April

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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?"


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


April 1, 1985

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered an end to the dumping of sludge off the New Jersey coast into the Atlantic Ocean.
21st century sludge


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.



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.




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 sanitation 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


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



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


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.
Senator Robert Kennedy speaking to a large, mostly African-American rally
about the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Video and text of Kennedy's speach

The building now houses the National Civil Rights Museum. visit the museum

James Earl Ray confessed to the slaying, was sentenced to 99 years in prison, but later recanted. Numerous people originally involved in investi-gating him have raised serious doubts about his involvement; after Ray's death, a 1999 civil jury trial in Memphis concluded that Ray did not act alone.



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”


April 4, 1984

The women of the main peace camp at Greenham Common in Berkshire, England, were evicted by British authorities. They had been encamped for over two years to oppose the presence of U.S. nuclear-armed cruise missiles at the military base there. They said their eviction would not end their protest.

Read more



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


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.
Gandhi had chosen this issue to demonstrate how British control affected all Indians, regardless of ethnicity, religion or caste. The nature of this “crime” allowed him to resist that power without violence. And the British were faced with potentially arresting millions who might now be willing to flout the Salt Laws.
He had written to Lord Irwin, the Viceroy of India, a month earlier:
“Dear Friend, I cannot intentionally hurt anything that lives, much less fellow human beings, even though they may do the greatest wrong to me and mine. Whilst, therefore, I hold the British rule to be a curse, I do not intend to harm to a single Englishman or to any legitimate interest he may have in India . . . .”
More on Gandhi’s letter


April 5, 1972

The Harrisburg Seven case ended in mistrial after 11 weeks.

The Seven were charged with plotting to kidnap Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, among other alleged crimes. The defense attorney, recent former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, asked by the presiding judge to call his first witness said, "Your Honor, the defendants shall always seek peace. They continue to proclaim their innocence.

Elizabeth McAllister and Philip Berrigan, two of the Harrisburg Seven
The defense rests." Only Philip Berrigan and Sister Elizabeth McAllister were declared guilty—of smuggling letters in and out of prison.
They later married, co-founding Baltimore's Jonah House.

Visit Jonah House



April 5, 1977
Demonstrations and sit-ins began at regional offices of the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare (HEW, now Department of Health & Human Services) urging HEW Secretary Joseph Califano to implement an extension of civil rights that included the disabled. Since non-discrimination protection had been part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the department had failed to agree to regulations (under Section 504) that would give the law practical effect in the lives of those it intended to protect. Discrimination on the basis of disability was to be illegal in any program which received federal funds.
At all the offices the demonstrators left at the end of the working day, except two: Washington, DC and the San Francisco regional headquarters.
Though negotiations were continuing between the Carter administration and the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, those in San Francisco, led by Judith Heumann, held their ground until Califano signed the Sec. 504 regulations on April 28. It had been the longest sit-in of a federal office in history.
Judith Heumann, Advisor for Disability and Development.
sign from the campaign Short film about the sit-in
(“Recalling an invigorating act of civil disobedience”)

How Section 504 became law and how its supporters prevailed


April 5, 1982
Dublin, Ireland, declared itself a nuclear-free zone by vote of
its City Council.


April 5, 1985
Columbia University students occupied Hamilton Hall to demand divestment by the university of its assets invested in companies doing business with South Africa. The selling off was intended to pressure the racially separatist government to eliminate its racially separatist policy of apartheid.


April 5, 1989
Solidarity (Solidarnosc in Polish) became the first independent labor union given legal status in Poland.


It started out as a strike committee among shipyard workers advocating democratic reforms during the summer of 1980 in Gdansk (FKA Danzig). A very high percentage of the Polish workers, a broad representation of the political and social opposition to the communist military regime, became members despite the union’s having been declared illegal in October of 1982.

Solidarity’s legacy


April 5, 1992
The March for Women’s Lives, in support of women's reproductive rights and equality, drew several hundred thousand people to Washington, D.C. There were students representing 600 college campuses.
One of the largest protests ever in the nation's capital, the pro-choice rally occurred as the U.S. Supreme Court was about to consider the constitutionality of a Pennsylvania law that limited access to abortions.
Part of the huge turnout taking part in the March for Women's Lives
Many abortion-rights advocates feared that the high court, with its conservative majority, might find the Pennsylvania law constitutional, or even overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal.
Read more about this march


April 5, 1996

54 were arrested in a Good Friday protest at Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory in California.



April 6, 1712

The first major slave rebellion in the North American British colonies took place in New York City. One out of every five New Yorkers was enslaved at the time. Twenty-three black slaves set fire to buildings, killed six white British subjects and wounded six others.
More on the rebellion and its aftermath Slavery in New York


April 6, 1909

Matthew Peary, his negro servant, Matthew Henson, and four Eskimos reached the geographic North Pole for the first time. Though Henson was alongside Peary, widely hailed as a courageous explorer, during that and subsequent Arctic expeditions, Henson achieved little notice until much later in life.
Matthew Peary at the White House, 1954
Article about the unsung hero of the polar expedition


April 6, 1968

Dozens of major cities in the United States experienced an escalation of rioting in reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. two days before. At least 19 people had already died in the arson, looting and shootings. Several hundred had also been injured and about 3,000 arrested—most of those in Washington, D.C.


April 6, 1968
Bobby Hutton, the 17-year-old first member of the Black Panther Party was gunned down by officers of the Oakland Police Department. Police opened fire on a car of Black Panthers returning from a meeting. The Panthers escaped their vehicle and ran into a house. Police attacked the house with tear gas and gunfire. After the building was on fire, the Panthers tried to surrender. Hutton came out of the house with his hands in the air. Bobby Hutton
But a police officer shouted, "He's got a gun." This prompted further police gunfire that left Hutton dead and Panthers co-founder Eldridge Cleaver wounded. Police later admitted that Hutton was unarmed.
More about Bobby Hutton


April 6, 1983

President Ronald Reagan’s interior secretary, James Watt, banned all rock 'n' roll groups from the Fourth of July celebration on the Washington Mall.

The bands scheduled to play included the Beach Boys, generally considered very wholesome. But Watt said such acts attracted the “wrong element.” ”We're not going to encourage drug abuse and alcoholism as was done in the past.” The president’s wife, a fan, complained directly to Secretary Watt, but he claimed never to have heard of the band.


