In 1890 the US Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. It was followed up by other actions during the Teddy Roosevelt administration to try and curb the power of corporate monopolies. I experienced part of those efforts when I worked for US West Communications, which was the Yellow Pages outfit that resulted from the break up of AT&T – “Ma Bell” in the 1980s. The temp employees – I was one – were instructed when we started our assignment that we could not give callers the number for the phone service portion of the company since that would be preferential treatment and violate the breakup agreement. We had to direct them to consult their phone book (remember those days?) to see who their service provider was and the number they needed to call. There were multiple entities for Bell depending on the region of the country and we were just one – I was in Phoenix at the time. Our office handled Yellow Pages advertising but we would still get calls from people having problems with phone service
There was a possible strike by the Communications Workers of America union which would have prevented me from working (I would not cross the picket line), but it got resolved while I was there). That was a big difference between Roosevelt and the Wilson administration. Part of it stemmed from the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and general unrest among workers, but President Wilson had a decidedly anti-labor stance and with the help of new FBI director J Edgar Hoover, launched the first Red Scare – more about that in later posts. That and other tendencies has led to the more recent renaming of Wilson entities – including the high school my sisters attended in Portland.
Two other notable events on this date involve civil rights legislation and Mexican politics. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President LBJ on this date Its main intent was to prohibit segregation in public accommodations – like no more ‘”whites only” signs on public toilets, etc. It is hard for me to imagine that our country once did that – especially in the South. I have only come to realize how prevalent was the discrimination that took place up here in the Pacific Northwest. The South had slavery, but that didn’t mean Yankees believed in equality of the races. One of the worst places for a reaction against busing was in Boston.
There were two very notable birthdays on this date in the arena of civil rights. Thurgood Marshall (1908) was the lawyer who as US Solicitor General argued the government’s case in Brown v Board of Education of Topeka Kansas, that in 1954 overturned the principle of “separate but equal” that had stood for over 50 years. It did not immediately change the landscape of education, but it started the ball rolling and gave energy to the efforts of those desiring to see equal racial opportunity in education. Marshall went on the be appointed to the US Supreme Court and served with distinction.
Medgar Evers (1925) served his country in the US Army in World War II and then applied to the University of Mississippi law school as a test case for the NAACP to see if the Brown decision could be applied to colleges. He was denied admission, yet was involved in further activism on behalf of the NAACP. He was murdered by a member of the White Citizens Council of Mississippi – a sanitized version of the Klan – right outside his home. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, the same place my uncle Phil is buried. His widow continued his efforts and his work inspired millions to work hard to ensure civil rights for all.
In 2000 70 years of one-party rule ended. Vincente Fox, the candidate of the Partido Accion National, was elected as president of Mexico. He was the first president since 1929 not to be from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)and the first elected from an opposition party since Francisco Madero in 1911 – beginning the Mexican Revolution. The overthrown dictator/president Porfirio Diaz also died on this date in 1915 in exile. And later the noted Holocaust survivor, activist, and author Elie Wiesel died in 2016.