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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.

Sept 1

•Fast For Life
•Stop the weapons I
•Stop the weapons II
•No taxes for war

Sept 2
•Declaration of (Vietnamese) Independence
•Integration: school cancelled
•Leader of Vietnamese Independence passes

Sept 3
•A slave escapes
•Congress of African People
•Kurdish Peace Train

Sept 4
•No peace on Labor Day
•PPU says no to H-bomb
•Governor says no to integration
•Vets say no to war
Red Square & White House

Sept 5
•1st Labor Day Parade
•Palmer Raids
•Women For Life On Earth
Sept 6
•Germany stigmatizes Jews
•Missile for a museum

Sept 7
•Daughters of Bilitis
•Ploughshares action
•ANC fights Homelands policy
•Love Your Enemies

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September 1, 1986

Angelo (Charlie) Liteky & George Mizo, both Vietnam veterans, began an open-ended Fast For Life on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. They were calling attention to their opposition to U.S. support of the Nicaraguan contras and repressive regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala.

“our expression of a deeply felt desire to do everything and anything we can . . . to stop the war with Nicaragua.”

Charles Liteky George Mizo
Liteky was a Catholic chaplain in the Vietnam War and had received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Charles Liteky and his subsequent peace efforts

Back to School


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Learn about Malala

September 1, 1987

During a nonviolent protest at the Concord (California) Naval Weapons Station, a Navy munitions train ran over Brian Willson.
An Air Force and Vietnam veteran, Willson and the other protesters were attempting to stop shipment of weapons to Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Brian Willson bird-watching California, 1997.

They considered U.S. policy in Central America a violation of the Nuremberg Principles. Willson lost both legs and suffered other injuries but has remained an active and articulate leader in the anti-military movement.

Ron Kovic (author 'Born on the Fourth of July')
and Brian Willson (also born on the Fourth of July)

Willson’s testimony before the U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Investigations

September 1, 1997

Kurdish and British activists blockaded an arms trade exhibition outside London. 89 members of Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) were arrested for protesting the presence of Turkish, Chinese and Indonesian government representatives in Britain to purchase weapons. The Labour government had pledged “[We will] not permit the sale of arms to regimes that could use them for internal repression or external aggression . . . .” Great Britain is the world’s second largest arms manufacturer (by dollar volume) after the U.S.

What happened that day

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September 1 - International Day of War Tax Resistance.

“Refusing to pay taxes for war is probably as old as the first taxes levied for warfare...”

History of War Tax Resistance


September 2, 1945

Revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam a republic and independent from France (National Day). Half a million people gathered in Hanoi to hear him read the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, which was modeled on the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

note:Ho Chi Minh translates to 'He Who Enlightens'

Read about how it was influenced by the U.S. Declaration


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September 2, 1966

On what was supposed to be the first day of school in Grenada, Mississippi—and the first day in an integrated school for 450 Negro children—the school board postponed opening of school for 10 days because of “paperwork.” Nevertheless, the high school played its first football game that night. Some of the Negro kids who had registered for that school tried to attend the game but were beaten and their car windows smashed.

September 2, 1969

Vietnamese revolutionary and national leader Nguyen Tat Thanh (aka Ho Chi Minh), 79, died of natural causes in Hanoi.   Uncle Ho
Ho Chi Minh

Ho and his struggle for Vietnamese independence

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"Thank you so much for this work, Carl! You lift my spirits every time I read your newsletter."
Peace and Solidarity Forever,
- Elise Bryant
Acting Executive Director
Labor Heritage Foundation


September 3, 1838

Frederick Douglass made his escape from slavery in Baltimore and went on in life to become an abolitionist, journalist, author, and human rights advocate.

The escape from “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave”

A Frederick Douglass biography

September 3, 1970

Representatives from 27 African nations, the Caribbean nations, four South American countries, Australia, and the U.S. met in Atlanta, Georgia, for the first Congress of African People.
Read more about CAP in historical context

Stephen Biko
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September 3, 1997

The Musa Anter, or Kurdish Peace Train (named after an assassinated Kurdish writer) was organized by peace activists to call attention to the oppression of the Kurdish people in Turkey by their own government. At the time, the Turkish words for Kurd, Kurdish, guerilla and torture were banned, and it was illegal to speak the Kurdish language.

The Peace Train was to leave London and travel through Europe to Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey to celebrate International Anti-War Day there. Germany disallowed passage of the Train through its territory (the Germans and Turks have strong military ties). The group then flew to Istanbul, intending to take a fleet of busses to the Kurdish region. Turkish troops stopped them from reaching Diyarbakir, forcing them back to the capital.

