Category Archives: Today in history

January Peace Love Activism

January Peace Love Activism


January Peace Love Activism

In January 1792: Deborah Sampson petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature for pay which the army had withheld from her because she was a woman. Her petition passed through the Senate and was approved, then signed by Governor John Hancock. The General Court of Massachusetts verified her service and wrote that she “exhibited an extraordinary instance of female heroism by discharging the duties of a faithful gallant soldier, and at the same time preserving the virtue and chastity of her gender, unsuspected and unblemished“. The court awarded her a total of 34 pounds. (see Deborah Samson for full story)

Black History

Scottboro Januarys

In January 1932,: NAACP withdrew from the case.  January Peace Love Activism

In January 1933: The International Labor Defense retained Samuel Liebowitz, a New York lawyer, to defend the Scottsboro boys. 

In January 1935: The US Supreme Court agreed to review the most recent Scottsboro convictions. 

In January 1944: Clarence Norris and Andy Wright were paroled. 

In January 2004: the town of Scottsboro, Alabama dedicated a historical marker in commemoration of the case at the Jackson County Court House.  (see Scottboro Travesty for full story)

James H Meredith

January Peace Love Activism

In January 1967: Pulitzer Prize for Photography: Jack R. Thornell for his photograph of James Meredith after being shot on June 6, 1966. (next Meredith, see March 8, 1967)

Black Panthers

January Peace Love Activism

In January 1967: first Black Panther Party office opens at 5624 Grove Street, Oakland, CA. Panthers patrol the street of Oakland. (BH, see Jan 9; BP, see May 2)

Dee/Moore Murders

In January 2007: a federal grand jury indicted James Ford Seale.  (see June 14)

see January Music et al for more

Two Steps from the Blues

In January 1961: Bobby “Blue” Bland released Two Steps from the Blues album. Bland was an original member of the Beale Streeters and was sometimes referred to as the “Lion of the Blues”. Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B. An imitator of Frank Sinatra, he was also known as the “Sinatra of the blues”, his music being influenced by Nat King Cole. Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

“Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”

In January 1962: Bob Dylan wrote  “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues

Albert Ayler

In January 1965: Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity album released. “Ayler was among the most primal of the free jazz musicians of the 1960s; critic John Litweiler wrote that ‘never before or since has there been such naked aggression in jazz.’ He possessed a deep blistering tone—achieved by using the stiff plastic Fibrecane no. 4 reeds[2] on his tenor saxophone—and used a broad, pathos-filled vibrato.”

John Lennon/FBI

In January 1972: the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a file on John Lennon and Yoko Ono fearing they would organize the youth vote and prevent a second term for President Richard Nixon. (see Feb 4)

John and Yoko

In January 1975: John and Yoko reunited after 18 month separation—the so-called “Lost Weekend.” (see Jan 9)

January Peace Love Activism

Irish Troubles

In January 1998: after 15 years and many media reports suggesting the original tribunal’s inquiry was flawed, a second commission of inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville, was established  to re-examine ‘Bloody Sunday’. (see April 10)

Oklahoma City Explosion

In January 2000: Terry Nichols was brought from the prison in Colorado to Oklahoma to face the state trial on 160 capital counts of first-degree murder and one count each of fetal homicide, first-degree arson, and conspiracy. (see June 11, 2001)


January Peace Love Activism

In January 2003: Evan Wolfson founded Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide. (Site)  (see June 26, 2003)

US Labor History

In January 2012: volunteers in the state of Wisconsin submitted nearly a million signatures (double the number of signatures required) calling for a recall election of Governor Scott Walker in protest of his public fight last year to abandon the collective bargaining rights of public workers. (see Apr 30)

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KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

January 23, 1957

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

 Willie Edwards was 25. His wife Sarah was pregnant with their third child. Winn-Dixie had hired him as a driver just two months earlier, a job he needed not just to support his growing family, but two sisters as well.

His boss asked him if he could substitute on a route. He quickly accepted the offer, happy for the extra income.

On his way back from his evening run to Sylacauga, AL he stopped for a soda.  He turned on the truck’s dome light to read his log.

Klansmen plan

It was around 11:30 PM. Henry Alexander, Raymond Britt, Sonny Kyle Livingston Jr,  and James York sat nearby about to execute their latest terrorist act: kidnap a black man who they’d heard had said “something” to a white woman.

They walked up to Edwards’s truck, pointed a gun at him, and ordered him into their vehicle.

The men shoved and slapped him as they drove. One man pointed his gun at Mr. Edwards and threatened to castrate him. Sobbing and begging the men not to harm him, Edwards repeatedly denied having said anything to any white woman.

When the men reached the Tyler-Goodwyn Bridge, they ordered Edwards out of the car and gave a choice to him: jump or they’d shoot him.  Edwards climbed the railing of the bridge and fell 125 feet to his death.

The next morning, Edwards’s truck was found in the store parking lot, the dome light still on.  Others assumed him simply missing.  Perhaps he’d gone to California, a place he’d always wanted to go. 

Fishermen found Edwards’s decomposed body in April and Sarah officially became a widow. The police closed their missing persons case.