April 6, 1996

Eleven were arrested at the main post office near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for attempting to mail medical supplies to Iraq in defiance of the U.S.-led embargo. Between 1990 and 1995 with the first Gulf War and the sanctions regime imposed by the U.S., its coalition and the U.N., infant and under-5 mortality rates in Iraq had more than doubled.

More about Voices in the Wilderness


April 7, 1979

Thousands protested against the nuclear industry in Sydney, Australia. The country is by far the world’s largest exporter of uranium (and thorium ores and concentrates), the radioactive heavy metal necessary for the power generation and weapons industries.
The marchers were from groups concerned about many related issues: the link between the uranium industry and weapons proliferation; the environmental destructiveness of nuclear power;
the impact of uranium mining on Aborigines and workers in the industry; weapons testing in the Pacific, and the secret history of the British nuclear weapons tests in the region; and the Cold War nuclear arms spiral and Australia's contribution to it through the hosting of U.S. military bases, allowing nuclear warships to use Australian ports through the ANZUS alliance (among Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.); weapons testing in the Pacific, and the secret history of the British nuclear weapons tests in the region.
Sydney anti-uranium protest
Photo: Paul Keig
Australian Nuclear Free Alliance


April 7, 1994

Genocide in Rwanda began. Over the following 90 days at least a half million people were killed by their countrymen, principally Hutus killing Tutsis.

This day is commemorated annually with prayer vigils in Rwanda.
Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, head of the U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Rwanda, a tiny African nation formerly a Belgian colony, had warned of impending slaughter, but was ordered not to attempt to intervene.

PBS interview with General Dallaire, what he knew and what he watched happen
  From the background to the aftermath of the genocide

from the Peace Pledge Union


April 8, 1952

President Harry S. Truman attempted to nationalize the steel industry in order to avert a nationwide strike. He was concerned about a shortage of steel needed for the war effort in Korea.
Listen to or read President Truman’s speech (with study guide)
The dilemma Truman was trying to resolve (also with study guide)


April 8, 1993

Women in Black of Lund, Sweden, demonstrated in solidarity with their Serbian sisters suffering amidst the conflicts resulting from the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. “We dressed in black. We knew that despair and pain needed to be transformed into political action. Our choice of black meant that we did not agree with everything that the Serbian regime was doing. We refused their language which promotes hate and death. We repeated: "DO NOT SPEAK FOR US, WE WILL SPEAK FOR OURSELVES"



April 9, 1898

Ida Wells-Barnett, a journalist, speaker and advocate for suffrage, wrote to President William McKinley requesting federal action against those who lynched the U.S. Postmaster of Lake City, South Carolina.


Ida Wells-Barnett

Though the federal government had previously refused to involve itself with the thousands of lynchings, leaving them to be dealt with at the state level, Ms. Wells-Barnett insisted that a postmaster’s murder was a federal matter.
“We most earnestly desire that national legislation be enacted for the suppression of the national crime of lynching . . . .

Her open letter to President McKinley


April 9, 1947


The first freedom ride, the "Journey of Reconciliation," left Washington, D.C. to travel through four states of the upper South.In response to a Supreme Court decision (Morgan v. Virginia) outlawing segregation on interstate busses, the group of both black and white Americans rode together despite “Jim Crow” state laws making it illegal.

Together on the bus, and arrested several times for being so, were George Houser, Bayard Rustin, James Peck, Igal Roodenko, Nathan Wright, Conrad Lynn, Wallace Nelson, Andrew Johnson, Eugene Stanley, Dennis Banks, William Worthy, Louis Adams, Joseph Felmet, Worth Randle and Homer Jack.
Two African-American members of the group, Rustin and Johnson, served on a chain gang for 30 days after their conviction in North Carolina. The integrated bus tour was sponsored by CORE (Congress for Racial Equality) and FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation)
Read more about the freedom rides


April 9, 1981


Members of the Bigstone Cree band of indigenous people ended a 250-mile march to the capital, Edmonton, to highlight their economic plight in northern Alberta, Canada.



April 9, 1995

Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara first publicly acknowledged error in prosecution of the war in Vietnam. “Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why."

McNamara in the movie, Fog of War


(resources include comprehensive lesson plans)
Robert McNamara & the Iraq War



April 9, 2000

Jubilee 2000 National Mobilization Day in Washington, D.C. brought together individuals and groups demanding cancellation of
third world debt.
"Every child in Africa is born with a financial burden which a lifetime's work cannot repay. The debt is a new form of slavery as vicious as the slave trade."
Jubilee USA Network


April 10, 1516

In what was the first ghetto, Jews in Venice, Italy, were forced to live in a specific, restricted area of the city known as Campo del Ghetto Nuovo. The word "ghetto" comes from the Venetian word "geto," meaning foundry. Prior to becoming an exclusively Jewish neighborhood, the Venice ghetto was the site of a foundry.
After its establishment the city’s Jews, who were allowed to attend to their business during the day (though required to wear a yellow badge or scarf indicating their religion), were forced to return to the ghetto where gates were locked to keep them inside overnight.
Venice also restricted the living quarters of Germans and Turks, all to satisfy the demands of the Roman Catholic Church.
The site of the Ghetto Nouvo today


April 10, 1971

Ninety-year-old Jeannette Rankin, the first female member of Congress (R-Montana), and the only one to vote against U.S. entry into both World Wars, led 8000 in protest of the Vietnam War in a women's peace march on the Pentagon.

Visit the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center


April 10, 1972

Charlie Chaplin received an honorary Oscar for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century.” The British native’s political views had previously been criticized, as had been his failure to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Pressed for back taxes and accused of supporting subversive causes during the McCarthy era, Chaplin left the United States in 1952.

Informed that he would not be welcomed back, he retorted, "I wouldn't go back there if Jesus Christ were president." He returned briefly from exile, however, to accept this award and received the longest standing ovation in Academy Award history, lasting a full five minutes.
Charlie Chaplin, one of PBS’s American Masters


April 10, 1981

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (also known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention) started gathering signatures of nations willing to abide by its limitations.

Currently, 109 countries have agreed to ban or limit munitions that cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants, or affect civilians indiscriminately. So far the restrictions cover mines, booby traps, incendiary weapons (such as Napalm) and blinding laser weapons.

This Life photograph of a naked child running down a street in Vietnam screaming in agony captures the effects of Napalm. Nick Ut's photograph of Kim Phuk, taken in 1972, won the Pulitzer Prize ( Associated Press).

