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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.

Monday
April 14

•Segregation ends for CA's Chicano students
•Soviets agree to leave Afghanistan
•Nukes banned from Danish port

Tuesday
April 15
•Pro baseball color line broken
•Opposition to Vietnam war grows

Wednesday
April 16

•IRS estimates tax protest
•World Bank protestors disrupt Washington

Thursday
April 17
•Beginning of SNCC
•First DC Anti-Vietnam War rally
•Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition
•Good Friday Plowshares Missile Silo Witness

Friday
April 18
•Paint Creek coal strike
•NYC Bus Boycott
•Ban the Bomb rally in London
Saturday
April 19
•Great Furniture Strike
•Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
•Dewey Canyon III
•Choose Life Disarmament Action

Sunday
April 20
•Underground Railroad
•Mandela chooses democracy at all costs
•People's park created
•Grandmothers for Peace
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Monday


April 14, 1947

Segregation of Mexican-American children, common in California at the time, was declared unconstitutional by the Federal Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit. Suit had been brought against several school districts in Orange County by Gonzalo Méndez and several World War II veterans.
Separate schools for those of Mexican parentage was struck down in Méndez et al. v. Westminster School District: “ . . . commingling of the entire student body instills and develops a common cultural attitude among the school children which is imperative for the perpetuation of American institutions and ideals. It is also established by the record that the methods of segregation prevalent in the defendant school districts foster antagonisms in the children and suggest inferiority among them where none exists . . .” Sylvia Mendez
Sylvia Mendez honored

Text of the appellate court’s decision

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April 14, 1988

The Soviet Union signed an agreement pledging to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan after nearly ten years. The pact, drawn up in negotiations between the United States, the USSR, Pakistan and Afghanistan, was signed at a United Nations ceremony in the Swiss capital of Geneva.

Entertaining and basically factual story of what pushed the Soviets out of Afghanistan


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April 14, 1988

Denmark’s parliament, the Folketing, insisted that foreign warships affirmatively state whether or not they carry nuclear weapons before being allowed to enter Danish ports.

Previously, their non-nuclear policy had not been enforced and such weapons were routinely carried on nuclear-capable NATO ships visiting Denmark. U.S. and other allies had abided by a policy known as “neither confirming nor denying” (NCND).

Denmark’s Folketing
The policy and its consequences

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Tuesday


April 15, 1947

Jackie Roosevelt Robinson became the first African American to play in a major league baseball game in the 20th century. His stepping onto Ebbets Field in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform broke the “color line,” the segregation of professional teams.


The International League in 1887 began a wave of League-wide black exclusion, and it had been complete since 1899, when Bill Galloway became the last African-American player in white organized ball (Woodstock, Ontario).
Though hitless in three at-bats, Robinson started at first base, and the Dodgers beat the Boston Braves
that day, 5-3.

continued (info, photos, links). . .

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"I guess you'd call me an independent, since I've never identified myself with one party or another in politics. I always decide my vote by taking as careful a look as I can at the actual candidates and issues themselves, no matter what the party label"
- Jackie Robinson






April 15, 1967

Amidst growing opposition to the war in Vietnam, large-scale anti-war protests were held in New York, San Francisco and other cities. In New York, the protest began in Central Park, where over 150 draft cards were burned, and concluded at United Nations with speeches by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.

King and Dr. Benjamin Spock lead an anti-war march to the United Nations, 15 April 1967
King’s opposition to the war, excerpts of his speeches and reaction throughout the country

Peace quote


“I was proud of the youths who opposed the war in Vietnam because they were my babies."
- Dr. Benjamin Spock




Wednesday


April, 16, 1971

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimated over 2,000 people openly refused to pay part or all of their income tax.

“If a thousand [people] were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood.”
Henry David Thoreau on the Mexican War

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee


NO WAR

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April 16, 2000

Between 10,000 and 20,000 activists blockaded meetings of the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Sitting down at intersections and locking arms to form human chains, the protesters were opposed to Bank and IMF policies that increased third-world indebtedness and did little to directly benefit the poor in those countries.
“The World Bank is subjugating our economic and social independence,” Vineeta Gupta, a doctor from the Punjab in India, said in a letter he delivered to World Bank President James Wolfensohn at his home. “It is time that we shut the bank down, and this boycott is a great start.”



