May 11: This Day in History

marleyMay 11, 2015 – Segment 1

Marc shares some of the events that happened on this day in history, including the death of Bob Marley, the launch of the Poor People’s Campaign, and the foundation of Ghana, the first postcolonial independent nation on the continent of Africa.

Transcript of this day in history included below.


We Shall Overcome

“We Shall Overcome” — it is one of those songs that you know when you hear the first words sung or the first bars played. The folksinger Guy Carawan traveled through the South in 1951, witnessing the horrors of racial terror. That experience changed his life forever. While he didn’t write the song — nobody knows who actually wrote it, although we know some of the song comes from a spiritual written in 1901 by Rev. Charles Albert Tinley — Guy Carawan was the one who taught “We Shall Overcome” to young Black activists training to become civil rights workers at the Highlander School in 1959.  It caught on and became the anthem of the civil rights movement.   The man who taught that song, one of the fathers of the modern folk music movement, Guy Carawan, passed on Friday at the age of 87.

On this day in 1968, hundreds of poor people from the inner city ghettos, from Appalachia, from Indian reservations and Barrios from across America converged on Washington, DC to launch the Poor People’s Campaign. They built Resurrection City between the US Capitol and the Washington Monument on the National Mall, demanding economic justice.  Martin Luther King’s last battle was to build a multi-racial Poor People’s Campaign. These people were those who followed that dream.

Because we live here in the West, the Atlantic Slave trade is paramount in our historical thinking.   The British began exploiting the Indian subcontinent at the same time, overthrowing kingdoms and sending Indians as indentured servants throughout their growing empire.  This day marks the beginning of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, when Indian troops rebelled after being supported by Sikh princes, Muslim Mughal Emperor and Hindu Majarahah Lamishbai, a legendary woman warrior.  In a war that lasted almost two years, the British consolidated more power of over India, but the rebellion was marked by the unity of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.

On this day in 1956, Ghana was born as the first postcolonial independent nation on the continent of Africa.

And, a 16 year old named Charles Oatman was brutally tortured with cigarette burns, whipped on his back and the back of his head crushed by Augusta Georgia police in 1970. The community erupted.  The press called it the Augusta Riots. Six Black people died in the uprising, all shot in the back by buckshot.  Augusta was then, as was Georgia, still in the control of openly racist pro-segregationist politicians.

Here’s a song for your May 11th. Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley died today at the age of 36 in Miami, Florida as he was on his way back to Jamaica, losing a battle with melanoma. His final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life.” In the spirit of the great Bob Marley, we hear his song “Get Up Stand Up.”

Bob Marley – Get Up, Stand Up

To continue your exploration of This Day In History, visit for resources. Thanks for listening.

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;; 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