Not all country signatories have agreed to all its provisions How militaries think about incendiary weapons


April 10, 1994

France, Belgium, the U.S., among other countries airlifted their nationals out of Rwanda as the wholesale slaughter of Tutsis at the hands of the Hutu majority proceeded. Rwandan employees of Western governments were left behind.
The International Red Cross was already estimating the death toll in the tens of thousands.


April 10, 1998

The Northern Ireland peace talks ended with an historic accord—called the Good Friday Agreement—reached after nearly two years of talks and 30 years of conflict. Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine) was chair of the talks which established a Northern Irish Assembly for both the Irish Catholic republicans and the British Anglican unionists.
Senator George Mitchell


April 11, 1916

Mrs. Annie Besant, a Briton and active suffragist who moved to India, established the Home Rule League with autonomy for India from British colonial rule as its goal. Head of the Theosophical Society of India, she was also the publisher of the newspaper, New India, and Common Weal.
Annie Besant, founder of the India Home Rule League and publisher of New India.
More on Annie Besant and her varied career


April 11, 1961

The trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann began in Israel. The man accused of leading Hitler’s effort to exterminate the Jewish people and others faced 15 charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes, all of which took more than an hour to enumerate.


The charges against Eichmann

Adolf Eichmann


April 11, 1968

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson just one week after the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Known as the Fair Housing Act, it first outlawed discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing and now bans it for reasons of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap.
One city’s decade-long struggle for open housing from the Seattle Municipal Archives
The struggle for Fair Housing


April 12, 1937

60,000 students across the U.S. took part in the first nationwide student strike. The protest was against participation in any war.

 

Posters from the anti-war movement of the 1930's



April 12, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow ministers Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy, along with 60 others were arrested on Good Friday in Birmingham, Alabama, for marching downtown.

They had been denied a parade permit, and were violating a court order banning them from all protest activities. Public Safety Commissioner Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor had sought the injunction to put an end to a series of sit-ins, kneel-ins, boycotts and other nonviolent actions designed to challenge the local and state segregation laws.

Fred Lee Shuttlesworth (left), Ralph David Abernathy (center),
and Martin Luther King Jr. (right) march on Good Friday on April 12, 1963, in Birmingham
.
The Birmingham campaign of 1963 Arrest in Birmingham


April 12, 1971

The first European demonstration against nuclear power brought together 1300 peacefully to oppose construction of a nuclear power plant at Fessenheim, on the Rhine in the Alsace region of France. The four 900 megawatt reactors have been in operation since 1977.

Protest at Fessenheim


April 13, 1919


 

Socialist, pacifist, and labor leader Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned for opposing U.S. entry into World War I.

While in prison, he received nearly one million votes for President in the 1920 election (as he had in 1912).

All aspects of Debs from the Eugene Debs Foundation



April 13, 1919
In Amritsar, holiest city of the Sikh religion (in India’s Punjab province), British and Gurkha troops fired without warning and killed at least 379 and wounded another 1200 Sikhs meeting in a park known as Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate their new year’s festival of Baisakhi Mela.

In the previous three days, two key Sikh leaders had been deported, Mohandas Ghandi had been barred from entering the Punjab, and a general strike and demonstration had been met with deadly fire from British troops, sparking violent reaction.

Background of the Amritsar massacre



April 13, 1962

Rachel Carson's book indicting the pesticide industry, Silent Spring, was published.

The scientist (17 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and writer demonstrated the connection between the excessive and ubiquitous use of DDT and its long-term effect on plants and animals.

Rachel Carson at work c. 1936

The impact of her book proved seminal to a new ecological awareness. But even 30 years later, Carson was denounced for “preservationist hysteria” and “bad science.” But she had said when the book was published: "We do not ask that all chemicals be abandoned. We ask moderation. We ask the use of other methods less harmful to our environment."
Rachel Carson, her Silent Spring and its impact


April 14, 1947

Segregation of Mexican-American children, common in California at the time, was declared unconstitutional by the Federal Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit. Suit had been brought against several school districts in Orange County by Gonzalo Méndez and several World War II veterans.
Separate schools for those of Mexican parentage was struck down in Méndez et al. v. Westminster School District: “ . . . commingling of the entire student body instills and develops a common cultural attitude among the school children which is imperative for the perpetuation of American institutions and ideals. It is also established by the record that the methods of segregation prevalent in the defendant school districts foster antagonisms in the children and suggest inferiority among them where none exists . . .” Sylvia Mendez
Sylvia Mendez honored

Text of the appellate court’s decision



April 14, 1968

A massive student rally in West Berlin blocked the city's main thoroughfare, the Kurfurstendamm. It ended in violent clashes between police and the marchers. The students were protesting the shooting a week earlier of one of their leaders, Rudi Dutschke, outside the offices of the German Socialist Students Federation (SDS).

Read more


April 14, 1988

The Soviet Union signed an agreement pledging to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan after nearly ten years. The pact, drawn up in negotiations between the United States, the USSR, Pakistan and Afghanistan, was signed at a United Nations ceremony in the Swiss capital of Geneva.

Entertaining and basically factual story of what pushed the Soviets out of Afghanistan



April 14, 1988

Denmark’s parliament, the Folketing, insisted that foreign warships affirmatively state whether or not they carry nuclear weapons before being allowed to enter Danish ports.

Previously, their non-nuclear policy had not been enforced and such weapons were routinely carried on nuclear-capable NATO ships visiting Denmark. U.S. and other allies had abided by a policy known as “neither confirming nor denying” (NCND).

Denmark’s Folketing
The policy and its consequences


April 15, 1947

Jackie Roosevelt Robinson became the first African American to play in a major league baseball game in the 20th century. His stepping onto Ebbets Field in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform broke the “color line,” the segregation of professional teams.


The International League in 1887 began a wave of League-wide black exclusion, and it had been complete since 1899, when Bill Galloway became the last African-American player in white organized ball (Woodstock, Ontario).
Though hitless in three at-bats, Robinson started at first base, and the Dodgers beat the Boston Braves
that day, 5-3.

"Jackie, we've got no army. There's virtually nobody on our side. No owners, no umpires, very few newspapermen. And I'm afraid that many fans will be hostile. We'll be in a tough position. We can win only if we can convince the world that I'm doing this because you're a great ballplayer, a fine gentleman."

" There was never a man in the game who could put mind and muscle together quicker and with better judgment than (Jackie) Robinson."

