History

Items that are historically significant in some way. They may be recent history or ancient history, pertinent to local history or something on a grander scale…

Early History of OB Rag Reflected the New Wave of Grassroots Activism in Ocean Beach

September 17, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

As we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Rag, we bring forth some of the early history of the underground newspaper – whose pages reflected what was going on in Ocean Beach in the early 1970’s. From the Save Collier Park campaign to the birth of OB’s “alternatives” to the anti-development movement, the OB Rag reported on the changes OB was going through. A new wave of civic activism and hippie businesspeople.

The volunteer and dedicated staff succeeded in helping to fuel the community organizing in OB during the first half of the seventies, taking on the establishment and giving voice to the burgeoning counter-culture.

The Collier Park Battle

One of the first major issues the OB Rag jumped into wholeheartedly was to join up with a new OB environmental group, OB Ecology Action, and lead a fight to save Collier Park, an urban patch of land in northeastern OB. Ecology Action.

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The Very First OB Rag – Scanned and Unedited … So Brace Yourself … From Sept. 17, 1970

September 17, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

Here it is – the very first OB Ragthe OB People’s Rag – published on September 17th, 1970. Unedited … so brace yourself if you are of tender ears, as of course, the language in the articles was sooo-seventies, a mix of the raw rhetoric and bravado of the campus militant with the casual drawl of the counter-counter, as the staff was a bunch of young twenty-somethings, half still in college and the other half fresh off the campus.

It was four pages – front and back of 2 pages stapled together. We have scanned all four pages – see below – plus we have retyped all of the articles so you don’t have to squint and ruin your eyes. In addition, we have included all of the graphics and most of the hand-drawn headlines.

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Requiem for the Real American Dream

September 16, 2020 by Staff

By Joni Halpern

There is a time in life when all things that once were new and filled with promise become old and worn out, their shiny surfaces dull and scratched, their presence a mere reminder of the past. These things that once fueled our imaginations, set us in pursuit of impossible goals, drove us to creativity, and embodied cherished values must all be bade farewell when their time has passed.

I noticed today that the American Dream is badly worn.

I do not mean the American Dream of Horatio Alger, that rags-to-riches-if-you-work-hard-and-never-give-up dream. No, that one still lives in our hearts and minds. But it is not the true American Dream, for rags to riches is a story that happens all over the world. Truthfully, it has always been more like winning the lottery, even in this country.

But that didn’t matter, because riches have never been the dream of the overwhelming majority of Americans.

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A History of Mexico for Gringos

September 16, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

By Frank Gormlie

Most gringos don’t know too much of the history of Mexico – our southern neighbor – even though Mexico is so much part of the culture of Southern California. U.S. public schools don’t really teach about its history. For instance, September 16 is Mexican Independence Day – the commemoration of the defeat of the Spanish colonialists – akin to our July 4th – when Americans defeated British colonialists and their German mercenaries.

This then is an attempt to bring Mexican history to our readers – it covers Mexico’s story through the Revolution.

Long before the European colonialists landed on the shores, native civilizations flourished in the Americas, building large cities, establishing trade and industry, exhibiting high levels of science, technology and art. By the time Cortes arrived in 1521 to seize land and riches for Spain, the Aztecs ruled over a highly complex society in Central Mexico. Employing the old method of ‘divide and rule’, the Spanish conquered the Aztecs and other peoples

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50 Summers Ago, the People of Ocean Beach Stopped the Jetty

September 15, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

The Jetty is Stopped

Fifty summers ago, the residents of Ocean Beach halted the construction of a jetty the City and the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build- next to what is now known as Dog Beach.

Ostensibly, the project, according to city officials, was to protect OB from flooding from the San Diego River Channel, to prevent the loss of sand from the beach area, and to stop the spread of sand into the Mission Bay entrance.

But, the community didn’t buy it. Many locals viewed the jetty as a prelude to an attempt by the City and developer interests to create a marina and a high-rise resort district at Ocean Beach’s waterfront. Opposition to the jetty was wide-spread, from surfers to elderly retired grandmothers, from young professionals and local businesspeople to the long-hairs.

