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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.

Aug 25

•U.S. troops refuse to fight

Aug 26
•Rights of man
•Amistad makes landfall
•Congress approves suffrage
•1968: Chicago police riot
•Young peacemaker lost

Aug 27
•W.E.B. DuBois
•Peace Torch begins 2-month journey

Aug 28
•Slavery ended in England
•I have a dream
•Peace People

Aug 29
•1st Indian reservation
•Disarmament plan
•1957 Civil Rights Act
•SNCC registers voters
•Chicano Moratorium
Aug 30
•Freedom delayed by Dems
•Civil rights hero becomes Justice
•School busses destroyed

Aug 31
•Back-to-Africa leader
•Don't burn your draft card
•U.S. vs. John Lennon
•IRA rejects violence

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August 25, 1969

Company A of the 3rd Battalion, the 196th Light Brigade, refused to advance further into the Songchang Valley of Vietnam after five days of heavy casualties; their number had been reduced from 150 to 60. This was one of hundreds of mutinies among troops during the war.


“He [President Nixon] is also carrying on the battle in the belief, or pretense, that the South Vietnamese will really be able to defend their country and our democratic objectives [sic] when we withdraw, and even his own generals don't believe the South Vietnamese will do it.” --James Reston in the New York Times
Vietnam: The Soldier's Revolt GI resistance in the Vietnam War

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August 26, 1789

The French National Assembly agreed to document known as the “Declaration of the Rights of Man.” It was a set of principles for gauging the legitimacy of any governing system, and included (in summary):
• “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights”
“ Those rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression”
“ Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else”
• “The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most pre cious of the rights of man”
Declaration des Droits de L'Homme et du Citoyen (Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen)
• Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society and law is the expression of the general will. “ Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation.”
• No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except when in violation of a public law, all persons are held “innocent until they shall have been declared guilty,” and receive punishments “only as are strictly and obviously necessary”
• The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces, and a “common contribution” is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration, and that public servants are obliged to account for use of those funds
• Property is an “inviolable and sacred right,” and no one shall be deprived thereof
The complete text:

Back to School


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August 26, 1920

The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, officially became part of the U.S. Constitution: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
This day has been known since 1971 as Women’s Equality Day.

Take the Women’s Equality Day quiz

The document itself, from the National Archives

August 26-29, 1968
Police and anti-war demonstrators clashed in the streets of Chicago as the Democratic National Convention nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey for president inside the Amphitheater.

Club-swinging Chicago police indiscriminately tear-gassed, kicked and beat anti-war demonstrators, delegates, reporters and innocent bystanders outside, arresting 500. 11,900 Chicago police, 7500 Army troops, 7500 Illinois National Guardsmen and 1000 Secret Service agents were ultimately involved.
Protesting what was later officially designated a police riot, members of the Democrats’ Wisconsin delegation attempted to march to the convention hall, but police turned them back.
When Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Connecticut) delivered his nominating speech, he infuriated Mayor Richard Daley by saying,
"with George McGovern as President of the United States, we wouldn't have Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago."

Julian Bond, the first black member of the previously all-white Georgia state legislature, seconded the nomination of anti-war presidential candidate Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy. Bond added that he had seen such police behavior before, but only in segregationist Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

Narrative account

David Douglas Duncan’s online photo exhibition

Peace quote

"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

August 26, 1985

Samantha Smith, a 10-year-old from Manchester, Maine, was invited to visit the Soviet Union by its Premier, Yuri Andropov. She had written him a letter asking if the Soviet Union intended to attack the United States.
She had written him a letter asking if the Soviet Union intended to attack the United States. She visited him in the U.S.S.R. and became a young ambassador for peace. She died in an airplane crash at age 13 on this day returning home with her father from a peace mission.
Statue of Samantha Smith at the Maine State Library
Augusta, Maine
Grade school student, peace activist 1972-1985

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August 27, 1963

DuBois in Ghana

W.E.B. DuBois, the black American sociologist, scholar, author, pan-Africanist, communist, and one of the founders of the NAACP, died in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where he had expatriated. He had been charged and tried in the U.S. for being a “foreign principal” in 1951 because he chaired the The Peace Information Center.