-Branch Rickey
Jackie Robinson signing his contract with Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers
Jackie Robinson and his work on civil rights from the National Archives
(with teaching activities and worksheets)


April 15, 1967

Amidst growing opposition to the war in Vietnam, large-scale anti-war protests were held in New York, San Francisco and other cities. In New York, the protest began in Central Park, where over 150 draft cards were burned, and concluded at United Nations with speeches by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.

King and Dr. Benjamin Spock lead an anti-war march to the United Nations, 15 April 1967
King’s opposition to the war, excerpts of his speeches and reaction throughout the country


April, 16, 1971

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimated over 2,000 people openly refused to pay part or all of their income tax.

“If a thousand [people] were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood.”
Henry David Thoreau on the Mexican War

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee


April 16, 2000

Between 10,000 and 20,000 activists blockaded meetings of the
World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. Sitting down at intersections and locking arms to form human chains, the protesters were opposed to Bank and IMF policies that increased third-world indebtedness and did little to directly benefit the poor in those countries.
“The World Bank is subjugating our economic and social independence,” Vineeta Gupta, a doctor from the Punjab in India, said in a letter he delivered to World Bank President James Wolfensohn at his home. “It is time that we shut the bank down, and this boycott is a great start.”



April 17, 1959

22 were arrested in New York City for refusing to take shelter
during a civil defense drill.


April 17, 1960

Inspired by the Greensboro sit-in of four black college students at an all-white lunch counter, nearly 150 black students from nine states formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Ella Baker, James Lawson and Martin Luther King, Jr., the founders set SNCC’s initial goals as overturning segregation in the South.

They also considered it important to give young blacks a stronger voice in the civil rights movement, as many had participated in sit-ins that had proliferated to dozens of cities over the previous three months.
At the Raleigh conference Guy Carawan sang a new version of “We Shall Overcome,” an adaptation of an old labor song. This song would become the national anthem of the civil rights movement.

People joined hands and gently swayed in time singing “black and white together,” repeating over and over, “Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day.”

History of SNCC

What SNCC did to make change happen



April 17, 1961


An army of 1500 anti-Castro Cuban exiles, mercenaries equipped and trained at a secret Guatemala base by the CIA, landed at Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) in an attempt to “liberate” Cuba from Communist rule. Within three days, the invasion proved disastrous with nearly 1200 members of Brigade 2506 (who had been trained in the U.S.) taken prisoner. 
Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Known as Operation Zapata, it was conceived by Vice President Nixon, planned and approved by the Eisenhower administration, and executed shortly after President John Kennedy’s inauguration.
President Kennedy receives the Brigade 2506 flag in Miami
in 1962 and declares:
"I promise to return this flag in a free Havana."
Soviet General Secretary Nikita Kruschev sent a telegram to President Kennedy:
"Mr. President, I send you this message in an hour of alarm, fraught with danger for the peace of the whole world. Armed aggression has begun against Cuba. It is a secret to no one that the armed bands invading this country were trained, equipped and armed in the United States of America. The planes which are bombing Cuban cities belong to the United States of America, the bombs they are dropping are being supplied by the American Government . . . ."
What actually happened


April 17, 1965


The first national demonstration against the Vietnam War took place in the nation’s capital. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the organizers, had expected about 2000 marchers; the actual count was 15,000–25,000. This was the largest anti-war protest ever to have been held in Washington, D.C. up to that time. The number of marchers approximately equaled the number of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. Several hundred students in the protest broke away from the main march and conducted a brief sit-in at the U.S. Capitol’s door.

An exam prepared by SDS about the Vietnam War (answers available)


April 17, 1986

Reverend Jesse Jackson, future congresswoman Maxine Waters and others co-founded the Rainbow Coalition, initially intended as a progressive public-policy think tank within the Democratic Party.

Keep HOPE alive


Representative Maxine Waters, Harry Belafonte,
John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO,
Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Willie Nelson
August 6, 2005-Atlanta, Georgia.


April 17, 1992

On Good Friday morning, about 50 people accompanied Fr. Carl Kabat and Carol Carson to Missile Silo Site N5 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the same silo that Carl and other members of the Silo Pruning Hooks (see below) disarmed in 1984. They cut through a fence and, once inside, Carol used a sledgehammer on the concrete lid of the silo while Carl performed a rite of exorcism.

Eventually, the police arrived and arrested Carl and Carol. They were jailed and held until their court appearance. At that time, they made a preliminary agreement with federal prosecutors wherein they would plead “no contest” to trespass in exchange for the property destruction charge being dropped; they were sentenced to six and three months, respectively, in a halfway house. Carl Kabat
A History of Direct Disarmament Actions About the Silo Pruning Hooks action


April 18, 1912
Members of the United Mine Workers of America on Paint Creek in Kanawha County, West Virginia, demanded wages equal to those of other area mines. The operators rejected the wage increase and miners walked off the job. Miners along nearby Cabin Creek, having previously lost their union, joined the Paint Creek strikers and demanded:
• the right to organize
• recognition of their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly
• an end to blacklisting union organizers
• alternatives to company stores
• an end to the practice of using mine guards
• prohibition of cribbing
• installation of scales at all mines for accurately weighing coal
• unions be allowed to hire their own checkweighmen to make sure the companies' checkweighmen were not cheating the miners.
When the strike began, operators brought in mine guards from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to evict miners and their families from company houses. The evicted miners set up tent colonies and lived in other makeshift housing. The mine guards' primary responsibility was to break the strike by making the lives of the miners as uncomfortable as possible.
Striking miners and their families being evicted from company houses.
Deep background on the W. Virginia coal business and the strike


April 18, 1941

Bus companies in New York City agreed to hire 200 black workers after a four-week boycott by riders led by Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. of Harlem’s Abysinnian Baptist Church, the largest Protestant congregation in the U.S. Powell ran and won a City Council seat later that year and became a member of Congress four years later.

Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.


April 18, 1955

Sukarno hosts Bandung conference

A conference bringing together government representatives from 29 Asian and African countries began in Bandung, Indonesia. The intention was to promote economic and cultural cooperation, and to oppose Western colonialism, then still prevalent on both continents. At the same time, many countries were worried about communism and the power of the Soviet Union.

The principal actors were Sukarno of Indonesia, one of the countries that organized the meeting; Jawahrlal Nehru, prime minister of recently independent India; Kwame Nkrumah, prime minister of the Gold Coast (now Ghana); Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of Egypt; Chou En Lai, premier of China; and Ho Chi Minh, prime minister of Vietnam.
Chou En-Lai and Jawaharlal Nehru
at the Bandung Conference
Many concepts of international cooperation and mutual interest were discussed at the week-long conference, including Pan-Islam, Pan-Arabism, Pan-Asianism, and Pan-Africanism. The meeting was a precursor to what became known as the Non-Aligned Movement (aligned neither with Washington nor Moscow).
Bandung Conference background info


April 18, 1958

The first march against nuclear arms in West Germany took place.


