THIS WEEK IN HISTORY


THIS WEEK IN HISTORY MARCH 31ST – APRIL 5TH

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Monday

March 31, 1492
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered the expulsion from Spain before August of all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity under penalty of death.

March 31, 1970
The Oakland, California, Induction Center revealed that over the prior six months, half those drafted for the Vietnam War had failed to appear, and 11% of those who reported then refused induction into the U.S. Army. Later that Spring 2500 University of California-Berkeley students at once turned in their draft cards to the Oakland Center.

March 31, 1972
Protesters – singing, blowing horns and carrying banners – launched the latest leg of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s 56-mile Easter march from London to Aldermaston, Berkshire, England.
The banner used in the 1960s Aldermaston marches.
Peace quote

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left.”
– Bertrand Russell

March 31, 1991
Before dawn on Easter, five Plowshares activists boarded the USS Gettys-burg, an Aegis-equipped Cruiser docked at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. They proceeded to hammer and pour blood on covers of vertical launching systems for cruise missiles.
“We witness against the American enslavement to war at the Bath Iron Works, geographically near the President’s home.” They also left an in-dictment charging President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff with war crimes and violations of God’s law and international law, including the kill-ing of thousands of Iraqis.
Remembering Aegis Plowshares

Tuesday

April 1, 1841

Brook Farm, perhaps history’s most well-known utopian community, was founded by George and Sophia Ripley near West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Its primary appeal was to young Bostonians who were uncomfortable with the materialism of American life, and the community was a refuge for dozens of transcendentalists, including authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Following four days of demonstrations against the Military Services Act that devolved into rioting in Quebec City, Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden sent in troops from Ontario to stop the violence. Orders from the soldiers were read only in English to the mostly Francophone demonstrators, and when the they didn’t disperse, the troops fired, killing four and wounding 70.
[see March 28, 1918]

A memorial in Quebec to those who died
protesting conscription into World War I
More about Brook Farm

April 1, 1932
500 schoolchildren, in the depth of the Depression, paraded through Chicago’s downtown section to the Board of Education offices, demanding that the school system provide them with food.

April 1, 1955
The African National Congress had called on parents to withdraw their children by this day from South African schools in resistance to the Bantu Education Act. That 1953 law transferred education of the Bantu (blacks) from religious missions to state-controlled schools. Mission education, argued then-Minister of Bantu Education Dr. H.F. Verwoerd, not only tended to create “false expectations” amongst the natives, but was also in direct conflict with South Africa’s racially separatist apartheid policies.
Whites, who were in complete control of government and society, comprised only 14% of South Africa’s population. Verwoerd presented to Parliament:
“When I have control of native education, I will reform it so that natives will be taught from childhood to realize that equality with Europeans is not for them. There is no place for him (the black child) in European society above the level of certain forms of labour…What is the use of teaching a Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice?”
Peace quote

“The majority of South Africans, black and white, recognize that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. The mass campaign of defiance and other actions of our organization and people can only culminate in the establishment of democracy.”
– Nelson Mandela

April 1, 1983
Tens of thousands in the United Kingdom formed a “peace chain” 22.5 kilometers (14 miles) long to express their opposition to nuclear weapons. The chain started at the American airbase at Greenham Common, passed the Aldermaston nuclear research center, and ended at the ordnance factory in Burghfield.

At the same time 15,000 people took part in the first of a series of anti-nuclear marches in West Germany. They were protesting the siting of American cruise missiles on West German territory.
Contemporaneous coverage of the Peace Chain

Wednesday

April 2, 1917
Jeanette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, took her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The first woman ever elected to Congress, she became the only member to vote against U.S. entry into both world wars. Though American women weren’t granted the right to vote for three more years with passage of the 19th amendment, women in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Washington had full voting rights before statehood.
Rankin was instrumental in passing laws that made married women citizens in their own right.
Peace quote

“There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or controlled; cannot be disciplined into decency or codified into common sense;
for war is the slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale as possible.”
-Jeannette Rankin, 1929

April 2, 1966
One hundred thousand Vietnamese demonstrated in DaNang against both the U.S. and their South Vietnamese governments. Civil unrest spread also to Hue and the capital, Saigon.