The Center was dedicated to banning nuclear weapons but Secretary of State Dean Acheson designated it a Communist front group.

W.E.B. DuBois background

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

August 27, 1967

The San Francisco Peace Torch began its two-month journey to Washington, D.C. for a demonstration against the Vietnam War.


The Peace Torch Marathon arrives at the Mall.


August 28, 1833

The Abolition of Slavery Act was passed by the British Parliament. As early as 1787, members of the Society of Friends (Quakers), particularly Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp, organized to end the slave trade.
Since Quakers were barred from serving in the House of Commons, the cause was led by a member of the Evangelical Party, William Wilberforce, ending the international trade in slaves in 1807. By 1827 slaving was considered piracy and punishable by death. The complete ban on slavery itself through the British Empire didn’t happen until this day; Wilberforce was informed of the Act’s passage on his death-bed.
William Wilberforce

Peace quote

"Justice is never given; it is exacted and the struggle must be continuous for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationship."
- A. Phillip Randolph

August 28, 1963

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his
“I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of half a million gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
They gathered there for jobs and freedom.

Read the speech

Film of the March and the speech
organizing to build the march
1983: Three hundred thousand marched in Washington on the 20th anniversary of MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech for the second "March on Washington for Jobs, Peace and Freedom."

Are you still dreaming?

graffiti seen in detroit
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August 28, 1976

60,000 joined the Community of Peace People demonstrations in Belfast and Dublin, Ireland. Peace People was founded by two women, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan to decry the painful violence between Catholics and Protestants, between unionists and republicans, and to move the peace process forward in Northern Ireland.

They jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize for 1976.

More about Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan
From the Declaration of the Peace People:
“ . . . We want to live and love and build a just and peaceful society.
We want for our children, as we want for ourselves, our lives at home, at work and at play, to be lives of joy and peace.
We recognize that to build such a life demands of all of us, dedication, hard work and courage . . .
We dedicate ourselves to working with our neighbors, near and far, day in and day out, to building that peaceful society in which the tragedies we have known are a bad memory and a continuing warning."
The Peace People’s website

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

- Gandhi

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August 29, 1758

The first Indian reservation, Brotherton, was established in New Jersey. A tract of three thousand acres of land was purchased at Edge Pillock, in Burlington County. The treaty of 1758 required the Delaware Tribes, in exchange for the land, to renounce all further claim to lands anywhere else in New Jersey, except for the right to fish in all the rivers and bays north of the Raritan River, and to hunt on unenclosed land.
History Of The Brotherton Reservation

Peace quote

“In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”
- Deganawidah
and a founder of the Iroquois League

August 29, 1949

The Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb in a test at Semipalatinsk in eastern Kazakhstan. It was known as Joe 1 after Josef Stalin, then General Secretary of the Communist Party.
" Joe 1, the first Soviet atomic bomb
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, key developer of the Soviet bomb, later worked for peace
The Semipalatinsk
test site

August 29, 1957

The U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, the first such law since reconstruction. The bill established a Civil Rights Commission which was given the authority to investigate discriminatory conditions. A Civil Rights Division was created in the Department of Justice, allowing federal prosecutors to obtain court injunctions against interference with the right to vote, among other things.
African Americans in Milledgeville, Georgia, wait in line to vote following the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
In an ultimately futile attempt to block passage, then-Democrat, former Dixiecrat, and later Republican Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina set the all-time filibuster record: 24 hours, 19 minutes of non-stop speaking on the floor of the Senate.
A filibuster is the deliberate use of prolonged debate and procedural delaying tactics to block action supported by a majority of members. It can only be stopped with a 60% majority voting to end debate.
Senator Strom Thurmond with his 24-hour filibustering speech

August 29, 1961

Robert Moses,
leader of SNCC
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was pursuing its voter registration drive in Amite County, Mississippi. Of 5000 eligible Negro voters in the county, just one was registered to vote. SNCC leader Robert Moses was attacked and beaten this day outside the registrar’s office while trying to sign up two voters. Nine stitches were required but the three white assailants were acquitted.
Bob Moses recorded the incident Hear Moses recall the time

Peace quote

"By the time I moved to Mississippi in the late sixties, Bob Moses had already left. Everywhere I went, however, I encountered his presence. He was a legend, a hero, a person Beloved. Once again in Mississippi, Bob Moses continues to exemplify the love of our people that has caused us, all these years, to cherish him."