April 18, 1960

Tens of thousands of people marked the end of the Aldermaston "ban the bomb" march at a rally with at least 60,000 gathering in Trafalgar Square, the largest demonstration London had seen to date.

Read more


April 18, 1989

Thousands of Chinese students from several universities took to the streets to protest government policies and issue a call for greater democracy in the communist People's Republic of China (PRC). Mourning over the death of Hu Yaobang began on the 15th in Tiananmen Square. As Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party, he had called for rapid reform in the PRC, but had been pushed out of office over the Democracy Wall protests. Students in the Square demanded response from government officials, and began a sit-in and other activities that persisted for weeks.

Timeline of the Beijing democracy protests


April 19, 1911
More than 6,000 Grand Rapids, Michigan, furniture workers—Germans, Dutch, Lithuanians, and Poles—put down their tools and struck 59 factories in what became known as the Great Furniture Strike.
For four months they campaigned and picketed for higher pay, shorter hours, and an end to the piecework pay system that was common in the plants of America’s “Furniture City.” Although the strike ended after four months without a resolution, Gordon Olson, Grand Rapids city historian emeritus, said once employees returned to work, most owners did increase pay and reduce hours.

The Spirit of Solidarity -- a $1.3 million granite sculpture, plaza and fountain -- sits on the land of the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum on the banks of the Grand River near the Indian mound.
The Strike's history from the APWU On the 100th anniversary of the strike


April 19, 1943

On the eve of Passover, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began when Nazi forces attempted to clear out the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, to send them to concentration camps. The Germans were met by unexpected gunfire from Jewish resistance fighters. The destruction of the ghetto had been ordered in February by SS Chief Heinrich Himmler:

“An overall plan for the razing of the ghetto is to be submitted to me. In any case we must achieve the disappearance from sight of the living-space for 500,000 sub-humans (Untermenschen) that has existed up to now, but could never be suitable for Germans, and reduce the size of this city of millions—Warsaw—which has always been a center of corruption and revolt.”
These two women, soon to be executed, were members of the Jewish resistance.
" ...Jews and Jewesses shot from two pistols at the same time...
The Jewesses carried loaded pistols in their clothing with the safety catches off...
At the last moment, they would pull hand grenades out...and throw them at the soldiers....">
 

 


Captured Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Learn more about The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising


April 19, 1971

As a prelude to a massive anti-war protest, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) began a five-day demonstration in Washington, D.C. The generally peaceful protest was called Dewey Canyon III in honor of the operation of the same name conducted in Laos.
They lobbied their congressmen, laid wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, and staged mock "search-and-destroy" missions.



April 19, 1997

Two Swedish Plowshares peace activists, Cecelia Redner, a priest in the Church of Sweden, and Marija Fischer, a student, entered the Bufors Arms factory in Karlskoga, Sweden, planted an apple tree and attempted to disarm a naval cannon being exported to Indonesia. Cecelia was charged with attempt to commit malicious damage and Marija with assisting in what was called the Choose Life Disarmament Action. Both were also charged with violating a law which protects facilities “important to society.”
Both women were convicted, arguing over repeated interruptions by the judge, that, in Redner’s words, “When my country is arming a dictator I am not allowed to be passive and obedient, since it would make me guilty to the crime of genocide in East Timor. I know what is going on and I cannot only blame the Indonesian dictatorship or my own government.” Fischer added, “We tried to prevent a crime, and that is an obligation according to our law.” Redner was sentenced to fines and three years of correctional education. Fischer was sentenced to fines and two years’ suspended sentence.
Both the prosecutor and defendants appealed the case.
No jail sentences were imposed.



April 20, 1853

Harriet Tubman began her Underground Railroad, a network of people and places that aided in the escape of slaves to the north.

 

Story of a liberator of her people from bondage

Harriet Tubman


April 20, 1914

Troops from the Colorado state militia attacked strikers, killing 25 (half women and children), at Ludlow.

Having struck the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company the previous September for improved conditions, better wages, and union recognition, the workers established a tent camp which was fired upon and ultimately torched during a 14-hour siege.

Quotes from key participants:



April 20, 1964

In his closing statement at the Rivonia Trial, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela addressed the court: “We want a just share in the whole of South Africa . . . We want security and a stake in society. Above all, my lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent.” He was in Pretoria Supreme Court in South Africa where he and eight co-defendants were charged with 221 acts of sabotage designed to “ferment violent revolution,” and were facing the death penalty. At the time, black South Africans had no civil or political rights whatsoever, though they comprised over 80% of the population.

 

He concluded: “During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination.
“ I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live and to see realised. But, my lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."
Mandela in 1958
 


April 20, 1969

On the site of a parking lot owned by the University of California, Berkeley, a diverse group of people came together, each freely contributing their skills and resources to create People’s Park.


"Long live People's Park!
Showdown in the Counterculture Corral”
by Ron Jacobs



April 20, 1982

Seven women were arrested in an anti-nuclear protest outside Mather Air Force Base, near Sacramento, California, in what had become a weekly vigil. Speaking after her arrest, Barbara Weidner, 72, said, “As a mother and grandmother, I could no longer remain silent as our world rushes on its collision course with disaster which threatens the lives and futures of all children, everywhere, and the future of this beautiful planet itself.”
She later said, “I hope people will not think we are encouraging people to break the law,” she said. “But our actions should teach people, and children, to scrutinize laws against human life, and they should be broken to prove a point.”


April 20, 2002

More than 75,000 marched in Washington, D.C. to protest U.S. policies in the Middle East, specifically regarding Palestine and the threatened war in Iraq. The demonstration was organized by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) and included members of the Arab-American, Muslim and South Asian communities.


April 21, 1856

Stonemasons and other construction workers on building sites around Melbourne, Australia, stopped work and marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament House. They advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. Their direct action protest was a success, becoming the first organized workers in the world to achieve an eight-hour workday, inspiring the celebration of Labor Day and May Day.


April 21, 1989

Six days after the death of Hu Yaobang, the deposed reform-minded leader of the Chinese Communist Party, some 100,000 students from more than 40 universities gathered at Beijing's Tiananmen Square to commemorate Hu prior to his funeral.

