Category Archives: Today in history

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

Irene Morgan

On June 3, 1946 the US Supreme Court had found 6 - 1 in favor of Irene Morgan in Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia. The decision stated that segregated seating on interstate buses an "impermissible burden on interstate commerce."

Southern carriers managed to dodge the Morgan decision, however, by passing segregation rules of their own, and those rules remained outside the purview of state and federal courts because they pertained to private businesses.

Women’s Political Council

Jo Ann Robinson

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

The Women’s Political Council (WPC) of Montgomery, Alabama, was established in 1946 by Mary Fair Burks to inspire African Americans to ‘‘live above mediocrity, to elevate their thinking … and in general to improve their status as a group’ and in 1950, Jo Ann Robinson became WPC president.

As president, she began to study the issue of bus segregation, which affected the many blacks who were the majority of riders on the city system. First, members appeared before the City Commission to report abuses on the buses, such as blacks who were first on the bus being required later to give up seats for whites as buses became crowded. The commission had acted surprised, but did nothing.

In 1953  Robinson and other local black leaders met with Montomery's three commissioners and complained that the city did not hire any black bus drivers, that segregation of seating was unjust, and that bus stops in black neighborhoods were farther apart than in white ones, although blacks were the majority of the riders. 

The commissioners refused to change anything, but Robinson and other WPC members met with bus company officials on their own. The segregation issue was deflected, as bus company officials said that segregation was city and state law, but the WPC achieved a small victory, as the bus company officials agreed to have the buses stop at every corner in black neighborhoods, as was the practice in white neighborhoods. (Robinson bio)

Baton Rouge

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

On June 19, 1953,  Reverend T. J. Jemison of  Baton Rouge, La., led a boycott of the city's  bus system's segregated seating policy. They stop riding for eight days, staging what is believed to be the civil rights first bus boycott. Earlier in March,  the City Council had passed Ordinance 222, which permitted blacks to be seated on a first-come-first-served basis, but the drivers, all white, refused to comply.

On June 25, 1953, to end the boycott, the city and blacks agreed to a compromise: the two side front seats of buses were to be reserved for whites and the long rear seat was for African Americans. The remaining seats were to be occupied on a first-come-first-served basis.

Sarah Keys

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

In 1952, Women's Army Corps Sarah Keys, in uniform, was returning home from Fort Dix, NJ and refused to give up her seat. Her father, a veteran himself, encouraged her to challenge the policy.

On September 1, 1953, in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company,  Sarah Keys became the first African American to challenge "separate but equal" in bus segregation before the Interstate Commerce Commission. The initial reviewing commissioner declined to hear her case, but  on November 7  the Interstate Commerce Commission in Keys vs. Carolina Coach Company case that racial segregation on interstate buses a violation of the Interstate Commerce Act.

Rev Martin Luther King, Jr

January 24, 1954 King delivered a trial sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. On April 14,  he will accept the call to Dexter's pastorate, and on May 2 he delivered first sermon as Dexter's minister. On October 31, he officially becames pastor of Dexter.

Claudette Colvin

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

On March 2, 1955,  nine months before the Rosa Parks arrest, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin boarded a Montgomery city bus after school to head home. As it filled up, a white woman was left standing, and the bus driver ordered the 15-year-old Colvin to get up and move to the back. She refused, police were called. They dragged Colvin off the bus in handcuffs.  

On March 18, 1955, she was convicted of refusing to move to the back of the city bus and having assaulted the policeman who removed her from the vehicle. (see Claudette Colvin for full story) (NYT article)

Aurelia Browder

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

On April 19, 1955 police arrested Aurelia Browder (36 years old)  for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white rider in Montgomery, AL.

Mary Louise Smith

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

On October 21, 1955, police arrested Mary Louise Smith (age 18) for the same reason. 

