In 1913, sixteen to eighteen percent of all women over fourteen in and around Barcelona worked in textile factories and related industries. Spinning and weaving workshops usually employed fewer than 40 women and these women worked eleven to twelve hour days. In contrast, male workers usually worked only ten-hour days. Male wages varied between 3 and 3.75 pesetas while female wages were between 1.75 and 2.50 pesetas, with few women earning over 2. Some women worked from the home, manufacturing corsets, paper boxes, shoes, and garments for employers who provided them with piecework.
The mass demonstrations of 1963 in Durham were the culmination of a local black freedom movement that had slowly gained momentum over the preceding years. Durham had been the site of a thwarted sit-in at the Royal Ice Cream Parlor in 1957, limited desegregation of schools, and the long-standing lunch-counter sit-ins in 1960 (see “Durham students sit-in for U.S. Civil Rights, 1960”). Throughout the next few years, civil rights activists continued to attack segregation in theaters, schools, motels, and restaurants as well as demand increased employment opportunities for blacks.
Brazilian Rubber Tappers campaign to protest the deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest region, 1977-1988
For centuries, those who made a living by extracting and collecting rubber from rubber trees had been virtual slaves to the powerful rubber barons who controlled the Amazon region. Attempts were made in the 1960s to unionize these workers, called “rubber tappers;” however, these attempts failed. The 1970s marked a shift in the dynamics of the extraction of resources from the Amazon. Ranchers from Southern Brazil began to buy up huge tracts of land in order to clear them for cattle grazing land.
Maxxam, a logging company run by CEO Charles Hurwitz, took over Pacific Lumber Company in 1986. Hurwitz doubled the rate of logging in Northern California forests, including Headwaters forest, an old-growth redwood forest in Humboldt County, California. Environmental activists were outraged and began to organize to protect the Headwaters forest. Several rabbis realized that Hurwitz was Jewish, and decided that they might be able to use Jewish theology to persuade him to change his mind and protect the forests.
Early on in the Second World War, Bulgaria was a member of the Axis powers, having signed the Tripartite Pact on March 1, 1941. However, Bulgaria was not emotionally attached to the ideals of the major Axis powers. They simply signed on because they desired - and were guaranteed by Germany - the nearby territories of Thrace and Macedonia, which they had lost after their defeat in World War One. As a result, though Hitler was certainly a persuasive influence on Bulgaria’s foreign and domestic policy, he was not quite dictating every action taken by Bulgaria’s ruler, Tzar Boris III.
Famous for its ecological wildlife, tropical rainforests, beaches, mangroves, and coral reefs, the Talamanca region of southeastern Costa Rica is one of the most biologically rich areas in the world. It has gained protection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ecological conservation efforts have helped spur the region’s flourishing eco-tourism industry. In addition to fishing, coffee, and banana exports, eco-tourism is a major source of income for local communities and indigenous groups, which include the Bribri and Cabecar.
Working conditions and wage levels in England in the early 19th century generally made laborers unable to support themselves and their families. According to the estimates of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum, the average laborer needed about fourteen shillings a week in order to pay his rent and purchase enough food for his family. Wages of nine or ten shillings “reduced families to starvation levels” unless wives or children were able to work as well. In the 1830s, however, the rate of pay for laborers in Tolpuddle, in Dorset County, England, was seven shillings a week.
For much of the nineteenth century, Finland was under Russian rule. This began in 1809 when Finland was made part of the Russian Empire. As part of the Russian Empire, Finland was autonomous in domestic policy but not foreign policy. Finland was allowed to create its own laws through its parliament, but Russian tsars controlled Finland and decided Finnish foreign affairs. Finns generally had no problem with this situation because the Russian government did not interfere with internal affairs.
In 1954, a young military officer, Alfredo Stroessner, organized a military coup and overthrew Paraguayan President Federico Chávez. A devoted anti-communist, Stroessner declared a state of siege and suspended constitutional freedoms for the entirety of his 35-year rule. Throughout Stroessner’s last two decades in power, indigenous people organized widely to oppose the negative effects that his massive development projects were having on their communities.
In the French Island of La Réunion located in the Indian Ocean, 52% of the inhabitants lived under the poverty line, 50% of the youth were underemployed and there was a 25% unemployment rate at the time of this campaign. This had been the situation for decades, but the recent increase in unemployment and inflation (which affected La Reunion in a greater way than it affected France) made life increasingly expensive in La Réunion.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the political atmosphere in Kenya was characterized by brutal government repression and terror. Under the single-party rule of President Daniel arap Moi, any form of political dissension was swiftly met with government interrogation, detention, and torture. Many students, journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates were among those imprisoned for perceived anti-government statements, ideas, and actions.
