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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.

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

July 31
•African-American women organize
•Namibians resist occupation
•Start at arms reduction

Aug 1
•Peace urged in face of war
•Non-violent non-cooperation
•Warsaw rises up
•Action at Seabrook
Aug 2
•Einstein: no weapons work
•Gulf of Tonkin incident

Aug 3
•No Chinese wanted in U.S.
•Air traffic controllers strike
•Motherpeace in action
•White South Africans say no

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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

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Inspired by the U.S.
Declaration of Independence

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July 28, 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.
Anti-Lynching Parade in New York City, 1917

Read about W.E.B. DuBois

Strange Fruit, the song about lynching, and the film

Peace quote

"We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social; and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans."

- W.E.B. Dubois, 1906

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

Readers comment

"...well I am here at work trying to think of a little gift I could give my co-workers and I have been thinking about peace a lot lately and I thought, how about a peace sign button like we used to wear, and I wondered if they were still around so I googled peace sign and there you were. I like the way they look and the history was very cool to have included. Exported from Detroit didn't hurt either.
I'm sure people will ask where I got them so keep up the good work."

- Janette
Berkeley, CA

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.

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Peace quote

"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours."

- Cesar Chavez


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


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?”

Readers comment

"...It was fun to see pictures of my students on your site. The students plan to order a bunch of buttons soon. So hopefully we will have some photos of them around campus. 
I just wanted to write to tell you how much I appreciate your weekly "peace history" message. I learn so much from it each week!!! I love posting a new entry for my "Inequality in the US" class to read on our class website each day. Thanks again for the work that you do to spread this important news!"
- Sheri Lyn Schmidt
The Ethel Walker School
Simsbury, CT

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

Readers comment

"I've been receiving the weekly edition for years - I always find it inspiring - there are always several items that take my breath away. Some good, some bad, of course. But the mixture always seems just right.
Thanks again"
- Tom Brown
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


July 31, 1896

The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) was established in Washington, D.C. Its two leading members were Josephine Ruffin and Mary Church Terrell. Founders also included some of the most renowned African-American women educators, community leaders, and civil-rights activists in America, including Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Margaret Murray Washington, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
Mary Church Terrell
The original intention of the organization was “to furnish evidence of the moral, mental and material progress made by people of colour through the efforts of our women.” However, over the next ten years the NACW became involved in campaigns favoring women's suffrage and opposing lynching and Jim Crow laws. By the time the United States entered the First World War, membership had reached 300,000.
The NACW and its founders

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July 31, 1986

25,000 people rallied in Namibia for freedom from South African colonial rule. In June, 1971 the International Court of Justice had ruled the South African presence in Namibia to be illegal. Eventually, open elections for a 72-member Constituent Assembly were held under U.N. supervision in November, 1989. Three months later Namibia gained its independence, and maintains it today.
More on Namibia’s independence Namibian flag

Five African peacemakers share their stories:

Stephen Biko
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July 31, 1991

The United States and the Soviet Union, represented by President George H.W. Bush and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START I. It was the first agreement to actually reduce (by 25-35%) and verify both countries’ stockpiles of nuclear weapons at equal aggregate levels in strategic offensive arms.
The Soviet Union dissolved several months later, but Russia and the U.S. met their goals by December, 2001. Three other former republics of the U.S.S.R., Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine, have eliminated these weapons from their territory altogether.
Comprehensive info from the Federation of American Scientists:

No Nuclear Weapons
from the '80s
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August 1, 1914


As World War I began, Harry Hodgkin, a British Quaker, and Friedrich Siegmund-Schulte, a German Lutheran pastor, attending a conference in Germany, pledged to continue sowing the “seeds of peace and love, no matter what the future might bring,” germinating the idea for the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).

FOR's Mission: FOR seeks to replace violence, war, racism, and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace, and justice. We are an interfaith organization committed to active nonviolence as a transforming way of life and as a means of radical change. We educate, train, build coalitions, and engage in nonviolent and compassionate actions locally, nationally, and globally.

