December 4

December 4

BLACK HISTORY

December 4, 1849: the case of Roberts v. The City of Boston began on behalf of Sarah Roberts, a Black five-year-old who was barred from school. The suit was heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Court and the judge presiding was Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw. The lawsuit was part of an organized effort by the African-American community to end racially segregated schools. A city ordinance passed in 1845 had said any child "unlawfully excluded from the public schools" could recover damages (which meant they could sue the city). Sarah had been forced to walk past five other schools to reach the "colored" school in Smith Court.

                School authorities argued that special provisions had been made for "colored" students. Since Boston maintained racially segregated schools, that Sarah passed five White schools on her way to the black schools, the school board contended, was of no consequence. Roberts retained the talented attorney, abolitionist, and later United States Senator Charles Sumner. Sumner worked with Robert Morris, a young Black abolitionist and activist lawyer from Boston. This formidable legal team broke new ground in their argument before the court. Invoking "the great principle" embodied in the Constitution of Massachusetts, they asserted that all persons, regardless of race or color, stand as equals before the law. (see 

December 4

December 4, 1915: the NAACP led protest demonstrations against the showing of the movie The Birth of a Nation. The racism that African Americans experienced in both the South and the North during the war years could be glimpsed in many arenas of American life, including the movies. It is not surprising, perhaps, that The Birth of a Nation, which appeared in March 1915, was both one of the landmarks in the history of American cinema and a landmark in American racism. Historian Thomas Cripps has characterized The Birth of a Nation as “at once a major stride for cinema and a sacrifice of black humanity to the cause of racism.” Based on two historical novels, The Clansman, An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905) and The Leopard’s Spots: A Romance of the White Man’s Burden, 1865 - ­1900 (1902), and a play, The Clansman (1906), written by a North Carolina lawyer turned preacher, Thomas Dixon Jr., The Birth of a Nation recounts the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction through the eyes and experiences of Southern whites who vehemently opposed the political and social progress made by newly freed African Americans after the Civil War. Much of the novel’s tone, which Cripps describes as “a nightmare of interracial brutality, rape and castigation,” found its way into The Birth of a Nation.

December 4

December 4, 1942: Winfred Lynn, an African-American landscape gardener on Long Island, New York, challenged the racially segregated draft in World War II. Lynn’s challenge cited the 1940 Selective Service Act, which included a racial non-discrimination clause. Although rarely mentioned by historians, the clause in the Selective Service Act was arguably the first federal civil rights law of the twentieth century. 

On September 27, 1940, civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph had confronted President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House about his failure to implement the non-discrimination clause of the law, but without success.

The NAACP refused to take Lynn’s case, regarding it as too controversial in the midst of wartime. Arthur Garfield Hays, general counsel for the ACLU, agreed to handle the case. The Federal District Court in Brooklyn on this day denied Lynn’s writ of habeas corpus and dismissed the case. On February 3, 1944 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 vote, upheld the lower court decision.

December 4

December 4, 1956:  Clinton, Tennessee’s Rev. Paul Turner, the white minister of the First Baptist Church, was severely beaten after escorting the “Clinton 12” to school. The twelve students were Jo Ann Allen (now Boyce), Bobby Cain, Theresser Caswell, Minnie Ann Dickey (now Jones), Gail Ann Epps (now Upton), Ronald Hayden, William Latham, Alvah J. McSwain (now Lambert), Maurice Soles, Robert Thacker, Regina Turner (now Smith), and Alfred Williams. A bronze statue of the "Clinton Twelve" is now displayed outside a newly-remodeled front entrance to the former Green McAdoo School, where the twelve students had attended elementary school.
Murders of Three Civil Rights Workers

December 4

December 4, 1964,: FBI agents arrested 19 Mississippi men on federal conspiracy charges in connection with the slayings of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, in Mississippi.
Black Panthers assassinated

December 4

December 4, 1969: 14 police officers shot Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, as they slept in their Chicago apartment. About a hundred bullets had been fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle with members of the Black Panther Party. However, ballistics experts later determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers' side. In addition, the "bullet holes" in the front door of the apartment, which police pointed to as evidence that the Panthers had been shooting from within the apartment, were actually nail holes created by police in an attempt to cover up the attack. Four other Black Panthers were wounded in the raid, as well as two police officers. 
Feminism
December 4, 1916, :  Lucy Burns, along with four other women, took strategic positions in the front row of the visitors’ gallery during President Wilson’s formal address to Congress. They unfurled a banner that read, “Mr. President, What Will You Do for Woman Suffrage?”

December 4

December 4, 1978: Dianne Feinstein became San Francisco's first woman mayor when she was named to replace George Moscone, who had been assassinated.