Carol Bowers, a local OB historian, would write years later about the jetty action in her column in The Beacon. In her piece from July 6, 2000, she recounted how the original plan for the jetty was to have it extend 1,570 feet into the ocean with a curve at its end.

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Origins of the First OB Rag

September 14, 2020 by Staff

How and Where It All Started

Fresh off the campuses of the University of California, three young friends in their early twenties decided to publish an “underground” newspaper for Ocean Beach, the hippie area of San Diego.

John Lyons and Frank Gormlie – from UCSD – and Bob “Bo” Blakey – from UC Berkeley – had all just graduated and had moved in together in an old house on Etiwanda Street in northeast OB. Gormlie and Blakey had known each other at Point Loma High School and both had been involved in student government; Blakey had been Senior Class President and Gormlie had been President of the Student Body. Lyons and Gormlie had cut their activist teeth on the radicalism at UCSD.
All three had been deeply involved just months earlier in the anti-Vietnam war movement on their respective campuses.

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Celebrate With Us the 50th Anniversary of the Very First OB Rag this Week

September 14, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

Fifty years ago this week, the very first OB Rag was published and hit the mean streets of Ocean Beach. Called “The OB People’s Rag”, the first issue was four pages stapled together and distributed at OB’s main stores at the time, Safeway and Mayfair, on choice OB street corners and in front of Point Loma High School.

So, all this week, we’ll be publishing memories, background, the behind-the-scenes stories and actual articles of the gritty “underground” rag that became the main community newspaper for Ocean Beach for nearly five years. Art Kunkin, the editor and publisher of the grandparent of all underground newspapers, the LA Free Press or “LA Freep”, once called the OB Rag the best alternative, community newspaper in the country.

Online Party Thursday Night, Sept. 17

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Is This the Dawning of the ‘Age of Direct Democracy’?

September 14, 2020 by Source

By Colleen O’Connor

Historians, writers, journalists, astrologers and even amateurs sometimes coin a phrase that perfectly describes an entire epoch. Or a decade.

Many of these “Age of” descriptions come long after the fact. For example, the “Age of Exploration” or the “Age of Empires.”

The truly magnificent titles capture so much than just a decade. Some span centuries. Others end quickly. The “Enlightenment.” “The Age of Reason.” “The Dark Ages.”

And they are defined and remembered in multiple forms; all personal. Literature, sports, music, art, movies, economics and politics.

Take the “Gilded Age” known for the lopsided wealth and extravagance generated by railroads, industrialization, with cosseted nouveau riche existing alongside abject poverty.

Or Edith Wharton’s, “Age of Innocence.” The writing of which, she said allowed her to find “a momentary escape in going back to my childish memories of a long-vanished America… it was growing more and more evident that the world I had grown up in and been formed by had been destroyed in 1914.” And the first “world” war.

Then there are the obvious ones. The “Atomic Age.” The “Industrial Age.” “The Space Age.”

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Labor Day in the Midst of a National Crisis: Dreaming of a Just Recovery

September 7, 2020 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, but how many of us have any idea where the holiday came from or what it celebrates?

The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882 in New York City and was proposed by the Central Labor Union (CLU) at a time when American workers were struggling for basic rights such as the eight-hour day. The CLU moved the “workingman’s holiday” to the first Monday in September in 1883 and urged other unions to celebrate the date as well. The movement grew throughout the 1880s, along with the American labor movement itself with 23 states passing legislation recognizing Labor Day as a holiday. By 1894 Congress followed suit and Labor Day became a national holiday.

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‘ReWild Mission Bay’ Releases Statement on Kumeyaay History of Mission Bay

September 1, 2020 by Source

The group that has been trying for years to enhance and restore wetlands in the northeast corner of Mission Bay, ReWild Mission Bay, has just released an equity statement on the history of the Kumeyaay in the Mission Bay region. We repost it below, followed by their press release. . ReWild Mission Bay is a project of the San Diego Audubon Society.