Thursday


April 17, 1960

Inspired by the Greensboro sit-in of four black college students at an all-white lunch counter, nearly 150 black students from nine states formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Ella Baker, James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr., the founders set SNCC’s initial goals as overturning segregation in the South.

They also considered it important to give young blacks a stronger voice in the civil rights movement, as many had participated in sit-ins that had proliferated to dozens of cities over the previous three months.
At the Raleigh conference Guy Carawan sang a new version of “We Shall Overcome,” an adaptation of an old labor song. This song would become the national anthem of the civil rights movement.

People joined hands and gently swayed in time singing “black and white together,” repeating over and over, “Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day.”

History of SNCC

What SNCC did to make change happen



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April 17, 1965


The first national demonstration against the Vietnam War took place in the nation’s capital. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the organizers, had expected about 2000 marchers; the actual count was 15,000–25,000. This was the largest anti-war protest ever to have been held in Washington, D.C. up to that time. The number of marchers approximately equaled the number of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. Several hundred students in the protest broke away from the main march and conducted a brief sit-in at the U.S. Capitol’s door.

An exam prepared by SDS about the Vietnam War (answers available)

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April 17, 1986

Reverend Jesse Jackson, future congresswoman Maxine Waters and others co-founded the Rainbow Coalition, initially intended as a progressive public-policy think tank within the Democratic Party.

Keep HOPE alive


Representative Maxine Waters, Harry Belafonte,
John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO,
Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Willie Nelson
August 6, 2005-Atlanta, Georgia.

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April 17, 1992

On Good Friday morning, about 50 people accompanied Fr. Carl Kabat and Carol Carson to Missile Silo Site N5 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the same silo that Carl and other members of the Silo Pruning Hooks (see below) disarmed in 1984. They cut through a fence and, once inside, Carol used a sledgehammer on the concrete lid of the silo while Carl performed a rite of exorcism.

Eventually, the police arrived and arrested Carl and Carol. They were jailed and held until their court appearance. At that time, they made a preliminary agreement with federal prosecutors wherein they would plead “no contest” to trespass in exchange for the property destruction charge being dropped; they were sentenced to six and three months, respectively, in a halfway house. Carl Kabat
A History of Direct Disarmament Actions About the Silo Pruning Hooks action

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Friday


April 18, 1912
Members of the United Mine Workers of America on Paint Creek in Kanawha County, West Virginia, demanded wages equal to those of other area mines. The operators rejected the wage increase and miners walked off the job. Miners along nearby Cabin Creek, having previously lost their union, joined the Paint Creek strikers and demanded:
• the right to organize
• recognition of their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly
• an end to blacklisting 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.
When the strike began, operators brought in mine guards from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to evict miners and their families from company houses. The evicted miners set up tent colonies and lived in other makeshift housing. The mine guards' primary responsibility was to break the strike by making the lives of the miners as uncomfortable as possible.
Striking miners and their families being evicted from company houses.
Deep background on the W. Virginia coal business and the strike


April 18, 1941

Bus companies in New York City agreed to hire 200 black workers after a four-week boycott by riders led by Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. of Harlem’s Abysinnian Baptist Church, the largest Protestant congregation in the U.S. Powell ran and won a City Council seat later that year and became a member of Congress four years later.

Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

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April 18, 1960

Tens of thousands of people marked the end of the Aldermaston "ban the bomb" march at a rally with at least 60,000 gathering in Trafalgar Square, the largest demonstration London had seen to date.

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Saturday


April 19, 1911
More than 6,000 Grand Rapids, Michigan, furniture workers—Germans, Dutch, Lithuanians, and Poles—put down their tools and struck 59 factories in what became known as the Great Furniture Strike.
For four months they campaigned and picketed for higher pay, shorter hours, and an end to the piecework pay system that was common in the plants of America’s “Furniture City.” Although the strike ended after four months without a resolution, Gordon Olson, Grand Rapids city historian emeritus, said once employees returned to work, most owners did increase pay and reduce hours.