April 2, 1970
Massachusetts, in the midst of the Vietnam war, enacted a law which exempted its citizens from having to fight in an undeclared war.
The U.S. Congress had never formally declared war on North Vietnam as required by Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
Peace Dove
lapel pin

Thursday

April 3, 1958
10,000 British joined a rally in advance of a three-day, fifty-mile peace march from Trafalgar Square, London, to Aldermaston, Berkshire. Berkshire was the site of the AWRE (Atomic Weapons Research Establishment). This march marked the beginning of many protests against Britain’s devel-opment of nuclear weaponry. Thousands made the march along the same route for many years.

Some 10,000 people joined the 1958 rally.

David and Renee Gill at the first Altermaston march 1958 (left)
and at the April 2004 march (right)

…still protesting for
nuclear disarmament.

Their story

April 3, 1963
Black residents of Birmingham, Alabama, sat in at several lunch counters seeking to be served as customers. It was part of “Project C” (for Confrontation) on “B Day” (for Birmingham) organized by Reverends Fred Shuttlesworth of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). They issued a Birmingham Manifesto: “. . . the patience of an oppressed people cannot endure forever.”

April 3, 1968

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tennessee. King was there to support sanita-tion workers striking to protest low wages and poor working conditions.

“. . . I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”
King was assassinated the next day.
Read the speech  …or listen
Watch an excerpt of his final and prophetic speech
Did you know?
in 1959 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King travelled to India to learn about the statregy of peaceful non-violent resistance.

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Friday

April 4, 1958

Four thousand began the first of eleven consecutive annual Easter protest marches. It took three days on foot from London to Aldermaston AWRE (Atomic Weapons Research Establisment) base in England.

Aldermaston March, 1st Day, 1958.
Watch one of the marches
Did you know . . .
the first peace symbol buttons were made in 1958 using white clay . . .

keep reading

April 4, 1967
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in a speech to Clergy and Laity Concerned at the Riverside Church in New York City, called for common cause between the civil rights and peace movements. The Nobel Peace Prize winner proposed the United States stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam;
MLK delivering the important speech
declare a unilateral truce in the hope that it would lead to peace talks; set a date for withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam; and give the National Liberation Front a role in negotiations.
” . . . this war is a blasphemy against all that America stands for . . . .”
Read the speech or listen  | Impact of the speech

Peace quote

“Our scientific power has outrun our
spiritual power.
We have
guided missiles and misguided men.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr

 

April 4, 1968
Martin Luther King, Jr., 39, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had come to help with a strike by sanitation workers.

Riots in reaction to the assassination broke out in over a hundred cities across the U.S., lasting up to a week; cities included Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. The federal government deployed 75,000 National Guard troops. 39 people died and 2,500 were injured.
Reverends. Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson, and King on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel shortly before he was shot.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-New York) was campaigning for president. Learning about the assassination just before speaking to a large rally, he said, “we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.”
Indianapolis experienced no rioting that night.
Sen. Robert Kennedy speaking to a large, mostly African-American rally
about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
continued (info, photos, links). . .

Are you still dreaming?

graffiti seen in detroit
now as a button tribute to 
Martin Luther King”s famous 
1963 speech
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April 4, 1969
CBS cancelled “The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour,” a television show which featured edgy political satire and such rock bands as the Beatles, the Who, Jefferson Airplane and the Doors.

Smothers brothers
The brothers had refused to censor a comment made by Joan Baez. She wanted to dedicate a song to her husband, David, who was about to go to jail for objecting to the draft during the Vietnam War.

David Harris and Joan Baez
More about the show

Joan Baez and the Smothers Brothers sing Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”
Peace quote

“The only thing that’s been a worse flop than the organization of non-violence has been the organization of violence”
– Joan Baez

Saturday

April 5, 1910
Emil Seidel was elected mayor of Milwaukee and became the first socialist mayor of a major city in the United States. During his administration the first public works department was established, the first fire and police commissions were organized, and a city park system came into being.
In 1912, the Socialist Party nominated Emil Seidel as their vice presidential candidate to run with Eugene Debs.

Emil Seidel
Read more about Emil Seidel  Milwaukee’s Socialist Era
There’s more peace and justice history to see

April 5, 1930
Mohandas Gandhi and his followers reached the end of their 400 km (240 mile) march to the Indian Ocean coast at Dandi. He had left his ashram with 78 satyagrahis (“soldiers” of peaceful resistance), but the procession grew over the 23 days of traveling on foot until it stretched more than 3 km (2 miles).
When they arrived at the seaside, Gandhi made salt by allowing seawater to evaporate. This simple task was an act of civil disobedience because the British Raj, the governing colonial authority, had made salt-making a monopoly and a crime for others; additionally, there was a tax on salt, a necessary element of the Indian diet. Gandhi picking up salt.
continued (info, photos, links). . .

