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This week at a glance.

Dec 5

•Bus Boycott begins
•AFL joins with CIO
•Stop draft week
•University and radio for peace

Dec 6
•Slave escapes her chains
•Slavery becomes unconstitutional
•Spain chooses constitutional government

Dec 7

•Free Speech Movement responds
•Plowshares attack fighter jets

Dec 8
•AFL begins
•Another vote against war
•Atoms for peace
•Weapons attacked

Dec 9
•HUAC chair senterned
•Ban the bomb
•Poland: Union leader to national leader
Dec 10
•Universal Declaration of Human Rights
•Nobel Peace Prize: Ralphe Bunche
•Nobel Peace Prize: Martin Luther King, Jr.
•Millennial tree saved

Dec 11
•UNICEF: help children victimized by WWII
•Nuremberg principles adopted by U.N.
•Court protects protest
•20,000+ women converge on British air base

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December 5, 1955

Five days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, the African-American community of Montgomery, Alabama, launched a boycott of the city's bus system.
The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was formed to coordinate the boycott with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
elected as its president.

Out of Montgomery’s 50,000 black residents, 30,000-40,000 participated. They walked or bicycled or car-pooled, depriving the bus company of a substantial portion of its revenue.
The boycott lasted (54 weeks) until it was agreed the buses would be integrated.

Waiting at a transportation pickup point during the Montgomery bus boycott - 1955-1956

What was the Montgomery Bus Boycott?  

"At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in."
Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks
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December 5, 1955

The American Federation of Labor, which had historically focused on organizing craft unions, merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, an organization of unions largely representing industrial workers, to form the AFL-CIO with a combined membership of nearly 15 million. George Meany was elected its first president.

AFL-CIO history

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December 5, 1967

Dr. Benjamin Spock  

264 were arrested at a military induction center in New York City during a Stop the Draft Week Committee action. Dr. Benjamin Spock and poet Allen Ginsberg were among those arrested for blocking (though symbolically) the steps at 39 Whitehall Street where the draft board met. 2500 had shown up at 5:00 in the morning to show their opposition to the draft and the Vietnam War.

  Allen Ginsberg

“I was proud of the youths who opposed the war in Vietnam because they were my babies."
- Dr. Benjamin Spock

December 5, 1980

The United Nations adopted the charter for the University for Peace in Costa Rica. Its purpose would be “promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress . . . .”

The monument sculpted by Cuban artist Thelvia Marín in 1987, is the world's largest peace monument.

It also established short-wave Radio for Peace International (RFPI)which was shut down by the University in 2004 when RFPI exposed a plan between the University for Peace and the U.S. to hold anti-terrorist combat training on campus. 

Interview with James Latham, CEO of RFPI when it was under siege
RFPI continues on the web

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December 6, 1849

Harriet Tubman, a slave in Maryland, escaped her owners.

More about Harriet Tubman


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December 6, 1865

The state of Georgia provided the final vote needed for the 13th Amendment to become part of the U.S. Constitution, abolishing slavery.

slave auction  

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

first vote
Two days before, Mississippi’s legislature had voted to reject ratification; Mississippi didn’t ratify the anti-slavery amendment until 1995.

More on the ratification

Inspired by the U.S.
Declaration of Independence

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December 6, 1978

The voters of Spain approved a new constitution in a popular referendum by nearly 8-1. It proclaimed Spain to be a parliamentary monarchy and guaranteed its citizens equality before the law and a full range of individual liberties, including religious freedom. While recognizing the autonomy of seventeen regions, it stressed the indivisibility of the Spanish state.

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December 7, 1964

A leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, Mario Savio, was arrested. One-third of the 27,000 students at the University of California campus, along with faculty, were on strike to protect their first amendment right to distribute political literature and to organize on campus. A faculty resolution passed 824-115, supporting the rapidly growing Free Speech Movement.

"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop." - Mario Savio

Mario Savio as remembered by journalist Robert Scheer

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December 7, 1993

Four Plowshares activists were arrested for disarming an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.
Pax Christi-Spirit of Life Plowshares newspaper article
The arrested: Phil Berrigan, John Dear, Lynn Fredriksson,
and Bruce Friedrich
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December 8, 1886

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was founded at a convention of union leaders in Columbus, Ohio. It was an alliance of autonomous unions, each typically made up of workers within a particular craft.
Samuel Gompers, a leader in the Cigarmakers’ union, was a key person in creating the AFL, was elected its first president, and served as such virtually continuously for nearly 40 years.
Samuel Gompers, a founder and leader of the American Federation of Labor

Samuel Gompers

On Samuel Gompers from the AFL-CIO

"The trade union movement
represents the organized economic
power of the workers...
It is in reality the
most potent and the
most direct social insurance the
workers can establish."
- Samuel Gompers

December 8, 1941

Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana), the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1916, cast the only vote (she was among eight women in the Congress at the time) opposing declaration of war against Japan, despite their attack on Pearl Harbor the previous day . She had also voted against the U.S. entering World War I (at the time called the war to end all wars). Rankin served served just two single terms in the House. She spent her early career working for women’s suffrage, later very active in several peace and justice organizations.