The Spirit of Solidarity -- a $1.3 million granite sculpture, plaza and fountain -- sits on the land of the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum on the banks of the Grand River near the Indian mound.
The Strike's history from the APWU On the 100th anniversary of the strike


April 19, 1943

On the eve of Passover, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began when Nazi forces attempted to clear out the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, to send them to concentration camps. The Germans were met by unexpected gunfire from Jewish resistance fighters. The destruction of the ghetto had been ordered in February by SS Chief Heinrich Himmler:

“An overall plan for the razing of the ghetto is to be submitted to me. In any case we must achieve the disappearance from sight of the living-space for 500,000 sub-humans (Untermenschen) that has existed up to now, but could never be suitable for Germans, and reduce the size of this city of millions—Warsaw—which has always been a center of corruption and revolt.”
These two women, soon to be executed, were members of the Jewish resistance.
" ...Jews and Jewesses shot from two pistols at the same time...
The Jewesses carried loaded pistols in their clothing with the safety catches off...
At the last moment, they would pull hand grenades out...and throw them at the soldiers....">
 

 


Captured Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Learn more about The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

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"How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
- Anne Frank


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April 19, 1971

As a prelude to a massive anti-war protest, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) began a five-day demonstration in Washington, D.C. The generally peaceful protest was called Dewey Canyon III in honor of the operation of the same name conducted in Laos.
They lobbied their congressmen, laid wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, and staged mock "search-and-destroy" missions.





April 19, 1997

Two Swedish Plowshares peace activists, Cecelia Redner, a priest in the Church of Sweden, and Marija Fischer, a student, entered the Bufors Arms factory in Karlskoga, Sweden, planted an apple tree and attempted to disarm a naval cannon being exported to Indonesia. Cecelia was charged with attempt to commit malicious damage and Marija with assisting in what was called the Choose Life Disarmament Action. Both were also charged with violating a law which protects facilities “important to society.”
Both women were convicted, arguing over repeated interruptions by the judge, that, in Redner’s words, “When my country is arming a dictator I am not allowed to be passive and obedient, since it would make me guilty to the crime of genocide in East Timor. I know what is going on and I cannot only blame the Indonesian dictatorship or my own government.” Fischer added, “We tried to prevent a crime, and that is an obligation according to our law.” Redner was sentenced to fines and three years of correctional education. Fischer was sentenced to fines and two years’ suspended sentence.
Both the prosecutor and defendants appealed the case.
No jail sentences were imposed.

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“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
-
Harriet Tubman



Sunday


April 20, 1853

Harriet Tubman began her Underground Railroad, a network of people and places that aided in the escape of slaves to the north.

 

Story of a liberator of her people from bondage

Harriet Tubman


April 20, 1964

In his closing statement at the Rivonia Trial, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela addressed the court: “We want a just share in the whole of South Africa . . . We want security and a stake in society. Above all, my lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent.” He was in Pretoria Supreme Court in South Africa where he and eight co-defendants were charged with 221 acts of sabotage designed to “ferment violent revolution,” and were facing the death penalty. At the time, black South Africans had no civil or political rights whatsoever, though they comprised over 80% of the population.

 

He concluded: “During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination.
“ I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live and to see realised. But, my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Mandela in 1958
 

Peace quote


"The majority of South Africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organization and people can only culminate in the establishment of democracy."

- Nelson Mandela

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April 20, 1969

On the site of a parking lot owned by the University of California, Berkeley, a diverse group of people came together, each freely contributing their skills and resources to create People’s Park.


"Long live People's Park!
Showdown in the Counterculture Corral”
by Ron Jacobs



April 20, 1982

Seven women were arrested in an anti-nuclear protest outside Mather Air Force Base, near Sacramento, California, in what had become a weekly vigil. Speaking after her arrest, Barbara Weidner, 72, said, “As a mother and grandmother, I could no longer remain silent as our world rushes on its collision course with disaster which threatens the lives and futures of all children, everywhere, and the future of this beautiful planet itself.”
She later said, “I hope people will not think we are encouraging people to break the law,” she said. “But our actions should teach people, and children, to scrutinize laws against human life, and they should be broken to prove a point.”
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