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY MARCH 24TH – MARCH 30TH


THIS WEEK IN HISTORY MARCH 24TH – MARCH 30TH

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Monday

March 24, 1616

William Leddra was executed by the Charter government of Massachusetts for being a Quaker. He was the fourth and last of his religion to be hanged with the approval of Governor John Endicott. Though the court did not find him “evil,” he had sympathized with the Quakers who were executed before him; he had refused to remove his hat, and he used the words “thee” and “thou,” which, to Quakers, implied the equality of all people.
Check out the way the link works for this. Much better than the terrible transcription I read the other day.
Contemporaneous letter describing Leddra’s and other Quakers’ persecution  (starts p.58)
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March 24, 1965

The first Teach-In on the Vietnam War was held at the University of Michigan a month after President Lyndon Johnson ordered bombing of North Vietnam. The U-M teach-in was among the first of a new form of campus protest that was to spread nationwide, a means of mobilizing students to examine policies of their government that they previously had taken for granted.
Read more about the 1st Teach-In
Very few Americans had ever heard of the country in southeast Asia, and the event was intended to educate the participants in the history of Vietnam and foreign aggression there.

Young protester in Chicago march
photo Jo Freeman
Peace Dove
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The dove from the
’68 & ’69 Vietnam Moratorium
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March 24, 1967

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. led an anti-war march for the first time in Chicago, opposing the Vietnam War by saying:
“ Our arrogance can be our doom. It can bring the curtains down on our national drama . . . Ultimately, a great nation is a compassionate nation The bombs in Vietnam explode at home—they destroy the dream and possibility for a decent America . . . .”
Reverend King addresses rally at the end of the Chicago march
photo: Jo Freeman
MLK Jr
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March 24, 1980

The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) was founded, electing as their first president Olga Madar, a vice president of the United Auto Workers. The convention adopted four goals: organize the unorganized; promote affirmative action; increase women’s participation in their unions; and increase women’s participation in political and legislative activities.
CLUW history
CLUW today

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March 24, 1989

The most environmentally damaging oil spill to date began when the supertanker Exxon Valdez, owned and operated by the Exxon Corporation, ran aground on Bligh Reef in southern Alaska’s Prince William Sound. An estimated 11 million gallons of oil (257,000 barrels or 38,800 metric tons) eventually leaked into the water.
Attempts to contain the massive spill were unsuccessful, and wind and currents spread the oil nearly 500 miles from its source, eventually polluting more than 1300 miles of coastline. Hundreds of thousands of birds and thousands of sea mammals were lost in the disaster.

A dead murrelet, one of the hardest-hit sea birds in the Valdez spill.
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill read more
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Tuesday

March 25, 1911

The Triangle Shirt Waist Company, occupying the top floors of a ten-story building on New York’s lower east side, was consumed by fire.

147 people, mostly immigrant women and young girls working in sweatshop conditions, lost their lives.
Approximately 50 died as they leapt from windows to the street; the others were burned or trampled to death, desperately trying to escape via stairway exits illegally locked to prevent “ the interruption of work.” Company owners were charged with seven counts of manslaughter—but were found not guilty.

The incident was a turning point in labor law, especially concerning health and safety. For three days prior, the company, along with other warehouse owners, had grouped together to fight the Fire Commissioner’s order that fire sprinklers be installed.
Protests in the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire

< button from the struggle
Comprehensive collection of materials on the tragedy from Cornell University’s labor school

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March 25, 1965

Their numbers having swelled to 25,000, the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers arrived at the Alabama state capitol.
Organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the march was to bring attention to the denial of voting rights to black Americans in the state and elsewhere in the south. Twice the people had been turned back, denied the right to leave Selma peacefully.
Martin Luther King Jr. and wife Coretta
lead march into Montgomery, Alabama.
Dr. King spoke to the crowd: “Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. (Yes, sir) The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. (Yes, sir) We are on the move now. (Yes, sir) The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now.”
The Federal Voting Rights Act was passed within two months.
Read the full text of Rev. King’s speech The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
Did you know?
in 1959 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King travelled to India to learn about the statregy of peaceful non-violent resistance.

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March 25, 1965

Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a housewife and mother from Detroit, driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery, was shot and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen from a passing car. She had driven down to Alabama to join the march after seeing on television the Bloody Sunday attacks at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge earlier in the month. It was later learned that riding with the Klansmen was an FBI informant, Gary Rowe.

