August 20: This Day In History

prague spring

August 20, 2014 – Segment 1

Marc shares some of the events that happened on this day in history, including the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, which crushed the Prague Spring, the births of Connie Chung and H.P. Lovecraft, and the end of the Iran-Iraq war.


Today is

Feast of Asmá (Baha’i Faith)

Restoration of Independence Day, re-declaration of the independence of Estonia from the Soviet Union in 1991

World Mosquito Day (International) – Celebrating the discovery by Dr. Sir Ronald Ross linking female mosquitos with the transmitting of Malaria to humans

On this day

1000- Founding of the Hungarian state by Saint Stephen

1707 –The first Siege of Pensacola comes to end with the failure of the British to capture, Pensacola, Florida from the Spanish

1858 –Charles Darwin first publishes his theory of evolution through natural selection in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London

1866 –President Andrew Johnson signs Proclamation 157- Declaring That Peace, Order, Tranquility and Civil Authority Now Exists In and Throughout the Whole of The United States of America.

1882 –Tchaikovsky’s The Year 1812 Overture, better known as the 1812 Overture, debuts in Moscow, Russia.  Tchaikovsky was commissioned to compose the overture to celebrate the 70thAnniversary of Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812.

1910 –The Great Fire of 1910 occurs in northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana, burning roughly 3 million acres.

1914 –World War I: German forces occupy Brussels

1920 –First commercial radio station debuts in Detroit, Michigan

1939 –The National Negro Bowling Association was formed in Detroit, Michigan.

1940 –Leon Trotsky fatally wounded with an ice axe by MGB assassin Ramón Mercader.  Though he joined the Menshevik majority in 1903, the Russian revolutionary rejoined Lenin and the Bolsheviks after revolution began in Petrograd 1917.  Trotsky was a vital part of the new Soviet regime in Russia, negotiating peace with Germany in the role of Foreign Commissar; and rebuilding the Red Army as War Commissar and leading the Bolsheviks to victory against the White Army.  After the revolution a power struggle within the Soviet government found Trotsky at odds with Joseph Stalin for the role of Lenin’s right hand and heir apparent.  He was thwarted by Stalin and exiled in 1929.  In the years that followed Trotsky lived in Kazakhstan, Turkey, Norway and France before settling in Mexico in 1936.   He continued his criticism of Stalin’s leadership through writings and had intended to testify against NKVD activities as a witness before the Dies Committee of the US House of Representatives.  Trotsky died from his injuries on the 21stof August 1940.

1940 –British Prime Minister Winston Churchill makes the fourth of his famous wartime speeches while addressing Parliament two days after  the “Hardest Day” of August 18th;a day which saw some of the fiercest air battles ever fought in modern warfare above the skies of Britain. The speech contained the line “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”, which became a rallying cry of support and gratitude for the RAF and all members of the British armed forces throughout the remainder of World War II.

1955 –In Morocco, Berbers from Algeria raid to rural settlements and kill 77 French nationals.

1960 –Senegal breaks from the Mali Federation, declaring its independence

1964 –War on Poverty 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Economic Opportunity Act.  The Economic Opportunity act was the continuation of the Kennedy administration’s commitment to eradicating poverty and hunger throughout America.  The signing of the Economic Opportunity Act was central to Johnson’s plan for the emergence of a ‘Great Society’ in the U.S. The roughly $1billion Bill gave rise to programs such as Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America, Job Corps, Work Study and Adult Literacy programs.  As tensions rose in Southeast Asia and the U.S. entered into war in Vietnam, most of the money allocated to fund the programs of the EOA was diverted to the funding of the Vietnam War.

1968 –Soviet Union-dominated Warsaw Pact troops invade Czechoslovakia, crushing the Prague Spring.  The Prague Spring was a movement of reform in Czechoslovakia that was led by Alexander Dubcek, in an effort to bring greater social and economic autonomy to the people of Czechoslovakia.  The reforms included granting rural farmers the power to create their own collectives and control over agricultural cultivation and innovation; greater rights to bargain for trade unions and their members; and greater freedom for the press.  On the 20th of August, a military force made up of Eastern Bloc nation from the GDP, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia and rolled into the streets of Prague. Alexander Dubcek was arrested and sent to Moscow.  Upon his release back into Czechoslovakia, Dubcek ended all reform programs. He was removed from office in 1969.

1983 –The United Democratic Front is launched on this day in 1983. The United Democratic Front was an anti-apartheid group that incorporated many other anti-apartheid organizations and was founded after the establishment of a Tricameral Parliament in South Africa in accordance with the new South African Constitution, which was drawn up by the apartheid regime.  The Tricameral Parliament split the parliament into three chambers: a white chamber, a colored chamber and a chamber for Indians.  The whites held the majority of seats (178), followed by the mixed race ‘colored’ representatives (85) and finally the Indian population of South Africans (45).  The three quarters majority of Black South Africans were not allowed any representation within the South African parliament.  The group was committed to organization and representation of the black majority.  The first victory for the United Democratic Front occurred in 1984 where mass protest and boycott of the 1984 elections led to very low voter turnout amongst colored and Indian population in South Africa.  The group went on to embody over 600 anti-apartheid organizations and groups representing clerics, trade union leaders, educators, activists, civic leaders, youth and sports organizations.  The UDF also publically aligned its self with the then banned African National Congress (ANC).  Prominent members: Desmond Tutu, Rev, Allan Boesak, and Albertina Sisulu.