On this day they tried to hold a press conference to discuss the Kurdish issue. The police arrested or beat all present, including foreign diplomats.
The story of the Musa Anter Peace Train

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September 4, 1949

Paul Robeson, scholar, athlete, musician and leader, defying a racist and red-baiting mob, sang to 15,000 at a Labor Day gathering in Peekskill, New York.
Paul Robeson (at microphone) singing to the Labor Day gathering in Peekskill, New York

The story and photographs of what happened

Film from that day narrated by Sidney Poitier

There's more peace and justice history to see

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September 4, 1954

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) organized a demonstration against the H-Bomb in London’s Trafalgar Square.
The PPU dates back to October 1934.

The PPU today
History of the Peace Pledge Union
Young Peace Pledge Union members today.

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

September 4, 1957

Elizabeth Eckford and eight other young Negroes were blocked from becoming the first black student at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Governor Orval Faubus had called out the National Guard to prevent the court-ordered integration of the public schools in the state’s capital.
President Dwight Eisenhower eventually sent in federal troops to guarantee the law was enforced.
Elizabeth Eckford Read more Elizabeth Eckford followed and taunted by mob, 1957.

September 4, 1970

Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) began Operation RAW (Rapid American Withdrawal). Over the following three days more than 200 veterans, assisted by the Philadelphia Guerilla Theater, staged a march from Morristown, New Jersey, to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, reenacting the invasion of small rural hamlets along the way.

Operation Rapid American Withdrawal 1970-2005: An Exhibition:

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September 4, 1978
Simultaneous demonstrations in Moscow’s Red Square and in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. were organized by the War Resisters League, calling for nuclear disarmament.


September 5, 1882
Well over 10,000 workers demanding the 8-hour day marched to protest working conditions in the first-ever U.S. Labor Day parade, held in New York City. About a quarter million New Yorkers turned out to watch.

The idea was that of Peter J. McGuire, a union carpenter and cofounder of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, a precursor of the American Federation of Labor.

< Peter J. McGuire, the carpenter and labor leader who conceived of Labor Day
1st Labor Parade in Union Square, NYC 1882
He wanted to honor the American worker and create a holiday break between the 4th of July and Thanksgiving, proposing a “festive parade through the streets of the city.”
Originally the second Tuesday of the month, it is now the first Monday, and recognized as a national holiday. 
More on the history and practice of Labor Day

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September 5, 1917

In 48 coordinated raids across the country, later known as the Palmer Raids, federal agents seized records, destroyed equipment and books, and arrested hundreds of activists involved with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known fondly as the Wobblies.

Attorney General Mitchell Palmer


 Big Bill Haywood

Among the arrested was William D. “Big Bill” Haywood, a leader of the IWW, for the “crimes of labor" and “obstructing World War I.”
An Italian anarchist’s bomb blew himself up on the porch of Attorney General Mitchell Palmer’s residence in Washington shortly after the discovery of 38 bombs mailed to leading politicians.
More on Attorney General Palmer

Peace quote

"I want political action that counts. I want a working class that can hold an election every day if they want to"

- William Dudley
"Big Bill" Haywood

September 5, 1981

The Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp was established outside Greenham Air Base in England, as “Women For Life On Earth.”


Greenham Peace Camp

April, 1983.

More on Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp

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September 6, 1941

All Jews over the age of six in German-occupied territories were ordered by the Nazi regime to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing.

September 6, 1963

Anti-nuclear marchers who began in Glasgow, Scotland, arrived in London and attempted to present a dummy missile to the British Imperial War Museum.


September 7, 1957

Barbara Gittings organized the first New York meeting held for the Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneer lesbian organization. The group was founded two years earlier in San Francisco.

Read more


Cover from their magazine "The Ladder", October,1968

Barabara Gittings leading a picket in the '60s

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September 7, 1990

Two British peace activists, Stephen Hancock and Mike Hutchinson known as the Upper Heyford Plowshares were sentenced to 15 months in prison for disabling an F-111 bomber in Oxford, England.

A brief History of Direct Disarmament Actions

September 7, 1992

South African troops killed at least 24 people and injured 150 more at an African National Congress (ANC) rally on the border of Ciskei, in South Africa. 50,000 ANC supporters had turned out to demand Ciskei’s re-absorption into South Africa. Ciskei was one of ten black “homelands,” so designated to keep blacks from claiming citizenship in South Africa itself. They were a legal fiction, not recognized by any other country, that was part of the racially separatist apartheid regime.
Read more

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September 7, 1996

Two women were arrested for trespass at the Norfolk (Virginia) Naval Base after walking into the base with a banner reading,
"Love Your Enemies."

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