Equity

The northeast corner of Mission Bay is land that was historically occupied and used by Indigenous communities, Kumeyaay (‘Iipay and Tipai), and represents just one example of our unjust and racially-motivated public lands history in San Diego.

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Kathy Blavatt’s New Book on History of Sunset Cliffs Out Soon

September 1, 2020 by Staff

OB’s own Kathy Blavatt will be soon releasing her latest book – this one is on the history of Sunset Cliffs Park. Arcadia Publishing will be releasing San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park: A History, on Monday, October 12, 2020.

Here are the promos:

About the book

Sunset Cliffs Park meanders along a mile and a half of San Diego’s coastline, beckoning tourists and locals alike. These stunning cliffs inspired Albert Spalding, sportsman and visionary, to create a park in 1915 for all to enjoy.

In the century since, many have left their mark, including the powerful Pacific Ocean. John Mills, an enterprising land baron, restored the original park, only to have it fall into neglect during the Depression and World War II. It became a popular spot for pioneering surfers and divers in the postwar boom, and the park’s colorful landscape attracted artists and children. Join author Kathy Blavatt as she relates the many transformations of this beloved park and looks to us future.

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One of OB’s Greatest Characters Was Clint Carey – the ‘OB Spaceman’

August 26, 2020 by Source

spaceman002

Originally posted Sept. 27, 2010, brought back by popular demand

By Warren Patch

Ocean Beach has always been a colorful place. The Hippies seem to perpetually reinvent themselves there; long hair, short hair, dread hair, dirty hair, blue hair, no hair, it’s all cool. And tie-dye is still vogue. I buy mine at Sunshine Daydreams on Newport Avenue.

One of the all-time great characters of OB was Clint Carey, alias OB SPACEMAN. He used to sell plots of land on the moon. And he was the only OB’cean who had personally met the “Outer Space People” when they came visiting, and he alone was authorized to sell tickets for spaceship rides when they returned.

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Kumeyaay Sue Trump Administration to Block Border Wall that Desecrates Sacred Burial Sites

August 14, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

The La Posta Band of Diegueno Mission Indians filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump administration in an effort to block construction of the border wall section that the band says will desecrate their sacred burial sites. The tribe’s ancestral lands cross the US-Mexico border.

The suit asks for an injunction to halt – at least temporarily – the erection of a tall, metal wall until the tribe can protect its cultural sacred areas. The La Posta band – one of 12 bands of the Kumeyaay people – also wants to monitor the installation work and be able to interrupt it if human remains and cultural artifacts are found.

The lawsuit was filed against President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who oversaw military funds diverted for the border wall; acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf; and Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of building the wall.

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School Choice and White Supremacy Like Two Peas in a Pod

August 11, 2020 by Source

By Thomas Ultican / Tultican / August 9, 2020

In Overturning Brown, – as in the US Supreme Court case “Brown v Board of Education” – , Steve Suitts provides overwhelming evidence for the segregationist legacy of “school choice.” He shows that “Brown v Board” has been effectively gutted and “choice” proved to be the white supremacists’ most potent strategy to defeat it. In the 21st century, that same strategy is being wielded to maintain segregation while destroying the separation of church and state. (Note: In this article references to Overturning Brown given as Suitts page#.)

Defeating Brown

On May 17 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in the case of Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Chief Justice Earl Warren stated, “In the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” He added it is “inherently unequal” and plaintiffs were “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

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Lessons to Learn – Nagasaki 75 Years Later – Right vs. Might

August 10, 2020 by Source

By Scott Stephens

Sunday, August 9 marked the 75th anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bombing, which instantly wiped out 80,000 innocent civilians. We can debate whether or not this decision was warranted. However, most scholars feel the Nagasaki drop was unnecessary as Japan was close to surrendering following the bombing of Hiroshima and the Soviet Union joining the allies. But our debates won’t change history, and, likely, these disagreements may never be resolved.