Smith, along with Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald and Claudette Colvin) will be part of the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit.
Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

December 1, 1955: police arrested Rosa Parks after she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a crowded Montgomery city bus. The night of Parks’ arrest, Jo Ann Robinson called the other Women’s Political Council leaders and they agreed that this was the right time for a bus boycott. Robinson stayed up all night copying 35,000 handbills by a mimeograph machine at Alabama State College to distribute the next day. She called students and arranged to meet them at elementary and high schools in the morning. The boycott will last 381-days.
Friday 2 December 2

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott

Jo Ann Robinson drove to the various Montgomery schools to drop off the handbills to the students and ask students to take them home for their parents. The handbills asked blacks to boycott the buses the following Monday, December 5, in support of Parks. By Friday night, word of a boycott had spread all over the city. That same night, local ministers and civil rights leaders held a meeting and announced the boycott for Monday. With some ministers hesitant to engage their congregations in a boycott, about half left the meeting in frustration. They decided to hold a mass meeting Monday night to decide if the boycott should continue.
Monday 5 December 1955
Rosa Parks was convicted and fined for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, organized by Martin Luther King Jr., began on this day. Most of the 50,000 African Americans living in Montgomery supported the boycott by walking, bicycling and car-pooling. The one-day boycott was so successful that the organizers met on Monday night and decided to continue. 

They created the  Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), It was under the leadership of Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Edgar Nixon. Jo Ann Robinson served on the group’s executive board and edited their newsletter.
Thursday 8 December 1955
Black taxi drivers charged ten cents per ride, a fare equal to the cost to ride the bus, in support of the boycott. When word of this reached city officials on December 8, the order went out to fine any cab driver who charged a rider less than 45 cents. 
December 17, 1955
Rev Martin Luther King, Jr and other MIA representatives met with white leaders in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the bus dispute. The boycott, initially launched as a one-day statement of protest, had been going on for nearly two weeks at this point.
December 30, 1955
Montgomery Mayor W. A. Gayle urged Montgomery citizens to patronize city buses or risk losing the bus company's business 

January 1956

January 3, 1956: Montgomery City Lines suggested to the city commission that unless fares were doubled, it would have to shut down because it was losing as much as twenty-two cents a mile. The fare increase was approved the following day.                     

January 12, 1956: in response to the Montgomery's rejection of its most recent offer to end the boycott, the MIA executive board decidedto boycott the buses indefinitely.

January 24, 1956: Montgomery Mayor Gayle urged whites to stop offering rides to blacks who work for them.

January 26, 1956: two motorcycle policemen stopped Martin Luther King  for traveling 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. He was arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and jailed. 

Ralph Abernathy arrived to bail him out; as a crowd gathered at the jail, prison officials escorted King out of the jail and drove him back to town. According to King, on this day and the previous two more than one hundred traffic citations were issued to car pool drivers. Later that evening, a group of King's friends decided to organize protection for him. Seven Montgomery Improvement Association mass meetings were held to accommodate black residents interested in hearing the story of King's arrest. King begins to get threatening phone calls.

January 30, 1956,: speaking at an afternoon meeting held after his arrest on speeding charges and following reports of MIA dissension had appeared in the press, King insisted that MIA leaders should continue the bus boycott. He told the Executive Board members of the Montgomery Improvement Association, "If we went tonight and asked the people to get back on the bus, we would be ostracized....My intimidations are a small price to pay if victory can be won,"

At 9:15 p.m., while King spoke at a mass meeting, his home was bombed. His wife and daughter were not injured. Later King addressed an angry crowd that gathered outside the house, pleading for nonviolence.

February 1956

Browder v. Gayle begun
February 1, 1956: on behalf of five African American women [Aurelia S. Browder, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, Susie McDonald, and Jeanette Reese] who had been mistreated on city buses, Fred D. Gray and Charles D. Langford filed a Federal District Court petition that becomes Browder v. Gayle. The Gayle named was the Mayor. The suit challenged the legality of separate seating on Montgomery’s municipal buses. 
Jeanetta Reese
February 2, 1956: Jeanetta Reese withdrew from the suit filed by Gray and Langford, explaining that she and her husband had been threatened with economic retaliation and violence.
White reaction
February 10, 1956: eleven thousand people attending a Citizens' Council rally in Montgomery cheered Mayor Gayle and Police Commissioner Sellers for their support of segregation on Montgomery buses. 

