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Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

This landmark decision of the Supreme Court overturns (sort of) the 1896 [Plessy vs. Ferguson] decision that allowed "separate but equal" segregation of white and black people. In the current case, Mr. Brown wants his daughter to attend a school near their home rather than bus his child to a black school. Several parents join the suit against the school district and attorney Thurgood Marshall brings their case before the Supreme Court. (He will later become a Supreme Court justice himself.) Luckily, the attorney representing the school district is so condescending and obnoxious that Marshall suggests that to rule against his clients is to affirm that "somehow Negroes are inferior to all other human beings." That is a reference to the recent eugenics war otherwise known as World War 2 where people were separated by race and murdered. While the Supreme Court rules that "separate but equal" must be dismantled, the Jim Crow laws are actually thousands of local laws, so they suggest using "all deliberate speed" which means that the Jim Crow laws should be removed as quickly as possible but without too much disruption. This is a recipe for doing nothing at all. Nevertheless, this is a vital step toward destroying the Jim Crow system. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Condoleezza Rice recalled her childhood education in a black school in Birmingham, Alabama receiving worn textbooks thrown out by white schools. They made do, but this was long after the Supreme Court had ruled that "separate but equal" was not equal and must go. Obviously a lot of people clung to that "deliberate speed" comment and change came slowly or not at all. You can see an example of segregation after the Brown ruling in the movie "Hidden Figures". It is the story of three black women employed by NASA as "computers". In the early days most calculations were done by hand. People specifically employed to perform those calculations were called "computers" because they computed things. The movie follows the lives of three women as they help NASA "beat the Ruskkies" into space while having to run half a mile across the campus to use the "colored restroom" to relieve themselves. Fortunately the movie is not too preachy, and while I doubt that it will win an Academy Award, it has been nominated. Certainly, it is worth paying good money to see it. [7] [8] [9]

The US supports all democracies! Except when it doesn't.

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

In 1950 Guatemala had it's second democratic election for President. During this election, Jacobo Árbenz beat his predecessor Juan José Arévalo. In a move intended to set a precedent to encourage future peaceful transfers of power, Arévalo did not contest the election and peacefully transferred power to Árbenz. One of Árbenz's biggest promises while on campaign was his agrarian reform bill, which would expropriate uncultivated land from large land owners to their laborers. This was the justification used by the CIA as to why this democratically elected government had to be deposed, as this clearly meant that Árbenz was a communist with ties to Moscow. Despite this, when the CIA looked for documentation proving this tie after the coup, not enough was found to convince even author's writing under CIA backing in the future. The coup started with an invasion of 480 men trained and armed by the CIA on June 18th, 1954. Backed with the support of a large amount of psychological warfare, using such tactics as having a radio station broadcasting anti-Árbenz propaganda under the guise of being legitimate news, and the bombing of Guatemala City. By June 27th the coup was successful and Árbenz resigned from office, eventually being replaced by the US-backed dictator General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes, and causing years of bloody civil war.[10]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
While the CIA claimed that the whole reason for staging the coup was because Guatemala was linked to the USSR, this doesn't quite pass the sniff test. Because of Árbenz's agrarian reform, the United Fruit Company was set to lose massive amounts of land and lose massive amounts of money from having to pay it's workers a fair wage. As a result, they lobbied heavily to convince the President that Guatemala was linked to the USSR and backed the CIA's plan. The Unite Fruit Company had many ties with the CIA during this time period, and used them to their advantage. It is because of ties like these with Big Business that makes me question the government whenever they claim to be doing something for a moral reason. While there are some people willing to accept what the government says at face value, especially among my generation, the Millennials, I always wonder who's really benefiting from these actions in the long term, especially when that group happens to have deep pockets and lobbyists.

Notable Births

  • Hugo Chávez (died 2013, aged 58): The President of Venezuela who leads them into communism and disaster. [11] [12]
  • Al Sharpton: Minister, political activist, presidential candidate and TV talk show host. (I hate him--alexshrugged) [11] [13]
  • Condoleezza Rice: National Security Advisor, and US Secretary of State. [11] [14]
  • Carly Fiorina: CEO of Hewlett-Packard and presidential candidate. [11] [15]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Howard Stern: Radio and TV personality. [11] [16]
  • -- Matt Groening: Creator of The Simpsons and Futurama. [11] [17]
  • -- Oprah Winfrey: Actress, producer and TV talk show host. [11] [18]
  • -- John Travolta: TV's Welcome Back, Kotter, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Pulp Fiction and more. [11] [19]
  • -- Ron Howard': Opie in The Andy Griffith Show, Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, and director for Cocoon, Apollo 13, and more. [11] [20]

This Year in Film

  • Godzilla: Premieres in Japan. Raymond Burr will be edited into the movie by 1955. [21]
  • Rear Window: An Alfred Hitchcock thriller starring Jimmy Stewart. (Still worth watching--alexshrugged) [21]
  • Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Starring James Mason. [21]

