Boomers remember the day that James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. 1968 had begun with the disillusioning Tet Offensive and June brought the assassination of Robert Kennedy on the night he mostly wrapped up the Democratic nomination for president. When Ray assassinated King, it didn't bring surprise or shock so much as worry and wonder. When would the violence end?
Martin Luther King, Jr was in New York City signing copies of his recently published book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story in Blumstein's department store. Izola Ware Curry was on line with others who were waiting for King to sign a copy of the book. Izola Ware Curry was a woman with mental illness. The illness prevented her from holding a job. She moved regularly in hopes of finding a permanent job and living in a permanent location.
Izola Curry Stabs Martin Luther King Jr
When she came up to King she asked him if he was Martin Luther King, Jr. When King replied yes, she said, "I've been looking for you for five years," then stabbed him in the chest with a steel letter opener. NYPD officers Al Howard and Phil Romano responded. Very luckily for King, Howard told him "Don’t sneeze, don’t even speak." At the Harlem Hospital, chief of thoracic and vascular surgery John W. V. Cordice, Jr., and trauma surgeon Emil Naclerio [who had been attending a wedding and arrived still in a tuxedo] were the first to treat King. They inserted a rib spreader, making King’s aorta visible. Chief of Surgery Aubre de Lambert Maynard then entered and attempted to pull out the letter opener, but cut his glove on the blade; a surgical clamp was finally used to remove it. While it would seem that a letter opener was not necessarily a very dangerous weapon, had Curry's thrust gone any deeper it would have hit King's aorta and likely killed him.
When King later spoke of the incident, he sometimes told about how many letter of encouragement he'd received. Even from President Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon. But he typically spoke about a letter that a high school student from White Plains, NY sent:
Dear Dr. King,
I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School. While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.
With gallows humor, King always closed the telling by saying, "And I'm glad I didn't sneeze, too." He referred to the letter the day before Ray assassinated him.
A grand jury indicted Isola Curry, but psychiatrists found her too ill to be responsible for her actions. She first went to Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, near Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She remained there for some 14 years. She was later institutionalized for about a year at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center on Wards Island, in the East River. She lived in a series of residential-care homes before entering a nursing home in Queens, NY. She died there on March 7, 2015 with no known relatives..
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Alabama, for better or worse, is typically seen as the the epicenter of the late 20th century's civil rights movement. Of course, what happened there had happened or was also happening in other states. Rosa Parks, her refusal to yield her seat, the subsequent fine, and the bus boycott were a recipe for other strategies. Here's Montgomery December 1955.
Montgomery December 1955
Monday 5 December 1955: The courts found Rosa Parks guilty and fined her for refusing to give up her seat 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 established the Montgomery Improvement Association to organize the boycott and elected the King as president. Jo Ann Robinson served on the group’s executive board and edited their newsletter. [NYT article re the start of the boycott>>>Montgomery Bus Boycott]
Montgomery Alabama December 1955
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 city officials learn of the tactic an order went out to fine any cab driver who charged a rider less than 45 cents.(NYT article re refusal to settle boycott>>>No settlement]
December 17, 1955: Martin Luther King, Jr and other Montgomery Improvement Association 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. [NYT article re ongoing boycott and price increase>>>January. Boycott continues.]
On June 5, 1956, a lower federal court ruled that any law requiring racially segregated seating on buses violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That amendment guarantees all citizens, regardless of race, equal rights and equal protection under state and federal laws.
The city appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On November 13 it ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional. The city appealed certain parts of the decision, but on...
December 17, 1956 the court refused to reconsider its ruling. On December 20 the Montgomery Improvement Association voted to end the boycott and on December 21 the boycott ended. It had lasted 381 days.
In November 1836, Angelina Grimké held her first "parlor talk" for women under the auspices of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Over the next year, she and her sister Sarah gave more than 70 lectures before an estimated 40,000 people. When criticized for speaking to audiences filled with men as well as women, Grimké launched a defense of the right of women to speak in public and participate as equals in public affairs.
Feminism Voting Rights
November 18, 1913: A mass suffrage meeting in Washington, DC, heard an address by the British suffragist leader Emmeline Pethick Lawrence. The meeting was also the occasion to welcome back to Washington leaders of the American Congressional Union, the principal lobby organization for a suffrage amendment to the Constitution. The Congressional Union leaders had just returned from a lobbying trip through western states in the U.S.The American Congressional Union was led by Alice Paul, who then led militant suffrage pickets of the White House in 1917, which played a major role on causing President Woodrow Wilson to end his opposition to women’s suffrage.November 18, 1917: Alice Paul, leader of the militant protests in front of the White House in support of a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote, was on this day transferred from the prison to the prison hospital. She and several other supporters had begun a hunger strike in the prison, and after 78 days was force-fed on November 8, 1917. Paul had been confined in the psychopathic ward of the prison, and was so weak from the hunger strike that she was transferred to the prison hospital on a stretcher.Paul managed to smuggle out of the prison a hand-written account of her ordeal. She explained that she had been denied letters, books, visitors, and decent food.Paul had first organized pickets of the White House in early 1913. as Woodrow Wilson became president. The picketing escalated in 1917, and members of Paul’s group were on several occasions attacked by anti-feminists while the police stood by making no arrests.