February 13, 1956: Judge Eugene Carter directed the Montgomery county grand jury to determine whether the boycott of Montgomery buses violated Alabama's anti-boycott law. 

February 18, 1956: Fred D. Gray was charged by the Montgomery Grand Jury with "unlawful appearance as an attorney" for representing Jeanetta Reese after she had withdrawn from the suit. 

February 21, 1956: a Montgomery grand jury indicted 89 leaders of the boycott, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, for violating a 1921 state statute forbidding boycotts without "just cause."

Grand jurors repudiated anti-segregation efforts in the grand jury report that accompanied the indictment. "In this state we are committed to segregation by custom and law; we intend to maintain it," the grand jury wrote. "The settlement of differences over school attendance, public transportation and other facilities must be made within those laws which reflect our way of life."

As the indicted boycott leaders surrendered themselves into custody at the police station, hundreds of African American supporters gathered outside in a show of support for their efforts to challenge racial discrimination and fight segregation in Alabama.

Of those indicted, only Dr. King was prosecuted. Despite defense evidence showing that the boycott was peaceful and that discriminatory bus service inflicted harm on the African American community, Dr. King was quickly convicted, fined $1000, and given a suspended jail sentence of one year at hard labor.

The indictment and Dr. King's conviction strengthened local African Americans' resolve to fight segregation and attracted national attention to the growing civil rights movement.

108 days after boycott began…

March 22, 1956: King was found guilty of violating the boycott statute in Montgomery, Ala. and fined $500. When he decided to appeal, the judge added 386 days of imprisonment. 

Browder v. Gayle continues

March 27, 1956: the Alabama Attorney General filed a motion urging dismissal of the Browder v. Gayle federal suit.

June 5, 1956: a three-judge panel of the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama ruled 2-1 in Browder v Gayle that bus segregation was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment protections for equal treatment. The court further enjoined the state of Alabama and city of Montgomery from continuing to operate segregated buses.

Supreme Court’s final non-decision

Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott
Alabama Journal November 13, 1956
November 13, 1956: the US Supreme Court declined the appeal of a US District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that had declared unconstitutional Alabama's state and local laws requiring segregation on buses, thereby ending the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Court affirmed the ruling by the three-judge Federal court that had held the challenged statutes "violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

December 19, 1956: federal marshals handed Montgomery Mayor Gayle official written notice that  the Montgomery buses be desegregated.

Aftermath

Snipers
December 28, 1956: 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.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

January 10, 1957: following the Montgomery Bus Boycott victory and consultations with Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, and others, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. invited about 60 black ministers and leaders to Ebenezer Church in Atlanta. Their goal was to form an organization to coordinate and support nonviolent direct action as a method of desegregating bus systems across the South. In addition to Rustin and Baker, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham, Rev Joseph Lowery of Mobile, Rev Ralph Abernathy of Montgomery, Rev C.K. Steele of Tallahassee, all played key roles in this meeting. 
Bombings
That same day, four black churches and two pastors' homes were bombed. All four black churches bombed - Bell Street Baptist Church, Hutchinson Street Baptist Church, First Street Baptist Church, and Mt. Olive Church - had supported the bus boycott and the targeted pastors were civil rights leaders: Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy of First Street Baptist Church who was a prominent boycott leader and proponent of desegregation and Reverend Robert Graetz, white minister of the predominantly black Trinity Lutheran Church, had actively supported the bus boycott.

January 12, 1957: Reverend Abernathy announced plans for Sunday service, telling a reporter that "despite the wreckage and broken windows we will gather as usual at our church" and offer special prayers for "those who would desecrate the house of God."

January 13, 1957: congregations held Sunday services amidst the bombed debris.

Two white men affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, Raymond Britt and Sonny Livingston, were indicted in February 1957 after confessing to the bombings. An all-white jury acquitted them of all charges in May 1957, while spectators cheered.

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Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

What’s an Iran?

Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

Like Vietnam the decade before, Americans may have heard of  Iran in 1978, but where exactly it was and what was happening there were likely unknown.

Oh, you mean Persia?

Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

In our World History classes we'd heard about the ancient country and civilization of Persia and we might have even recognized the name of Cyrus the Great, one of Persia's great leaders. Our Sunday School teachers may have pointed out that Cyrus liberated the Jews.

Whatever our level of knowledge was, in late 1978 Americans media reported that in Iran...

Revolution begins

On November 26, 1978 Muslim religious leaders and politicians seeking to topple the Shah of Iran called a general strike that virtually paralyzed the country and by December anti-Shah protesters poured through Tehran chanting "Allah is great."

December 11, 1978: massive demonstrations took place in Tehran against the Shah. In Isfahan, Iran, 40 people were killed and 60 wounded during riots against the Shah.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

January 16, 1979:  Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran fled Iran with his family, relocating to Egypt. 

Reza Khan, the Shah's father, had come to power in 1921 and Pahlavi had succeeded him in 1941.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

February 1, 1979: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran, Iran after 14 years in exile due to his opposition to the Shah's dynasty. Within nine days his followers seized power in Iran.

Kidnappings

February 14, 1979: In Kabul,Afghanistan, Muslim extremists kidnapped the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs, who was later killed during a gunfight between his kidnappers and police. (NYT articleIran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini
By April 1, 1979, Iran had been a monarchy ruled by an emperor almost without interruption from 1501, officially became an Islamic republic.

US intervention

October 20, 1979: the U.S. government allowed the deposed Shah of Iran to travel to New York for medical treatment.

Americans taken hostage 

Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

November 4, 1979: Iran hostage crisis begins. 3,000 Iranian radicals, mostly students, invaded the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 90 hostages (53 of whom are American). They demanded that the United States send the former Shah of Iran back to stand trial. (1981 NYT article about events that led up to hostage taking)

November 12, 1979: in response to the hostage situation in Tehran, U.S. President Jimmy Carter ordered a halt to all oil imports into the United States from Iran. Two days later, Carter issued Executive Order 12170, freezing all Iranian assets in the United States and U.S. banks in response to the hostage crisis.

Some hostages freed

November 17, 1979: Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the release of 13 female and African American hostages being held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. (NYT article)
Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini
January 28, 1980: six United States diplomats, posing as Canadians, managed to escaped from Tehran, Iran as they boarded a flight to Zürich, Switzerland. (NYT article)

April 7, 1980: the US severs diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes economic sanctions.

Failed rescue attempt

Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

April 24, 1980: an American military aborted rescue mission in Iran after mechanical problems ground the helicopters. Eight United States troops are killed in a mid-air collision during the failed operation. (NYT article)

July 27, 1980: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, deposed Shah of Iran, died in Cairo. (NYT article)

Ronald Reagan

November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

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.
Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

Agreement

January 19, 1981: the United States and Iran signed an agreement paving the way for the release of 52 Americans held hostage for more than 14 months.
Iran Hostages Ayatollah KhomeiniJanuary 20, 1981: Iran released the 52 Americans held for 444 days within minutes of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration ending the Iran hostage crisis.
Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini
January 30, 1981: an estimated 2 million New Yorkers turned out for a ticker-tape parade honoring the freed American hostages from Iran.

June 3, 1989: Ayatollah Khomeini died in Tehran. (NYT article)
Iran Hostages Ayatollah Khomeini

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November 20 Peace Love Activism