This Year in Music

  • Mr. Sandman: The Chordettes and theme music for "Back to the Future". [22]
  • Secret Love: Doris Day in the movie Calamity Jane. [22]
  • (Life Could Be a Dream) Sh-Boom: The Crew-Cuts. [22]

In Other News

  • Roger Bannister breaks the 4-minute mile. They said it was impossible, but once Bannister did it, it happened more often. [23]
  • J.R.R. Tolkien publishes The Lord of the Rings: It will appear in three volumes over the course of a year. (Fabulous work--alexshrugged) [24]
  • The TV Dinner is served as an inflight meal: The array of compartments are arranged in the shape of a TV. (You would have to see an old TV to understand how.) [24]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1954, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 536-537. “U. S. Supreme Court rules that segregation by color in public schools is a violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution” 
  2. Alex Shrugged notes: This segment began with a core narrative provided by user "Jefferson-franklin", who is unknown to me. I'm not sure if it is original, but I modified and expanded upon it.
  3. Jim Crow laws - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 February 2017. “Jim Crow laws—sometimes, as in Florida, part of state constitutions—mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated, as were federal workplaces, initiated in 1913 under President Woodrow Wilson. By requiring candidates to submit photos, his administration practiced racial discrimination in hiring.”
  4. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) - Bill of Rights Institute. billofrightsinstitute.org (2017). Retrieved on 16 February 2017. “Topeka, Kansas’ school system provided the perfect case because the school buildings, textbooks, materials and teacher salaries were virtually equal in black and white schools. Topeka’s Board of Education operated under an 1879 law, 'Schools in Unorganized Counties,' that permitted, but did not require, segregation. In 1951, thirteen parents sued on behalf of their twenty children. Oliver Brown, father of third-grader Linda Brown, became the named plaintiff. After making its way through the District Courts, the Brown case went to the Supreme Court.”
  5. Order of Argument in the Case, Brown v. Board of Education - National Archives. archives.gov (2017). Retrieved on 16 February 2017. “On the morning of December 8, Moore resumed his argument, followed by his colleague, J. Lindsay Almond, Virginia's Attorney General. According to some legal scholars, Marshall was so moved by Davis's forcefully condescending argument against the appellants, that Marshall concluded his rebuttal by stating that 'the only way that this court can decide this case in opposition to our position.is to find that for some reason, Negroes are inferior to all other human beings.'”
  6. Brown v. Board of Education. civilrights.org (2017). Retrieved on 16 February 2017. “On May 17, 1954, the Court unanimously ruled that 'separate but equal' public schools for blacks and whites were unconstitutional. The Brown case served as a catalyst for the modern civil rights movement, inspiring education reform everywhere and forming the legal means of challenging segregation in all areas of society.”
  7. Colored - definition of colored (2017). Retrieved on 16 February 2017. “Usage Note: As a racial label, colored can simply mean nonwhite, but in the United States it has generally been restricted to persons of African descent. Though once a preferred term among black Americans, it lost favor as the 20th century progressed, and its use today is usually taken to be offensive. · In South Africa, where it is spelled Coloured, it has generally been used to refer to persons of mixed racial descent as opposed to those of unmixed black African, Asian, or European origin. Its use as an official ethnic label ended when apartheid was dismantled in 1991. See Usage Note at person of color.”
  8. Condoleezza Rice - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 February 2017. “Rice grew up in the Titusville neighborhood of Birmingham, and then Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at a time when the South was racially segregated.”
  9. Hidden Figures - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 16 February 2017. “Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about female African-American mathematicians at NASA. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. The film also features Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson, with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell and Mahershala Ali in supporting roles.”
  10. 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état - Wikipedia (2017).
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 1954 Births - Wikipedia (2017).
  12. Hugo Chávez - Wikipedia (2017).
  13. Al Sharpton - Wikipedia (2017).
  14. Condoleezza Rice- Wikipedia (2017).
  15. Carly Fiorina - Wikipedia (2017).
  16. Howard Stern - Wikipedia (2017).
  17. Matt Groening - Wikipedia (2017).
  18. Oprah Winfrey- Wikipedia (2017).
  19. John Travolta- Wikipedia (2017).
  20. Ron Howard- Wikipedia (2017).
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 1954 in film - Wikipedia (2017).
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 1954 in music - Wikipedia (2017).
  23. Roger Bannister - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 23 June 2016. “In the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres but finished fourth. This strengthened his resolve to be the first 4-minute miler.[citation needed] He achieved this feat on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford, with Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher providing the pacing. When the announcer declared 'The time was three...', the cheers of the crowd drowned out Bannister's exact time, which was 3 min 59.4 sec.”
  24. 24.0 24.1 1954 - Wikipedia (2017).

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