Montgomery, Alabama - Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, on a Montgomery city bus. The bus driver told Rosa Parks to give up her seat. By law, black people were required to give up their seat, when ordered.
Parks decided not to obey. This was 100 days after Emmett Till was murdered. Parks said ... I thought of Emmett Till, and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back (of the bus), I just couldn't move.
The white bus driver called the local police. Parks was arrested and booked, by the Montgomery Police.
This event launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
New York, New York - With respect to the chickens coming home to roost, Malcolm X’s full statement was never published. On December 1st, 1963, Malcolm X responded to an audience member. The talk was titled, 'God’s Judgment of White America.'
The next day the New York Times printed an article titled 'Malcolm X Scores U.S. and Kennedy'. Malcolm X was quoted, 'Kennedy twiddled his thumbs at the killing of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu' in the article.
The article added that Malcolm X said, JFK 'never foresaw that the chickens would come to roost so soon.' JFK had been murdered 9 days before, on November 22nd, 1963.
Chicago, Illinois - Fred Hampton was ambushed and murdered by the Chicago Police. The evening before, Wednesday, December 3rd, Fred Hampton taught a political education course. It was at a local church. Members of the Black Panther Party attended.
Several Black Panthers went to his Monroe Street apartment to spend the night. This was routine after these courses.
Besides Hampton, the group included Deborah Johnson, Blair Anderson, James Grady, Ronald 'Doc' Satchell, Harold Bell, Verlina Brewer, Louis Truelock, Brenda Harris, and Mark Clark.
There they met William O'Neal. A late dinner was ready, prepared by O'Neal. The group ate around midnight.
O'Neal slipped drugs into Hampton's drink. It was the barbiturate sleep agent secobarbitol. Hampton consumed the drink during the dinner.
The drug sedated Hampton. It kept him asleep, during the subsequent raid. O'Neal left at this point.
At about 1:30 a.m., December 4th, Hampton fell asleep, mid-sentence. He was on the telephone, with his mother.
At 4:00 a.m., a heavily armed tactical unit, of white males, arrived from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. They were joined by the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
At 4:45 a.m., the tactical unit and Chicago Police shot first. They shot 90 times into Hampton's apartment. Only Mark Clark fired a shot, after being shot first.
Hampton survived the barrage. But, the Chicago Police executed him. A point-blank shot was fired, that killed Hampton.
This was part of the FBI's Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
William O'Neal committed suicide on January 15th, 1990 (Martin Luther King Day). O'Neal ran into oncoming traffic on a Chicago expressway. An automobile hit and killed O'Neal.
Montgomery, Alabama - The Montgomery Bus Boycott began days after the arrest of Rosa Parks. Parks was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes. Parks was found guilty and fined $10, and $4 in court costs.
Parks appealed her conviction. It formally challenged the legality of racial segregation.
On December 1st, the evening of Parks' arrest, the Women's Political Council (WPC) handed out leaflets. It announced the start of the boycott, on Monday, December 5th.
On Saturday, December 3rd, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) made a list of demands to be met. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the MIA.
On December 7th, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) called the boycott an 'agitation among negroes.' The FBI tried to find 'derogatory information' to discredit King.
Washington, D. C. - The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. This officially ended the legal protection for chattel slavery.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Los Angeles, California - Sam Cooke was shot to death. Cooke wrote and sang 'A Change Is Gonna Come' among many other popular songs. His friends included Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and Jim Brown (football).
Cooke was respected for his activism for Black Rights (see Civil Rights). He refused to perform at segregated events.
Mrs. Bertha Franklin shot Cooke in the chest. It pierced Cooke's heart and killed him. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) quickly ruled the murder a 'justifiable homicide.'
Mrs. Franklin was never charged with Cooke's murder.
Washington, D. C. - The United States government decided to criminally prosecute cases of slavery. This included debt peonage, and other forms of involuntary servitude. This did not include imprisonment.
White prosecutors avoided slavery cases. Too often, a case was dropped because the prosecutor declined to prosecute. Before this circular, no one was ever convicted for the enslavement of black Americans.
New Canton, Virginia - Carter G. Woodson was born to Anne Eliza (Riddle) and James Henry Woodson. Both his parents were born into slavery. Woodson was an American historian, author, and journalist.
Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study the history of the African diaspora. His work in American history recognized black Americans as more than subjects of white supremacy.
In 1926, Woodson created Negro History Week. It preceded Black History Month.
Montgomery, Alabama - The Montgomery Bus Boycott ended, after 1 year and 2 weeks. Martin Luther King, Jr. read a prepared statement. It was read before 2,500 people, at Holt Street and First Baptist Churches.