Viola Liuzzo
More about Viola Liuzzo
Civil rights martyr Viola Liuzzo
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March 25, 1969

The newly wed John Lennon and Yoko Ono-Lennon began their seven-day “bed-in for peace” against the Vietnam War in the presidential suite of the the Amsterdam Hilton in The Netherlands. Their doors were open to the media from 10am to 10pm. They invited all to think about and talk about creating peace.

“ Yoko and I are quite willing to be the world’s clowns, if by so doing it will do some good”.
The Wedding and “Ballad of John and Yoko” Amsterdam bed-in photo album
Peace quote
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“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”
– John Lennon
John Lennon
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Peace quote

“In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”
– Deganawidah
Peacemaker
and a founder of the Iroquois League

Wednesday

March 26, 1839

The Cherokee Indians came to the end of the “Trail of Tears,” a forced march from their ancestral home in the Smoky Mountains to the Oklahoma Territory. General Winfield Scott, under orders from President Andrew Jackson, arrested then drove the tribe’s members through the winter, leaving 4000 dead along the route. According to John Burnett, an interpreter with the U.S. Army, “. . . covetousness on the part of the white race was the cause of all that the Cherokees had to suffer . . . .” The train of 645 wagons stretched for five km (three miles), leaving behind as many as twenty graves in one day, principally victims of exposure.
Listen to This American Life’s Sarah Vowell as she follows the Trail of Tears
John Burnett’s Story of the Trail of Tears, a letter to his children written late in life,
recalling his experiences as a young private involved in the Cherokee removal
(document I)I

March 26, 1966
Over 50,000 marched peacefully in the Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade in New York City.

They were part of the second International Days of Protest with marches in several cities in North America.

Fifth Avenue anti-Vietnam War demonstration
photo: Robert Parent
Early efforts opposing the war in Vietnam
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March 26, 1979

In a ceremony at the White House, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed a peace agreement they had worked out with the assistance of President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, the U.S. president’s rural retreat.

The agreement ended three decades of hostilities between Egypt and Israel, establishing diplomatic and commercial ties. The two countries have remained at peace for 40 years.
Less than two years earlier, in an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Sadat had traveled to Jerusalem to seek a permanent peace settlement with Egypt’s Jewish neighbor.
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Video of the signing courtesy of BBC

March 26, 2003

Over one million students in Spain went on strike in opposition to their government’s support of the U.S./U.K. invasion of Iraq.
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The demonstration in Barcelona
NO NEW WAR

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Thursday

March 27, 1867

Newly freed negroes after the American Civil War staged ride-ins on Charleston, South Carolina, streetcars. The railway company integrated later the same year. Similar efforts were made in Richmond, Virginia, and Mobile, Alabama.
Peaceful dissent is the sound of freedom and justice.
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March 27, 1966
20,000 Buddhists marched silently for peace in Hue, South Vietnam.

Our take on
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March 27, 1969

The first Chicano Youth Liberation Conference was held by the Crusade for Justice. The poet known as Alurista presented his poem, “Plan Espiritual De Aztlán,” on the concept of Aztlán, a unifying spiritual and geographic homeland of the Chicanos.
He took the concept that the land belongs to those who work it from Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. Aztlán is a name for the home of the Aztecs.
Alurista
Read more about Alurista In search of Aztlan
¿Habla Espanol?(paz=peace in spanish)
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Friday

March 28, 1918

2,000 in the city and province of Quebec, Canada, demonstrated at the culmination of the conscription crisis during the “Great War” (World War I).
High casualty rates in Europe forced the Ottawa, Ontario, national government to institute a draft. The Canadiens resisted military service in support of Great Britain’s foreign policy. The protests continued for five days over the Easter weekend.
[see April 1, 1918]

Anti-Conscription Parade in Victoria Square, Montreal, Quebec, May 24, 1917.
The gathering in this photo looks calm. Riots nearly a year later resulted in the death of four demonstrators in Quebec City.
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March 28, 1964

Three hundred were arrested during a sit-down protest at U.S. Air Force headquarters in Ruislip, England. The protest was organized by the Committee of 100, a group using nonviolent direct action to campaign for British unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Conceived by the president of the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament, Bertrand Russell (he resigned this post soon after), and a young American academic named Ralph Schoenman, they proposed mass civil disobedience in resisting nuclear weapons, challenging the authorities to “fill the jails” with the intention of causing prison overload and large-scale disorder.
Police in Ruislip arrested men and women demonstrators indiscriminately.
photo: John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins.
They were committed to nonviolence, and on arrest would go limp so as to create maximum disruption without conflict.
Gerald Holtom,
the designer of the peace symbol
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read more