. They voiced their discontent with China's authoritarian communist government, and called for greater democracy. Ignoring government warnings of violent suppression of any mass demonstration, the students were joined by workers, academics, and civil servants.
Pro-democracy student protesters face-to-face with policemen outside the
Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square the day of Hu Yaobang's funeral.


April 22, 1963
The Mothers for Peace, a group made up of Catholic Workers, members of PAX (which became Pax Christi in 1972), Women Strike for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and others, met with Pope John XXIII to plead for a condemnation of nuclear war and the development of nonviolent resistance.
About Women Strike for Peace


April 22, 1970

Poster at the first Earth Day

On the first Earth Day observance, an estimated 20 million participated in peaceful demonstrations of concern for the environment across the U.S. An estimated 20 million people participated including ten thousand grade schools and high schools, two thousand colleges across one thousand communities.

1st Earth Day, 1970

One on the 1st buttons

Beginnings of Earth Day from then Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin)

Read more about Earth Day history


                                            Ron Cobb

 

 

The ecology button and sticker reissued

Read about the history about the ecology symbol


< click on button to order


April 22, 1992

50,000 attended "Don't Count On Us," an anti-war rock concert in Belgrade, Serbia. It was to the nationalist regime of President Slobodan Milosevic an expression of the resistance within society to the military aggression he had been pursuing in the name of Serbian nationalism. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the various constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia—Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina—had declared their independence.
Following a military draft call-up, fewer than 10% had reported for duty, and there was considerable dissension within what was then still called the Yugoslav People's Army.

Read more



April 22, 1997

On Earth Day, Plowshares activists Donna and Tom Howard-Hastings used handsaws to cut down three poles in northern Wisconsin supporting the ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) transmitter for communication with submerged Trident nuclear submarines. After the poles were cut they were decorated with photos of children and posted with documents about international law and treaties outlawing nuclear weapons. They also placed stakes to mark tree seedlings under the transmission lines that they said were “doomed to the cutting bar.”
They cut a section of one of the downed poles, carrying it to the nearby transmitter site where they turned themselves in to security personnel.
They were then taken into custody by county sheriffs. An ABC-TV news affiliate, along with reporters from two public radio stations, were on hand to observe what happened.
During the three-day jury trial on charges of sabotage and property destruction in Ashland County District Court, the defense was allowed to present several expert witnesses, including a retired Navy captain, Trident missile designer Bob Aldridge, and international law expert Francis Boyle. Both Howard-Hastings defendants were acquitted of the sabotage charge, which carried ten years and a $10,000 fine, but were convicted of destruction of property.
At sentencing, they claimed the court had no jurisdiction over them, seeing that a jury had determined that their action was reasonable, and that they did not damage the national defense. They also made a passionate appeal to the judge to heed international law and the World Court decision to outlaw nuclear weapons.
Donna was sentenced to 114 days she had already served, with a three-year period of probation and restitution. Tom was sentenced to one year in prison, with credit for time served and three years of intensive probation, including electronic home monitoring, and restitution. 
The name Laurentian Shield refers the granite geological formation at the ELF site.


April 23, 1968

Students at Columbia University in New York City occupied campus buildings to protest military research and the razing of part of the neighboring Morningside Heights section of Harlem to make way for a new student gymnasium.

Perspective from 40 years on by Mark Rudd, one of the Columbia leaders
Read more and view protest posters



April 23, 1971

In the final event of Operation Dewey Canyon III, nearly 1,000 Vietnam War veterans threw their combat ribbons, helmets, and uniforms on the U.S. Capitol steps along with toy weapons.

Read more about Operation Dewey Canyon III



April 23, 1996

Nineteen Ukrainian demonstrators were arrested in the capital, Kiev, during an illegal anti-nuclear protest marking the 10th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the largest and deadliest nuclear accident in history [see April 26, 1986].

Chernobyl veterans



April 24, 1915

The Ottoman Turkish government arrested 200 of the most prominent political and intellectual leaders of the Armenian community in the capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul). These men and hundreds more were then imprisoned from throughout Anatolia (present-day Turkey) and, shortly thereafter, most were summarily executed.
This is the day on which the genocide of more than a million Armenians is commemorated: when the intention of the Turkish government to eliminate the Armenian people became clear. Already Armenian recruits in the Ottoman Turkish army had been disarmed and organized as laborers working under slave-like conditions.
Fact sheet on the Armenian genocide from University of Michigan-Dearborn


April 24, 1916

The Easter Uprising began when between 1,000 and 1,500 members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood attempted to seize Dublin and issued the declaration of Irish independence from Britain.

The seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation

Read the Proclamation

Read more


April 24, 1934

This editorial cartoon appeared in New Masses magazine. It refers to the attempt of anti-radical vigilantes and repressive college administrators to disrupt the first national student strike against war.



April 24, 1962

President John F. Kennedy authorized high-altitude atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons to determine whether missile-borne warheads could be used to black out military communications.


April 24, 1967

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., General William Westmoreland, senior U.S. commander in South Vietnam, said that the enemy (considered to be North Vietnam and the Viet Cong southern insurgents) had “gained support in the United States that gives him hope that he can win politically that which he cannot win militarily.”
Though he said that ninety-five percent of the people were behind the United States effort in Vietnam, he asserted that the American soldiers in Vietnam were “dismayed, and so am I, by recent unpatriotic acts at home.” This criticism of the anti-war movement was not received well by many in and out of the movement, who believed it was both their right and responsibility to speak out against the war.
General Westmoreland meeting Pres. Lyndon Johnson later in 1967, Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam


April 24, 1971

500,000 demonstrated against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. It was the largest-ever demonstration opposing U.S. war; 150,000 marched at a simultaneous rally
in San Francisco.



April 24, 1987

On the World Day for Laboratory Animals, nationally coordinated demonstrations occurred in California, Arizona, Florida, New York, Minnesota, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Tennessee, and other states. It was the largest display of civil disobedience for animal rights ever. Hundreds of activists across the country blocked access to university laboratories and more than 150 were arrested nationwide.
The day was designated to bring attention to the treatment of lab animals used in testing of medical and other products, sponsored in Congress by the late Tom Lantos (D-California).

