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This week at a glance.

July 18

•Secret ballot
•Happy Birthday, Nelson Mandela

July 19
•Women's Rights Convention
•1st anti-segregation sit-in
•Vietnam War tax protest

July 20

•Black Power
•1st Government Contract

July 21
•#1 Labor Song
•Indochina Peace?
•Madres de Plaza de Mayo

July 22
•Friendly Association for Peace
•St. Louis General Strike
July 23
•Mexican War Tax Protest
•Detroit Rebellion

July 24
•Executive privilege rejected by Court
•Americans and Canadians join hands
•Greenham campers tag weapons

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July 18, 1872

Great Britain, under the leadership of William Gladstone, passed a law requiring voting by secret ballot. Previously, people had to mount a platform in public and announce their choice of candidate to the officer who then recorded it in the poll book. Secrecy served to prevent the possibility of coercion and retaliation for one’s vote.
A ballot box used in the 1872 election.

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July 18, 1918

Mandela photo gallery

Nelson Mandela was born. He was one of the leaders in the successful fight against apartheid in South Africa and became its first black president. In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mandela at 19

A short bio of Nelson Mandela by the Nobel Committee

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"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

- Nelson Mandela

The first Women's Rights Convention in the U.S. was held at Seneca Falls, New York. Its “Declaration of Sentiments” launched the movement of women to be included in the constitution.

The Declaration used as a model the U.S. Declaration of Independence, demanding that the rights of women as individuals be acknowledged and respected by society. It was signed by sixty-eight women
and thirty-two men.
The impetus came from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, both of whom had been excluded, along with all the other female American delegates, from the World Anti-Slavery Convention (London, 1840) because of their sex.

Frederick Douglass, the former slave and abolitionist leader attended the convention and supported the resolution for women’s suffrage.When suffrage finally became a reality in 1920, seventy-two years after this first organized demand in 1848, only one signer of the Seneca Falls Declaration, Charlotte Woodward, then a young worker in a glove manufactory, had lived long enough to cast her first ballot.
The Seneca Falls Convention and the Early Suffrage Movement 
The Declaration of Sentiments
All great legislation grows out of mass movements organized by people like you and me.
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Frederick Douglass

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July 19, 1958

Several black teenagers, members of the local NAACP chapter (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), entered downtown Wichita’s Dockum Drug Store (then the largest drugstore chain in Kansas) and sat down at the lunch counter.
Wichita sit-in sculpture The store refused to serve them because of their race. They returned at least twice a week for the next several weeks. They sat quietly all afternoon, creating no disturbance, but refused to leave without being served. Though the police once chased them away, they were breaking no law, only asking to make a purchase, a violation of store policy.

This was the first instance of a sit-in to protest segregationist policies. Less than a month later, a white man around 40 walked in and looked
at those sitting in for several minutes. Then he looked at the store manager, and said, “Serve them. I'm losing too much money.”
That man was the owner of the Dockum drug store chain.
That day the lawyer for the local NAACP branch called the store’s state offices, and was toldby the chain’s vice president that “he had instructed all of his managers, clerks, etc. (statewide), to serve all people without regard to race, creed or color.”

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July 19, 1974 

Martha Tranquill of Sacramento, California, was sentenced to nine months’ prison time for refusing to pay her federal taxes as a protest against the Vietnam War.
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July 20, 1967


The first Black Power conference was held in Newark, New Jersey, calling on black people in the U.S. “to unite, to recognize their heritage and to build a sense of community.”

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July 20, 1971

The first labor contract in the history of the federal government was signed by postal worker unions and the newly re-organized U.S. Postal Service. This contract was made possible by the postal strike of March 1970, in which 200,000 postal workers walked off the job, defying federal law.

Prior to that, postal worker salaries started at $6,200 a year, and many postal workers were eligible for food stamps. The strike was not organized by a national union; it started when rank-and-file workers walked off the job in New York City and it spread to other parts of the country.
The strike led to federal legislation that allowed postal unions to negotiate a contract with postal management (previously, postal salaries were set by Congress), with provisions for arbitration if no agreement were reached.

Since that time, postal unions have successfully negotiated or arbitrated wages and benefits that provide a secure standard of living for their members.

Read about the history of the APWU (American Postal Workers Union)

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July 21, 1878

Publication of "Eight Hours," written by Reverend Jesse H. Jones (music) and I.G. Blanchard (lyrics), the most popular labor song until "Solidarity Forever" was published by the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) in 1915.

“Eight hours for work,
Eight hours for rest;
Eight hours for what we will.”

All the lyrics

The eight-hour was an established concept before the song.
Shown is an 1856 banner from Melbourne, Australia.

Pete Seeger
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July 21, 1925
The so-called "Monkey Trial" ended in Dayton, Tennessee, with high school teacher John T. Scopes convicted of violating a state law against teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. It was considered illegal to contradict the Bible’s description of God’s seven-day creation of the world in Genesis.
The trial pitted two of America’s leading advocates as the opposing lawyers: William Jennings Bryan, thrice the Democratic presidential candidate (1896, 1900, 1908) and the state’s prosecutor; Clarence Darrow, a lawyer famous for representing the underdog, at the defense table. Referred to as “the trial of the century” even before it began, it was the first trial ever broadcast (on radio).
Bryan became ill and died shortly after the trial’s end; the conviction was later overturned by Tennessee’s Supreme Court.
The Defendant
John T. Scopes
  The Attorneys: Darrow & Bryan   The Verdict:
Thou Shall Not Think
continued (info, photos, links). . .

