On March 20, 1964 the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC–“snick”] announced the “Freedom Summer” program that would train young people to go to Mississippi and help disenfranchised Blacks register to vote.
In 1962, less than 7% of eligible Black voters in Mississippi were registered to vote due to the many blatantly racist laws and customs that States had put into place and the Federal government had allowed.
It had only been on January 23, 1964, thirteen years after its proposal and nearly 2 years after its passage by the US Senate, that the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, was ratified. The huge gap was that the amendment applied to national, not local, elections.
1964 Freedom Summer Riders
Civil Rights bill
A Civil Rights bill languished in Congress due to an 83-day filibuster by southern Senators until June 10, 1964 when the Senate voted to limit further debate. On June 19 the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved. Voting for the bill were 46 Democrats and 27 Republicans. Voting against it were 21 Democrats and six Republicans. Except for Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, all the Democratic votes against the bill came from Southerners. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona voted against the bill, as he said he would. The five other Republicans opposing it all supported Goldwater’s candidacy for the 1964 Republican Presidential nomination.
The next day, June 20, 1964, the first “Freedom Summer” volunteers arrived in Mississippi. Andrew “Andy” Goodman, 20, from New York City, was one of them. The next morning he sent a postcard home:
1964 Freedom Summer Riders
That same day, Andrew along with James E. Chaney, 21, and Michael Schwerner, 24, went to investigate the burning of a black church.
Police arrested the three on speeding charges, incarcerated them for several hours, and then released them after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan.
Two days later, the station wagon Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner were driving was found. Burned.
1964 Freedom Summer Riders
Meanwhile, on June 24 thirty Freedom Summer workers from Greenville, Miss. made the first effort to register black voters in Drew, Miss., and local whites resisted with open hostility. Whites circled the workers in cars and trucks, some equipped with gun racks, making violent threats. One white man stopped his car and said, “I’ve got something here for you,” flaunting his gun.
Despite an intensive search, the bodies of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner were not found until August 4.
1964 Freedom Summer Riders
The Freedom Summer workers established 41 Freedom Schools attended by more than 3,000 young black students throughout the state. In addition to math, reading, and other traditional courses, students were also taught black history, the philosophy of the civil rights movement, and leadership skills that provided them with the intellectual and practical tools to carry on the struggle after the summer volunteers departed.
But, voter registration was the cornerstone of the summer project. Although approximately 17,000 black residents of Mississippi attempted to register to vote in the summer of 1964, only 1,600 of the completed applications were accepted by local registrars.
1964 Freedom Summer Riders
Three years later, on October 20, 1967 an all-white jury convicted seven conspirators related to the murders of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner, including a deputy sheriff. The jury acquitted eight others. It was the first time a white jury had convicted a white official of civil rights killings. For three men, including Edgar Rice Killen, the trial ended in a hung jury, with the jurors deadlocked 11–1 in favor of conviction. The lone holdout said that she could not convict a preacher. The prosecution decided not to retry Killen and he was released.
None of the men found guilty would serve more than six years in prison.
See KKK Murders for expanded story of the Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner killings.
November 15, 1913: first issue of The Suffragist published. Rheta Louise Childe Dorr was its first editor. (see Nov 18)
Suffragist Tortured, Night of Terror
November 15, 1917: “Night of Terror” pickets (arrested Nov 10) transferred to Occoquan Workhouse, where Superintendent Raymond Whittaker, just back from White House meeting of district commissioners, set in motion a brutal reception for newly arrived prisoners. Whittaker summarily dismissed demands for political prisoner status and watched guards hurl Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smash her head against an iron bed, and knock her. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. Julia Emory showed support and sympathy by assuming same position. The next day, 16 women went on hunger strike. (San Francisco site full story) (see Nov 18)
Battle of Guadalcanal
November 15, 1942: during the battle of Guadalcanal, the South Dakota was hit forty-seven times by enemy fire. One explosion threw Calvin down three decks of stairs. He was seriously wounded by shrapnel that tore through his jaw and mouth. In spite of his injuries, he helped pull fellow sailors from danger. Half the ship's crew of 3,300 were killed or wounded. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Navy Unit Commendation medal.