World Day Laboratory Animals



April 25, 1945

Delegates from some 50 countries met in San Francisco for the United Nations Conference on International Organization. Over the next two months they would negotiate the principles and structure of the United Nations.
Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt had just died and had been working on his speech to the conference: "The work, my friends, is peace; more than an end of this war—an end to the beginning of all wars . . . As we go forward toward the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world—the contribution of lasting peace—I ask you to keep up your faith . . . ."


April 25, 1969

The Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and 100 others were arrested while picketing a Charleston, South Carolina, hospital to support unionization by its workers.
Read more about Reverend Ralph David Abernathy


April 25, 1974

A peaceful uprising by both the army and civilians, known as the Carnation Revolution (Revolução dos Cravos), ended 48 years of fascism in Portugal. People holding red carnations urged soldiers not to resist the overthrow and many placed the flowers in the muzzles of their rifles. The regime killed four before giving in to the popular resistance.
 
Read more   Lisbon demonstration '74


April 25, 1983

Women in Canberra, Australia, laid a wreath to remember women of all countries raped during wartime.


April 25, 1987

Tens of thousands marched on Washington, D.C. to demand an end to U.S.-sponsored and -supported wars in Central America.


April 25, 1993

Nearly one million marched for homosexual rights and liberation in Washington, D.C.
Health Care Rally at April 25, 1993 The AIDS quilt on display as part of the event.


April 25, 2004

The March for Women's Lives drew a record 1.15 million people to Washington, D.C. The marchers wanted to protect legal and safe access to reproductive services including abortion, birth control and emergency contraception.
Organized by a coalition that included the National Organization for Women (NOW), Black Women's Health Imperative, Feminist Majority, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Planned Parenthood, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The March for Women's Lives was the largest protest in U.S. history.

Read more



April 26, 1954

The Geneva Conference began for the purpose of bringing to an end the conflicts in Korea and Indochina. This followed the defeat of the French in Vietnam at Dien Bien Phu. France had been trying to reassert colonial control over Indochina following World War II.
The conferees included Cambodia, France, Laos, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Soviet Union, Vietnam, the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
As a result, Vietnam was temporarily partitioned pending elections on reunification to be held in 1956; those elections were never held.


April 26, 1966

Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales founded the Crusade for Justice, a Chicano activist group, in Denver, Colorado, and marked his departure from the Democratic Party. It was the beginning of a nationalist strategy for the attainment of Chicano civil rights.
Read more
Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales


April 26, 1968

A national student strike against the Vietnam war enlisted as many as one million high school and college students across the U.S.


April 26, 1986

A major accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine near the border with Belarus, both then part of the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). An explosion and fire in the No. 4 reactor sent radioactivity into the atmosphere. Only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout over their country 1385 km away (860 miles), did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.
During a fire that burned for 10 days, 190 tons of toxic materials were expelled into the atmosphere (3% of the reactor core). Winds blew 70% of the radioactive material into neighboring Belarus.
The explosion at Chernobyl was the world's largest-scale nuclear accident. Approximately 134 power-station workers were exposed to extremely high doses of radiation directly after the accident. About 31 of these people died within 3 months. Another 25,000 “liquidators”—Soviet soldiers and firefighters who were involved in clean-up operations — have died since the incident of diseases such as lung cancer, leukemia, and cardiovascular disease.
400,000 were evacuated and over 2,000 towns and villages were bulldozed to the ground in areas considered permanently contaminated.
Deaths and illnesses directly attributable to radiation exposure continue.
"Chernobyl is a global environment event of a new kind. It is characterized by the presence of thousands of environmental refugees, long-term contamination of land, water and air, and possibly irreparable damage to ecosystems."
– Christine K. Durbak, Chairwoman of the World Information Transfer, New York
Chernobyl for Kids


April 26, 1998

Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera, a leading human rights activist in Guatemala, was bludgeoned to death two days after a report he had compiled was made public. The report blamed the U.S.-backed Guatemalan military government and its agencies for atrocities committed during Guatemala's 36-year civil war.
Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera

About Bishop Gerardi's murder (Democracy Now)



April 27, 1936

The UAW (United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America), gained autonomy from the AFL (American Federation of Labor), becoming the first democratic, independent labor union concerned with the rights of unskilled and semi-skilled laborers.


April 27, 1937

The Social Security Administration began operation by making its first payment to an American protected under the law, principally the elderly, and children who’ve lost their parents. 


April 27, 1942

Sixteen pacifists, including Evan Thomas and A.J. Muste, refused to register for the World War II draft. Muste was a Quaker activist, founder of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and author of two pamphlets that same year, War Is the Enemy and Wage Peace Now.
A.J. Muste still working for peace 25 years later
with Dorothy Day, leader of the Catholic Worker movement.


April 27, 1974

Ten thousand marched in Washington, D.C., calling for impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon.


April 27, 1987

Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, was blockaded by people protesting U.S. policies in Central America and Southern Africa. 700 were arrested.


April 27, 1989

Thousands of Chinese students took to the streets in Beijing to protest government policies and issued a call for greater democracy in the communist People's Republic of China.

The protests grew until the Chinese government ruthlessly suppressed them in June during what came to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Ignoring government warnings of violent suppression of any mass demonstration, students from more than 40 universities began a march to Tiananmen this day.

The students were joined by workers, intellectuals, and civil servants and, by mid-May, more than a million people filled the square.


April 27, 1994


South Africa held its first multiracial elections and chose anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela (with more than 62% of the vote) to head a new coalition government that included his African National Congress Party.


More on that historic election

Nelson Mandela casting his first vote


April 28, 1965

U.S. troops landed in the Dominican Republic. In an effort to forestall what he claimed would be a "communist dictatorship" in the Dominican Republic, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent more than 22,000 U.S. troops to restore order on the island nation and to support the military junta.
U.S. troops in the Dominican Republic, 1965
Learn more about the history:


April 28, 1978

At the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility, near Denver, over 5,000 protested and nearly 300 were arrested over the following eight months for blocking railroad tracks entering the plant where plutonium bombs used as detonators in hydrogen bombs are produced.




Demonstrators blocking the rail line into the Rocky Flats weapons facility
Concert at the Rocky Flats demonstration in 1979


April 28, 1979

A few weeks after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania
[see March 28, 1979], a crowd of close to 15,000 assembled at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production plant near Denver, Colorado. Singers Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt took the stage along with various speakers including Dr. Helen Caldicott. The following day, 286 protesters, including Pentagon Papers source Daniel Ellsberg, were arrested for trespassing in their civil disobedience at the Rocky Flats facility.


