Today in “Hidden” History

Today in “Hidden” History is a daily listing of important but little-known events illustrating the range of innovators, contributors, or incidents excluded from formal history lessons and common knowledge. Bookmark this page and check daily to quickly expand your knowledge. Suggest entries for Today in “Hidden” History by clicking the Contact Us link. Entries for May 14:

1888Architect and engineer Archibald Alphonso Alexander is born. He was an early African-American graduate of the University of Iowa and the first to graduate from the University of Iowa's College of Engineering. Through the firm he founded, A. A. Alexander, Inc. (later Alexander & Repass), Alexander spearheaded over 300 projects, including major bridge and highway design and construction projects, garnering multiple awards and honors for achievements in engineering and business. In 1954, Alexander was appointed Governor of the United States Virgin Islands by PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower. Learn more.
1913Clara Stanton Jones, the first African American and the first woman to serve as director of a major library system in America (the Detroit Public Library) and later the first African-American president of the American Library Association (ALA), is born. She heavily aided the ALA adoption of a "Resolution on Racism and Sexism Awareness" to encourage librarians to raise the awareness of library patrons and staff to problems of racism and sexism. President Jimmy Carter appointed Jones as Commissioner to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science. In 1984, Jones and Aileen Clarke Hernandez, former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), founded the black women's discussion group Black Women Stirring the Waters, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jones received the Trailblazer Award in 1990 from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, the highest award given by BCALA. Learn more.
1961On Mother's Day, May 14, 1961, the Greyhound bus carrying Freedom Riders arrived at the Anniston, Alabama, bus station shortly after 1:00 pm to a mob of 50 men armed with pipes, chains, and bats led by Ku Klux Klan leader William Chapel. The mob smashed windows, slashed tires, and dented the sides of the Riders' bus. Local police, aware of the mob in advance, did not arrive until after the assault was well underway. Police then pretended to escort the crippled bus to safety, but instead abandoned it at the Anniston city limits. Another armed white mob then surrounded and attacked the bus, while two highway patrolmen watched without intervening. When a member of the mob tossed a firebomb through a broken bus window, others in the mob attempted to trap the passengers inside the burning vehicle by barricading the door. The mob stepped back when the fuel tank began to explode. The Riders were able to escape the ensuing flames and smoke through the bus windows and main door, only to be attacked and beaten by the mob outside. After police finally dispersed their attackers, the Freedom Riders received limited medical care. They were soon evacuated from Anniston in a convoy organized by Birmingham Civil Rights leader, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Learn more.
1970In the evening, city and state police confront a group of students at Jackson State College (now Jackson State University) in Jackson, Mississippi, one of the largest historically Black colleges or universities (HCBU) in the United States. At roughly 12:05 am (on May 15), the police open fire on the crowd gathered in front of Alexander Hall, a women's dormitory, killing two students and injuring twelve. The gunfire lasted for 30 seconds and more than 460 shots were fired by a reported 40 state highway patrolmen, who used shotguns from 30 to 50 feet. Every window on the side of the building facing the street was shattered. In December 1970, a federal grand jury was discharged after it failed to produce an indictment or written findings in a five-month recess, despite having summoned about 40 state patrol men and 26 city police officers. The President's Commission on Campus Unrest investigated the event and concluded "that the 28-second fusillade from police officers was an unreasonable, unjustified overreaction.... A broad barrage of gunfire in response to reported and unconfirmed sniper fire is never warranted." The event, subsequently become known as the Jackson State Killings. Learn more.

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March 31: Transgender Day of Visibility

An “ally” opposes institutional or systemic injustice in every form, and supports and advocates for members of every community that suffer such injustice. Today and everyday we are in solidarity with transgender individuals against injustices they face.

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An Ally to Our Asian Neighbors

On Tuesday night (March 16, 2021) a man with a gun shot and killed eight people, including six young Asian women. According to the New York Times, Asian Americans were targeted in nearly 3,800 hate incidents in the past year. Words cannot fully express the senselessness of this violence, nor can they fully measure the amount of pain and suffering that will endure long after last night’s carnage. And that is why we say that words alone are simply not enough. read more

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Allies Exclusive: Children’s Book Reading

In a Ridgefield Allies video exclusive to celebrate Black History Month and to illustrate how parents can and should begin educating their children to be antiracist as early as possible, Ridgefield native Lily Robinson reads the children’s book Antiracist Baby, by Ibram X. Kendi. Ridgefield Allies urge parents to view this video with their children and to make this and similar children’s books regular volumes they read to and with their very young children. As the book explains, antiracist babies (and the toddlers, teens, and adults they grow into) are made through learning. Let us all take steps to advance such learning. For additional antiracism resources, including resources aimed at young children, please visit our Resources page.

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MLK Jr Actively Sought Out, Confronted, & Challenged Injustice and Complacency

He Pursued Justice As An End In Itself And As The Only True Healing

Today we commemorate the life, work, and meaning of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, too many in pop culture and in our community will celebrate a faux Dr. King, an ersatz posthumous version drained of his righteous moral power, erudite learned wisdom, and unyielding bravery, a domesticated Stuart Smalley-esque construction that does not challenge us to be more than simply superficially “nice” to one another. That is not the Dr King who existed nor to whom we owe so much. This artifice is as a blasphemy to Dr. King’s teachings and to the multitudes of lesser known and wholly unknown collaborators who worked and toiled with him over the two decades of his publicly-visible activism and in the over five decades since. Millions of black women and men, most without Dr. King’s immense oratorical and intellectual gifts, but who nonetheless took up the power and righteousness of their shared mission, and who still toil today, are insulted and demeaned by such impotent depictions. read more

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UPDATED TIME: Ridgefield’s MLK, Jr Celebration Marks 25th Anniversary Milestone — Live Stream Monday, Jan 18, 2021 @ 1 pm

Every year The Spirit of Dr. King Award is given to a Ridgefield resident for their outstanding commitment to community service and selflessness, as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. This year will be special, not only because it is it the 25th Anniversary of this event, but because, for the first time, it will all be done virtually and can be viewed LIVE on Monday, January 18. 2020, beginning at 1 pm on the Ridgefield Playhouse YouTube Channel, and will be available for replay viewing anytime thereafter.” read more

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What happens when you tell folks they’re racist?

(That wasn’t a rhetorical question.)

I take it as a good thing and as a measure of meaningful progress that white people absolutely lose their minds when someone suggests that they are racist.  After all, it wasn’t that long ago that a disturbingly large segment of America’s white citizens was unabashedly proud of their racist identity.  It was an explicit expression of their superiority, intellectually, culturally, economically and politically, over people of color.  In 1972 and 1976, George Wallace ran for president as a Democrat and won several state primaries each time.  This is the same man who passionately declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” read more

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3 Simple Steps

As an organization, Ridgefield Allies accepts that it cannot respond to every headline. Given the history of our country and the pace of current events, chasing headlines would divert our actions and our purpose into a meaningless blur. read more

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