November 18, 1921: Margaret Sanger gave a speech on “The Morality of Birth Control,” at the Park Theater in New York City five days after the police had closed down an earlier meeting of the first birth control conference in the U.S where she was scheduled to speak.. The New York Times reported that the police intervention on that occasion was “brought about at the instance of Archbishop Patrick J. Hayes of the NY Roman Catholic Archdiocese.”
November 18, 1928: the first successful sound-synchronized animated cartoon, Walt Disney's "Steamboat Willie" starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York.
November 18, 1963: the advent of the push-button phone, officially introduced in two Pennsylvania communities, Carnegie and Greensburg.
JFK & Vietnam
November 18, 1961: President Kennedy sent 18,000 military advisors to South Vietnam.
JFK & Cuba
November 18, 1963: at the Americana Hotel in Miami President John F. Kennedy told the Inter-American Press Association that only one issue separated the United States from Fidel Castro’s Cuba: Castro’s “conspirators” had handed Cuban sovereignty to “forces beyond the hemisphere” (meaning the Soviet Union), which were using Cuba “to subvert the other American republics.” Kennedy said, “As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible.” That same day, Ambassador William Attwood, a Kennedy delegate to the United Nations, secretly called Castro’s aide and physician, Rene Vallejo, to discuss a possible secret meeting in Havana between Attwood and Castro that might improve the Cuban-American relationship. Attwood had been told by Castro’s U.N. ambassador, Carlos Lechuga, in September 1963, that the Cuban leader wished to establish back-channel communications with Washington. Kennedy’s national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, told Attwood that J.F.K. wanted to “know more about what is on Castro’s mind before committing ourselves to further talks on Cuba.” He said that as soon as Attwood and Lechuga could agree on an agenda, the president would tell him what to say to Castro
Martin Luther King, Jr, the FBI
November 18, 1962: Martin Luther King, Jr accused agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Albany, Ga., of siding with the segregationists. “One of the great problems we face with the FBI in the South is that the agents are white Southerners who have been influenced by the mores of the community. To maintain their status, they have to be friendly with the local police and people who are promoting segregation. Every time I saw an FBI man in Albany, they were with the local police force.”
J. Edgar Hoover
November 18, 1964: FBI director J. Edgar Hoover characterized Martin Luther King Jr as "the most notorious liar in the country." King replied that Hoover "has apparently faltered under the awesome burden, complexities, and responsibilities of his office."In 2014, on the 50th anniversary of Hoover's characterization the radio show, Democracy Now, had an extended piece on the relationship between Martin Luther King, Jr and the FBI. Click to the site >>> Martin Luther King, Jr and the FBI
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing
November 18, 1977: The New York Times reported: Fourteen years after a dynamite bomb exploded here at the 16th Street Baptist Church and killed four young black girls in one of the worst racial incidents in Southern history, a jury of three blacks and nine whites delivered a murder conviction of Robert Chambliss. (click >>> Robert Chambliss guilty)
Ronald Reagan & the Iran–Contra Affair
November 18, 1987: U.S. Senate and House panels released reports charging President Ronald Reagan with 'ultimate responsibility' for the affair.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
November 18, 2002: in August 2001, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had a 5,280-pound block of granite with the Ten Commandments engraved on it in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. A group of lawyers consisting of Stephen R. Glassroth, Melinda Maddox and Beverly Howard, who felt their clients might not receive fair treatment if they did not share Moore's religious opinion, and that the placement of the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, filed civil suits in Federal Court against Justice Moore in his official capacity as Chief Justice to have the monument removed. On this date, the District Court held the monument violated the Establishment Clause. The following day, the District Court directed Moore to remove the monument from the building.
LGBTQ & Same-sex marriage
November 18, 2003: the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that the state constitution mandates the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. Three months later, the Court reaffirmed its decision, stating that only marriage - not separate and lesser mechanisms, such as civil union - sufficiently protects same-sex couples and their families.November 18, 2013: a 13-member jury convicted the Rev Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist pastor, of breaking church law by officiating his son's same-sex wedding. Schaefer could be defrocked after a high-profile trial that has rekindled debate over the denomination's policy on gay marriage.The Methodist church put Schaefer on trial in southeastern Pennsylvania, accusing him of breaking his pastoral vows by presiding over the 2007 ceremony in Massachusetts.The jury convicted Schaefer on two charges: that he officiated a gay wedding, and that he showed "disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church."
Occupy Wall Street
November 18, 2011, a group of University of California Davis occupy protesters who were sitting passively on the ground with their arms interlocked was pepper sprayed by an campus security guard, an action the university chancellor called "chilling to us all."
Stand Your Ground and George Zimmerman
November 18, 2013: Police arrested George Zimmerman for allegedly pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend and pushing her out of her house as he packed to move out, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said. Zimmerman barricaded himself in the house Samantha Scheibe rented in Apopka, which he had shared with her since around August, Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said at a news conference. She gave deputies a key, and they pushed aside furniture he had piled against the door.