December 4, 2012: the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down two anti-abortion laws. In two separate opinions the Court ruled unconstitutional laws requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them while they hear a description of the fetus, and that ban off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs.
The Red Scare, McCarthyism, and the Cold War
December 4, 1947: President Harry Truman had ordered the creation of an Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations as part of his Federal Loyalty Program, which he established on March 21, 1947. The list was officially published in the Federal Register on this day. The list became a quasi-official blacklist, as members of listed organizations lost jobs or suffered other penalties because of their association with alleged left-wing organizations. Organizations had no way to protest or appeal being listed, and individuals were labeled subversive even though they had quit the organizations years before, or had only had a brief association in the first place.

                The Attorney General’s List encouraged other lists that were used to label and blacklist people.

December 4 Music

December 4

December 4, 1964, The Beatles: UK release, Beatles for Sale.
Future Woodstock Performers

December 4

December 4, 1965 the former Warlocks, now Grateful Dead played their first show as the Grateful Dead  in San Jose, CA at the second of Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. (Jerry Garcia, age 23; Phil Lesh, age 25; Pigpen, age 20; Bob Weir, age 18; Bill Kreutzmann, age 19). Owsley Bear Stanley participated for the first time.

December 4, 1965, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Space Race

December 4

December 4 – 18, 1965: American astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell fly Gemini 7 for fourteen days, setting an endurance record for that time. 
César E. Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers
December 4
December 4, 1970, : Superior Court Judge Gorden Cambell sentenced Chávez to ten days in jail for violating an injunction prohibiting the lettuce boycott against growers who did not have contracts with his union. Coretta Scott King and Ethel Kennedy, visited Chavez in jail.

TERRORISM

December 4, 1984: four armed men seized a Kuwaiti airliner en route to Pakistan and forced it to land in Tehran, where the hijackers killed American passenger Charles Hegna.

December 4

December 4, 1991: militants in Lebanon released kidnapped American journalist Terry Anderson after 2,454 days in captivity.

US Labor History

December 4, 2015: the United Auto Workers union won a victory in Chattanooga, Tenn., as a group of skilled tradesmen successfully voted to create a collective bargaining unit at Volkswagen AG’s only U.S. plant. The vote pertains to a small group of skilled tradesmen but allows the UAW to set up a bargaining unit for them to negotiate for wages, benefits and work rules with the German auto maker, and will open the door to wider representation. The group includes a little more than 160 electricians, welders and other repair workers that maintain the assembly line. 

December 3

December 3

US Labor History

December 3

December 3, 1946: in Oakland, California, 130,000 workers from 142 unions – including workers from factories, industries, services, retail stores, transportation systems, and more – declared a “work holiday” and walked off their jobs in support of striking department store clerks and in opposition to police intervention that was facilitating strike breaking activity. The Oakland General Strike lasted for two days.

The Red Scare

December 3

December 3, 1948:  the House Un-American Activities Committee announced that former Communist spy Whittaker Chambers had produced microfilm of secret documents hidden inside a pumpkin on his Maryland farm.

BLACK HISTORY

December 3, 1955, : in Glendora, Mississippi. Otis Kimball, a cotton gin operator, asked Clinton Melton to fill his car up with gas. Kimball became enraged because of something having to do with this transaction, and he threatened to come back to the gas station and kill Melton. Kimball was driving the automobile of J. W. Milam, one of the men who had been acquitted of killing Emmett Till in August of 1955. Kimball did in fact return to the station with a shotgun. With no provocation, he shot and killed Melton in full view of the gas station owner and other witnesses. (click name above for more)

Vietnam

December 3, 1962: Roger Hilsman, director of the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, sent a memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Rusk pointing out that the communist Viet Cong fighters were obviously prepared for a long war.
STUDENT ACTIVISM & FREE SPEECH
December 3
Mario Savio
December 3, 1964: police arrested some 800 students at the University of California at Berkeley who had stormed the administration building the previous day and staged a massive sit-in. (see Student Free Speech Movement for full story).

December 3, 1965

December 3

The Who [Pete Townsend, 20; Keith Moon, 19; Roger Daltrey, 21; and John Entwistle, 21] released My Generation album.

December 3

Beatles released Rubber Soul. (see My Generation Rubber Soul)

December 3 – 9, 1966: “Winchester Cathedral” by The New Vaudeville Band #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Technological Milestones

December 3

December 3, 1967:  surgeons in Cape Town, South Africa led by Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first human heart transplant on Louis Washkansky, who lived 18 days with the new heart.

 

December 3

December 3, 1992:  the first telephone text message was sent by British engineer Neil Papworth, who transmitted the greeting "Merry Christmas" from his work computer in Newbury, Berkshire, to Vodafone executive Richard Jarvis' mobile phone.

Weather Underground

December 3

December 3, 1980: Bernadine Dohrn, a former leader of the radical Weather Underground, surrendered to authorities in Chicago after more than a decade as a fugitive.

The Cold War

December 3

December 3, 1989: meeting off the coast of Malta, President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev issued statements strongly suggesting that the long-standing animosities at the core of the Cold War might be coming to an end. 

Jack Kevorkian

December 3, 1992: the Michigan Legislature passes a ban on assisted suicide to take effect on March 30, 1993.

