1969 – The U.S. Supreme Court ordered an immediate end to all school segregation … In Memory

The outside of the Supreme CourtBy Sameer Rao Oct 29, 2015  Photo: Getty Images

On this day in 1969, the Supreme Court ordered immediate public school desegregation throughout the United States via its decision in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education.

Fifteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered public school desegregation with “all deliberate speed” in Brown v. Board of Education Topeka, Kansas, most Southern states still had yet to fulfill its mandate.

It would take the action of Fifth Circuit Judge Hugo Black and the NAACP to force real change. Members of the NAACP protested a circuit court ruling in the summer of 1969 that granted the Justice Department and Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) an extension until December 1 to draw up desegregation plans for 33 Mississippi school districts. Given that it had already been nearly five years since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the NAACP took the case to the Supreme Court

In Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education—which was decided on this day in 1969—the Court ruled to underscore their previous mandates in Brown and Brown II and ordered immediate desegregation of public schools. Noting that the “all deliberate speed” language in Brown enabled Southern states to procrastinate, the Court’s decision took no chances, saying, “The obligation of every school district is to terminate dual school systems at once and to operate now and hereafter only unitary schools.”

Although much of the American public school system still remains racially segregated, the Supreme Court’s ruling is still an important standard for which to aspire and, thus, worthy of today’s #TBT.
Read the Court’s Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education decision here.

Resource: colorlines.com


1998 – South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission condemned both apartheid and violence committed by the African National Congress.

On October 28-29, 1998 the Commission presented its report, which condemned both sides for committing atrocities.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the end of Apartheid. Anybody who felt they had been a victim of violence could come forward and be heard at the TRC. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution. The hearings made international news and many sessions were broadcast on national television. The TRC was a crucial component of the transition to full and free democracy in South Africa and, despite some flaws, is generally regarded as very successful. Creation and Mandate The TRC was set up in terms of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act , No 34 of 1995, and was based in Cape Town. The mandate of the commission was to bear witness to, record and in some cases grant amnesty to the perpetrators of crimes relating to human rights violations, reparation and rehabilitation. The TRC has a number of high profile members: Archbishop Desmond Tutu (chairperson), Dr Alex Boraine (Deputy Chairperson), Mary Burton, Advocate Chris de Jager, Bongani Finca, Sisi Khampepe, Richard Lyster, Wynand Malan, Reverend Khoza Mgojo, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Dumisa Ntsebeza (head of the Investigative Unit), Wendy Orr, Advocate Denzil Potgieter, Mapule Ramashala, Dr Faizel Randera, Yasmin Sooka and Glenda Wildschut.

The work of the TRC was accomplished through three committees: Human Rights Violations (HRV) Committee investigated human rights abuses that took place between 1960 and 1994. Reparation and Rehabilitation (R&R) Committee was charged with restoring victims’ dignity and formulating proposals to assist with rehabilitation. Amnesty Committee (AC) considered applications for amnesty that were requested in accordance with the provisions of the Act. In theory the commission was empowered to grant amnesty to those charged with atrocities during Apartheid as long as two conditions were met: The crimes were politically motivated and the entire and whole truth was told by the person seeking amnesty. No one was exempt from being charged. As well as ordinary citizens, members of the police could be charged and, most notably, members of the African National Congress, the ruling party at the time of the trial, could also be charged. 5392 people were refused amnesty and 849 were granted amnesty, out of 7112 petitioners (there were a number of additional categories, such as withdrawn ). Findings The commission brought forth many witnesses giving testimony about the secret and immoral acts committed by the Apartheid Government, the liberation forces including the ANC, and other forces for violence that many say would not have come out into the open otherwise

1966 – The National Organization for Women was founded.

NOW logo

By October, some 300 women and men had become charter members. The organizing conference was October 29-30 in Washington, D.C., but only 30 of the 300 charter members participated. NOW’s flair for making a few seem like many may have begun with this first formal meeting.

The slate of officers was elected as nominated, including Kathryn (Kay) Clarenbach as Chair of the Board, Betty Friedan as President, Aileen Hernandez—who had announced her impending resignation from the EEOC—in absentia as Executive Vice President, Richard Graham as Vice President, and Caroline Davis as Secretary/Treasurer.

They adopted a Statement of Purpose with broad concerns, addressing all women and all facets of a woman’s life. It rings with a passionate commitment to “the worldwide revolution of human rights now taking place within and beyond our national borders,” and remains in many ways a timeless document. “We debated virtually every comma of our Statement of Purpose, but were not divided on any of its substance nor on the targets for action to which we committed ourselves in setting up the task forces,” said Friedan, who had drafted the document.

The conference decided on a structure that “gives the basic power to the membership as a whole, in annual national conferences… [and] between such conferences, the national board of 35, including the five national officers, will be free to act, meeting every three months; between its meetings, the five officers will be free to execute agreed policy.” Virtually the same structure continues today.

Left to Right: Karen de Crow, former president; Muriel Fox, founder;
Aileen Hernandez, former president; Judith Lightfoot, former chair of the National Board;
Patricia Ireland, former president; Ellie Smeal, former president; Molly Yard, former president

The conference approved immediate action on Title VII enforcement efforts and authorized a legal committee to take action on behalf of flight attendants and to challenge so-called protective labor legislation. They formed task forces on issue after issue, and those task forces carried out much of the early NOW agenda and activities.

In a 1966 report on the conference, Friedan wrote: “We wasted no time on ceremonials or speeches, gave ourselves barely an hour for lunch and dinner…At times we got very tired and impatient, but there was always a sense that what we were deciding was not just for now ‘but for a century…’ We shared a moving moment of realization that we had now indeed entered history.”

for the complete story … now.org