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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
Nov 17

•Crook? Me?
•Women's Pentagon Action
•Rattling
the communists' cage

Tuesday
Nov 18
•Hoover v. King
•"We want democracy now"
•All S. Africa adopts constitution


Wednesday
Nov 19
•Joe Hill-Gone? •Randomness passes for fairness
•Sadat arrives in Israel

Thursday
Nov 20
•1st Scab
•Nuremberg Trials Begin
•Rights of the Child
•Sadat speaks to Israel
•SANE+FREEZE
= Peace Action
•NAFTA

Friday
Nov 21
•UAW strikes GM over fair share
•Congress frees up information
•Church Committee reveals secrets
•Europe: no more nukes
Saturday
Nov 22
•Uprising of the 20,000
•President assassinated
•TV taboo broken
•Thousands peacefully arrested protesting SOA

Sunday
Nov 23
•First striking workers
•The Thibodaux Massacre
•Anti-insurgent effort funds insurgents

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Monday


November 17, 1973

President Nixon told an Associated Press managing editors meeting at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, that "people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

 

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November 17, 1980

Hundreds were arrested at the Women's Pentagon Action protest of patriarchy and its war-making.

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November 17, 1989

Riot police in Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia, arrested hundreds of people demanding the resignation of the leader of the Communist-led government. More than 15,000 people, mostly students, took part in the demonstration demanding democratic rights. [see November 18, 1989 below]

Tuesday


November 18, 1964

 

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover publicly characterized Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. as "the most notorious liar in the country." King replied that Hoover "has apparently faltered under the awesome burden, complexities, and responsibilities of his office."


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November 18, 1989

More than 50,000 people took to the streets of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, demanding political reform. In the biggest demonstration in the country's post-war history, protesters held up banners and chanted:
"We want democracy now."

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November 18, 1993

South Africa's ruling National Party, and leaders of 20 other parties representing both blacks and whites, approved a new national constitution that provided fundamental rights to blacks and other non-whites, ending the apartheid system. South Africa held its first democratic multi-racial election on April 26, 1994.

From the preamble: “WHEREAS there is a need to create a new order in which all South Africans will be entitled to a common South African citizenship in a sovereign and democratic constitutional state in which there is equality between men and women and people of all races so that all citizens shall be able to enjoy and exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms....”

South African citizens in line to vote.

Constitutional history of South Africa

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Wednes
day


November 19, 1915
Joe Hill, a labor organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was assassinated by firing squad in the courtyard of the Utah State Penitentiary in Salt Lake City.
The IWW, or Wobblies as they were know were advocates of organizing all workers into One Big Union. It is reported that Joe had been framed for murder by copper bosses, the press and government forces.
Just prior to his execution, as Joe stood before the firing squad he propelled himself him from organizer to labor martyrdom with these words: "Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize!"

Joe Hill: The Man Who Didn't Die

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Peace quote


"You will eat, bye and bye
In that glorious land above the sky
Work and Pray,
live on hay
You'll get pie in the sky when you die."
- Joe Hill






November 19, 1969

In an effort to undercut growing opposition to a draft made necessary by the Vietnam War, Congress passed a law requiring random selection of draftees through a lottery.
The Selective Service System would call up young men based upon their birthday, first with 19-year-olds and those with expired college deferments.




November 19, 1977

In an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat traveled to Israel to seek a permanent peace settlaement with Egypt's neighbor after decades of conflict. This action was extremely unpopular in the Arab World and especially among Muslim fundamentalists. Egypt and Israel had fought four wars since 1948.
Sadat arrives in Israel
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Thursday


November 20, 1816

The term "scab" was first used in print by the Albany (N.Y.) Typographical Society.
A scab is someone who crosses a union’s picket line and takes the job of a striking worker.


What is a Scab?

Read The Scab by Jack London

Peace quote


"The press of the United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. It's function is to serve the established by moulding public opinion, and right well it serves."
- Jack London
The Iron Heel



November 20, 1945

The International War Crimes Tribunal began in Nuremberg, Germany, and continued until October 1, 1946, establishing that military and political subordinates are responsible for their own actions even if ordered by their superiors.

Twenty-four high-ranking Nazis were on trial for atrocities committed during World War II, ranging from crimes against peace to crimes of war, to crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg Trials were conducted by judges from the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain.

The Nuremberg defendants

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November 20, 1959

The United Nations proclaimed "The Declaration of the Rights of the Child," because “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

Read the text of the Declaration



November 20, 1969

Fourteen Indians from 20 tribes seized Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, offering to buy the island from the federal government for $24 worth of beads (the alleged price paid to the Canarsee Delaware Indians for Manhattan Island; it was actually 60 Dutch guilders).
Their numbers swelled to nearly eighty; the General Services Administration, which had responsibility for the site of the former federal prison, and Coast Guard gave them the opportunity to leave the island peacefully.

They were reclaiming it as Indian land by right of discovery, and demanding fairness and respect for native peoples. The occupation lasted for more than a year. Said Richard Oakes, a Mohawk from New York, "We hold The Rock."

