June 28, 2020
Day 180 of 366
June 28th is the 180th day of the year. Today marks the fifty-first anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
The Stonewall riots, also known as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion, were a series of spontaneous and violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. The LGBT community faced a severely oppressive legal system in that era, and police raids on gay bars were routine and often very aggressive. The raid at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City was no exception. Patrons of the Stonewall, other Village lesbian and gay bars, and neighborhood street people fought back when the police became violent. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later.
Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gay men and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gay men and lesbians. A year after the uprising, to mark the anniversary on June 28, 1970, the first gay pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.
The riots are widely considered to be one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. While we have a long, long way to go in this country toward acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, Stonewall marked the start of the Gay Rights Movement.
Never forget that the first Pride march was a demonstration against injustice and police brutality.
June 28th is also Tau Day in certain circles. If you recall, Pi Day is March 14th (3/14, since π is approximately 3.14), so Tau Day is June 28th (6/28, since τ=2π).
Historical items of note:
- In 1776, the Battle of Sullivan’s Island ended with an American victory, leading to the commemoration of Carolina Day.
- In 1838, the Coronation of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom took place.
- In 1841, the Paris Opera Ballet premiered Giselle in the Salle Le Peletier.
- In 1846, Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone.
- In 1894, Labor Day became an official United States holiday. It is celebrated on the first Monday of September, so chosen since the date lies midway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
- In 1922, voice actor Erik Bauersfeld was born. In Return of the Jedi, he said one of the most famous lines in Star Wars history: “It’s a trap!”
- In 1926, Mercedes-Benz was formed by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz merging their two companies.
- Also in 1926, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Mel Brooks was born.
- n 1932, actor Pat Morita was born.
- In 1948, actress Kathy Bates was born.
- In 1951, actress and author Lalla Ward was born. She portrayed the second Romana on Doctor Who.
- In 1954, actress Alice Krige was born.
- In 1964, Malcolm X formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
- In 1966, actress Mary Stuart Masterson was born.
June 28th is Poznań Remembrance Day in Poland, a commemoration of the Poznań protests of 1956. These were the first of several massive protests against the communist government of the Polish People’s Republic. Demonstrations by workers demanding better working conditions at Poznań’s Cegielski Factories were met with violent repression. Approximately 100,000 people gathered in the city center and were met by about 400 tanks and 10,000 soldiers of the Polish People’s Army and the Internal Security Corps under the command of the Polish-Soviet general Stanislav Poplavsky. They suppressed the demonstrations by firing on the protesting civilians, resulting in over a hundred deaths including a 13-year-old boy, Romek Strzałkowski.
June 28th is also Vidovdan – Видовдан, also known as St. Vitus Day – a Serbian national and religious holiday used by the Serbian Orthodox Church to venerate St. Vitus, the patron saint of the Kindom of Serbia. It serves as a memorial day to Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian holy martyrs who fell during the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman Empire on June 15, 1389 on the Julian calendar, and is an important part of Serb ethnic and Serbian national identity.
The day is part of the Kosovo Myth, a traditional belief that the Battle of Kosovo symbolizes a martyrdom of the Serbian nation in defense of their honor and Christendom against the Turks. The essence of the myth is that during the battle, Serbs, headed by Prince Lazar, lost because they consciously sacrificed the earthly kingdom of the Serbian Empire in order to gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
Vidovdan is so important to the national identity that several landmark events have taken place on the date or are credited by the Serbian people to the Kosovo Myth.
- In 1389, the Ottoman army fought the Serbian army in the Battle of Kosovo on the Kosovo field. Both Sultan Murad and Prince Lazar were slain in battle.
- In 1876, the Serbian government declared war against the Ottoman Empire, sparking the Serbian-Ottoman War that spanned 1876 to 1878.
- In 1914, Austro-Hungarian crown prince Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, an event that triggered the First World War. It was a coincidence that the archduke visited Sarajevo on that day, but the assassination falling on Vidovdan added nationalist symbolism to the event.
- In 1916, Radomir Vešović and other notable Montenegrin officers planned an uprising in Montenegro against the Austro-Hungarian occupying forces.
- In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War I.
- In 1921, Serbian King Alexander I proclaimed the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, known thereafter as the Vidovdan Constitution (Vidovdanski ustav).
- In 1948, the Cominform – the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, which was the official central organization of the International Communist Movement from 1947 to 1956 – published in a “Resolution on the State of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia” their condemnation of the Yugoslavian communist leaders. This date was chosen carefully by Soviet leaders and delegates Zhdanov, Malenkov, and Suslov, and is seen as the turning point that marks the final split between Stalin’s Soviet Union and Tito’s Yugoslavia.
- In 1989, on the 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo, Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević delivered the Gazimestan speech on the site of the historic battle.
- In 1990, an amendment was brought to the Constitution of Croatia that changed the status of Serbs from constituent people (konstitutivni narod) of the Croatian nation to national minority.
- In 2001, Slobodan Milošević was deported to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to stand trial for war crimes in connection to the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo.
- In 2006, Montenegro was announced as the 192nd member state of the United Nations.
- In 2008, the inaugural meeting of the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija took place.
- In 2018, the formal reopening of the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade took place after 15 years of renovation.
The veneration of St. Vitus is so popular that his name (Sveti Vid) may have also replaced the old cult of the god of light Svetovid, a Slavic deity of war, fertility, and abundance primarily venerated on the island of Rügen into the 12th century.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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