1988 –Iran-Iraq War: ceasefire is agreed after almost eight years of war.

1988 –Ballygawley bus bombing: Eight British Army soldiers are killed and 28 wounded when their bus is hit by a roadside bomb, planed by the Provisional IRA, in the second deadliest bombing against the British Army during the troubles in Northern Ireland. The soldiers who died in the bombing were: Jason Burfitt (19), Richard Greener (21), Mark Norsworthy (18), Jason Winter (19), Blair Bishop (19), Alexander Lewis (18) and Peter Bullock (21). The young men were returning from holiday as they travelled in an unmarked bus wearing civilian clothes, along the Omagh road in County Tyrone.  Shortly after the bombing the Provisional IRA claimed responsibility for the attack.

1991 –Dissolution of the Soviet Union, August Coup.   The August Putsch or August Coup, was a measure driven by hard lined communist within the Soviet government to remove Gorbachev from power following the New Union Treaty.  The treaty granted more power to individual satellite nations within the Soviet Union.  The coup lasted only two days before it was put down; but marked the beginning of the end of USSR.

1993 –After rounds of secret negotiations between representatives from Israel and Palestine, the Oslo Accords are signed in Norway, followed by a public ceremony in Washington DC the following month. The Accords laid out a gradual road to peace that would be revisited in five years’ time. However, five years after the Accords were signed neither side was able to come to a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the region.  Negotiations broke down further after the 2000 Camp David Summit, giving way to the beginning of the Second Intifada shortly after.

1998 –US launches cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical plant in Sudan in retaliation for the August 7 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania

2006 –Former AP photographer Joe Rosenthal, who took the iconic Iwo Jima flag-raising picture during World War II, died at age of 94. Born on the 9th October 1911, in Washington DC, Rosenthal developed an interest in photography as a young man whilst living with his brother in San Francisco.  At the start of World War II Rosenthal tried to enlist as a war photographer but was rejected due to his poor eyesight.  He was eventually assigned by the Associated Press to cover the war in the Pacific.  The photograph of the soldiers raising the American flag in Iwo Jima was a commercial success and became a national testament to the strength and resilience of the United States Marine Corps.  Rosenthal received the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for the Photograph and went on to work as a photographer for the San Francisco chronicle, where he remained until his retirement in 1981.  Joe Rosenthal was named an honorary Marine in 1996 and was posthumously awarded the Marine Corps Public Service Medal in 2006.

2008 –Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first African American woman elected to Congress from Ohio, dies.


1745 –Francis Asbury, English-born bishop of the American Methodist Episcopal Church

1841 –Maria Pool, writer

1881 –Edgar Guest, English-born American poet.

1890 –H.P. Lovecraft, American author and poet.

1901 –Salvatore Quasimodo, Italian Nobel Prize-winning poet, critic and translator

1908 –Kingsley Davis, American sociologist and demographer

1921 –Jaqueline Susann, novelist

1931 –Donald King, boxing promoter born in Cleveland Ohio.

1941 –William Herbert Gray III, former member of the US House of Representatives and former president and co-founder of the United Negro College Fund, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

1946 –Connie Chung, broadcast journalist

This day in Music

1926 – Trombonist Frank Rosolino was born on this day in Detroit Michigan

1927 –Jazz vocalist Joya Sherrill was born on this day in Bayonne, New Jersey.  Sherrill is known for her rendition of ‘I’m Beginning to See the Light’, with the Duke Ellington.

1931 –Jazz drummer Frank Capp, was born this day in Worcester, MA.

1931 –Paul Rabi, vocalist with The Platters was born on this day in 1931.  The Platters had a No.1 single in 1958 with ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’

1942 –Singer, songwriter, producer and actor Isaac Hayes was born on this day in Covington, Tennessee.

1946 – Ralf Hutter, lead singer of the groundbreaking electronic music band Kraftwerk, was born on this day in Krefeld, Germany.

1948 –Robert Plant, singer, songwriter, producer, musician and lead vocalist of Led Zeppelin was born on this day in West Bromwich, England.

1949 –Phil Lynott, Irish singer, songwriter, bass player with the band Thin Lizzy (‘Whiskey in the Jar’, and ‘Boys are Back in Town’) celebrates his birthday today.

1966 –Temptations release single ‘Beauty is Only Skin Deep’.

Sources: The People HistoryThis Day in Labor HistoryWikipedia List of Historical AnniversariesThis Day in Women’s HistoryThis Day in African History;History.comHistory OrbYenobaSelected Black FactsPhil Konstantin’s North American Indian History; and This Day in Music