But I think there is something we can all agree on: we should avoid war and look to diplomatic solutions whenever possible.

In a civilized world, victory shouldn’t be reserved just for the most powerful nations. Those of us who have lived most of our lives in the world’s most powerful, dominant country have grown accustomed to the chant of “let’s just bomb the shit out of them,” referring to whoever is our enemy at the time. But less powerful nations don’t have that luxury. The straightforward premise that right over wrong should carry more weight than who has the biggest bombs is hard to argue with.

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What Was Going On in OB Exactly 10 Years Ago – July 30, 2010

July 30, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

sunset at pier jg july 2010

EditorDude: What was going on in OB ten years ago? Here’s one of our first news columns on the OB Rag from July 30, 2010 and it gives us a glimpse into the village’s happenings a decade ago. From everything – Jim Grant’s stunning sunset photos to the OB Library getting a new rug, to the highly-anticipated airing of the new TV series filmed in OB, “Terriers” – to recollections of Dusty Rhodes and Bob Kenny, two men whom parks in OB were named after.

OB Library Gets a New Rug

It was announced at this weeks OB Town Council meeting that the Ocean Beach branch of the library will be getting a new rug. $4,000 from infrastructure funds is being made available for a recarpeting of one of the centers of the community. Plus, the City needs to repair the roof first. First the roof, then the new carpet. Some of us learned that the hard way.

Sunset over the OB Pier – July 14, 2010. Photo by Jim Grant. (Don’t forget to click on the photo to get a slightly larger image.)

“Terriers” airs on September 8th

Tentatively, “Terriers” the comedy private eye TV series filmed this year in OB is set to hit the air waves Wednesday, September 8, at 10pm on FX (according to the OBMA website.)

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Genocide in California’s History

July 6, 2020 by Source

Junipero Serra1Originally published on August 15, 2008

by gjohnsit / DailyKos / August 14, 2008

What do you think of when someone says “California”? Beaches? Sunshine? Hollywood?

How about the largest act of genocide in American history?

“The idea, strange as it may appear, never occurred to them (the Indians) that they were suffering for the great cause of civilization, which, in the natural course of things, must exterminate Indians.”
– Special Agent J. Ross Browne, Indian Affairs

California was one of the last areas of the New World to be colonized. It wasn’t until 1769 that the first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was built.

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San Diego Media Need to Stop Calling Our Airport ‘Lindbergh Field’ After White Supremacist and Anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh

June 29, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

The leaders of the Orange County Democratic Party are pressuring to drop actor John Wayne’s name, statue and other likenesses from the county’s airport because of his racist and bigoted comments.

It’s part of a national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names from American institutions, monuments, businesses, nonprofits, sports leagues and teams. And now airports.

Orange County officials passed an emergency resolution condemning Wayne’s “racist and bigoted statements” made in a 1971 interview. They are also calling on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to drop his name, statue and other likenesses from the international airport, whose name is simply John Wayne Airport. They want to restore the airport to its original name, Orange County Airport.

Now seems like an excellent moment to do the same here in San Diego and stop calling our airport after Charles Lindbergh – a known anti-Semite and white supremacist,

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May 8, 1970 – the Day the Anti-Vietnam War Movement Came to Point Loma

May 8, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

Exactly 50 years ago today, May 8, 1970, the anti-Vietnam war was thrust upon the sleepy neighborhood of Point Loma.

4,000 mainly college students showed up in the early hours of that day on Catalina Boulevard and created a passive resistance march and blockade of the gates of NEL, the Naval Electronics Lab (since renamed). NEL was known for its war-related research and the action was seen as a blow against the Vietnam war by thousands of trying to jam up the gears of the war machine.

Nixon had just invaded Cambodia instead of winding down the war, as he had promised. Protests at colleges and universities blew up across the nation. Protests at Kent State in Ohio turned deadly when National Guardsmen fired into crowds of unarmed demonstrators, killing four and wounding eleven others. Fifty years ago this day, the entrance to the military facility was effectively blocked

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UCSD Student George Winne Burned Himself to Death in Protest of the War – May 10, 1970

May 8, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

George Winne, 23, a History major at UC San Diego strolled out to the middle of Revelle Plaza on Sunday, May 10, 1970. It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. A huge anti-war protest had occurred earlier that weekend in downtown San Diego. It’s not known whether Winne attended it, but it’s unlikely.

