Little Bits of History

Bloody Sunday

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 7, 2014
Marching peacefully

Marching peacefully

March 7, 1965: Bloody Sunday arrives in Selma, Alabama. American Civil Rights were being trampled and African-Americans were pushing for a more equitable policy. The sparking of this and the two following marches, all taking place in March 1965 was complex. There were issues with low voter registration among African-Americans and this was a campaign to increase voting rights, especially in the South. These protest marches were also in response to the deaths of Jimmie Lee Jackson (unarmed when shot by an Alabama State Trooper on February 26, 1965) and Rev. James Reeb (beaten while marching in Selma and died two days later from head injuries sustained).

African-Americans formed the Dallas County Voters league (DCVL) in 1963 and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) helped bring people together. Not only blacks marched for their rights. They were supported by whites who believed in civil rights and the intrinsic value of being able to cast a vote in any election. White registrants were not letting blacks register in Alabama. The DCVL asked Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to help with the march. Together, they were able to bring 600 marchers to peacefully protest the exclusion from the electoral process. They were met by state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. All white males over the age of 21 had been called to the courthouse earlier in the day and deputized. They formed a line at the end of the bridge.

The protesters were led by John Lewis and Rev. Hosea Williams. As the reverend tried to speak with the police, he was told there was nothing to discuss and seconds later the police began shoving demonstrators and knocking them to the ground where they were beaten with nightsticks. Tear gas was thrown into the crowd and then police on horseback charged into the chaos. The entire event was televised causing a horrified reaction from outside Alabama. Just two days later, on March 9, a second protest took place with 2,500 people turned back at the bridge.

A third march began on March 16 with protesters heading to Montgomery. They averaged about 10 miles per day along US Route 80. Protesters were protected by 2,000 US Army soldiers and 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command. Also present were FBI agents and Federal Marshals. They arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and made their way to the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. The marches turned the tide of public opinion. The brutal treatment of peacefully marching protesters was transformative. President Lyndon Johnson met with Governor George Wallace to discuss civil rights. Eventually, laws were brought into place that protected the voting right of all citizens regardless of race.

There are those who say to you – we are rushing this issue of civil rights. I say we are 172 years late. – Hubert H. Humphrey

Half a century ago, the amazing courage of Rosa Parks, the visionary leadership of Martin Luther King, and the inspirational actions of the civil rights movement led politicians to write equality into the law and make real the promise of America for all her citizens. – David Cameron

Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as our prince of peace, of civil rights. We owe him something major that will keep his memory alive. – Morgan Freeman

The civil rights movement wasn’t easy for anybody. – Sammy Davis, Jr.

Also on this day: Gilbert and Sullivan – In 1896, The Grand Duke opened at the Savoy Theatre. The last G&S work.
One Ringy-Dingy – In 1876, Bell received a patent for his telephone.
Shrigley Abduction – In 1827, Ellen Turner was kidnapped.
Phyllis Diller – In 1955, the star began an 87 week run at The Purple Onion.

Bloody Sunday

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 22, 2013
Father Gapon

Father Gapon

January 22, 1905: (The date was January 9 in Old Style calendar still in use in Russia at the time.)The streets of St. Petersburg, Russia run red with blood. Father Gapon, a popular Russian Orthodox priest, organized the Assembly of Russian Factory and Mill Workers union. The group was patronized by the Department of the Police and the St. Petersburg secret police, Okhrana. The workers’ union quickly expanded to 12 branches with 8,000-9,000 members. Gapon, defrocked for “sinfulness” in 1902, continued to be supportive of the working poor. By 1904, job loss and real wage buying power decreases brought the masses to protest.

The 65-hour workweek with harsh and unsafe conditions led more people to the illegal trade unions. Four members of the Workers Union were fired from the Putilov Iron Works. Gapon called for industrial action and a strike by the ill-treated workers. Over 110,000 workers in St. Petersburg responded. Father Gapon proposed to take a petition to Tsar Nicholas II. Workers sought an 8-hour workday, wage increases, and improved working conditions. Universal suffrage was proposed as well as a demand for the end of the Russo-Japanese War.

About 150,000 people signed the petition. Gapon led a procession of workers to the Winter Palace in the hope of presenting his petition to the Tsar. The crowd numbered between 150,000 and 200,000. They approached the palace carrying religious symbols and singing patriotic songs including “God Save the Tsar.” The peaceful procession was fired on by the Cossacks of the Palace Guard. The Tsar’s count of the dead and wounded was 96 and 333 respectively. Anti-government sources claim 4,000 killed while other sources cite 1,000 dead and wounded.

This was the beginning of the 1905 Russian Revolution. Father Gapon survived Bloody Sunday and managed to escape to Geneva. He announced his disassociation with the unions and declared he joined the Socialist Revolutionary Party. It came to light that he had been a member of long standing, playing both sides. His motive for leading the procession to the Winter Palace was to ignite a revolution. While the 1905 Revolution was a failure, eventually another Revolution would succeed in bringing a Socialist based government to Mother Russia.

“The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.” – Abbie Hoffman

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.” – Hannah Arendt

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

“While the State exists, there can be no freedom. When there is freedom there will be no State.” – Lenin

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Geordiy Apollonovich Gapon was a Russian Orthodox priest who was born in 1870. His parents were peasants in what is now called the Ukraine. He studied at the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy after being widowed at the age of 28. He worked at the St. Olga children’s orphanage and got involved with factory workers and their plight at the turn of the century. While he survived Bloody Sunday, he did not live much longer. On March 26, 1906 he met Pinchas Rutenberg (who had saved his life during the riot). Their meeting place was a cottage outside St. Petersburg and it was there he was found hanged the next month. He was 36 years old at the time.

Also on this day: Roe v. Wade – In 1973, the Supreme Court decided on the abortion issue, assuring all women a right to privacy.
Pontifical Swiss Guards – In 1506, the first of the Swiss Guards come to protect the Pope.
Football – In 1927, an association football match was broadcast over the radio.