March 28, 1968
Martin Luther King, Jr., led a march in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.Shortly after its start, violence broke out followed by looting; one 16-year-old black boy was killed, 60 people were injured, and over 150 arrested.
Police dispersed the rioters with mace, batons and teargas. National Guard troops are called in and sealed off black neighborhoods; martial law was declared by nightfall.
Despite the violence, King insisted on returning to the city and the sanitation workers’ side the following week.
Dr. King at a press conference after violence during a march in support of striking sanitation workers.
Two alternative views of what happened that day in Memphis, and what followed

Peace quote

“I submit that an individual who breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the very highest respect for law.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr
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March 28, 1979

In the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history, a cooling system on the Unit Two reactor failed at Three Mile Island (TMI) in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
This led to a partial meltdown that uncovered the reactor’s core. Radioactive steam leaked into the atmosphere, prompting fears for the safety of the plant’s 500 workers and the surrounding community.
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March 29, 1925

Black leaders in Charleston, West Virginia, protested the showing of D. W. Griffith’s movie, Birth of a Nation, scheduled to open at the Rialto Theatre on April 1. They said it violated a 1919 state law prohibiting any entertainment which demeaned another race. Mayor W.W. Wertz and the West Virginia Supreme Court supported their argument and prevented the showing of the film; efforts to ban the film met with mixed results around the country.
Ku Klux Klan “justice” as portrayed in Birth of a Nation.
What made this movie (after a book called The Clansmen) exceptional in cinema history
The effort to ban the film in Boston

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Detroit, MI

March 29, 1973
The last American combat troops left South Vietnam, ending direct U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. Military advisors to the South Vietnamese Army remained, as did Marines protecting U.S. installations, and thousands of Defense Department civilians.
Of the more than 3 million Americans who served in the war, almost 58,000 had died, and more than 1,000 were missing in action. Some 150,000 Americans had been seriously wounded. The loss of Vietnamese killed and wounded was in the millions and damage to the countryside persists to this day.
The 615th MP Company was inactivated in Vietnam on the last day of American military combat presence.
Timeline on the war in Vietnam
An overview of the American military experience in Vietnam
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March 29, 1987

Members of Vietnam Veterans For Peace arrived in Wicuili at the end of a march from Jinotega, Nicaragua. The veterans were actively monitoring the U.S. attempts to destabilize the country by providing aid to the insurgent contras.
More than weapons may have been involved in the Contra supply operation
Visit Veterans for Peace

Sunday

March 30, 1891

Signaling a growing movement toward direct political action among desperate western farmers, “Sockless” Jerry Simpson called on the Kansas Farmers’ Alliance to work for a takeover of the state government.
“Sockless” Jerry Simpson Simpson was one of the most well-known and influential leaders among Populist-minded western and midwestern farmers of the late 19th century.
Angered over low crop prices, high-interest bank loans and unaffordable shipping rates, farmers began to unite in self-help groups like the Grange and the Farmers’ Alliances. Initially, these groups primarily provided mutual assistance to members while agitating for the regulation of railroads and grain elevators. Increasingly, though, they became centers of support for more sweeping political change by uniting to help form the nationwide third-party movement known as the Populists.

Readers comment

“…I wear my buttons all the time. I have them in several of my jackets. I just gave my youngest daughter 10 of the buttons that I ordered from you. She was on a school trip in Ottawa at the Terry Fox center with 140 young kids from all across Canada. She traded most of her Peace Buttons for pins. She told me she was the only one trading Peace Buttons. It could make a difference down the road.
Peace.”
Richard,
Conception Bay South
Newfoundland, CA

March 30, 1948

Henry Wallace, former vice-president (under Franklin D. Roosevelt) and then Progressive Party presidential candidate, lashed out at the Cold War policies of President Harry S. Truman. Wallace and his supporters were among the few Americans who actively voiced criticisms of America’s Cold War mindset during the late 1940s and 1950s.
Read more on his warnings about American fascists

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March 30, 1980

80,000 demonstrated against construction of a commercial nuclear reprocessing plant in Wackersdorf, Germany. The project was ultimately abandoned.
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