President Nixon had invaded Cambodia and the campuses across the nation blew up in protests. One protest at Kent State University in Ohio ended in the deaths of four students shot by National Guardsmen.

When Winne came out to the plaza, he carried a sign, which read, “In God’s name, end this war.” It was a simple message. He also carried rags which he had saturated with gasoline.

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The Murders at Jackson State, Mississippi During the May 1970 Student Rebellion

May 6, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

The killings at Jackson State occurred 5 minutes after midnight, May 15, 1970
Besides the Kent State Four, there were two other murders during the May 1970 student rebellion fifty years ago. Police opened fire on a Black girls’ dormitory at Jackson State College in Mississippi on May 15, killing two young, African-American men, and wounding another dozen people.

The Jackson State killings, however, never received the media and protesters’ attention as those at Kent State did. There were demonstrations in response, of course, but not as wide-spread as those following the deaths of the 4 white students. From an ingrained media racism, to the privileges of white, middle-class young, to the fatigue and exhaustion of a protest movement nearly spun out – there are a number of factors for this difference.

But – as in the Kent State incident – no one was ever held accountable for the killings.

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May 5, 1970 Was the Most Violent Day Within the Country in American History

May 5, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

The day after the Kent State Massacre, Tuesday, May 5, was one of the most violent days in American history. It was the day when college and university students realized that four from their generation were dead because of protests against the Vietnam war. It certainly ranks up there as one of the most turbulent days inside the country.

What follows in our latest installment in the series commemorating the student rebellion and strike of May 1970. We offer it without apology, without recourse but with the knowledge that despite the tedious repetition, it is part of our American experience, an important day in our modern history.

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No, Cinco de Mayo Is Not Mexican Independence Day

May 5, 2020 by Brent Beltran

cinco-de-mayo oldschool

Editor: The following is an excerpt from Brent Beltran’s weekly column Desde Logan at the San Diego Free Press in 2013. What follows is worth repeating as Gringos typically are kept in the dark about the history of a people a few dozen miles away.

By Brent E. Beltrán

Cinco de Mayo commemorates El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla) where in 1862 a ragtag Mexican army lead by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated a much superior and better equipped force of the French army. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. It’s not even a significant holiday in Mexico except in the state of Puebla where the battle took place.

After the great liberal Mexican president Benito Juarez decided to stop paying Mexico’s foreign debt for two years to help it’s near bankrupt national treasury France’s Napoleon III, pissed off by this move, decided to invade and build up it’s empire.

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May 4, 1970: Kent State Murders 50 Years Ago Today – ‘The Day the World Turned Upside Down’

May 4, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

Fifty years ago exactly, on May 4, 1970, was the day the world turned upside down for an entire American generation of young people. It was the day National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio aimed their M1 rifles at crowds of unarmed demonstrating college students and fired.

15 students were hit by bullets – four of them died either instantly or within minutes and eleven were wounded, one so badly he was maimed for life.

This day, then, stands out – as Pearl Harbor did for an earlier generation, as 9-11 did for a later generation. It was one thing to protest the Cambodian invasion and the war in Vietnam, it was quite another to be shot to death by American soldiers on an American college campus for protesting the wars.

The date May 4, 1970 will forever be associated with the murders of four young people.

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‘I was in a sit-in at UCSD when we heard about the killings at Kent State.’

May 4, 2020 by Source
Thumbnail image for ‘I was in a sit-in at UCSD when we heard about the killings at Kent State.’

Originally posted May 4, 2009.