36 years later…
November 15, 1978: the General Accounting Office received Graham’s claim from back-pay due him from his World War II service. (see Calvin Graham for full sad story)
The Cold War
November 15, 1957: in a long and rambling interview with an American reporter, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev claims that the Soviet Union has missile superiority over the United States and challenges America to a missile "shooting match" to prove his assertion. The interview further fueled fears in the United States that the nation was falling perilously behind the Soviets in the arms race. (NYT article) (see December 9, 1958)
November 15 Music et al
Beatles before their US appearance
November 15, 1959: Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison auditioned for a British talent program called TV Star Search at the Hippodrome Theatre in Lancashire. They had been known as The Quarrymen but for this audition, they took the name "Johnny and the Moondogs." They played two Buddy Holly songs: "Think It Over" and "It's So Easy." They must have been good as they were invited back for the next round of audition the next day.They returned to Liverpool the same night, having no money to rent a hotel room, and therefore missing out on the next round of auditions. (see April 23 & 24, 1960)
November 15, 1966: Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed a gathering at Brown University and approximately 60 students walk out to protest his defense of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Some of those who remained shouted and heckled Wheeler, while others attempted to storm the stage. Outside, over 100 students continued the protest. (Wheeler article) (see Dec 12)
March for Peace in Washington, DC
November 15, 1969: 250,000 people marched for peace in Washington, DC . It was the largest antiwar rally in U.S. history. Some of the speakers: McCarthy, McGovern, Coretta King, Dick Gregory, Leonard Bernstein. Singers: Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul, & Mary, John Denver, Mitch Miller, touring cast of Hair . (NYT article) (see Nov 20)
November 15 Peace Love Activism
November 15, 1985: Britain and Ireland signed an accord giving Dublin an official consultative role in governing Northern Ireland. (see November 8, 1987)
Sexual Abuse of Children
November 15, 2004: US Roman Catholic bishops elected Bishop William Skylstad as their new president. His Washington diocese faced bankruptcy due to the volume of compensation claims made by alleged victims of child abuse. (see Dec 3)
November 15, 2006: the Road-to-Freedom tour kicked off. The 50-state bus tour and photographic exhibit chronicles the history of the grassroots "people's movement" that led to passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (see October 22, 2012)
The Code Talkers
November 15, 2008: President George W. Bush signed The Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008 into law. The Act recognized every Native American code talker who served in the US military during WWI or WWII with a Congressional Gold Medal for his tribe (to be retained by the Smithsonian Institution) and a silver medal duplicate to each code talker. (see February 14, 2011)
Jimmie Lee Jackson
On February 18, 1965, during a protest near the Perry County Jail in Perry, Alabama, twenty-six-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson, his mother Viola Jackson, and his 82-year-old grandfather, Cager Lee, ran into a cafe pursued by Alabama State Troopers. Police clubbed Cager Lee to the floor in the kitchen. His daughter Viola attempted to pull the police off, she was also beaten. When Jimmie Lee attempted to protect his mother, one trooper threw him against a cigarette machine. A second trooper shot Jimmie Lee twice in the abdomen. Jimmie Lee Jackson died 8 days later. A grand jury will not indict James Fowler, the trooper who shot Jackson, but on May 10, 2007, 42 years after the homicide, an Alabama grand jury did indict the former state trooper for the February 18, 1965 murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson. On this date, November 15, 2010, James Fowler apologized for his shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson, but insisted that he had acted in self-defense, believing that Mr. Jackson was trying to grab his gun. Fowler was sentenced to six months in prison. Perry County commissioner, Albert Turner Jr, called the agreement “a slap in the face of the people of this county.” Fowler served 5 of the 6 months. [BH, see June 26, 2011; Fowler, see July 5, 2015]
BLACK & SHOT
November 15, 2015: white Minneapolis police officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze fatally shot Jamar Clark, 24, an unarmed black man. (B & S, see Nov 19; Minneapolis, see Nov 23)
Occupy Wall Street
November 15, 2011: day 60 of Occupy Wall Street. NYPD began to clear Zuccotti Park. Mayor Bloomberg released the following statement: “At one o’clock this morning, the New York City Police Department and the owners of Zuccotti Park notified protesters in the park that they had to immediately remove tents, sleeping bags and other belongings, and must follow the park rules if they wished to continue to use it to protest. Many protesters peacefully complied and left. At Brookfield’s request, members of the NYPD and Sanitation Department assisted in removing any remaining tents and sleeping bags. This action was taken at this time of day to reduce the risk of confrontation in the park, and to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.” (NYT article) (see Nov 18)
