Archive for May 17th, 2008

17
May
08

On This Day, 5-17-08: Linda Brown

Brown v. Board of Ed is decided

In a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court hands down an unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public educational facilities is unconstitutional. The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars conformed to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. That ruling was used to justify segregating all public facilities, including elementary schools. However, in the case of Linda Brown, the white school she attempted to attend was far superior to her black alternative and miles closer to her home. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took up Linda’s cause, and in 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka reached the Supreme Court. African American lawyer (and future Supreme Court justice) Thurgood Marshall led Brown’s legal team, and on May 17, 1954, the high court handed down its decision.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the nation’s highest court ruled that not only was the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional in Linda’s case, it was unconstitutional in all cases because educational segregation stamped an inherent badge of inferiority on African American students. A year later, after hearing arguments on the implementation of their ruling, the Supreme Court published guidelines requiring public school systems to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

The Brown v. Board of Education decision served to greatly motivate the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of racial segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

“Brown v. Board of Ed is decided.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:38 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6900.

1630 – Italian Jesuit Niccolo Zucchi saw the belts on Jupiter’s surface.

1681 – Louis XIV sent an expedition to aid James II in Ireland. As a result, England declares war on France.

1756 – Britain declared war on France, beginning the French and Indian War.

1792 – The New York Stock Exchange was founded at 70 Wall Street by 24 brokers.

1875 – The first Kentucky Derby was run at Louisville, KY.

1926 – The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires was damaged by bombs that were believed set by sympathizers of Sacco and Vanzetti.

1940 – Germany occupied Brussels, Belgium and began the invasion of France.

1946 – U.S. President Truman seized control of the nation’s railroads, delaying a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.

1954 – The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled for school integration in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. The ruling declared that racially segregated schools were inherently unequal.

1973 – The U.S. Senate Watergate Committee began its hearings.

1980 – Rioting erupted in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie. Eight people were killed in the rioting.

1987 – An Iraqi warplane attacked the U.S. Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf, killing 37 American sailors. Iraq and the United States called the attack a mistake.

1996 – U.S. President Clinton signed a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. Megan’s Law was named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed in 1994.

2000 – Thomas E. Blanton Jr. and David Luker surrendered to police in Birmingham, AL. The two former Ku Klux Klan members were arrested on charges from the bombing of a church in 1963 that killed four young black girls.

2006 – The U.S. aircraft carrier Oriskany was sunk about 24 miles off Pensacola Beach. It was the first vessel sunk under a Navy program to dispose of old warships by turning them into diving attractions. It was the largest man-made reef at the time of the sinking.

Washington criticizes “taxation without representation”

On this day in 1769, George Washington launches a legislative salvo at Great Britain’s fiscal and judicial attempts to maintain its control over the American colonies. With his sights set on protesting the British policy of “taxation without representation,” Washington brought a package of non-importation resolutions before the Virginia House of Burgesses.

The resolutions, drafted by George Mason largely in response to England’s passage of the Townshend Acts of 1767, decried Parliament’s plan to send colonial political protestors to England for trial. Though Virginia’s royal governor promptly fired back by disbanding the House of Burgesses, the dissenting legislators were undeterred. During a makeshift meeting held at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, Virginia’s delegates gave their support to the non-importation resolutions. Maryland and South Carolina soon followed suit with the passing of their own non-importation measures.

“Washington criticizes “taxation without representation”.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:40 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=625.

The Memphis Belle flies its 25th bombing mission

On this day in 1943, the crew of the Memphis Belle, one of a group of American bombers based in Britain, becomes the first B-17 crew to complete 25 missions over Europe.

The Memphis Belle performed its 25th and last mission, in a bombing raid against Lorient, a German submarine base. But before returning back home to the United States, film footage was shot of Belle‘s crew receiving combat medals. This was but one part of a longer documentary on a day in the life of an American bomber, which included dramatic footage of a bomber being shot out of the sky, with most of its crew parachuting out, one by one. Another film sequence showed a bomber returning to base with its tail fin missing. What looked like damage inflicted by the enemy was, in fact, the result of a collision with another American bomber.

The Memphis Belle documentary would not be released for another 11 months, as more footage was compiled to demonstrate the risks these pilots ran as they bombed “the enemy again and again and again-until he has had enough.” The film’s producer, Lieutenant Colonel William Wyler, was known for such non-military fare as The Letter, Wuthering Heights, and Jezebel.

A fictional film about the B-17, called Memphis Belle, was released in 1990, starring John Lithgow, Matthew Modine, and Eric Stoltz.

“The Memphis Belle flies its 25th bombing mission.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:46 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6456.

Operations continue in Cambodia

A force of 10,000 South Vietnamese troops, supported by 200 U.S. advisers, aircraft and logistical elements, attack into what was known as the “Parrot’s Beak,” the area of Cambodia that projects into South Vietnam above the Mekong Delta. The South Vietnamese reached the town of Takeo in a 20-mile thrust. This action was part of the ongoing operation ordered by President Richard Nixon in April. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces launched a limited “incursion” into Cambodia that included 13 major ground operations to clear North Vietnamese sanctuaries 20 miles inside the Cambodian border in both the “Parrot’s Beak” and the densely vegetated “Fishhook” area (across the border from South Vietnam, 70 miles from Saigon). Some 50,000 South Vietnamese soldiers and 30,000 U.S. troops were involved, making it the largest operation of the war since Operation Junction City in 1967.

In the United States, news of the incursion set off a wave of antiwar demonstrations, including one at Kent State University that resulted in the killing of four students by Army National Guard troops. Another protest at Jackson State in Mississippi resulted in the shooting of two students when police opened fire on a women’s dormitory. The incursion also angered many in Congress who felt that Nixon was illegally widening the scope of the war; this resulted in a series of congressional resolutions and legislative initiatives that would severely limit the executive power of the president.

“Operations continue in Cambodia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 17 May 2008, 04:44 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1850.

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