LGBTQ

December 3

December 3, 1996: Following the world's first-ever trial on the freedom to marry, led by co-counsel Dan Foley and Evan Wolfson, Hawaii Judge Kevin Chang ruled that the state did not have a legitimate reason for depriving same-sex couples of the freedom to marry.

Sexual Abuse of Children

December 3, 2002:  new revelations about eight priests in Boston archdiocese accused of abusing women and girls, taking drugs and supplying drugs in return for sexual favors. (NYT article)

December 3, 2004: after two years of talks, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County reached a record settlement with 87 victims of abuse by priests and lay employees, agreeing to the largest payment ever made by the church in cases involving sexual misconduct, parties involved in the talks said.

The payment was at least $100 million, exceeding the $85 million agreed to by the Archdiocese of Boston last year, said a participant in the discussions who could not be named because of a judicial order against speaking to the news media. (NYT article)

Fair Housing

December 3, 2013: a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigation found that Dallas officials promoted discrimination against minorities and the disabled through affordable-housing practices that violate federal civil rights laws,

                According to a 29-page letter outlining the initial findings, “the evidence shows that there was a pattern of negative reactions to projects that would provide affordable housing in the northern sector of Dallas and that those decisions were inconsistent with the goals required by HUD program obligations.”December 3, 2015, Feminism:  Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that the Pentagon will open all combat jobs to women. “There will be no exceptions,” Mr. Carter said at a news conference. The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women often found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 14 years. 

Feminism

 

December 3, 2015:  Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said that the Pentagon will open all combat jobs to women. “There will be no exceptions,” Mr. Carter said at a news conference. The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women often found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 14 years. (NYT article)

 

December 2

December 2

BLACK HISTORY

John Brown

December 2, 1859: the government hung militant abolitionist John Brown for murder and treason in the wake his unsuccessful attack on the US armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia. The evening before the execution, a group of soldiers slept in the courtroom. One of them was John Wilkes Booth.

December 2

December 2, 1922: the Republican caucus voted to drop the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill. Republican Senator Lodge stated, “The conference was in session nearly three hours and discussed the question very thoroughly. Of course the Republicans feel very strongly, as I do, that the bill ought to become a law. The situation before us was this: Under the rules of the Senate the Democrats, who are filibustering, could keep up that filibuster indefinitely, and there is no doubt they can do so.

                An attempt to change the rules wold only shift the filibuster to another subject. We cannot pass the bill in this Congress and, therefore, we had to choose between giving up the whole session to a protracted filibuster or going ahead with regular business of the session....The conference decided very reluctantly that it was our duty to set aside the Dyer bill and go on with the business of the session.” 

Technological Milestones

December 2

December 2, 1901: Gillette patented the KC Gillette Razor. It was first razor to feature a permanent handle and disposable double-edge razor blades.

December 2, 1942: Enrico Fermi, the Italian-born Nobel Prize-winning physicist, directed and controlled the first nuclear chain reaction in his laboratory beneath the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, ushering in the nuclear age. Upon successful completion of the experiment, a coded message was transmitted to President Roosevelt: "The Italian navigator has landed in the new world."

December 2, 1962:  a Louisville and Nashville train derails in Marietta, Georgia while carrying nuclear weapons components. 

FEMINISM

December 2, 1918: President Wilson urged passage of federal woman suffrage amendment in annual address to Congress.

December 2

December 2, 1949: the United Nation adopted the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

December 2, 1959: President Dwight Eisenhower stated in a press conference that birth control " “I cannot imagine anything more emphatically a subject that is not a proper political or government activity or function or responsibility. . . . The government will not, so long as I am here, have a positive political doctrine in its program that has to do with the problem of birth control. That’s not our business.”

McCarthyism

December 2

December 2, 1954: the US Senate censured Senator Joseph McCarthy 67 – 22 for "conduct contrary to Senatorial tradition."  It was only the third time in the Senate's history that such a censure was issued.

Cold War

December 2

December 2, 1961: Cuban leader Fidel Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist who would lead Cuba to Communism.

Vietnam

December 2

December 2, 1962: following a trip to Vietnam at President John F. Kennedy's request, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Montana) became the first U.S. official to refuse to make an optimistic public comment on the progress of the war. Originally a supporter of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, Mansfield changed his opinion of the situation after his visit. He claimed that the $2 billion the United States had poured into Vietnam during the previous seven years had accomplished nothing. He placed blame squarely on the Diem regime for its failure to share power and win support from the South Vietnamese people. He suggested that Americans, despite being motivated by a sincere desire to stop the spread of communism, had simply taken the place formerly occupied by the French colonial power in the minds of many Vietnamese. Mansfield's change of opinion surprised and irritated President Kennedy.

Monkees

December 2 – December 29, 1967 – “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.

December 2

December 2, 1967 – January 5, 1968 – The Monkees Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. the Billboard #1 album.

December 2

INDEPENDENCE DAY

December 2

December 2, 1971, United Arab Emirates independent of United Kingdom.

What's so funny about peace, love, and activism?