Sarah left Montgomery in 1961 and never returned.

Attorney General Bill Baxley

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

Bill Baxley had become Alabama’s Attorney General in 1971. He considered it part of his job to try to uncover evidence of Alabama’s murderous racist past.

In 1976  Edward R. Fields— founder of the “National States’ Rights Party” and “Grand Dragon” of the New Order Knights of the Ku Klux Klan — sent Baxley a threatening letter regarding Baxley’s policy. Baxley famously wrote back, telling Fields, “Kiss my ass.”

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

In a conversation with Raymond Britt, Britt told Baxley that he, Britt, had left the Klan after he and the others had killed Edwards.

On February 20, 1976 Baxley gave Britt immunity for his testimony and filed first-degree murder charges against Livingston, Alexander, and York.

Because the cause of Edwards’s death was difficult to determine,  the court twice denied the indictments.

 “Merely forcing a person to jump from a bridge does not naturally and probably lead to the death of such a person,” Judge Frank Embry ruled. 

FBI intervenes

The intervention that ended the investigation came from the FBI. It informed Baxley that Henry Alexander was their primary Klan informant in the area and asked Baxley to give him “some consideration.”

“Consideration” was something Alexander had enjoyed many times. Alabama had previously indicted Alexander for four church bombings, the bombings of two homes, and the assault of a black woman riding on a bus, He was never prosecuted.

At that point, unable to proceed with any confidence in a conviction, Baxley abandoned the case against the men and dropped all charges .

Henry Alexander’s conscience

Jimmy York died in 1979

Henry Alexander died  in 1993, but before he did he confessed and told the whole story to his wife Diane. One of the things he said was, “That man never hurt anybody. I was just running my mouth. I caused it.”

She was sickened by the story. Ashamed. “Henry lived a lie all his life, and he made me live it, too,” she said. Alexander’s family refused to believe the confession and wanted nothing to do with the revelation Diane wanted.

After Henry’s death, Diane wrote to Sarah Jean Salter who lived in Buffalo, NY.  “I hope maybe one day I can meet you to tell you face to face how sorry I am,” the letter said. “May God bless you and your family and I pray that this letter helps you somehow.” 

Later she met in person with Melinda O’Neill, Edwards’s daughter, who was three at the time of her father’s murder.

In 1997, as a result of requests by Willie Edwards’ daughter Malinda Edwards, the Alabama Department of Vital Statistics changed her father’s cause of death from “unknown” to “homicide.” (Northeastern University School of Law entry)

A 1999 Montgomery County grand jury declined to indict any of the surviving suspects for the murder of Willie Edwards Jr. (see Feb 14)

Raymond C. Britt died in December 2004

FBI re-investigation 

In September 1993, the FBI began an investigation into its own possible part in preventing a prosecution of the murder. (NYT article)

On July 9, 2013, the US Justice Department officially closed its investigation with the following statement. It is assumed that the redacted name is that of Sonny Livingston.

The State of Alabama has declined to authorize a third prosecution of XXXX, the only living subject, under Alabama law.  It should be noted that additional witnesses and subjects have died since the second grand jury declined to indict based upon insufficient evidence, and all individuals other than XXXXXX alleged to have had direct knowledge of this incident are now deceased.  Accordingly, this matter should be closed.  The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama concurs in this recommendation.  ( site)

Other Sources:

New York Times article

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr

KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr, KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr, KKK Murders Willie Edwards Jr, 

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December 2 Music et al

December 2 Music et al

Beatles on TV

December 2, 1963: The Beatles appeared on one of the more popular TV shows in the UK, Morecambe and Wise. From the Beatles Bible site:

In the morning they rehearsed their act prior to filming in the afternoon. The Beatles performed three songs to a small studio audience: This Boy, All My Loving and I Want To Hold Your Hand.

They were then joined by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise for some banter and a light-hearted version of golden oldie Moonlight Bay.

The episode of The Morecambe And Wise Show was shown on the ITV network on Saturday 18 April 1964 at 8.25 pm. It was repeated on 24 July the following year on The Best Of Morecambe And Wise.

The audio recording of Moonlight Bay was released on Anthology 1 in 1995. (see Dec 4)  


Daydream Believer

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

Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones LtdDecember 2 Music et al

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

see Wonderwall Music for more

December 2, 1968: George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music album released. (see Dec 20)

George Harrison/Delaney & Bonnie

December 2, 1969: on December 1, George Harrison had watched husband and wife act Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett perform at the Albert Hall in London. On December 2 he joined them on stage in Bristol, for his first stage appearance since The Beatles' final concert on 29 August 1966. Freed from the attentions of Beatlemania, he was able to be a largely anonymous band member, although he did sing songs including Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby on at least one occasion. Harrison stayed on the tour for six dates until it ended. They played two shows each night, in Bristol, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Liverpool and Croydon. (see Dec 15)


December 2, 1983: MTV broadcasts Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video with a running time of 13 minutes and 42 seconds! (JIC, see September 22, 1992; Korematsu, see January 30, 2011) 

December 2 Music et al, December 2 Music et al, December 2 Music et al, December 2 Music et al, 

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