Indian people and their supporters wait for the ferry.
Photo/Ilka Hartmann

    a new entrance to Alcatraz                           Photo/Michelle Vignes

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LaNada Boyer (formerly Means) inside one of the Alcatraz guard barracks where occupiers lived from 1969-71. Much of the graffiti from 30 years ago remains throughout the island today.
Photo by Linda Sue Scott.



Peace quote


"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 20, 1977
Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat addressed the Israeli Knesset (parliament).

"I come to you today on solid ground to shape a new life and to establish peace. "But to be absolutely frank with you, I took this decision after long thought, knowing that it constitutes a great risk...."
Text of Sadat’s speech to the Israeli Knesset Listen to the speech

There's more peace and justice history to see


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November 20, 1987
SANE (The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy) and FREEZE (the campaign to freeze all testing of nuclear weapons) merged at their first combined convention in Cleveland, Ohio, becoming the largest U.S. peace organization.
Peace Action today




November 20, 1993
The U.S. Senate approved the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating the world’s largest trade area covering Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

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Peace quote


"There's s a direct relationship between the ballot box and the bread box, and what the union fights for and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in the legislative halls."
– Walter Reuther





Friday


November 21, 1945

200,000 members of the United Auto Workers went on strike against General Motors, the first major strike following World War II. The UAW’s demand for a 30% wage increase was based on the increase in the cost of living during the war (28% according to the Department of Labor), the wartime freeze on wages, and the cut in the average workweek with the disappearance of overtime pay in manufacturing.

But the UAW also considered profits and prices a subject for negotiation, a position rejected by GM. The union did not merely say that labor was entitled to enough wages to live on. It also said that labor was entitled to share in the wealth produced by industry.

 

“... Unless we get a more realistic distribution of America’s wealth, we won’t get enough to keep this machine going.”

–Walter Reuther, UAW President



November 21, 1974
Both Houses of Congress voted to override President Gerald Ford’s veto of updates to the Freedom of Information Act. Originally passed in 1966, it required federal agencies to release information upon request to citizens and journalists.
The amendments put an end to governmental resistance to compliance, including excessive fees, bureaucratic delays, and the need to sometimes resort to expensive litigation to force the government to share copies of documents.
Ford advisors Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Dick Cheney, and government lawyer Antonin Scalia advised him to veto it.
Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld, President Gerald Ford
and Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Cheney April 28, 1975
What was the dispute?

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November 21, 1975
The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, led by Senator Frank Church (D-Idaho), issued a report charging U.S. government officials were behind assassination plots against two foreign leaders – Fidel Castro (Cuba) and Patrice Lumumba (Congo), and were heavily involved in at least three other plots: Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic), Ngo Dinh Diem (Vietnam), Rene Schneider (Chile).

Senator Frank Church, left, chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee,
displays a poison dart gun as co-chairman Senator John Tower (R-TX) watches.

The committee, a precursor to the Senate Intelligence Committee, was established to look into misuse of and abuse by intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA and FBI, some of which had been revealed by the Watergate investigations.
   
Fidel Castro / Patrice Lumumba / Rafael Trujillo / Ngo Dinh Diem / Rene Schneider

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November 21, 1981

More than 350,000 demonstrated in Amsterdam against U.S. nuclear-armed cruise missiles on European soil.

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Saturday


November 22, 1909

In New York City, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union went on strike against sweatshop conditions in what became known as the "Uprising of the 20,000" and the "Girl's Revolt." The strikers won the support of other workers and the women's suffrage movement for their persistence and unity in the face of police brutality and biased courts. A judge told arrested pickets: "You are on strike against God." This was the first mass strike by women in the U.S.

ILGWU timeline



November 22, 1963

President John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas during a motorcade.
Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president within hours.


November 22, 1968

 

What is believed to be the first interracial kiss on U.S. broadcast television occurred in an episode of Star Trek between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols.



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November 22, 1998

7,000 marched on the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, outside Columbus, Georgia.

They were protesting the school’s training of Latin American soldiers and other security personnel who return to their countries and are involved in violence and oppression of their populations. 2,319 people were arrested for trespassing.
Protests at the School of the Americas, organized by SOA Watch, occur every November. The school is now known by the U.S. Army as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

2002 protest at SOA

Visit School of the Americas watch.


Peace quote


"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."

-Howard Zinn
1922-2010


Sunday


November 23, 1170 BCE 


The first recorded strike took place in Egypt when necropolis workers who had not been paid for their work in more than two months sat down and refused to work until they were paid and able to eat.

 



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November 23, 1887

Black Louisiana sugarcane workers, in cooperation with the racially integrated Knights of Labor, had gone on strike at the beginning of the month over their meager pay issued in script (not cash). The script was redeemable only at the company store where excessive prices were charged. When the first freeze of the season arrived and damaged the crop, the plantation owners were angered. The Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of "prominent citizens," shot and killed at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage, and lynched two strike leaders in what became known as the Thibodaux Massacre.

More on the Thibodaux Massacre.


Right to Work?

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November 23, 1981

President Ronald Reagan signed off on a top secret document, National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), which gave the Central Intelligence Agency a budget of $19 million to recruit and support a 500-man force of Nicaraguan insurgents to conduct covert actions against the leftist Sandinista elected government. This marked the beginning of official U.S. support for the so-called contras in their war against the Nicaraguans.

Read (most of) the memo More on the Reagan policy

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