Jeannette Rankin in 1940

Jeanette Rankin timeline

Chronology and oral history transcript of interview of Jeanette Rankin

"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

December 8, 1953

U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower addressed the United Nations General Assembly, proposing the creation of a new U.N. atomic energy agency which would receive contributions of uranium from the United States, the Soviet Union, and other countries "principally concerned," and would put this material to peaceful use.

The speech, known later as Atoms for Peace, included: “My country wants to be constructive, not destructive. It wants agreement, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom, and in the confidence that the people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way of life.”

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December 8, 1988

   Intermediate Nuclear Force vehicle

On the first anniversary of the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Force) Treaty, twelve Dutch peace activists, calling themselves "INF Ploughshares," cut through fences to enter the Woensdrecht Air Force base in The Netherlands.
They made their way to cruise missile bunkers where they hammered on the missiles, carrying out the first disarmament action in Holland.

from the '80s


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December 9, 1949

U.S. Representative John Parnell Thomas, former chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), was sentenced to 6 to 18 months in federal prison for "padding" Congressional payrolls and using the money himself (embezzlement).
He had pled no contest to the charges, and was pardoned by President Harry Truman shortly before the end of his presidency.

John Parnell Thomas

"No matter how deeply buried it is, the truth will always come to surface."

December 9, 1961

Members of the National Committee of 100, a movement of non-violent resistance to nuclear war and to the manufacture and use of all weapons of mass extermination, joined with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and held demonstrations at various U.S. air and nuclear bases in Britain.


Members of the Committee of 100, including Bertrand Russell, considered civil disobedience a legitimate means in their struggle. The CND avoided all illegal activities.

The CND is still active today

Bertrand Russell and the "Committee of 100"

at an earlier action in 1961.

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left."

- Bertrand Russell


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December 9, 1990

Solidarity trade union founder and leader Lech Walesa won Poland's presidential runoff election in a 3-1 landslide. He thus became the first directly elected Polish leader. Poland only became an independent country at the end of World War I.

About Lech Walesa


December 10, 1948

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."
Since 1950 the anniversary of the declaration has been known as Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day

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December 10, 1950

Detroit-born U.N. diplomat Ralph J. Bunche became the first Black American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The award was in recognition of his peace mediation during the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

Ralph Bunche the Peacemaker
From his acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway.
“There are some in the world who are prematurely resigned to the inevitability of war. Among them are the advocates of the so-called "preventive war," who, in their resignation to war, wish merely to select their own time for initiating it. To suggest that war can prevent war is a base play on words and a despicable form of warmongering. The objective of any who sincerely believe in peace clearly must be to exhaust every honorable recourse in the effort to save the peace. The world has had ample evidence that war begets only conditions which beget further war.”

"We must fight as a race for everything that makes for a better country and a better world. We are dreaming idiots and trusting fools to do anything less."

- Ralph Bunche

December 10, 1964

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
From his speech in Oslo:
“After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that [civil rights] movement is profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time -- the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.”

King’s Nobel acceptance speech:

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December 10, 1997

Julia Butterfly Hill, age 23, climbed "Luna," a 1,000-year-old California redwood, to protect it from loggers. She stayed up in the tree for more than two years.

Julia's web site

Julia Butterfly Hill atop Luna

Ecology and Society
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December 11, 1946

The General Assembly of the United Nations voted to establish the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to provide health and rehabilitation to children living in countries devastated by World War II.

What does UNICEF do today?

December 11, 1946

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed Resolution 95 affirming the principles of international law recognized by the charter and judgment of the Nuremberg Tribunal. These Principles of International Law were formulated and published by the International Law Commission on July 29, 1950:

These Principles of International Law were formulated and published by the
International Law Commission on July 29, 1950:
Read the UN Resolution 95 (pdf)

"I look forward to these posts. Sometimes I learn something, sometimes I remember something I had forgotten."
- Bunny

December 11, 1961

A U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawed the use of disorderly conduct statutes as grounds for arresting African Americans sitting-in at segregated public facilities to obtain equal service.
The case began in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a group of negro Southern University students bought some items then sat at the lunch counter of Kress Department Store. Their polite requests to order food were ignored because the lunch counter was only for the use of whites, and police arrived to arrest them. Convicted of "disturbing the peace,” they were expelled from Southern University and barred from all public colleges and universities in the state of Louisiana.
The Court overturned their convictions because there was no evidence indicating a breach of the peace.
The decision in Garner v. Louisiana

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December 11, 1984

More than 20,000 women turned out for an anti-nuclear demonstration at Greenham Common Air Base in England, where U.S. nuclear-armed cruise missiles were deployed. Some tried to rip down the fence surrounding the base.


A Greenham Peace Camp scrapbook

Poster of Broken Missile taped to the fence of Greenham Common by a protester, 1982.

Greenham Women

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Publisher, Carl Bunin • Editor, Al Frank Detroit, Michigan

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