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This week at a glance.

March 27 •Ride-ins for integration
•Vietnamese for Vietnam peace
•Chicano Youth Liberation

TuesdayMarch 28
•Canadians resist WWI draft
•Air base sit-in
•Memphis Sanitation strike
•Three Mile Island

March 29

•"Birth of a Nation" ban
•Combat troops exit Vietnam
•Vietnam vets enter Nicaragua

March 30

•Farmers ally for self-preservation
•Cold War critique
•Germans resist nuclear industry

March 31

•The other 1492 event
•Berkeley anti-draft action
•Easter march for peace
•Aegis Plowshares

April 1
•Attempt at utopia
•Chicago kids march
•Parents and students resist in S. Africa
•Human Peace Chain

April 2
•A woman
in the House
•Vietnamese march against war
•Massachusetts legislates against war

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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.


March 27, 1966


20,000 Buddhists marched silently for peace in Hue, South Vietnam.

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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.
Read more about Alurista

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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.

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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up the Fellowship of
Reconciliation today.
I'm a former FOR-US
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Service during WWII.  
My father's three
brothers and a couple
of cousins were in CPS,
with some
sisters assisting."

- Wendy Clarissa Geiger
Jacksonville, FL

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.

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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

"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

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.

Nearby Dickinson College’s TMI virtual museum

Front-page story in the New York Times

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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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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

Learn about the persisting problem of Agent Orange

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My husband was in Viet Nam in the late 60's and was doing some research. One link led to another and he happened upon your site. I thought that I would surprise him with a button and magnet."

Warren, MI

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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

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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.

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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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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.

There's more peace and justice history to see
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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


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

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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.

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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

from the '80s


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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.

"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.

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