Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most powerful and effective protests in U.S. history of racial injustice: the Birmingham Children’s Crusade.
Here is a description from the Civil Rights Movement veterans’ website:
Thursday, May 2nd, is “D-Day” as students “ditch” class to march for justice. In disciplined groups of 50, children singing freedom songs march out of 16th Street Baptist church two-by-two. When each group is arrested, another takes its place.
There are not enough cops to contain them, and police reinforcements are hurriedly summoned. By the end of the day almost 1,000 kids have been jailed.
For April, Diversity Month, the Zinn Education Project collaborates with StoryCorps to share resources on the Anglicizing of names. Featured resources are “To Say the Name Is to Begin the Story,” a community building lesson by Linda Christensen on the personal and cultural significance of naming, and an animation by StoryCorps called Facundo the Great. We also present a list of books and resources for the classroom on the politics and practices of naming for grades K-12.
In the animation of his Storycorps interview, Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez recounts how names at his elementary school in Southern California were Anglicized. It’s a funny yet poignant resource that can be used at different grade levels.
Benjamin Ernest “Ben” Linder (July 7, 1959 – April 28, 1987), a U.S. engineer working on a small hydroelectric dam in rural northern Nicaragua, was killed by the U.S. CIA funded Contras. Linder and two Nicaraguans (Sergio Hernández and Pablo Rosales) were killed in a Contra ambush on April 28, 1987. Linder was wounded by a grenade and then shot at point-blank range in the head.
In addition to volunteering as an engineer, Linder participated in vaccination campaigns, using his talents as a clown, juggler, and unicyclist to entertain the local children.
Linder’s mother said at his funeral, “My son was brutally murdered for bringing electricity to a few poor people in northern Nicaragua.
On April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the Nazis tested their new air force on the Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain. One-third of Guernica’s 5,000 inhabitants were killed or wounded.
Pablo Picasso exposed the horror of the bombing in his famous anti-war painting called Guernica.
Learn more in the Democracy Now! broadcast “Amy Goodman in Spain on the 75th Anniversary of Guernica Bombing, Portrayed by Picasso Painting.”
Below are recommended classroom resources on the Spanish Civil War and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
On Apr. 24, 1971, 500,000 people 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. Here is a 100-page teaching guide from the Zinn Education Project on the long history of Vietnam War, the anti-war movement, and whistleblowers.
Image sources: (left) Library of Congress; (right) unknown. Story from PeaceButtons.info.
On Apr. 23, 1951, 16-year-old Barbara Johns led her classmates in a strike to protest the substandard conditions at Robert Russa Moton High School in Prince Edward County. She decided:
“It was time that Negroes were treated equally with whites, time that they had a decent school, time for the students themselves to do something about it. There wasn’t any fear. I just thought—this is your moment. Seize it!”
As is explained on the Smithsonian website about the Brown v. Board case, “While many in the town called for patience, 16-year-old Barbara Johns refused to wait. With a few other classmates, she quietly organized the entire student body.
On Apr. 22, 2004, football star and solider Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. The U.S. gov’t used his death in pro-war propaganda. The family learned Tillman was killed by “friendly fire” and has bravely spoken out against the war and the cover-up, as documented in the film called The Tillman Story. Learn more in an essay in Truthdig by Pat’s brother called “After Pat’s Birthday” and the book Boots on the Ground by Dusk by Pat’s mother Mary Tillman.Read more »