Tag Archives: President Kennedy

Subversive Historian – 08/28/09

The March on Washington

Back in the day on August 28th, 1963, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Black union leader A Phillip Randolph first proposed the idea for a mass convergence on the nation’s capital. With organizational help from various civil rights groups, the planned demonstration faced disagreements from parties involved as to its stated objective. Some groups wanted to focus on black poverty while others wanted to show public support for the Kennedy administration’s proposed civil rights legislation. When the march finally took place, John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee had to tone down the criticisms he levied against President Kennedy. The demonstration would later culminate on the steps of the Lincoln memorial with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream,” speech.

The following year, the Civil Rights Act would be passed into law due in part to that massive show of support for the civil rights movement during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Subversive Historian – 01/09/09

Panama Canal Zone Riots

Exactly forty-five years ago on this day in people’s history, nationalist riots erupted in Panama over control of the Canal Zone. On January 9th, 1964 students from the Central American nation sought to raise the Panamanian flag over Balboa High School in the zone when their symbol of sovereign integrity was torn in an ensuing altercation. Years prior, clashes between the U.S. forces and protesters occurred when Panamanians attempted to plant their flag in the U.S. controlled Canal Zone. Attempting to diffuse building tensions, President Kennedy ordered in 1963 that Panamanian Flags should fly side by side U.S. flags in all non-military sites in the zone. The decision angered many U.S. residents known as “Zonians,” as did a subsequent move by the Canal Zone’s governor to remove all flags from civilian sites. Zonians responded in defiance by raising the U.S. flag in places such as Balboa High School. When Panamanians responded, riots ensued and U.S. soldiers fired into angry crowds killing twenty-three. January 9th is now known in Panama as “Martyrs Day.”

As for how this episode in Latin American relations should be remembered in the U.S; as Howard Zinn has often said “there is no flag large enough to cover the shame.”