Russia first occupied Lithuania and introduced a program of “Russification,” an attempt to eliminate Lithuanian language and culture in favor of Russian culture, in the mid-19th century. After 22 years of independence from Russia, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 reintroduced the Soviet Union’s dominance over Lithuania—as well as the other Baltic states: Estonia and Latvia. The Soviet Union publicly stated that Lithuania had joined the USSR willingly, although secret protocols of the pact disputed this. Following World War II, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania.
In reaction to the continuing apartheid in South Africa, many colleges and universities in the United States divested from South Africa, meaning that they removed the holdings they had from companies which operated there. Apartheid separated blacks and whites; the whites, however, had a monopoly on power and had much higher living standards. Divestment was viewed as a way to put pressure on the South African government to end apartheid by hurting them economically.
On July 19, 1979, the Nicaraguan revolution succeeded in overthrowing one of Latin America’s most long-lasting dictatorships: the Somoza dynasty. Leading the popular uprising was the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) – a leftist revolutionary movement that had been fighting against the Somoza government for the previous 19 years. Throughout Latin America, the Sandinista Revolution brought cheers and euphoria. The early years of the revolutionary government brought dramatic improvements in the lives of poor Nicaraguans.
After only three years in office, the president of Suriname Jules Wijdenbosch became the target of harsh criticism and dissatisfaction because of his government’s management of the economy and domestic affairs. In 1998, the Dutch government had decided to stop aid to Suriname amid drug and financial mismanagement scandals, which increased the economic crisis. In May 1999, the struggling national economy reached a new low when its currency plummeted in value, from 800 guilders to the dollar to 2,000, and inflation was at 70%, inciting civil unrest and nationwide protests.
The Asturian strikes that occurred in the summer of 1963 were the second major challenge to the Franco dictatorship over the span of one year. The first challenge had occurred in the spring of 1962 (see “Spanish coal miners challenge Franco dictatorship, 1962”). As with the strikes in 1962, the 1963 strikes began in the privately owned mines of Asturias during the last week of July 1963. In total, the miners’ executed their strike for 60 days, finally stopping the strike at the end of September. By the end about 40,000 to 50,000 workers had participated in the campaign.
“This is how every worker feels it: with varying degrees of clarity they feel themselves living at a moment that could be decisive for their class, a moment in which all can be staked, everything risked, and perhaps everything lost.
The 13 English colonies in North America were established and grew during the 17th and 18th centuries. During most of this time, the colonists lived under what historians have termed “salutary neglect,” meaning that the English government mostly left them alone and the colonies prospered under these conditions.
In February of 1999, members of the Progressive Activist Network (PAN) at Penn joined with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) chapters at other Ivy League universities in an anti-sweatshop campaign by sending a joint letter to their university presidents. The letter requested a response by March 8, 1999, from University President Judith Rodin and seven other Ivy League university presidents, (excluding Dartmouth’s,) to four demands regarding the possible use of sweatshops in school-insignia apparel production.
In response to other universities’ anti-sweatshop protests, students at the University of Michigan formed SOLE, Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality. Their goal was for the University of Michigan to require companies that made clothing for the school to disclose where their factories were located. Once this information was available, outside independent organizations could make sure that the factories were not sweatshops.
Following the collapse of French colonial administration in Vietnam in 1954, the country was temporarily divided, with Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam in North Vietnam, and Emperor Bao Dai's State of Vietnam in the South. The Geneva Conference peace agreement ending the French Indo-China war included a provision for nationwide elections in 1956. Soon after the country was divided, Ngo Dinh Diem had proclaimed himself president of South Vietnam by means of a fraudulent election.
African American residents of Chester, PA, demonstrate to end de facto segregation in public schools, 1963-1966
In November 1963, African American parents in the small city of Chester, PA organized and demanded better conditions at their local elementary school, Franklin School. They picketed the school and blocked its doors, successfully shutting it down for several days. The protesters also staged sit-ins in the City Hall, municipal building, and the Board of Education's offices. After several weeks of protest, the campaign grew to encompass desegregation efforts of 10 of Chester's public elementary and middle schools.
In the 1950s, St. Louis, Missouri was a thriving city. However, African-Americans residents were forced to take low-skill jobs, sit in segregated theaters, and were refused service at downtown restaurants, cafeterias, and lunch counters. In 1947, The St. Louis chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a national group that aimed to practice the tactics of nonviolence against the oppressive forces of segregation, was formed.
The University of Oregon is a large state university with a student body population of approximately 23,000 students, located in Eugene, Oregon. The school has a strong athletic legacy and Phil Knight, the founder of Nike Inc., is an alumnus and significant benefactor of the school.
Madison Wisconsin was one of the first communities in the United States to recognize apartheid in South Africa as a serious and international issue that could potentially be addressed in part through American activism and solidarity. The University of Wisconsin-Madison was a focal point for this activism, due to the dedication and engagement of its students and professors.