On this day in history, Wilson Pickett released “In the Midnight Hour,” the Scopes Monkey Trial began, and London scientists traced human roots back to Africa.
This Day in History transcript included below.
Wilson Pickett – In the Midnight Hour
That’s “In the Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett, released on this day in 1965. This soul standard was actually composed by Wilson Pickett and Steve Cropper in Memphis during a stay at the Lorraine Motel, the same place where Martin Luther King, Jr. would be murdered 3 years after its release.
Nine hundred Creek Indians from the Eneah Emathla Band were captured by the US Army today in 1836. They were put in chains and shipped west to Oklahoma, then to Indian territory, where many tribes were forced to move from their homelands. But a little background is in order. The Creeks, part of the five civilized tribes, had fought for the British during the Revolutionary War. As a result, they lost their land in Eastern Georgia. In the War of 1812, part of the Creek Nation fought with Americans against the British, but the others who were known as the Red Sticks, fought not England but the Americans for their land. So the loyal Creeks were rewarded with the US taking their lands and forcing them to move to Oklahoma on what became known as the Trail of Tears. The Red Sticks were brutally annihilated — men, women and children. When the remaining Creeks in Alabama heard that their brother nation the Seminoles were fighting the Americans, they stood up to fight, but they lost what is known as the Second Creek War of Alabama. And those that survived were forced to march to Oklahoma.
What was popularly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial began today in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925. John Scopes was a substitute teacher who was arrested and put on trial for teaching evolution. Just a year earlier, as state representative John Washington Butler passed a law outlawing the teaching of evolution and requiring schools to tell the story of the divine creation of man as told in the Bible. That law was called the Butler Act. The ACLU said they would defend any teachers arrested for teaching evolution. The world’s eyes were glued to the Scopes trial as two of America’s celebrity lawyers tried the case: three time populist Presidential Candidate William Jennings Bryan spoke for the prosecution and the famous Clarence Darrow for the defense. It was science versus fundamentalist religion, public education versus the church … and Scopes was convicted, given a $100 fine. But, it was overturned on a technicality …
Funnily enough, it was on this day in 1997 that scientists in London announced the findings of a DNA test conducted on a Neanderthal skeleton. That study gave evidence for the theory that all human life originated from Africa, from an “African Eve” 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
And we celebrate the birthday of “The First Lady of the Struggle,” educator and civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune, who was born today in Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875. She founded the Bethune-Cookman College and the National Council of Negro Women. Bethune-Cookman College began as a private school for African American girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. She had the ear of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a member of his Black Cabinet. Nearly 100 years after she was born, she was honored in a national monument on the grounds of the Capitol in Washington, DC.
Here’s a song for your July the 10th. The great singer Billie Holliday showed up with her orchestra for a recording session in Brunswick. Her producer, Bernie Hanighen, suggested she make a blues track. The result was this song, Billie’s Blues, which was released today in 1936.
Billie Holiday – Billie’s Blues
To continue your exploration of this day in history, take a look at some of our favorite sources: Charles H. Wright Museum: Today in Black History; African American Registry; BlackPast; NYTimes on this Day; EyewitnessToHistory.com; The Civil War Trust; Voices in Labor: Today in Labor History; Union Communication Services at The Worker Institute: Today in Labor History; BBC On This Day; The Holocaust History Project; PBS African American World; PBS; Today in Women’s History; South African History Online; This Day In North American Indian History; Jewish Virtual Library; The People History; Wikipedia List of Historical Anniversaries; Yenoba; and This Day in Music