November 20 Peace Love Activism

Feminism

Jessie Daniel Ames

November 20 Peace Love Activism

November 20, 1930: The Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching founded in Atlanta, Georgia by Jessie Daniel Ames, a white Texas-born woman active in suffrage and interracial reform movements. The ASWPL was comprised of middle and upper-class white women who objected to the lynching of African Americans. (Black History, see Nov 22)
Florence Reece
In 1931 Florence Reece (1900-1986) “was a writer and social activist whose song ‘Which Side Are You On?’ became an anthem for the labor movement. Borrowing from the melody of the old hymn ''Lay the Lily Low,'' Mrs. Reece wrote the union song...to describe the plight of mine workers who were organizing a strike in Harlan County, Ky. Mrs. Reece's husband, Sam, who died in 1978, was one of those workers. Pete Seeger, the folk singer, recorded the song in 1941. It has since been used worldwide by groups espousing labor and social issues.” -- New York Times Obituaries, August 6, 1986. (Labor, see March 3; Feminism, see Dec 10; see News Music )
Hoyt v Florida
November 20, 1961: in Hoyt v Florida, decided on this day, the Supreme Court held that women could be excluded from serving on juries, in part because a “woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life.” Women could serve on juries, but they had to go to the courthouse and register as being interested and willing to serve. At the time this case first went to trial, only 20 out of about 46,000 women who were registered to vote in Hillsborough County, Florida, had also registered to be a juror. The Court reversed itself 14 years later, in Taylor v. Louisiana (January 21, 1975), which affirmed the right of women to serve on juries. (see Dec 14)
Malala Yousafzai
November 20, 2013: Yousufzai received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Named after the Russian dissident and scientist Andrei Sakharov, who spoke against the tyranny of the Soviet Union, its previous recipients included Nelson Mandela in 1988 and followed by Kofi Annan and Aung San Suu Kyi. (see Dec 6)

Black History

Scottsboro Travesty
November 20, 1933: the seven oldest youths were tried in front of the new judge and jury. Haywood Patterson and Clarence Norris were sentenced to death. (see Scottsboro for full story)
Fair Housing
November 20, 1962:  President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11063, banning federally funded housing organizations from discriminating against individuals on the basis of race. The order attempted to end the rampant racial prejudice influencing the loan decisions of government-backed organizations like the Federal Housing Administration. These organizations commonly engaged in practices like “red-lining,” a color-coded method of labeling the riskiness of a mortgage based on the racial demographics of a borrower’s neighborhood. Under this system, black neighborhoods typically received the worst ratings (red). As a result, home loans were channeled away from those communities and into mostly white, “less risky” neighborhoods. In the face of high levels of residential segregation, African Americans found themselves without ready access to federal home loans and largely unable to purchase homes regardless of their financial situation. Many African Americans were thus relegated to living in segregated, impoverished areas.

Kennedy had promised to sign the order during the 1960 election campaign, saying he could do it with a “stroke of the pen,” but he then angered civil rights activists by refusing to sign it for over a year and a half.

While President Kennedy’s executive order marked an important symbolic step in redressing the problem of discriminatory housing policies in the United States, it did not immediately have a dramatic impact. Because the order failed to provide a strong enforcement mechanism, impacted agencies were simply directed to take steps to police themselves. This allowed discriminatory lending practices to continue without the threat of federal intervention. It was not until the passage of the Fair Housing Act of April 11, 1968 that a mechanism for enforcing fair housing regulations was established. (BH, see Dec 14; FH, see August 10, 1965)
BLACK & SHOT

November 20 Peace Love Activism

November 20, 2014: 28-year-old Akai Gurley exited his girlfriend's apartment in a Brooklyn, New York, public housing building. He started going down a dark stairwell that had a broken light. Rookie New York Police Department Officer Peter Liang, who had his gun drawn as he patrolled the stairwell, shot and killed Gurley. Police said the shooting was accidental. The New York Daily News reported that, instead of calling an ambulance, Liang texted his union. (NYT article) (see Nov 22)

Religion and Public Education

November 20 Peace Love Activism

November 20, 1947: a new organization, Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State (POAU), was formed on this day in Chicago to fight for the separation of church and state and to defend the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The creation of POAU was prompted by the Supreme Court’s Everson v. Board of Education decision, on February 10, 1947, which permitted public funds for the transportation of students to private and parochial schools. POAU continues today under the name Americans United. (see Nov 22)
U.S. Catholic Bishops
November 20, 1948: U.S. Catholic Bishops condemned public school secularism and wanted the Supreme Court McCollum v. Board of Education (January 26, 1946) decision reversed. (see Dec 9)

