Today in Labor History January 30

Today in Labor History January 30, 1836: Gustave Lefrancaise (1826-1901) was born. Lefrancais was a French revolutionary member of the First International. He participated in the Partis Commune and cofounded the anarchist Jura Federation.

Today in Labor History January 30, 1909: Organizer Saul Alinsky was born in Chicago, Illinois. He worked with the Industrial Areas Foundation, in Chicago, helping tenants fight their landlords. In 1972, he published “Rules for Radicals,” a guide for organizers and community activists. The first rule was: “Power is not only what you have, but what your enemy thinks you have.” Another rule was “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”


Today in Labor History January 30, 1930: The Politburo of the Communist Party of the USSR ordered a million prosperous peasant families off their farms. During the purges, arrests and deportations of the first five-year plan, as many as 600,000 people died from starvation, disease or murder.

Today in Labor History January 30, 1933: German President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor. Almost immediately, Hitler began his attacks on labor, with his Sturmabteilung (paramilitary) raiding and burning union offices and assassinating labor leaders, while the police looked on. In May, 1933, he created the German Labor Front, a fascist labor organization to replace the gutted unions. They sent many of the labor leaders to concentration camps and abolished collective bargaining and union elections.


Today in Labor History January 30, 1948: Nathuram Vinayak Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in his home. Gandhi was 78. Godse was a Hindu nationalist and former member of a right-wing Hindu paramilitary. Indians now celebrate this date as Martyrs’ Day.

Today in Labor History January 30, 1956: Klansmen bombed the home of Martin Luther King Jr in retaliation for the Montgomery bus boycott. No one died in the bombing. However, the explosion destroyed the King’s porch and blasted out windows. At the time of the bombing, King was giving a speech at the Montgomery Improvement Association at Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church. No one was ever indicted or convicted for the bombing. The authorities did indict King, and 80 other activists, for “interfering with business,” during the bus boycott and demonstrations.


Today in Labor History January 30, 1970: 20,000 people rioted in Manila. They were protesting the regime of U.S.-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos after his State of the Nation address. Over 2,000 attempted to storm the U.S. embassy chanting “Down with imperialism!” Riot police and soldiers beat protesters with truncheons and rifle butts. At least 50 people were hospitalized and at least six died. Riots continued throughout the year. They were part of the First Quarter Storm.

Today in Labor History January 30, 1972: Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland occurred when British soldiers gunned down 14 Roman Catholic civil-rights marchers in Derry. The victims were all unarmed and running away from the soldiers when they were shot. Many more were injured by shrapnel, rubber bullets or batons. The soldiers who killed them were members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, which had committed the Ballymurphy Massacre several months prior. Two days after Bloody Sunday, Paul McCartney recorded, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish.” It was one of the only songs banned by the BBC. John Lennon later recorded “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” In 1973, Black Sabbath recorded a song about the incident, “Sabbath Blood Sabbath.” And, of course, there is the 1983 U2 song, “Sunday Bloody Sunday.


January 30, 1992: Chicago gravediggers ended a 43-day strike.

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