April 4 Peace Love Activism
US Labor History
The Labor Review
April 4, 1907: the first issue of The Labor Review, a “weekly magazine for organized workers,” was published in Minneapolis. Edna George, a cigar packer in Minneapolis, won $10 in gold for suggesting the name “Labor Review.” The Labor Review has been published continuously since then, currently as a monthly newspaper. (see Dec 5)
April 4, 1944: Harvard Professor Bernard DeVoto bought a copy of the novel, Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith, as Boston police officers watched and then arrested him. The arrest was an pre-arranged test of a police ban on the book for “lewdness.” DeVoto was assisted by the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, but the Harvard Law Book Store, which sold the book, was fined $200. An appeal failed, and the book remained technically banned in Boston for several decades.
The novel is the story of an interracial romance between a white man and an African-American woman in Georgia. It was also banned in Detroit because of its alleged “lewd” theme, and by the U.S. Post Office in May 1944. The ban lasted only three days, because First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt asked her husband, the president, to have it lifted. He did.
The novel’s title was taken from the famous song of the same name, first recorded by Billie Holiday on April 20, 1939. Holiday’s song was a searing indictment of the lynching of African-Americans, but the novel aroused censors because it dealt with an interracial romance. Smith denied that she took the title from the song. (see January 8, 1945)
April 4, 1969: CBS cancels Smothers Brothers Comedy Show because CBS considers it too controversial. (see Apr 21)
April 4, 1963: Dorothy Bell, 19, of Birmingham, Alabama, waited at a downtown Birmingham lunch counter for service that never came. She was later arrested with 20 others in sit-in attempts. (see April 12)
April 4, 1967: Martin Luther King, Jr delivered “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence” speech in Riverside Church, New York City. “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” He will die in exactly one year. (Link to text and audio) (Vietnam, see Apr 5; MLK, see Apr 30)
Martin Luther King
April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King shot and killed in Memphis. The week following King’s murder sees black uprisings in 125 cities across the U.S. (see April 4 – 8)
April 4 – 8, 1968: Washington, DC riots following King’s assassination. (see Apr 6)
April 4, 2013: Alabama Lawmakers voted to issue posthumous pardons to nine black teenagers who were wrongly convicted of raping two white women more than 80 years ago based on false accusations. The bill setting up a procedure to pardon the group, known as the Scottsboro Boys, must be signed by Gov. Robert Bentley to become law. He plans to study the legislation but has said he favors the pardons.
Walter L. Scott
April 4, 2015: in North Charleston, South Carolina, officer, Michael T. Slager, 33 and white, saying he feared for his life because Walter L. Scott, 50 and black, had taken his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop, firied eight times as Scott fled. Scott died. (see Apr 7)
April 4, 1949: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is founded by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in order to resist Communist expansion. (see Apr 7)
April 4 Music et al
Roots of Rock
April 4, 1956: Elvis Presley played the first of two nights in San Diego Arena in San Diego, California. The local Police chief issued a statement saying if Elvis ever returned to the city and performed like he did, he would be arrested for disorderly conduct. (see Apr 7)
April 4, 1960: RCA Victor Records announces that it will release all pop singles in mono and stereo simultaneously, the first record company to do so. Elvis Presley’s single, “Stuck on You,” is RCA’s first mono/stereo release. (TM, see Apr 13; Elvis, see Apr 8)
April 4 – May 8, 1964: the band occupied all five top positions with their singles “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Please Please Me.” (see Apr 10)
April 4, 1958: the start of a three-day 52-mile nuclear disarmament march from London to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston. It was organized by the Direct Action Committee and supported by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Gerald Holtam’s “Disarmament Symbol” (see Feb 21 above) made its public debut. (see Apr 16)
April 4, 1984: President Reagan calls for an international ban on chemical weapons. (see August 22, 1986)
World Trade Center
April 4, 1973: the Center officially opens. (see August 7, 1974)
April 4, 1975: a major U.S. airlift of South Vietnamese orphans begins with disaster when an Air Force cargo jet crashes shortly after departing from Tan Son Nhut airbase in Saigon. More than 138 passengers, mostly children, were killed. Operation Baby Lift was designed to bring 2,000 South Vietnamese orphans to the US for adoption by American parents. (see Apr 7)
April 4, 2011: David Jason Jenkins, 37, and Anthony Ray Jenkins, 20, kidnapped and assaulted Kevin Pennington because of Pennington’s sexual orientation. (see June 13, 2011)
Hurricane Katrina shootings and cover-up
April 4, 2012: the four officers directly involved in the shooting were sentenced in federal court to lengthy terms ranging from 38 to 65 years, while a police sergeant who was charged with investigating the shooting, and instead helped lead the efforts to hide and distort what happened, was sentenced to six years. Three police officers who pleaded guilty and later testified at the trial were involved in the shooting on the bridge and received sentences ranging from five to eight years. Two others, a detective and a police lieutenant who helped orchestrate the cover-up, were sentenced to three and four years.
April 4, 2016: in Evenwell et al, v Abbott, Gvoernor of Texas, et al the US Supreme Court refused to change the way state and municipal voting districts were drawn, denying an effort by conservatives that could have increased the number of rural, mostly white districts at the expense of urban, largely Hispanic ones.
The “one person, one vote” case was among the most consequential of the high court’s term, and once again the court’s liberal wing won out. The ruling left intact Texas’ method — followed by all states — of drawing districts with roughly equal numbers of residents. (see Apr 22)
Stop and Frisk Policy
April 4, 2016: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that NYC had seen a significant drop in major crimes in the first quarter of 2016 with the fewest murders and shootings in its recorded history.
“We are the safest big city in America. This quarter’s statistics prove it once again,” de Blasio said.
In the first three months of the year, New York City saw a 21 percent drop in murders compared with the same period last year, a statistic de Blasio called “extraordinary.” The city also saw a 14 percent decrease in shootings compared with those months in 2015.