December 24, 1865: a group of Confederate veterans convened to form a secret society that they christen the "Ku Klux Klan." The KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government's progressive Reconstruction Era-activities in the South, especially policies that elevated the rights of the local African American population. The building still stands and the original historical marker, which has since been bolted to the wall backwards, reads: “Ku Klux Klan organized in this law office of Judge Thomas M. Jones December 24, 1865. Names of original organizers: Calvin E. Jones, John B. Kennedy, Frank O. McCord, John C. Lester, Richard R. Reed, James R. Crowe.” December 24, 1956: Blacks defied a city law in Tallahassee, Florida, and occupy front bus seats. December 24, 1985: David Lewis Rice murdered civil rights attorney Charles Goldmark as well as Goldmark's wife and 2 children in Seattle. Rice suspected the family of being Jewish and Communist and claimed his dedication to the Christian Identity movement drove him to the crime.
December 24, 1906: Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to broadcast a music program over radio, from Brant Rock, Mass.
December 24, 1908: New York City Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr., revoked the licenses of all motion picture theaters in the city on this day, because he felt movies corrupted the morals of the community. The commercial film industry was new at the time but growing rapidly. The new medium provoked a national debate over whether it corrupted the morals of the audience.
US Labor History
December 24, 1913: 73 people, most of them children, died in a crush of panic after someone falsely called out "Fire!" during a Christmas party for striking miners and their families at the Italian Hall in Calumet, Mich. In 1941, Woody Guthrie wrote "1913 Massacre.” (see Woody Guthrie 1913 Massacre)
December 24, 1951: Libya independent from Italy.
The Cold War/Nuclear News
December 24, 1962: Soviet Union above ground nuclear test. 24.2 megaton. It was a thermonuclear fusion bomb and a destruction radius of about six miles, making it the second largest thermonuclear explosion in history
December 24, 1963: The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, who himself had had theatrical aspirations, conceived The Beatles' Christmas Show, a variety stage production featuring the group. It ran at the Astoria Cinema in Finsbury Park, London for 16 nights, ending on 11 January 1964. (see Beatles Christmas Show)
DRAFT CARD BURNING
December 24, 1963: Eugene Keyes burned his draft card to protest the Vietnam War. He used the flame to light a peace candle. (see David Miller)
December 24, 1966: a Soviet research vehicle soft-landed on the moon.
December 24, 1970: Congress passed Title X of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act. With its passage, the federal government greatly expanded federal support for family planning services. President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law on December 26, 1970. Nixon and other leading Republicans in the 1960s and early 1970s were strong supporters of family planning, and government support for family planning services. That changed in the late 1970s when the Religious Right, with an anti-abortion agenda, became a powerful influence in the Republican Party, helping to elect Ronald Reagan president in 1980. The opposition to abortion extended to the use of contraceptives and sex outside of marriage.
César E. Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers
December 24, 1970: The United Farm Workers Organizing Committee called a strike against six lettuce growers after Chavez was released from 20 days in jail for refusing to end the boycott against Bud Antle, Inc.
December 24, 1979, Soviet deployment of the 40th Army in Afghanistan began under Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev. Soviet forces will remain in Afghanistan for more than 9 years.
December 24, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as head of Soviet Union.
Iran hostage crisis
December 24, 1980: Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.
December 24, 1992: President George H.W. Bush granted full pardons to six former officials in Ronald Reagan's Administration, including former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger. The independent prosecutor, Lawrence E. Walsh, bitterly condemned the President's action charging that 'the Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed.' Walsh directed his heaviest fire at Mr. Bush over the pardon of Weinberger, whose trial would have given the prosecutor a last chance to explore the role in the affair of senior Reagan officials, including Mr. Bush's own actions as Vice President.
Iraq War II
December 24, 2003: a roadside bomb exploded north of Baghdad, killing three U.S. soldiers in the deadliest attack on Americans to that time following Saddam Hussein's capture.