November 15, 2013, LGBT: Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed legislation into law, making Hawaii the 15th state to legalize gay marriage. (NYT article) (see Nov 18)
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November 14, 1903: at the AFL convention in Boston, women unionists united to form the National Women's Trade Union League and elect Mary Morton Kehew president and Jane Addams vice-president. The National Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) was established to advocate for improved wages and working conditions for women. (see January 25, 1904)
Yale University admits women
November 14, 1968: Yale University announced would admit admit women. From the New York Times, "For the first time in its 265-year history Yale University will admit undergraduate women next fall to "enhance its contribution to the generations ahead." (Yale to admit women) (see Nov 22)
Nancy Pelosi minority whip
November 14, 2002, Feminist Steps: minority whip since 2001, Californian Nancy Pelosi became the first woman elected as Democratic Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. The NY Times article began: House Democrats turned to Representative Nancy Pelosi of California today to try to reverse their political fortunes, electing her their leader. She becomes the first woman to head a party in either house of Congress. (Pelosi chosen) (see December 10, 2003)
On April 18, 1946: a thirty-two-year-old Navy veteran named Davis Knight married Junie Lee Spradley, a white woman. In June 1948, the state of Mississippi indicted Mr. Knight for violating a law that prohibited “marriage or cohabitation between white persons and those with one-eighth or more Negro or Mongolian blood.” At trial, Mr. Knight insisted that he was white: his wife believed him to be white and his Navy service records listed him as white. Mississippi set out to prove he was black.The whole case turned on the race of Mr. Knight’s deceased great-grandmother, Rachel; if she was black, Mr. Knight was at least one-eighth black and guilty of the charge. As evidence of Rachel’s race, the State presented several elderly witnesses, including an eighty-nine-year-old white man who testified that Rachel had lived on his father’s plantation and was a “known Negro.”On December 18, 1948 Mississippi convicted Knight of miscegenation and sentenced him to five years in prison for marrying outside of his race. Knight appealed. On November 14, 1949 the Mississippi State Supreme Court reversed Knight’s conviction. The Court held that, in Mr. Knight’s particular case, the State had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that his grandmother Rachel was fully black, so it had not proved that Mr. Knight was at least one-eighth black.Though the decision did not strike down the state’s miscegenation law, or prevent future prosecutions of others, many white Mississippians protested the decision, hanging members of the court in effigy. The state’s ban on interracial marriage would stand for nearly two more decades, until the United States Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia struck down remaining anti-miscegenation laws in Mississippi and seventeen other states.
Jo Ann Robinson
In 1950, Jo Ann Robinson became president of the Women’s Political Council in Montgomery, AL. 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 acted surprised but did nothing. (BH & Feminism, see March 31)In 1953 Jo Ann Robinson and other local black leaders met with the three commissioners of Montgomery. Robinson’s group complained that the city did not hire any black bus drivers, said 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. 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. (BH, see June 8; Feminism, see May 18, 1954; Montgomery, see March 2, 1955)
November 14, 1960: in Gomillion v. Lightfoot, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a redistricting plan enacted by the Alabama legislature, which redrew the boundaries of the City of Tuskegee. The court found that the plan -- which changed the city's shape from a square to a 28-sided border violated the 15th Amendment to the Constitution and was done expressly to exclude black voters from city elections.(Voting Rights, see March 26, 1962)
November 14, 1960: 6-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first black child to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. Bridges was in first-grade when she started attending William Frantz Elementary School as the court-ordered integration of public schools began in New Orleans. Some in the crowd carried a black doll in a baby's casket. Federal marshell Charles Burks and three other marshals escorted the Bridges to and from school for several weeks before local police took over that duty. Eventually the crowds dispersed and she no longer needed protection. Normal Rockwell's cover depicting Ruby Bridges first day at an all-white school.