April 28, 1987


Benjamin Linder, a volunteer engineer from Seattle, was murdered in Nicaragua by the U.S.-sponsored insurgents known as the contras (characterized by then-President Ronald Reagan as "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers"). Linder had been working on a hydroelectric project in rural Nicaragua.
Mural of Ben Linder unicycling in El Cua
painted on a wall in BarrioMonseñor Lezcano
in Managua, Nicaragua, 1990


April 28, 1996

Sixty-one were arrested for dismantling railroad tracks leading out of the Gundremmingen nuclear power station in Bavaria, Germany.


April 28, 2004

The first photos of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal were shown on CBS's ''60 Minutes II.'' The photos had been taken by U.S. military personnel responsible for detaining and interrogating Iraqi prisoners arrested following the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who helped break the story:
About Standard Operating Procedure, a new documentary by Erroll Morris on Abu Ghraib


April 29, 1915

The International Congress of Women convened on this day in 1915 at The Hague in the Netherlands. More than 1,200 delegates from 12 countries— Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Poland, Belgium and the United States—were all dedicated to the cause of peace and a resolution of the great international conflict that is now referred to as World War I.
Often called the Women’s Peace Congress, the meeting was the result of an invitation by a Dutch women’s suffrage organization, led by Aletta Jacobs, to women’s rights activists around the world. Jacobs believed that a peaceful international assemblage of women would “have its moral effect upon the belligerent countries,” as she put it.
Aletta Jacobs, Dutch suffragist and an organizer of the Women's Peace Congress
This was the origin of the organization known today as the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
WILPF history


April 29, 1942

Exclusion Order No. 20 affected 660 people living in the area bounded by Sutter and California streets and Presidio and Van Ness Avenues in San Francisco. The Japanese Americans living in those neighborhoods were ordered to report to 2031 Bush St. for registration, and then, on this day, for removal to internment camps for the duration of the Second World War, and faced loss of their homes and businesses.
Presentation on what happened


April 29, 1962

Nobel Prize-winner (for chemistry in 1954) Linus Pauling picketed the White House with others protesting the resumption of nuclear weapons testing. He had been invited there by President John Kennedy, to be honored at a dinner along with other Nobelists.



April 29, 1968


Actress Vanessa Redgrave was among 826 British anti-nuclear protesters arrested during a London demonstration protesting the Vietnam War.


Film from the BBC and their take on the demonstration that day
Peace message, Vanessa Redgrave, 1968
photo: Frank Habicht


April 29, 1970

U.S. and South Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia and began a bombing campaign, known as Arclight, that widened the Vietnam War. They were after North Vietnamese and Vietcong troops and supplies that had been moved into Cambodia. By the time the bombing
ceased in 1973, the U.S. had dropped more than half a million tons of ordnance on Cambodia, three and a half times that dropped on Japan in World War II.

Background on the Cambodia “incursion”



April 29, 1992

Deadly rioting erupted in Los Angeles after an all-white jury in Simi Valley acquitted four Los Angeles police officers of almost all state charges in the beating of Rodney King, an African-American motorist who had been stopped for a traffic offense.

Videotape of the abuse had been seen around the world. 17 other officers, who had been present and had not intervened, were never charged. The National Guard was called out to help restore civil order.
By the time schools were able to re-open on May 4, more than 50 had been killed, over 4000 injured, 12,000 people arrested, and $1 billion in property damage.
The Riot The trial


April 30, 1917

The American Friends Service Committee was founded to provide young Quakers and other conscientious objectors the opportunity to serve those in need as an alternative to military service in what was later known as World War I. They worked with British Friends assisting refugees from that conflict.
Quaker values in action
AFSC history AFSC today


April 30, 1967

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a sermon entitled, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" at Riverside Church
in New York City.
“The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism.”
Listen to or read the speech


April 30, 1973

President Richard Nixon took responsibility for the Watergate scandal, though denying any personal involvement, as he accepted the resignations of his two closest advisors (H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, John Ehrlichman) and Attorney General John Mitchell, who had been in charge of his presidential re-election campaign. He also fired his White House counsel, John Dean. Nixon said later that evening,
“I’m never going to discuss the . . . Watergate thing again—never, never, never, never.”


April 30, 1975

The U.S. presence in Vietnam ended as U.S. Marines and Air Force helicopters, flying from aircraft carriers offshore, began a massive airlift, Operation Frequent Wind.
In all, 682 flights went out — 360 at night.
5,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from the military compound near Saigon's Tan Son Nhut airport; about 2500 from the U.S. Embassy (1000 Americans total, the rest Vietnamese).
That morning, two U.S. Marines, Darwin Judge and Charles McMahon Jr., Marine security guards, were killed in a rocket attack at the airport. They were the last Americans to die in the Vietnam War (the final total was 58,193). At dawn, the last Marines guarding the U.S. embassy lifted off.
A helicopter lifts off from inside the U.S. Embassy grounds.
The war in Vietnam ended as the government in Saigon (then the southern capital, now Ho Chi Minh City) announced its unconditional surrender to the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Vietnam was reunited after 21 years of U.S. domination and 100 years of French colonial rule. In 15 years, nearly a million NVA and Vietcong troops and a quarter of a million South Vietnamese soldiers had died. Hundreds of thousands of civilians had been killed.


April 30, 1977

A group of 14 mothers who had met in the waiting rooms of police stations while trying to discover the whereabouts of their children, organized the first of a continuing series of demonstrations in front of the Presidential Palace on the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their children were among the “disappeared” (los desaparecidos), victims of the Argentina’s “dirty war” against its own people.
Each Thursday afternoon they gathered at the Plaza to demand that the fate of the victims be made known. Some of the mothers, including Azucena de Villaflor, their first president, themselves disappeared. In spite of this, the group soon counted some 150 members and eventually grew to several thousand in 1982-83.
The mothers created a formidable national network and obtained the support of Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Argentina’s Dirty War


April 30, 1996

About 120 activists were arrested over the following eight days in Washington, D.C., in support of a fast by Sister Dianna Ortiz. The Ursuline nun had been kidnapped, tortured, and raped by U.S.-trained and supported Guatemalan Army officers in 1989; she was fasting to demand that the U.S. government release information on her assailants.

Sister Diana Ortiz

Video or audio of Sr. Dianna

More from the RFK center


April 30, 1997

ABC-TV aired the ''coming out'' episode of the sitcom ''Ellen,'' in which the title character, played by Ellen DeGeneres, acknowledged she was a lesbian.

After Ellen
 

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