King urged 'the Negro citizens of Montgomery to return to the buses tomorrow morning on a non-segregated basis.' As to a question from the audience about segregated benches downtown, King acknowledged that the Supreme Court ruling applied only to city buses.
A Birmingham News account reported that King said 'it is true we got more out of this (boycott) than we went in for. We started out to get modified segregation (on buses) but we got total integration.'
At 6:00 a.m., December 21st, 1956, King joined E. D. Nixon, Ralph Abernathy, and Glenn Smiley on one of the first integrated buses. There were only a few instances of verbal abuse and occasional violence.
The Montgomery Advertiser reported, 'The calm but cautious acceptance of this significant change in Montgomery’s way of life came without any major disturbances.'
Pulaski, Tennessee - The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was formed. 6 former Confederate officers, Frank McCord, Richard Reed, John Lester, John Kennedy, J. Calvin Jones and James Crowe, were its first members.
The KKK was the most violent and racist terrorist organization, in United States history. It was created to harass and terrorize black Americans.
The violence of the KKK led the United States government to pass the Enforcement Acts. These 3 Acts, passed in 1870 and 1871, made the actions of the KKK illegal.
The Enforcement Acts led to a gradual decline in KKK activity.
President Woodrow Wilson, and the movie 'The Birth of A Nation' (1915), led to a rebirth of the KKK in 1915. This era of the second KKK, was when it was the largest and most powerful. In the 21st Century, the KKK is almost non-existent.
Mims, Florida - Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette V. S. Moore were killed the night of December 25th, 1951. A bomb exploded under the bedroom floor of the Moores' home in Mims, Florida.
The couple were equal pay and voting rights activists for black Americans. They were early organizers for Black Rights in Florida, after World War 2.
4 white male KKK members were suspected of the murder. Yet, none were indicted, charged, nor arrested.
Charleston, South Carolina - It was cold and windy for the men of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, this Christmas day. Many were in a sour mood. They were in combat. They missed their families, friends, and sweethearts.
Encamped on Morris Island, on the outskirts of Charleston, the men watched the Union shelling of the besieged city.
Our rifles had sounded their fearful Christmas chimes by throwing shells into the city for three hours after one o'clock that morning, recalled Capt. Luis F. Emilio. He added, 'About 3 a.m. a fire broke out in Charleston which illumined the whole sky and destroyed twelve buildings before it was subdued, the falling walls injuring many firemen.'
Emilio, a white Salem, Mass., native, who had just turned 19 three days earlier, had been the acting commander of the regiment for some time following the famed attack on Fort Wagner that July.
From storming the fort on July 18th, Col. Robert Gould Shaw was killed, the regiment's first commander. Two Berkshire County men were killed in the failed attack. One was Henry Burghardt, of Lee. The other was Pittsfield native Eli Franklin. Burghardt was killed in action. Franklin died from his battle wounds, two (2) days later.
In September, Edward Needles Hallowell became the new commander of the 54th. Hallowell was wounded during the Fort Wagner battle, as Shaw's second in command.
That same month, the Confederates abandoned Fort Wagner. That helped open the way for the siege of Charleston.
For months after the attack, the soldiers' spirits were high. They knew they had proved their valor. It showed the fighting ability of all their black brothers. Yet, by Christmas, after months of seeing no real action, they were feeling low.
'The whole face of nature now presents a drear and gloomy appearance, and the thousands who a month or two ago were full of hope and expectation have gradually come down to that frame of mind so well adapted to wait till something turns up,' commented Cpl. James Henry Gooding, a black soldier from the 54th, in a December 1863 letter to the New Bedford (Conn.) Mercury.
The entire month, both the weather and the men's spirits, had been overcast and dreary. There was the shooting of a white deserter from a New Hampshire regiment. The men were required to watch. The same month there was an explosion. It killed several soldiers.
The Confederates steadily attacked the Union. But, it was unusual for a shell to make it into the Union fortifications. This time, a magazine was being repaired by engineers. That made it vulnerable. The shell fell among munitions that went off. Four (4) were killed. Eleven (11) were seriously wounded, according to Gooding.
Added to these events were the continued problems with the men's pay.
The enlisted men of the 54th and its brother regiment, the 55th, fought to get the $13 a month they were due. Government paymasters, cited an 1862 law. They would only pay $7.
Christmas was a subdued affair. For Thanksgiving, the men attended a rousing church service and enjoyed a festive meal. It was followed by an afternoon filled with games. There were sack races and money for the first man to make it to the top of a greased pole.
In contrast, the highlight of Christmas Day was the arrival of letters from home.