November 20 Music et al

see George Harrison deported for more
November 20, 1960: German authorities ordered Harrison deported. He stayed up all that night teaching John Lennon his guitar parts, so The Beatles could continue without him. (see Nov 21)
I Hear a Symphony
November 20 – December 3, 1965, “I Hear a Symphony” by the Supremes #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
 

Vietnam

Beatrice Whitnah
November 20, 1965: approximately 10,000 demonstrators marched into Oaklad protesting US involvement in the Viet Nam war. In fron twas Beatrice Whitnah, 84, of Berkeley being pushed in a wheelchair. She was a Gold Star mother who loast a son in World War II. (see Nov 26)

Dow Chemical

November 20 Peace Love Activism

November 20, 1967: San Jose State College (CA) students demonstrated against the Dow Chemical Company, the maker of napalm. Police were sent in, but the students refused to disperse and several protest leaders were arrested. The next day the students defied California governor Ronald Reagan's warning against further demonstrations and again staged an anti-Dow demonstration. (see Nov 21)
My Lai Massacre
November 20, 1969: Seymour Hersh, an independent investigative journalist, filed a second My Lai story based on interviews with Michael Terry and Michael Bernhardt, who served under 1st Lt. William Calley during the action that was later dubbed the My Lai massacre.

Also on this day, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published explicit photos of the dead at My Lai. (Vietnam, see Nov 26; MLM, see Nov 24)
Sgt Ron Haeberle

November 20 Peace Love Activism

November 20, 2009: former Army photographer Sgt Ron Haeberle admitted that he destroyed photographs that depicted soldiers in the act of killing civilians at My Lai. (Vietnam, see May 23, 2016; My Lai, see December 3, 2016)
November 20 Peace Love Activism

Native Americans

Alcatraz Takeover
November 20, 1969: seventy-nine Native-Americans seized control of the island of Alcatraz, the former federal prison and now a national park, to dramatize the campaign for Native-American rights. The occupation on this day was led by the Indians of All Tribes (IAT), who claimed that the island belonged to Native Americans under the 1868 Treaty of Ft. Laramie, which provided for the return of all abandoned federal property to Native-Americans. (NYT article)(see Dec 22)

 Environmental Issues

November 20, 1969: the Nixon administration announced a halt to residential use of the pesticide DDT as part of a total phase-out. (see April 22, 1970)

Jack Kevorkian

November 20, 1991: the Michigan state Board of Medicine summarily revoked Kevorkian's license to practice medicine in Michigan. (see May 15 and July 21, 1992)

Stop and Frisk Policy

November 20, 2007: a RAND study found that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program did not engage in racial profiling.  (see Dec)

LGBTQ

November 20, 2013: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law and made Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage. The governor slowly signed the bill with 100 pens that quickly became souvenirs. He did so at a desk shipped from Springfield that the administration said President Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address in 1861 — a speech on the cusp of the Civil War that called on Americans to heed "the better angels of our nature." Referring to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Quinn said, “"In the very beginning of the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois said that our nation was conceived in liberty. And he said it's dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and that's really what we're celebrating today," he said. "It's a triumph of democracy." (see Nov 21)
South Carolina
November 20, 2014: the U.S. Supreme Court denied a South Carolina request to block same-same weddings from proceeding. (see Nov 25)

Immigration History

November 20, 2014: President Obama asserted the powers of the Oval Office to reshape the nation’s immigration system and all but dared members of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress to reverse his actions on behalf of millions of immigrants.

In a 15-minute address from the East Room of the White House that sought to appeal to a nation’s compassion, Mr. Obama told Americans that deporting millions is “not who we are” and cited Scripture, saying, “We shall not oppress a stranger for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.”

His directive would shield up to five million people from deportation and allow many to work legally, although it offers no path to citizenship.

In 1986, Ronald Reagan signed the so-called “amnesty” law passed by Congress that granted legal status to three million undocumented immigrants, and then acted on his own the following year to expand it to about 100,000 more. (Immigration, see Dec 17; Obama, see February 16, 2015; Supreme Court decision, see June 23, 2016)

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