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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.

Oct 20

•House Un-American Activities Committee
•Folk music album tops the chart
•Oakland, CA anti-draft protests build
•Saturday Night "Massacre"

Oct 21
•Seminole leader deceived and seized
•Thousands march on Pentagon
•Missile plant blocked

Oct 22
•Northern students oppose segregation
•International Antiwar Day
•Millions march against U.S. missiles in Europe

Oct 23
•Parade for women's vote
•NAACP issues "An Appeal to the World"
•Hungarians demand reform

Oct 24
•Langston Hughes play opens
•40-hour workweek for Americans
•United Nations Day
•250M CND London March
Oct 25
•Hiroshima victim remembered

Oct 26
•Illegal information
•Doonesbury publishes nationally
•Reagan refuses to sanction S. Africa
•Israel and Jordan make peace

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October 20, 1947

The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened public hearings into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. To counter what they claimed were reckless attacks by HUAC, a group of motion picture industry luminaries, led by actor Humphrey Bogart and his wife, Lauren Bacall, John Huston, William Wyler, Gene Kelly and others, established the Committee for the First Amendment (CFA).


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Pete Seeger
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October 20, 1962

A folk music album, "Peter, Paul and Mary," hit No. 1 on U.S. record sales charts. The group’s music addressed real issues – war, civil rights, poverty – and became popular across the United States. The trio's version of "If I Had A Hammer" was not only a popular single, but was also embraced as an anthem by the civil rights movement.

About Peter, Paul and Mary

October 20, 1967

The biggest demonstration to date against American involvement in the Vietnamese War took place in Oakland, California. An estimated 5,000-10,000 people poured onto the streets to demonstrate in a fifth day of massive protests against the conscription of soldiers to serve in the war. [see October 16, 1967]

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October 20, 1973

In what was immediately called the "Saturday Night Massacre," President Richard Nixon's Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler, announced that Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox had been dismissed. Cox had been investigating Nixon, his administration and re-election campaign. Nixon had demanded that he rescind his subpoena for White House recordings. Archibald Cox
Richard Nixon Earlier in the day, Attorney General Elliot Richardson had resigned, and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus had been fired, both for refusing to dismiss Cox. Solicitor General Robert Bork, filling the vacuum left by the departure of his two Justice Department superiors, fired Cox at the president’s direction.

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"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


October 21, 1837

The U.S. Army, enforcing President Andrew Jackson’s 1830 Indian Removal Act, captured Seminole Indian leader Osceola (meaning "Black Drink") by inviting him to a peace conference and then seizing him and nineteen others, though they had come under a flag of truce. Under the law, they and the others of the “Five Tribes” (Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Cherokees) were to be moved, by force if necessary, west of the Mississippi to Indian Territory (Arkansas and Oklahoma).

Osceola painted by George Catlin, 1838

The Seminole had moved to Florida (then under the control of Spain) from South Carolina and Georgia as they were forced from their ancestral lands, then forced further south into the Everglades where they settled.

Read more about Osceola

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

October 21, 1967

In Washington, D.C., more than 100,000 demonstrators from all over the country surrounded the reflecting pool between the Washington and Lincoln monuments in a largely peaceful protest to end the Vietnam War.

It was organized by "the Mobe," the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Some then marched on, encircled and attempted to storm the Pentagon in what some considered to be civil disobedience; 682 were arrested and dozens injured.
This protest was paralleled by demonstrations in Japan and Western Europe, the most violent of which occurred outside the U.S. Embassy in London where 3,000 demonstrators attempted to storm the building.

at the Pentagon
Read two different accounts of the day with photographs:


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Patty Schick
Rio Rancho, NM

October 21, 1983

In the first public action of the new Seattle Nonviolent Action Group (SNAG), 12 people blockaded the Boeing Cruise Missile plant in Kent, Washington; none were arrested.


October 22, 1963

200,000 students boycotted Chicago schools to protest de facto segregation.

October 22, 1968

More than 300,000 protesters marked International
Antiwar Day in Japan.
The U.S. war in Vietnam and the ongoing (since the end of World War II) and massive American military presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa helped swell the ranks of the demonstrators; nearly
1400 were arrested.

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October 22, 1983

Capping a week of protests, more than two million people in six European cities marched against U.S. deployment of Cruise and Pershing nuclear missiles: 1.2 million Germans, including 180,000 in Bonn; a 64-mile human chain between Stuttgart and New Ulm (and Hamburg, W. Berlin); 350,000 Rome; 100,000 Vienna; 25,000 Paris; 20,000 Stockholm; 4000 Dublin; plus 140 sites in U.S.
In London, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) held its biggest protest ever against nuclear missiles with an estimated one million people taking part.

