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This Week in People’s History, June 6 . . .

Bullets don't stop March Against Fear. Strikers' play fills Madison Square Garden. Court rules for lunch-counter sit-in. Cesar Chavez gets started. CIA lawbreaking whitewashed. Environmental racism costs Shell Oil. Paul Robeson defies witch-hunters.

Civil rights activist James Meredith wincing in pain just after he was wounded by a sniper
Civil rights activist James Meredith wounded in a shotgun attack,

June 6, 1966.  Civil rights hero James Meredith is shot and wounded on the second day of a planned 3-week-long voting rights demonstration. Meredith had planned a 270-mile march from Memphis, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss., in an effort to encourage Mississippians to defy racist terror by registering to vote. 
The vicious attack on Meredith galvanized the civil rights community, with the result that hundreds of supporters of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and many others vowed to carry on with the demonstration while Meredith recovered. The greatly enlarged demonstration was called the March Against Fear. 
The tremendous outpouring of support and publicity resulted in a triumphant 3-week-long headline-grabbing event, during which more than four thousand people in communities along the march route registered to vote, many of them for the first time in their lives.…

June 7, 1913 (110 years ago).  25 thousand striking textile workers in Paterson, N.J., call for public support of their 14-week-old strike by renting Madison Square Garden for a standing-room-only re-enactment of the reasons for and history of the strike.
With a cast consisting of hundreds of strikers, The Pageant of the Paterson Strike was produced with the assistance of Big Bill Haywood, John Reed, Walter Lippman, Max Eastman and Mabel Dodge, with scenery painted by John Sloan.
The Pageant was a theatrical success, but the employers would not budge.  The strike was abandoned seven weeks later.…


June 8, 1953 (70 years ago).  In a case concerning a lunch-counter sit-in, the Supreme Court decides that a law prohibiting racial discrimination by a restaurant or similar public accommodation is constitutional and can be enforced, but the decision only applies to states and cities with anti-discrimination laws.….

June 9, 1952.   Cesar Chavez, who is at the time a 25-year-old agricultural worker and not an organizer, has his first meeting with community organizer Fred Ross, who had knocked on Chavez' door while canvasing in San Jose, Calif. As Chavez later recalled: "He started talking—and changed my life," "Fred did such a good job of explaining how poor people could build power that I could even taste it."

June 10, 1975.  The President's Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States releases its 312-page final report after a 6-month investigation. The report includes some previously undisclosed details of some CIA domestic spying, but it is widely criticized as a whitewash, in part because it never refers to domestic CIA activities as "illegal", but describes them as having "exceeded statutory authority." Years after its release, it was revealed that the report had been heavily edited by Dick Cheney, who had no role in its drafting. Among Cheney's many changes was an 86-page section on "CIA Assassination Plots," which was entirely omitted.…  

June 11, 2002.  After a hard fought 13-year campaign against the environmental racism of Shell Oil, the company agrees to pay every resident of Diamond, Louisiana, the cost of relocating to get away from Shell's dangerous and polluting refinery.…

June 12, 1956.  Paul Robeson appears before House Un-American Activities Committee in response to a subpeona. He tells them "You are the non-patriots and you are the un-Americans and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves."  The committee voted in favor of citing Robeson for contempt of Congress but the matter was quietly dropped before the whole House could vote on it. Listen to 11 minutes of Robeson's stirring testimony that day at

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