John’s Believe It Or Not… June 21st

In 1996 – National Aboriginal Day is proclaimed. In 1788 U.S. Constitution ratified. In 1963 French withdraw Navy from NATO. In 1964 The KKK kills three civil rights activists. In 1965 Mr. Tambourine Man is released.

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John Fioravanti is standing in front of the blackboard in his classroom.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did you know…

* 1996 – National Aboriginal Day is proclaimed. (On June 13, 1996, Canada’s Governor General RomĂ©o LeBlanc proclaimed June 21 as National Aboriginal Day after consulting with various aboriginal groups.
“Many cities in Canada are less than a hundred years old. But aboriginal people have lived in this land for more than a hundred centuries,” said LeBlanc at Rideau Hall.

“From coast to coast and in the Arctic, they first explored our lakes and rivers, they first mastered our forests and prairies, and they helped those who came later to join them.”

June 21 was chosen because of the summer solstice, the first day of summer and longest day of the year. Many Aboriginal groups mark the date as a time to celebrate their heritage.

“On June 21st, this year and every year, Canada will honor the native peoples who first brought humanity to this great land,” said Leblanc. “And may the first peoples of our past always be full and proud partners in our future.”

NAD is a day for all Canadians to celebrate the cultures and contributions to Canada of First Nations, Inuit and MĂ©tis peoples.)

National Aboriginal Day logo
(www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca)

* 1788 U.S. Constitution ratified. (New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.

By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority over foreign and domestic commerce. Congress endorsed a plan to draft a new constitution, and on May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.

On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world.)

Photo of the original Constitution
(MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences)

* 1963 French withdraw Navy from NATO. (The French government shocks its allies by announcing that it is withdrawing its navy from the North Atlantic fleet of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The French action was viewed in the West as evidence that France would be pursuing an independent policy regarding its nuclear arsenal.

In the months prior to the French action, the United States had been pushing its NATO allies to accept a plan whereby the NATO North Atlantic fleet would be armed with Polaris nuclear missiles. The ships would have crews made up of personnel from various NATO nations. This plan, however, conflicted with a French plan to base much of their nation’s nuclear arsenal in their navy. Obviously, France wished to maintain absolute control over its ships to carry out this program. Thus, French President Charles de Gaulle’s government issued a brief statement indicating that the French ships in the NATO North Atlantic fleet were being withdrawn.

Many NATO members expressed surprise over the French action. In the United States, surprise was also mixed with dismay and no small degree of anger. The French announcement came just as President John F. Kennedy was preparing to go to Europe for a series of talks with America’s allies. Privately, some Kennedy advisors were quite vocal in condemning de Gaulle’s highly nationalistic independence in moving away from his nation’s NATO commitments, thereby threatening the security of France’s European allies. And, although the French withdrawal from the NATO North Atlantic fleet did not drastically affect the fleet’s military effectiveness, the United States worried that France’s action might set a disturbing precedent. NATO was still considered by U.S. officials as the first line of defense against communist aggression in Europe, and France’s “defection” was distressing. Kennedy, during his European sojourn, attempted to persuade the French to rethink their position, but de Gaulle stood firm in his decision. America’s fears were unrealized, however, as no other nations followed France’s example. French naval forces never rejoined the NATO fleet.)

French aircraft carrier Foch (R99)
French aircraft carrier Foch (R99) (Wikipedia)

* 1964 The KKK kills three civil rights activists. (Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney are killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob near Meridian, Mississippi. The three young civil rights workers were working to register black voters in Mississippi, thus inspiring the ire of the local Klan. The deaths of Schwerner and Goodman, white Northerners and members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), caused a national outrage.

When the desegregation movement encountered resistance in the early 1960s, CORE set up an interracial team to ride buses into the Deep South to help protest. These so-called Freedom Riders were viciously attacked in May 1961 when the first two buses arrived in Alabama. One bus was firebombed; the other boarded by KKK members who beat the activists inside. The Alabama police provided no protection.

Still, the Freedom Riders were not dissuaded and they continued to come into Alabama and Mississippi. Michael Schwerner was a particularly dedicated activist who lived in Mississippi while he assisted blacks to vote. Sam Bowers, the local Klan’s Imperial Wizard, decided that Schwerner was a bad influence, and had to be killed.

When Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney, a young black man, were coming back from a trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi, deputy sheriff Cecil Price, who was also a Klan member, pulled them over for speeding. He then held them in custody while other KKK members prepared for their murder. Eventually released, the three activists were later chased down in their car and cornered in a secluded spot in the woods where they were shot and then buried in graves that had been prepared in advance.

When news of their disappearance got out, the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. With the help of an informant, agents learned about the Klan’s involvement and found the bodies. Since Mississippi refused to prosecute the assailants in state court, the federal government charged 18 men with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney.

Bowers, Price, and five other men were convicted; eight were acquitted, and the all-white jury deadlocked on the other three defendants. On the forty-first anniversary of the three murders, June 21, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter. The 80-year-old Killen, known as an outspoken white supremacist and part-time Baptist minister, was sentenced to 60 years in prison.)

Pictures of the three KKK victims
(SlideShare)

* 1965 Mr. Tambourine Man is released, and the folk-rock revolution is on. (Released on this day in 1965, the Byrds’ debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man, marked the beginning of the folk-rock revolution. In just a few months, the Byrds had become a household name, with a #1 single and a smash-hit album that married the ringing guitars and backbeat of the British Invasion with the harmonies and lyrical depth of folk to create an entirely new sound.

Perhaps someone else could have listened to the bright guitar lines of the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride” and to Bob Dylan’s original “Mr. Tambourine Man” and had the idea of somehow combining the two, but neither of those recordings existed when the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn devised his group’s new sound. Newly signed to Columbia Records, the Byrds had access to an early demo version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” even before their label-mate Bob Dylan had had a chance to record it for his own upcoming album. On January 20, 1965, they entered the studio to record what would become the title track of their debut album and, incidentally, the only Bob Dylan song ever to reach #1 on the U.S. pop charts. Aiming consciously for a vocal style in between Dylan’s and Lennon’s, McGuinn sang lead, with Gene Clark and David Crosby providing the complex harmony that would, along with McGuinn’s jangly electric 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, form the basis of the Byrds’ trademark sound.

That sound, which would influence countless groups from Big Star to the Bangles in decades to come, had an immediate and profound impact on the Byrds’ contemporaries, and even on the artists who’d inspired it in the first place. “Wow, man, you can even dance to that!” was Bob Dylan’s reaction to hearing what the Byrds’ had done with “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Just days before the hugely influential album of the same name was released to the public on June 21, 1965, Dylan himself would be in a New York recording studio with an electric guitar in his hands, putting the finishing touches on “Like A Rolling Stone” and setting the stage for his controversial “Dylan goes electric” performance at the Newport Folk Festival just one month later.)

The Byrds: Roger McGuinn and David Crosby in the studio recording 'Mr. Tambourine
The Byrds: Roger McGuinn and David Crosby in the studio recording ‘Mr. Tambourine (Pinterest)

Today’s Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology  http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php

* This Day In History – What Happened Today   http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/

 

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

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