US Labor History
December 28, 1869: Uriah Stephens formed the Knights of Labor in Philadelphia. Initially a secret society, the Knights were able to organize workers around the country under the radar of management. They became an important force in the early days of labor organizing.
December 28, 1938: Café Society, a racially integrated nightclub opened in New York City on this evening. Primarily a jazz venue, Café Society had an avowed political purpose — including operating on an integrated basis. It is hard for many people to believe it, but nightclubs in New York City though the late 1930s were not racially integrated. Even the celebrated Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington established his national reputation, did not admit African-American customers. (The exception to this rule were some African-American clubs in Harlem, where whites seeking out jazz music were admitted.) Café Society, which advertised itself as “the right place for the wrong people,” poked fun at clubs that catered to the rich (referred to as “café society”). It had a shabbily dressed “doorman” who refused to open the doors of limousines. Star performers at Café Society included Billie Holiday, Josh White and other jazz greats. It was widely believed that the initial funding for Café Society was secretly provided by the Communist Party. A second club, Café Society Uptown, opened in 1940. Both clubs closed during the Cold War in part because of attacks on founder/owner/manager Barney Josephson. One of the star performers at Cafe Society was Hazel Scott, and African-American jazz pianist. Scott was the first African-American entertainer to have her own television network show, on the small and long-defunct Dumont Network. She was also active in left-wing political events and was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in July 1950. Her television show was cancelled a week later on July 29, 1950.
December 28, 1956: after Browder v. Gayle ordered bus desegregation, the black community returned to the Montgomery buses but faced the threat of violence from some whites who resented the boycott and its results. In a terrifying development, snipers began to target the buses soon after integrated riding commenced. On the evening of December 28, 1956, shots were fired into a desegregated bus traveling through an African American neighborhood. Rosa Jordan, a 22-year-old black woman who was eight months pregnant, was shot in both legs while sitting in the rear of the bus. She was transported to Oak Street General Hospital, but doctors were hesitant to remove a bullet lodged in her leg, fearing it could cause Jordan to give birth prematurely. She was told she would have to remain in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy. After the bus driver and passengers were questioned at police headquarters, the bus resumed service. Less than an hour later, in approximately the same neighborhood, the bus was again targeted by snipers but no one was hit. These shootings followed two earlier sniper attacks on Montgomery buses that occurred the week before but targeted buses carrying no passengers and resulted in no injuries. On the night of Jordan’s shooting, Montgomery Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers ordered all buses to end service for the night. The following day, three city commissioners met with a bus company official and decided to suspend all night bus service after 5:00 p.m. until after the New Year’s holiday. The curfew policy did not end until January 22, 1957.
December 28, 1964: Martin Luther King, Jr presented the Southern Christian Leadership Conference the "Project for an Alabama Political Freedom Movement," a plan conceived by James Bevel that called for mass action and voter registration attempts in Selma and Dallas County.
December 28, 1895: the world's first commercial movie screening took place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with a brief film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory. On December 28, the entrepreneurial siblings screened a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time.
December 28, 1981: the first American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, is born in Norfolk, Virginia. In 2010 Carr gave birth to a baby boy.
Pledge of Allegiance
December 28, 1945: Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance and encouraged its recitation in schools.
December 28, 1959 – January 3, 1960: “Why” by Frankie Avalon [age 20] #1 Billboard Hot 100. “Why” is the last #1 of the 1950s. It was Avalon’s second and last #1 hit.
December 28, 1963: The New Yorker magazine published a Brian Epstein interview; regarded as first serious article in U.S. about the Beatles and their manager.
December 28, 1968 – February 7, 1969: The Beatles, commonly known as the White Album, was the Billboard #1 album.
December 28, 1973: President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law.
December 28, 1974: George Maynard who had hidden the "Live Free or Die" motto on his New Hampshire license plate, was again charged with violating the license plate statute. (see Free Speech v License Plates for full story)
December 28, 1997: Monica Lewinsky made her final visit to the White House, according to White House logs, and was signed in by Clinton secretary, Betty Currie. Lewinsky reportedly met privately with Clinton and he allegedly encouraged her to be "evasive" in her answers in the Jones' lawsuit.