Alice Walker

Peace quote

"Everywhere the visitor (referring to the 1968 Olympics) goes he is sure to see the symbolic white peace dove. It is on banners, painted on windows and placed on car stickers. A close look shows that on some of the snow-white doves a bleeding heart has been painted in red..."
Ruben Salazar

August 29, 1970

Between 15 and 30 thousand predominantly Chicanos (Americans of Mexican descent) gathered in East LA’s Laguna Park as the culmination of the Chicano National Moratorium. It was organized by Rosalio Munoz and others to protest the disproportionate number of deaths of Chicano soldiers in Vietnam (more than double their numbers in the population).
There had been more than 20 other such demonstrations in Latino communities across the southwest in recent months.
Three died when the anti-war march turned violent. The Los Angeles Police Department attacked and one gunshot, fired into the Silver Dollar Bar, killed Ruben Salazar, a Los Angeles Times columnist and a commentator on KMEX-TV (he had been accused by the LAPD of inciting the Chicano community).
The Chicano Moratorium
Ruben Salazar in that day’s LA Times


August 30, 1964

The Democratic Party National Convention refused to seat any delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). The Credentials Committee chose to seat the all-white delegation from Mississippi’s regular Democratic Party despite overwhelming evidence of the state party’s efforts to disenfranchise Mississippi’s Negro citizens. A proposed compromise of two non-voting guest delegates from MFDP was rejected by its leaders.

The dispute, the political intrigue, and the long-term effects

There's more peace and justice history to see

For a more complete listing for this week or to visit another month

August 30, 1967

The Senate confirmed the appointment of Thurgood Marshall as the first Supreme Court Justice of African-American descent. Marshall had been counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and had been the lead attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education case. He was appointed to the Court by Pres. Lyndon Johnson after having served as Solicitor General of the U.S. for two years, and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for four.
Thurgood Marshall

Peace quote

"Today's Constitution is a realistic document of freedom only because of several corrective amendments. Those amendments speak to a sense of decency and fairness that I and other Blacks cherish."
- Justice Thurgood Marshall

August 30, 1971

Ten empty school busses were dynamited in Pontiac, Michigan, eight days before a school integration plan was to begin. Following Federal Judge Damon Keith’s finding that Pontiac’s school board had “intentionally” perpetuated segregation, a plan was developed by the board that included bussing of 8700 children.
The bombers were later identified as leaders and members of the Ku Klux Klan, arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned.


August 31, 1921

Marcus Garvey, leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, often referred to as the Back-to-Africa movement in the U.S., was declared “Provisional President of Africa” in a Harlem (New York City) ceremony.
Black nationalist Marcus Garvey is shown in a military uniform as the 'Provisional President of Africa' during a parades up Lenox Avenue in Harlem, New York City, in August 1922, during the opening day exercises of the
annual Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World.
Hear one of his speeches recorded that summer

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August 31, 1965

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed into law a bill criminalizing destruction of draft cards. Although it could result in a five-year prison sentence and $1000 fine, the burnings became common during anti-Vietnam War rallies and often attracted the attention of news media.

Draft card burning, 1967

August 31, 1974

In federal court, John Lennon of The Beatles testified the Nixon Administration had tried to have him deported because of his involvement with anti-war demonstrations at the 1972 Republican convention in Miami.
A review of the movie about Lennon’s struggle to stay in the U.S.:

John Lennon
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August 31, 1994

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) declared a permanent and “complete cessation of military operations” after 25 years of bombing and 3000 deaths (both republican and unionist) intended to end British control of Northern Ireland.

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