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December 10th 1979: Kaohsiung Incident

On this day in 1979, the Kaohsiung Incident occurred in Taiwan (officially called the Republic of China), marking an important moment in the country’s democratic revolution. Throughout the 1970s, opposition had been growing to the one-party state, and President Chiang Ching-kuo of the Chinese Nationalist Party agreed to hold elections in 1979. The elections were, however, cancelled, and dissidents were arrested. Activists thus chose December 10th (Human Rights Day) to take to the streets of Kaohsiung in protest against the repression of democracy. Police were summoned to break up the peaceful crowds, which resulted in sporadic violence and mass arrests; it was later revealed that the police and army were in position before the planned protest began. The following year, prominent members of the unoffiical opposition - the ‘Kaohsiung Eight’ - were tried for sedition and jailed. The case generated a great deal of sympathy for the political dissidents, both in Taiwan and from Taiwanese people living abroad, who lobbied their host governments, boosting the democratic movement in Taiwan. In 1986, the Democratic Progressive Party was founded, with many of its leaders coming from the defendants and defense lawyers of the Kaohsiung trial. The founding of an official opposition was a decisive moment in Taiwan’s transition to democracy and universal suffrage in the late 1980s. Taiwan remains a thriving and successful democracy, though mainland China still bars Taiwan from membership in international organisations like the United Nations.

Today We Honor Otis Redding

‘Otis Redding was a recording star who wrote “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” and “Respect” (performed by Aretha Franklin). Otis prowess as a businessman led him to form his own label, Jotis records, in 1965. In addition to his many business interests in fields related to music, he was engaged in other business interests in his native state such as real estate, investments, stocks, and bonds. His business acumen meant that Otis knew how to earn and invest his money, unlike some of the other soul artists of the ’60s.’

(photo: Otis Redding)

- CARTER Magazine

On April 24, 1915, exactly 100 years ago today, the Armenian Genocide began.

The mass liquidation of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was brought to fruition by the Young Turk government. At least 80% of the Armenian Ottoman population was marched to the Syrian desert and perished.

Turkey has denied the genocide’s existence ever since. Today, it is still an unrecognized event. Obama has officially stated he will not recognize it as a genocide to secure ties with Turkey, and many other countries follow suit. 

On the eve of World War II, Hitler justified his own similar actions by stating, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” The denial of the Armenians inspired Hitler’s own genocidal Holocaust, and every genocide after.

For the sake of all genocide prevention, it is vitally important these injustices are recognized. The Armenians are not invisible.

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December 9th 1824: Battle of Ayacucho

On this day in 1824, the climatic battle of the Peruvian war of independence occured at Ayacucho, ending in a decisive victory for the revolutionaries. The South American countries had been Spanish colonies for centuries, but their grip on the distant outposts began to falter at the beginning of the nineteenth century. At this time, Spain was wracked by political turmoil following Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and the capture of King Fernando VII. In this climate, other Spanish colonies - including Chile in 1810 - had declared their independence. Peru, however, remained loyal to the Spanish crown until the 1820s, when the regional campaign for self-determination spilled into Peru. There, revolutionaries led by Venezuelan Simon Bolivar sought to rout royalist forces, who were under the leadership of Viceroy Jose de la Serna, and engaged in protracted warfare in the effort to liberate Peru. The revolutionaries were initially repelled by Spanish troops, but Bolivar capitalised on political instability in the colonial administration to recruit soldiers from neighboring countries and launch further attacks. By December, the revolutionaries had amassed a considerable army at Ayacucho, made up of Peruvians, Venezuelans, Colombians, Argentines, and Chileans. Here, they were able take higher ground, giving them a tactical advantage over Spanish troops. Masterful military leadership by Bolivar’s second-in-command - Antonio Jose de Sucre - helped to secure the revolutionaries’ victory at Ayacucho. The royalist defeat, and capture of the viceroy, led to the end of the Peruvian war of independence, with Spanish surrender secured. The next year, Upper Peru (modern Bolivia) was also liberated. The last of the Spanish forces finally departed Peru in 1826, and with them ended Spanish rule in South America.

August 5, 2015

Today We Honor Samuel L. Jackson

‘Respectfully labeled as one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, Jackson is an undisputed star, demonstrated by the fact that his films have grossed more money in box office sales than any other actor in the history of filmmaking.

Jackson made an indelible mark on American cinema with his portrayal of ‘Jules’, the philosophizing hitman, in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”  In addition to unanimous critical acclaim for his performance, he received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor and won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award.’ via samuelljackson.com

(photo: Samuel L. Jackson)

- CARTER Magazine

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March 7th 1965: Bloody Sunday in Selma

On this day in 1965, a civil rights march took place from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama; it became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. At this stage, the Civil Rights Movement had been in motion for over a decade and already achieved legislative success with the Civil Rights Act. However the focus of the movement now became making the promise of equal franchise guaranteed in the Fifteenth Amendment a reality. While African-Americans exercised the right to vote in the years after the amendment’s passage in 1870, discriminatory measures like literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses were soon implemented across the country to deprive them of the vote. Thus in 1965 civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. made voter registration the core of their efforts, centering the campaign on the particularly discriminatory Selma, AL. On March 7th - 'Bloody Sunday’ - as the six hundred unarmed marchers were crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were descended upon by state troopers who viciously beat the protestors. The violence encountered by these peaceful marchers, which was captured on television and broadcast around the world, led to national outcry and caused President Johnson to publicly call for the passage of his administration’s proposed voting rights bill. After securing the support of federal troops, another march was held on March 21st, and with the protection of soldiers the marchers managed to arrive in Montgomery after three days. The marchers were met in Montgomery - the epicentre of the movement and the site of the 1954 bus boycott - by 50,000 supporters, who were addressed by King. Their efforts were rewarded when, in August of that year, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act that ensured all Americans could vote. This was one of the crowning achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Selma to Montgomery march is commemorated as one of the most important moments of the struggle.

“We are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now…not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom
- King’s 'Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March’ - 25th March, 1965

50 years ago today

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December 1st 1955: Rosa Parks on the bus

On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old black seamstress from Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. A member of the NAACP, Parks was returning home from a long day at work when the bus driver ordered her to give up her seat on the full bus for a white man. No stranger to civil rights activism, she was subsequently arrested for civil disobedience in defying the state’s Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Through this act of defiance, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which time African-Americans - under the leadership of a young, charismatic reverend called Martin Luther King Jr. - refused to use the city buses, arguing that they should be integrated per the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. The boycott was successful in forcing Montgomery to end its discriminatory segregation laws, and marked the beginning of the main phase of what is now known as the Civil Rights Movement. From Montgomery, African-Americans across the United States went on to lead sit-ins, freedom rides, and political marches, in an attempt to bring an end to segregation laws which had oppressed their community for so long. These activists were all indebted to Rosa Parks - known as the ‘mother of the Civil Rights Movement’ - for her simple act of defiance, firmly asserting her humanity and her rights as an American citizen. As the movement grew, Parks remained an influential symbol and leader of the movement, which ultimately brought an end to legal segregation and forced Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. As for Parks herself, the affair of her arrest and the subsequent boycott caused her to lose her job and made her a victim of harassment and threats. She moved to Detriot and in 1965 began to work in the office of Congressman John Conyers. In 1999, Rosa Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her role in transforming American race relations, and upon her death in 2005 she lay in state at the U.S. Capitol. Today, 60 years on, we remember Rosa Parks’s personal bravery, the successes of the movement she inspired, and the steps yet to be taken as the struggle against systemic racism continues.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”

60 years ago today