October 21, 1835: William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent white abolitionist and newspaper editor in the 19th century. Born in 1805 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, to English immigrants, Garrison co-founded his first newspaper at age 22 and began to focus on the issue of slavery. In 1829, Garrison became the co-editor of the Baltimore-based Genius of Universal Emancipation, through which he and his colleagues criticized proponents of slavery.Unlike most American abolitionists at the time, Garrison demanded immediate emancipation of enslaved black people rather than gradual emancipation. In 1830, he founded The Liberator, which continued to publish criticisms of slavery. By that time, Garrison had become a vocal opponent of the American Colonization Society, which sought to reduce the number of free blacks by relocating them to Africa. In 1832, Garrison helped to organize the American Anti-Slavery Society and sought to keep the organization unaffiliated with any political party. He also advocated for women to be allowed equal participation in the organization, a radical stance nearly 90 years before women in America obtained the right to vote.On October 21, 1835, Garrison attended a meeting held by the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society to hear remarks from George Thompson, a British abolitionist and personal friend. Thompson had been warned that a pro-slavery mob planned to tar-and-feather him and declined to attend the meeting. The mob seized Garrison instead, dragged him through the streets by a rope around his waist, and threatened to lynch him until he was rescued by police. Garrison spent the night in a city jail and left Boston the next morning. He remained a staunch opponent of slavery and lived to see the institution’s demise 30 years later. (see May 1836)
Montgomery Bus Boycott
October 21, 1955: in Montgomery, AL, Mary Louise Smith (age 18) was arrested for violating segregation laws in Montgomery, Ala. She, along with three other African-American women (Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald and Claudette Colvin) refused to surrender their bus seats to whites (months before Rosa Parks does the same). They brought the famous Browder v. Gayle lawsuit that successfully resulted in the Alabama law being ruled unconstitutional. (BH, see Oct 22; Feminism & MBB, see Dec 1: Browder v Gayle, see June 5, 1956)
October 21 Music et al
The Beatles’ Christmas Show
October 21, 1963: 100,000 tickets go on sale for The Beatles’ Christmas Show. Manager Brian Epstein, who himself had had theatrical aspirations, conceived a variety stage production featuring the group. (see Oct 31)
October 21, 1969: On the Road (1957) author, Jack Kerouac, died. Created term “Beat” to describe the so-called Beat Generation as well as providing titles to two of the most famous writings of that era: Howl (1955), by Allen Ginsberg and Naked Lunch (1959), by William Burroughs. (NYT obit) (see April 5, 1997)
“To Sir With Love”
October 21 – November 24, 1967: “To Sir With Love” by Lulu #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
October 21 Peace Love Activism
October 21 - 22, 1967: in Washington, D.C. nearly 100,000 people gathered to protest the Vietnam War. More than 50,000 of the protesters marched to the Pentagon to ask for an end to the conflict. (Nov 7)
October 21, 1977: Judge Bernard Decker of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issues a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Village of Skokie from enforcing three ordinances aimed at preventing Frank Collin and his Nationalist Socialist party sympathizers from marching in Skokie. (see January 27, 1978)
October 21, 2013: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced that he would drop his legal challenge to same-sex marriage, hours after gay couples started exchanging vows in midnight ceremonies across the state. His decision effectively removed the last hurdle to making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey. At 12:01 a.m., New Jersey joined 13 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay couples to marry. (see Nov 5) (NYT article)
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October 20, 1917: Alice Paul and three colleagues were arrested for picketing the White House on behalf of women’s suffrage. Calling themselves “Silent Sentinels,” the purposefully went to the White House gates when staff were leaving work. A large crowd gathered, with some people cheering and other jeering. (see Oct 22)
Dyer anti-lynching bill
October 20, 1921: the House Judiciary Committee favorable reported the Dyer anti-lynching bill, imposing heavy penalties on persons involved in mob action resulting in the taking of life. (see Oct 26)
October 20, 1933: The cases were removed from Judge Horton's jurisdiction and transferred to Judge William Callahan's court. (SB, see Scottsboro travesty)
October 20, 1942: sixty leading Southern Blacks issued "Durham Manifesto" calling for fundamental changes in race relations after a Durham, North Carolina, meeting. (listen NC Museum of History) (see see Dec 4)
Tallahassee bus boycott
October 20, 1956: modeled after the Montgomery bus boycott, the Tallahassee bus boycott had begun after a May 17, 1956 incident in which two Florida A&M students were arrested for sitting in the white section of a city bus. Because the city’s buses were primarily patronized by African American residents, the boycott left the vehicles nearly empty. In July 1956, city officials were forced to suspend bus service due to lost revenue. The bus company resumed services in August following an initiative led by the Junior Chamber of Commerce to get more white residents to ride the buses but the boycott continued. The Tallahassee Inter-Civic Council (ICC) led the boycott and organized a carpool to serve as alternative transportation.In October 1956, 21 carpool drivers, including nine people who comprised the ICC's executive committee, were arrested for not having “for hire” tags on their vehicles. On October 20, 1956, following a three-and-a-half-day trial, all 21 drivers were convicted. City Judge John Rudd sentenced them to pay a $500 fine or spend 60 days in jail, in addition to a suspended 60-day jail term and one year on probation.Faced with this legal harassment, the ICC voted to end the carpool two days later. The boycott continued until December, however, ending only after federal courts ruled bus segregation unconstitutional. On January 7, 1957, the Tallahassee City Commission repealed the city’s bus segregation law. (see Nov 13)
October 20, 1960: Charles Mingus records “Fables of Faubus” with lyrics for his Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus album for release on independent label after Columbia Records had refused to release it with lyrics. The song was written as a direct protest against Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus who in 1957 had sent out the National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African American teenagers. (see Oct 25)
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em tar and feather us!
Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!
Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!
Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie.
Why is he so sick and ridiculous?
He won’t permit integrated schools.
Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!
Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)
Name me a handful that’s ridiculous, Dannie Richmond.
Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower
Why are they so sick and ridiculous?
Two, four, six, eight:
They brainwash and teach you hate.
March to Montgomery
October 20, 1965: Roy Reed in the NY Times reported that, ”an all-white jury dominated by self-proclaimed white supremacists was chosen...for the retrial of Collie Leroy Wilkins, Jr, a Ku Klux Klansman charged with the murder of Viola Liuzzo.” (NYT article) (see Oct 22)
Murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner
October 20, 1967: an all-white jury convicted seven conspirators, including the deputy sheriff, and acquitted eight others. It was the first time a white jury 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. (BH, see Oct 28; Murders, see Dec 29)
BLACK & SHOT
October 20, 2014: Officer Jason Van Dyke followed in his car 17-year-old McDonald before shooting him 16 times in the middle of Pulaski Road on the Southwest Side. It will be more than a year before the video of the incident is released. (B & S, see Nov 20; Van Dyke, see November 19, 2015)
The Red Scare
October 20, 1947: the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on this day opened its famous hearings into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. The hearings began with a series of “friendly” witnesses who argued that there was Communist influence. The “friendly” witnesses included President of Screen Actors Guild and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who testified on October 23, 1947. Ayn Rand testified regarding the pro-communist slant of the film Song of Russia. (see Oct 23)
October 20 Music et al
October 20 – November 2, 1962: “Monster Mash” by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers #1 Billboard Hot 100.
Peter, Paul, and Mary
October 20 – November 30, 1962: Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Peter, Paul, and Mary is Billboard’s #1 album.
October 20, 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono released their third album, Wedding Album. According to Lennon, It was like our sharing our wedding with whoever wanted to share it with us. We didn't expect a hit record out of it. It was more of a... that's why we called it Wedding Album. You know, people make a wedding album, show it to the relatives when they come round. Well, our relatives are the... what you call fans, or people that follow us outside. So that was our way of letting them join in on the wedding.” Wedding Album commemorated their wedding in Gibraltar on 20 March 1969. Although it was the final installment in their trilogy of avant garde and experimental recordings, the couple continued to document their lives on tape until Lennon's death in 1980. (see Nov 1)
John & Yoko
October 20, 1973: John Lennon filed suit asking the court to force the Immigration and Naturalization Service to produce the records under which deportation decisions were made. (see Oct 29)(NYT article)
Mark David Chapman
October 20, 1980: Mark David Chapman quit his security job and signed out for the last time. Instead of the usual "Chappy" he wrote "John Lennon". Chapman would murder Lennon on December 8th of this year outside his New York City home. (see Nov 17)
October 20 Peace Love Activism
October 20, 1967: Dr Benjamin Spock turned in a briefcase full of what he said were draft cards to officials at the Justice Department building here and later accused one of them of being "derelict in his duty" for not having arrested him. He said he wanted to be arrested in order to precipitate a "moral, legal confrontation" with the Government over the draft. Justice Department officials said later that the briefcase had contained draft cards and other matter. (Vietnam, see Oct 21 -22; DCB, see January 5, 1968)
October 20, 1973: “Saturday Night Massacre”. Solicitor General Robert Bork fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox at the direction of President Richard Nixon after Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Assistant Attorney General Ruckelshaus had refused and resigned. (see Oct 20)
Iran hostage crisis
October 20, 1979: the U.S. government allowed the deposed Shah of Iran to travel to New York for medical treatment. (see Nov 4)
US Labor History
October 20, 1980: Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan wrote to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorsed Reagan, "I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety." He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election (see August 5, 1981) he fired the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions. (see June 12, 1981)
October 20, 2000: Robert D Ray (see August 28, 1987) died. (see July 7 > 12, 2002)
October 20, 2010: Barack Obama's administration announced it would also appeal the judge's ruling on the constitutionally of Don't ask, don't Tell even though Obama announced earlier in the year that he wished to end the policy. (see Nov 1)
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