"If a state is allowed to dictate that a teacher must teach a subject in accordance with the beliefs of one particular religion, then the state can also force schools to teach the beliefs of the person in power, which can lead to suppression of all personal and religious liberties."
John T. Scopes

Charles Darwin
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July 21, 1954

Major world powers, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, reached agreement on the terms of a ceasefire for Indochina, ending nearly eight years of war. The war began in 1946 between nationalist forces of the Communist Viet Minh, under leader Ho Chi Minh, and France, the occupying colonial power after the Japanese lost control during World War II.
The Geneva conference included France, the United Kingdom, the U.S., the U.S.S.R., People’s Republic of China, Cambodia, Laos, and both Vietnamese governments (North and South).

The peace treaty called for independence for Vietnam and a 1956 election to unify the country. However, only France and Ho Chi Minh's DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North)) signed the document.
The United States did not approve of the agreement. Instead, they backed Emperor Boa Dai and Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem’s government in South Vietnam and refused to allow the elections, knowing, in President Eisenhower’s words, that “Ho Chi Minh will win.” The result was the Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the Vietnam War.

The treaty is signed

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July 21, 1976

Plaza de Mayo mother

A military junta under General Jorge Rafael Videla took power in Argentina on March 24, disbanding parliament and taking over all labor unions. The military kidnapped hundreds of people from two villages of Jujuy province in northern Argentina, thirty of whom never returned from a clandestine detention center. Most of those disappeared worked for the Ledesma sugar refinery.
Since 1983, on the Thursday closest to July 21, Madres de Plaza de Mayo (an organization of mothers and wives of the missing) are joined by others, and walk the 7 km (4.3 miles) from Calilegua to San Martin, demanding answers about their loved ones.
 Madres de Plaza de Mayo is supported by Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
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July 22, 1756

The “The Friendly Association for gaining and preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures.” was founded in Philadelphia. It was comprised primarily of Quakers (members of the Society of Friends) who wished to pursue peaceful coexistence between the native peoples and the European immigrants to the Pennsylvania region.

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

July 22, 1877

A general strike, part of the railroad strike that had paralyzed the country, was called in St. Louis, where workers briefly seized control of the city. Within a week after it began in Martinsburg, West Virginia, the railroad strike reached East St. Louis,Illinois, where 500 members of the St. Louis Workingmen's Party joined 1,000 railroad workers and residents.

Strikers in St. Louis continued operation of non-freight trains themselves, collecting the fares, making it impossible for the railroads to blame the workers for loss of passenger rail service.

More about the 1877 general strike

Eugene Debs
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July 23, 1846

Author Henry David Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay the poll tax as a protest against the Mexican war, which in turn led to his writing "Civil Disobedience." This essay became a source of inspiration for Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
From Thoreau’s essay:
“Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

Daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau
continued (info, photos, links). . .

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July 23, 1967

Detroiters angry at loss of jobs and, especially, at the abusive and virtually all-white police department, started rioting in what became known as the Detroit Rebellion.
The intitiating incident was an early-morning raid on a blind pig (Detroit for after-hours drinking club) on 12th Street.
The violence spread elsewhere in the city, and led to Pres
ident Lyndon Johnson’s calling out 8000 members of the National Guard. Order was not restored for six days.
In the end, there were 43 known dead, 347 injured, 3800 arrested, 1000 families homeless. Thirteen hundred buildings burned to the ground and twenty-seven hundred businesses were looted.
Online documentary on all aspects of what happened, “Ashes to Hope”
The Rebellion from a 40-year perspective”

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July 24, 1974

The United States Supreme Court (U.S. v. Nixon) unanimously ordered President Richard Nixon to surrender tape recordings of White House conversations regarding the Watergate affair. Speaking for the Supreme Court in front of a packed and hushed courtroom, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (a Nixon appointee) rejected President Nixon's claims of executive privilege (virtually total confidentiality for the White House) because the need for fair administration of criminal justice must prevail.

The White House feared review of the recordings by a U.S. district judge would reveal, among other crimes, impeachable offenses.

Great resources (including for teaching) on this case:

Listen to the tapes online

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

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Peace and Justice history

July 24, 1983

Canadians and Americans spanned the international border at Thousand Islands Bridge, linking New York and Ontario, to protest nuclear weapons and border harassment of peace activists.

Thousand Islands Bridge
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July 24, 1983

Women tagged a U.S. warplane with anti-nuclear graffiti at Greenham Common, an air base in England. The Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp had been set up just outside the perimeter of the base in 1981 to get U.S. Cruise missiles, some of which were deployed at the base, out of their country. Other tactics included disrupting construction work at the base, blockading the entrance, and cutting down parts of the fence.

Read more about The Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp

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