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October 23, 1915

33,000 women marched in New York City demanding the right to vote. Known as the "banner parade" because of the multitude of flags and banners carried, it began at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and continued until long after dark, attracting a record-breaking crowd of spectators. Motor cars brought up the rear decorated with Chinese lanterns; once darkness fell, Fifth Avenue was a mass of moving colored lights.

The history of women’s suffrage in the U.S.

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October 23, 1947

The NAACP filed formal charges with the United Nations accusing the United States of racial discrimination. "An Appeal to the World," edited by W.E.B. DuBois, was a factual study of the denial of the right to vote, and grievances against educational discrimination and lack of other social rights. This appeal spurred President Truman to create a civil rights commission.

W.E.B. DuBois

Peace quote

"Children learn more from what you are than what you teach."

- W.E.B. Dubois, 1897

October 23, 1956

The Hungarian revolution began with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to demand an end to Soviet rule. More than 250,000 people, including students, workers, and soldiers, demonstrated in Budapest in support of the insurrection in Poland, demanding reforms
in Hungary.

Hungarian students,1956

The day before, the students had produced a list of sixteen demands, including the removal of Soviet troops, the organization of multi-party democratic elections, and the restoration of freedom of speech. On the evening of the 23rd a large crowd pulled down the statue of Josef Stalin in Felvonulási Square.

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Hungarian revolution monument


"...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


October 24, 1935

Langston Hughes's first play, "Mulatto," opened on Broadway. It was the longest-running play (373 performances) by an African-American until Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" which premiered in 1959.

First-rate brief bio of Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes

Peace quote

"We younger Negro artists now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they aren't, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful..."

- Langston Hughes

October 24, 1940

The 40-hour workweek went into effect under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, requiring employers to pay overtime and restricting the use of child labor.
Decades of labor agitation and a considerable number of lives made this change possible.

Background on the struggle to end child labor:

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October 24, 1945

The United Nations World Security Organization came into being when the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR) in mid-afternoon deposited its instrument of ratification of the U.N. Charter. The USSR became the last of the five major powers and the 29th of 51 nations, the minimum necessary to bring this about. James F. Byrnes, U.S. Secretary of State, then signed the protocol formally attesting that the Charter of the United Nations had come into force.

This is now considered United Nations Day.
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October 24, 1970
Salvador Allende Gossens, an avowed Marxist and head of the Unidad Popular Party, became the president of Chile after being elected and confirmed by the Chilean Congress.

For the next three years, the United States exerted tremendous pressure to destabilize and unseat the Allende government. In 1958, and again in 1964, Allende had run on a socialist /communist platform. In both elections, the United States government (as well as U.S. businesses such as International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), which had significant investments in Chile) worked to defeat Allende by sending millions of dollars of assistance to his political opponents.

Allende and supporters

More on Allende

October 24, 1981

More than 250,000 people, organized by the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), marched through London to protest the siting of American nuclear missiles in the United Kingdom.

More background and video

Did you know
the first peace symbol buttons were made in 1958 using white clay . . .

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October 25, 1955

Sadako Sasaki, following the Japanese custom of folding paper cranes – symbols of good fortune and longevity – persisted daily in folding cranes, hoping to create senbazuru (1000 paper cranes strung together) when a person's dream is believed to come true, died.

The Sadako story    
Sadako Sasaki

Sadako was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and at 12 was diagnosed with Leukemia, "the atom bomb" disease.


Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima showing Sadako holding a golden crane



Photo: Mark Bledstein

Peace quote

"If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is Man's challenge to God. It's worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that You have created.
If you're not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is
4,600,000,000 years old. It could end in an afternoon."

- Arundhati Roy, 1998


October 26, 1916

Margaret Sanger and her sister were arrested for disseminating birth control information at her Brownsville Clinic in Brooklyn; she was arrested again a few weeks later for the same reason and the police shut the clinic down within 10 days.
Margaret Sanger

Peace quote

"No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."

- Margaret Sanger

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October 26, 1970
"Doonesbury", a cartoon series addressing political and social issues written by Garry Trudeau, and initially published in a the Yale Daily News when Trudeau was a student, debuted in 28 newspapers.
Read Doonesbury
Garry Trudeau, 1976

October 26, 1986
President Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill passed by the Congress that would have imposed trade sanctions on the racially separatist apartheid regime of South Africa.

October 26, 1994
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin and Jordanian Prime Minister Abdelsalam al-Majali, with President Clinton in attendance, formally signed a peace treaty ending 46 years of war at a ceremony in the desert area of Wadi Araba on the Israeli-Jordanian border. President of Israel Ezer Weizman shook hands with Jordan’s King Hussein.
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