a second history

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For Black History Month, black second graders at LA school receive math homework about slavery

  • At Windsor Hills Elementary, a prestigious math and science magnet school in Los Angeles, second graders received math homework containing a word problem about slaves picking cotton, the Root reported. 
  • The word problem used words such as “plantation,” “slave” and “master.”
  • Karol Gray, a grandmother of a second grader at Windsor Hills, was horrified by the homework her 7-year-old granddaughter was assigned.
  • “It’s definitely disturbing using terms like plantation, master — my daughter doesn’t know what these things mean,” Gray told NBC News.
  • Gray said second graders also received word problems about a man being shipped or “mailing himself to freedom.” Read more (2/15/17 10:25 AM)

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February 19th 1942: Japanese internment begins

On this day in 1942, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 which allowed the military to relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps. A climate of paranoia descended on the US following the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan, which prompted the US to join the Second World War. Americans of Japanese ancestry became targets for persecution, as there were fears that they would collude with Japan and pose a national security threat. This came to a head with FDR’s executive order, which led to 120,000 Japanese-Americans being rounded up and held in camps. The constitutionality of the controversial measure was upheld by the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. United States (1944). Interned Americans suffered great material and personal hardship, with most people losing their property and some losing their lives to illness or the violence of camp sentries. The victims of internment and their families eventually received an official government apology in 1988 and reparations began in the 1990s. This dark episode of American history is often forgotten in the narrative of US involvement in the Second World War, but Japanese internment poses a stark reminder of the dangers of paranoia and scapegoating.

Victor and Yuri arrive at the church

world: saved

homophobia: ended forever

engagement rings: out

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January 27th 1945: Liberation of Auschwitz

On this day in 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland was liberated by the Soviet Red Army. One of the most notorious camps of Nazi Germany, Jews and others persecuted by the Nazi regime were sent to Auschwitz from 1940 onwards. During its years in operation, over one million people died in Auschwitz, either from murder in the gas chambers or due to starvation and disease. As the war drew to a close and the Nazis steadily lost ground to the Allied forces, they began evacuating the camps and destroying evidence of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed there. The leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, ordered the evacuation of the remaining prisoners at the camp as the Soviet Red Army closed in on the area. Nearly 60,000 prisoners from Auschwitz were forced on a march toward Wodzisław Śląski (Loslau) where they would be sent to other camps; some 20,000 ended up in the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany. However, thousands died during the evacuation on the grueling marches, leading to them being called ‘death marches’. 7,500 weak and sick prisoners remained in Auschwitz, and they were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Soviet Red Army on January 27th 1945. Auschwitz remains one of the most powerful symbols of the Holocaust and the horrific crimes committed by the Nazi regime against Jews and numerous other groups.

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February 2nd 1943: Battle of Stalingrad ends

On this day in 19423 during the Second World War, German troops surrendered to the Soviet Red Army in Stalingrad, thus ending five months of fighting. The battle began in August 1942 during the Nazi invasion of Russia - codenamed Operation Barbarossa - and Adolf Hitler ordered an attack on the major city of Stalingrad. Stalingrad became a major playing field of the war, as Soviet leader Stalin was determined to save the city which bore his name. Under the leadership of General Paulus, German bombing destroyed much of the city and troops captured areas through hand-to-hand urban warfare. In November, Marshal Zhukov assembled six Russian armies to surround Stalingrad and trap the Germans in the city, barring provisions and troops from reaching them. Many German soldiers died of starvation and frostbite following the onset of the harsh Russian winter, with temperatures down to -30°C, but Hitler insisted they fight until the last man. After five months, the Russian Red Army claimed victory when the remaining German troops surrendered in February 1943. 91,000 Germans were taken prisoner, including twenty-two generals; this was all that remained of the 330,000 strong German force who arrived at Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad is among the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, causing nearly two million casualties. The disaster depleted the German army’s supply of men and equipment, allowing the Allies to gain the advantage, which enabled them to invade Germany and win the war.

“The God of war has gone over to the other side”
- Adolf Hitler upon hearing of the German surrender at Stalingrad

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December 8th 1941: Battle of Hong Kong begins

On this day in 1941, during the Second World War, the Battle of Hong Kong began. The attack on the then British colony of Hong Kong began just hours after the Japanese attacked the American base of Pearl Harbor, marking the beginning of Japan’s quest for domination in Asia. The British government was sceptical of their chances of defending the outpost, but in September 1941 drafted Canadian troops to Hong Kong. The Battle of Hong Kong lasted 17 days, seeing heavy bombardment and fierce fighting, including a massacre at an Allied hostpital. The 12,000 Allied troops - comprising Canadians, Britons, Indians, and locals - were vastly outnumbered by the 50,000 Japanese. Ultimately, over 2,000 Allied troops died trying to defend Hong Kong, and the British governor surrendered on December 25th. The Japanese occupied Hong Kong until August 1945; after the war, the Japanese governor was executed for war crimes. The battle of Hong Kong remains an important moment in Canadian and Commonwealth history, for, despite overwhelming odds and little military training, the Allied forces refused to surrender, and many subsequently endured brutal conditions as prisoners of war.

75 years ago today

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December 7th 1941: Attack on Pearl Harbor

On this day in 1941, just before 8 am, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched an attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After decades of escalating tensions, primarily over Japanese aggression against China, and Japanese anger over American trade sanctions, the Japanese strike on America’s Pacific Fleet still came as a surprise. In a two hour assault, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes dropped bombs and torpedoes which killed around 2,400 American soldiers and sailors, while 20 naval vessels and 200 planes were destroyed. In contrast, the Japanese suffered just 64 fatalities. The Pearl Harbor attacks were part of a larger, co-ordinated assault against American territories in Guam and the Philippines, and parts of the British Empire. While the strike certainly damaged the Pacific Fleet, vitally important aircraft carriers were spared as they were away from the base, and shipyards remained intact, allowing for swift rebuilding. The next day, following a powerful speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. The legislature passed the war measure with only one dissenting vote, cast by pacifist Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana. America’s declaration of war was immediately followed by further declarations by Japan’s Axis allies Germany and Italy against the United States. Two years in, despite initial isolationist neutrality, America was now involved in the Second World War. The entrance of the United States into the war marked a pivotal turning point in one of the bloodiest wars in human history, as the full might of the American military joined the Allied cause against the forces of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and imperial Japan.

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Congress