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Vol. 75/No. 11      March 21, 2011

25, 50 and 75 years ago

March 21, 1986
WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than 100,000 people turned out here March 9 to stand up and fight for a woman’s right to choose abortion.

When combined with the Los Angeles action on March 16, the “National March for Women’s Lives: East Coast/West Coast” is easily the largest women’s rights action in U.S. history.

Eleanor Smeal, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the organization that called the action, told the crowd, “We knew the time had come for people to stand up and be counted for women’s lives. Our message is simple. You cannot play with women’s lives any longer.” Smeal announced that more than 470 organizations had joined together to sponsor the action.

“What do we want? Free choice! When do we want it? Always!” the marchers yelled out, expressing their determination to defend their rights for as long as it takes.  
March 20, 1961
Over 200 Negro students, mobilized by an NAACP student chapter, marched peacefully in front of the state house in Columbia, S.C., on March 2. They came to protest against South Carolina’s practically ironclad discrimination in employment and public accommodations and against the state government’s Committee on Segregation. Results:

In violation of the constitutional rights of free speech, and assembly, the police arrested 192 of them, including 65 women.

Most of the demonstrators were charged with breach of the peace and held on bond of $50 each. But NAACP youth leaders David Carter and James Edwards, Jr., were placed under the exorbitant bond of $5,000 each.

These measures by the state authorities were intended to frighten and demoralize the anti-segregation movement. But they failed completely.  
March 21, 1936
AKRON, Ohio—“No, no, a thousand times no. I’d rather stay out than say yes!” sang five thousand Goodyear strikers in answer to the company’s proposal to go back to work.

Five thousand fighting gum miners, on strike for the fourth week, shouted down a plan to go back to their jobs with nothing, and left for the plant to tighten the picket lines.

For two hours the men stood in line, braving rain and snow, waiting to get into the Akron Armory, the largest auditorium in the city. But even it was too small. Across the street company men watched the crowd, and went back to their bosses with an unfavorable report.

The meeting climaxed a week of jockeying between the company and the union leaders. But the strikers were ready for anything. As each union official entered the hall—from the highest generalissimo to the lowest petty officer—the men shouted NO!  
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