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This week at a glance.

Oct 17

•U.S. controls Caribbean nation
•Anti-Poverty Day

Oct 18
•1st American union
•Are women persons

Oct 19

•War Resisters League
•Sit down, order coffee, get arrested
•Workers win 17-year struggle

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

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October 17, 1898

The U.S. took control of Puerto Rico. One year after Spain granted Puerto Rican self-rule, following their rout in the Spanish-American War, troops raised the U.S. flag over the Caribbean island nation, formalizing American authority over the island's one million inhabitants.
Puerto Rico became a self-governing commonwealth, though the U.S. controls all aspects of its military, trade, media, banking and international affairs. Though Puerto Ricans are citizens, they don’t pay income taxes, nor are they represented in Congress or able to vote for president.

Timeline: Puerto Rico

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October 17th, every year
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was designated by the United Nations in 1992. It began in 1987 when 100,000 people gathered in Paris and declared poverty a violation of human rights.
This year’s theme "Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination"

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October 18, 1648

I. Marc Carlson



The Shoemakers Guild of Boston became the first labor union in the American colonies.



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October 18, 1929
The Persons Case, a legal milestone in Canada, was decided. Five women from Alberta, later known as the Famous Five, asked the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the legal status of women. Some decisions of Magistrate Emily Murphy had been challenged on the basis that she was not a legal person, and she was a candidate for appointment to the Canadian Senate. After the Supreme Court ruled against them, they appealed to the British Privy Council.
The Privy Council found for the women on this day (eight years after the case began and eleven years after women received the federal vote), declaring that women were persons under the law. October 18 has since been celebrated as Persons Day in Canada, and October as Women's History Month.

Sculpture by Barbara Paterson of the Famous Five in Ottawa, first on Parliament Hill to honor women
The other women activists in the Famous Five: Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby.
The Persons Case

"The woman, in a battle of fists or guns, may not be as great a power as a man; but a woman behind a vote is every bit as useful as a man"
- Irene Palbry, one of the Famous Five


October 19, 1923
The War Resisters League was founded in New York City.


WRL history  

Above: One of the founders, Jessie Wallace Hughan (r), 1942

photo: WRL/Swarthmore Peace Collection

The War Resisters League home

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October 19, 1960

Martin Luther King, Jr., and 36 others were jailed after being arrested during a sit-in at the snack bar of Atlanta's Rich's department store where they requested service and were refused on account of their race.

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October 19, 1980

J.P. Stevens & Co. was forced to sign its first contract with a union after a 17-year struggle in North Carolina and other southern states. The workers, organized by the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, were supported by a widespread boycott of Stevens products by labor, progressive and religious organizations.

Read more about the struggle and the movie "Norma Rae"

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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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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

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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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'68 & '69 Vietnam Moratoriums

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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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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

“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

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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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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.


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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from the '80s


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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

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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

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