History of the Fellowship of Reconciliation

August 1, 1920


Mohandas Gandhi began the movement of "non-violent non-cooperation" with the British Raj (ruling colonial authority) in India. The strategy was to bring the British administrative machine to a halt by the total withdrawal of Indian popular support, both Hindu and Muslim. British-made goods were boycotted, as were schools, courts of law, and elective offices.

More on the Non-Cooperation Movement

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August 1, 1944

The Polish underground army began its battle to liberate Warsaw, the first European city to have fallen to the Germans in World War II.

The heroic effort to rout the Germans

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August 1, 1976

200 people, organized by the Clamshell Alliance, occupied the site of a new nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire. They were attempting to halt construction the same day the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission had issued a construction license. Eighteen were arrested. Eventually, only one of two planned reactors was built.

To the Village Square: Nukes, Clams & Democracy – Clamshell veterans today

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August 2, 1931

Albert Einstein urged all scientists to
refuse military work.

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
- Albert Einstein
Book review of Einstein on Politics

Other Einstein thoughts on the military:

Albert Einstein
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August 2, 1964
The U.S.S. Maddox, a destroyer conducting intelligence operations along North Vietnam’s coast, reported it had been attacked by some of the North’s torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. The day before, the North had been attacked by the South Vietnamese Navy and the Laotian Air Force under U.S. direction.
30-year perspective on reporting of the
Tonkin Gulf Incident
Flawed Intelligence and the Decision for War in Vietnam (from official documents)

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August 3, 1882
Congress passed the first U.S. law to restrict immigration of a particular ethnic group into the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act. It stopped all further Chinese immigration for ten years, and denied citizenship to those already in the country, most of whom had been recruited by American railroad and mining companies. The law remained in effect until 1943.
Chinese rail workers
Very cool site from the National Archives and Records Administration:
See and learn about100 Milestone Documents, including the Chinese Exclusion Act
See and learn about 100 Milestone Documents, including the Chinese Exclusion Act

Readers comment

"I used it (the newsletter) last year when I taught the Nonviolence: Theory & Practice class, and the students really seemed to like it, so I'm including it in their weekly reading again this semester…I think it's a fabulous resource, and includes so many events that people hadn't even heard of or don't usually think about."
- Karen, Center for Applied Conflict Management

August 3, 1981

Nearly 13,000 of the nation’s 17,500 air traffic controllers, members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), went on strike.

After six months of negotiations with PATCO President Robert Poli, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had offered less than 10% of what the union had sought. Due to the stressful nature of their jobs, managing the nation’s ever-increasing volume of airport landings and take-offs without up-to-date equipment, they had asked for a shorter workweek, an increase in pay and retirement after 20 years. 95% of PATCO members rejected the FAA’s final offer.
The union had endorsed Ronald Reagan for president in 1980 (one of very few to do so), but President Reagan said they were violating U.S. law banning strikes by federal workers, and would all be terminated unless they returned to work within 48 hours.
continued (info, photos, links). . .

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August 3, 1986

Laurie McBride and seven other Motherpeace members of the Nanoose Conversion Campaign were arrested for picnicking on Winchelsea Island, east of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. They, along with dozens of volunteer witnesses and supporters who had set off by boat from the town of Nanoose Bay, were protesting the ten-year extension of free use by the U.S. of the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental Test Range (CFMETR). It is a joint Canadian-American facility for torpedos, other maritime warfare and detection equipment; the island held the command and control center. The Campaign advocated conversion of the area back to peaceful purposes.

Laurie McBride’s story

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August 3, 1988

One hundred forty-three white English and Afrikaans conscripts from four cities in South Africa announced their refusal to serve in the South African Defense Force. The SADF was engaged in actions to preserve apartheid, the social and economic system of racial separatism, in South Africa, and to occupy and thwart independence for South Africa’s neighbors, Angola and Namibia
[see July 31, 1986].

24-year-old David Bruce had just been sentenced to six years in prison for refusing to serve; he was released after two. He works today with The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation on issues of integrity, conduct and accountability in democratic policing.


David Bruce
The Police That We Want.pdf
Violence prevention and building peace in South Africa

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