25, 50, and 75 years ago

December 11, 2023

December 14, 1998

CHICAGO — “My name is Randall Dale Adams. The state of Texas tried to kill me for a murder I did not commit,” Adams told a crowd of hundreds of opponents of the death penalty at Northwestern University Law School Nov. 14. “I was sentenced to death in 1977 and released in 1989.”

Twenty-seven others, all of whom had won their freedom after serving time on death row, joined Adams in reciting the facts about their situation.

The last was Sonia Jacobs, one of two women who spoke. She explained how she was convicted in 1976 by the state of Florida and won release in 1992 after her supporters discovered evidence that she was not guilty. However, when she finished her story, she did not sit down.

“Unfortunately, the proof that I and my companion, Jesse Tafero, were innocent came forward too late for him. The state of Florida executed him in 1990.”

December 14, 1973

BROOKSIDE, Ky. — “They ain’t going to scab this mine. They can close it down, but they ain’t going to scab it.” In this spirit the Brookside Women’s Club gathers every morning on the picket line outside the Eastover Mining Company here.

Last summer, the men voted to be represented by the United Mine Workers of America. But Eastover, owned by Duke Power Company, has refused to accept the contract terms. The Women’s Club, formed in the course of the strike, has played a crucial role in preventing Duke Power from breaking the strike. In October, the company brought in scabs.

The women decided they had to do something. They waited for the scabs to come out and then “we talked with them, and we fought with some of them,” explained Mary Widener. The experience was painful for some of the scabs, and no scab has dared cross the picket lines since.

December 13, 1948

One of the strongest resolutions in defense of civil rights ever enacted by a union body was unanimously adopted by the recent CIO national convention. This resolution calls for legislation abolishing racial discrimination and segregation in industry and the armed forces, and special laws to safeguard civil rights of minorities.

And it takes an unambiguous stand against the current government witch-hunt and purge of political minorities.

In its first session, the newly elected CIO National Executive Board stated that the “loyalty” purge and charges are based on “rumor, gossip, malice and ignorance,” that they uphold “theories of guilt by association wholly alien to our American principles,” and that accused persons are denied “the elementary requirements of due process and the most rudimentary protections afforded by our Constitution.”