In 1963 Norman Rockwell depicted a young black girl carrying textbooks and a ruler being led by marshals past a wall marred by a splattered tomato and a scrawled racial epithet.(BH, see Dec 5; SD, see March 27, 1962)
November 14, 1964: William L Walter, the district attorney who prosecuted the case against Byron De La Beckwith, announced that Beckwith would not be tried a third time for the murder of Medgar W. Evers unless new evidence is obtained. (BH, see Nov 18; Evers, see January 12, 1966)
November 14 Music et al
November 14 – 20, 1960: “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles #1 Billboard Hot 100. (see Georgia for much more)
November 14, 1965: the Battle of Ia Drang Valley was the first major battle between regular U.S. and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) troops. The two-part battle occurred at landing zones X-Ray and Albany in Ia Drang Valley, Central Highlands of South Vietnam. Despite heavy casualties on both sides, both claimed the battle was a victory. The battle was considered essential as it set the blueprint for tactics for both sides. American troops continued to reply on air mobility and artillery fire, while the Viet Cong learned that by quickly engaging their combat forces close to the enemy, they could neutralize American advantages (see Nov 17)
Space Race, Apollo 12
November 14 - 24, 1969, Space Race: Apollo 12 took off. Pete Conrad and Alan Bean will collect lunar samples, as well as parts of the unmanned Surveyor 3. From the New York Times, "Three American astronauts were ready tonight to embark tomorrow on man's second voyage to land on the moon, a trip aimed at a more thorough scientific investigation into the origin and nature of the earth's only natural satellite." (click >>> Apollo 12) [the audio clip is the Byrds song, Armstrong, Aldrin, & Collins. I know it's not for Apollo 12, but I like the song and...well...close enough.](see April 11 – 17, 1970)
November 14 Peace Love Activism
Iran hostage crisis
November 14, 1979: President Jimmy Carter issued Executive Order 12170, freezing all Iranian assets in the United States and U.S. banks in response to the hostage crisis. (see Nov 17)
November 14, 1985: lesbian and gay rights activists held a town hall meeting on this day in New York City. Two weeks later, GLAAD [Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] was formed. GLAAD gave special focus to changing American culture regarding homosexuality. (see June 30, 1986)The GLAAD Mission Statement (in part): “GLAAD works with print, broadcast and online news sources to bring people powerful stories from the LGBTQ community that build support for equality. And when news outlets get it wrong, GLAAD is there to respond and advocate for fairness and accuracy.” (see June 30, 1986)
American Catholic Bishops side against gay marriage
November 14, 2015: Catholic Bishops sided with those who conscientiously object to gay marriage and maintain their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide. These pro-traditional marriage views were expressed during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' fall General Assembly meeting, the first meeting for the bishops since the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in the June 26, 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges. (see Dec 14)
Stop and Frisk
November 14, 2013: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman analyzed 150,000 arrests that resulted from 2.4 millions stops by the NYPD between 2009 and 2012. About half of the arrests lead to convictions and about a quarter lead to prison sentences, according to the report released. The other half were never prosecuted, dismissed or resulted in adjournments in contemplation of dismissal - a legal term for cases in which a judge allows a case to be dismissed after a probationary period of usually six months to a year. The report also said the stop-and-frisk arrests resulted in a 24 percent incarceration rate.The chief spokesman for the police, John McCarthy, called the analysis "flawed" and said it underestimated the value of the tactic. (see Nov 22)
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