earl Warren and LBJ

More about Earl Warren

More about The Warren Commission


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-Cathy, Terra Haute, IN

November 29, 1967

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announces his resignation during the Vietnam War.

The Fog of War a movie about the Vietnam War
Robert McNamara


November 30, 1967

Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-Minnesota) announced that he would run on an anti-Vietnam war platform against Pres. Lyndon Johnson for the nomination of the Democratic Party. McCarthy, though a contender to be Johnson's running mate in 1964, had since become increasingly disenchanted with U.S. policy toward Vietnam, and opposed the war in his campaign.
McCarthy on the campaign trail “I am not for peace at any price, but for an honorable, rational and political solution to this war; a solution which I believe will enhance our world position, encourage the respect of our Allies and our potential adversaries, which will permit us to get the necessary attention to other commitments . . . and leave us with resources and moral energy to deal effectively with [the] pressing domestic problems of the United States itself.”
Read more, see photos


"The Senate is the last
primitive society in the world.
We still worship the
elders of the tribe and
honor the territorial imperative."

Eugene McCarthy

November 30, 1993

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act became law. It provided for a waiting period before the purchase of a handgun, and for the establishment of a national instant criminal background check system to be used by firearms dealers before the transfer of any handgun.

The law was named for James Brady, President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, who became a paraplegic after being shot in the assassination attempt on Reagan. Following his recovery, he and his wife, Sarah, became leading proponents of controlling the proliferation of handguns.
James Brady watches President Clinton sign the bill

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November 30, 1999

Tens of thousands of activists, students, union members and environmentalists demonstrating for global justice shut down the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit in Seattle, Washington.
International media coverage ignored both the blockade and the police riot (and an enormous labor-sponsored rally and march), focusing instead on minor property damage committed by a few dozen self-described anarchists.
photo Elaine Brière

What is the World trade Organization?

What the protests were about

Trans Pacific Partnerhip

Described as NAFTA on steroids
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