By Dr. Anonymouse

May 4th, 1970, is forever etched in my brain and memory cells. I was a student at UCSD, and we had just taken over the 5th floor of Urey Hall – a Science building – in protest of the University’s complicity in the Vietnam War, when we heard the bad news from Kent State. It came over a small radio someone had perched on a chair out on the balcony overlooking the Quad. …

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May 2-3, 1970: The Weekend Before the Storm 50 Years Ago

May 2, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

The weekend of Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3, 1970 – exactly 50 years ago – was the “lull” before the storm of protests that erupted and enveloped the nation in response to President Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia.

Thus, we continue our series of installments of a day-by-day recounting of what came down half a century ago, which is actually just a sampling of what happened during that first week of May 1970. From coast to coast and everywhere in between college and university students rebelled – sometimes violently – against Nixon’s expansion of the Vietnam War.

Nixon had been elected in 1968 because he had a “peace plan” and had actually begun bringing US troops back to the states – when he announced on April 30 that he was sending American troops into Vietnam’s neighbor Cambodia, a diplomatically neutral country.

Protests began immediately (see the intro to the series here, and Part 1 here) and ultimately involved literally millions of students and faculty members with the closings of hundreds of campuses,

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50 Years Ago Today – May 1, 1970 – the Rebellion Begins

May 1, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

As part of our week-long commemoration of the student rebellion of 50 years ago exactly, we begin with May 1, 1970. (See the intro here.)

On April 30, 1970, then President Richard Milhouse Nixon announced he was sending US troops from Vietnam into Cambodia, a diplomatically-neutral country. His announcement set off a month of intense protests by mainly college and university students across the country, from Maine to Southern California.

What follows here is a sampling of the reaction by students on April 30 and May 1 of that year (raw data for my upcoming book, 1970: The May Rebellion). It was a different time. The only people bringing guns to campuses then were cops and National Guardsmen. And on May 4, National Guardsmen shot and killed four unarmed students, wounding 11 others on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio. Ten days later, two young Black men were murdered by local police at Jackson State in Mississippi.

But first … this, as we cross the country from the northeast to the southwest, the rebellion began:

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May 1st – A Day to Remember the Folks Who Brought You the 8-Hour Day

May 1, 2020 by Jim Miller

Originally posted April 29, 2019

By Jim Miller

The majority of Americans don’t know much about May Day or they simply associate it with the state sponsored holiday in the former Soviet Union. For the most part, it’s lost down the memory hole. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover a whole forgotten history of American workers and their struggle for basic dignity and rights in the workplace and in society.

The truth of the matter is that May Day has deep American roots. It started in 1866 as part of the movement pushing for the 8-hour day.

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50 Years Since the Rebellion of May of 1970

April 30, 2020 by Frank Gormlie

By Frank Gormlie

Introduction to Series

A half century ago exactly, our country was being literally torn apart over the war in Vietnam and its subsequent escalations. Today, the only reference to the Vietnam War is how the number of American deaths from the COVID-19 virus have now exceeded the deaths of US servicemen during the entire Vietnam period.

Yet, history has caught up with us.

Fifty years ago exactly to the day, on April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he had ordered the invasion of Cambodia by US troops. Nixon didn’t call it an “invasion” but it was clear he was expanding the war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, not de-escalating it as he had pledged.

With his announcement, Nixon set off a month-long torrent of protest mainly by college and university students, an intensity never seen before on American campuses.

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How Did We Get From Earth Day To Trump?

April 22, 2020 by Source

Fifty years after the first Earth Day, the connection between the environment and human health has never been more obvious.

By David Helvarg / HuffPost / April 22, 2020

Twenty million people rallied, marched and staged clean-ups across the country on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day. Many carried signs that read “Mother Nature Bats Last.”
But who knew there would be actual bats involved?

Fifty years later, the COVID-19 pandemic is the starkest example of natural disasters foretold but not prepared for.

The destruction of unique habitats, logging of rainforests and consumption of displaced wildlife such as bats, chimps and endangered pangolins has led to most of our recent viral outbreaks, from AIDS and Ebola to the coronavirus. This only confirms the scientific consensus that human health and prosperity depend on a healthy environment.

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