Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology

Recalling events that happened on this day in history.
Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.

Compiled by Ulli Diemer

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March 21, 1937
The Ponce Massacre: A peaceful demonstration in Ponce, Puerto Rico commemorating the abolition of slavery and protesting the U.S. government’s imprisonment of independence activists, is attacked by police armed with machine guns. Acting under the orders of the U.S. governor, Blanton Winship, police fire on the peaceful crowd, killing 20 and injuring hundreds. As people flee, they are pursued by police who club them and in some instances shoot them. A subsequent investigation by the United States Commission on Civil Rights finds that the event was a deliberate massacre carried out by the police. None of the killers are punished. Today, the Ponce massacre is commemorated annually in remembrance of Puerto Ricans who perished or were wounded for their political beliefs.
March 21, 1960
The Sharpeville Massacre. Black South Africans protesting the apartheid regime’s pass laws, which serve to severely limit the right of non-whites to move about freely, are fired on by police in Sharpeville. 69 people are killed and 180 injured. Many of those killed and injured are shot in the back as they are running away. A wave of protests sweeps South Africa in the aftermath, accompanied by demonstrations in other countries. A week later, the government declares a state of emergency, and arrests and detains 18,000 people. The African National Congress and the Pan-Africanist Congress are both declared illegal organizations; both organizations respond shortly after by forming underground military resistance organizations. Today, the date is commemorated as a public holiday to honour human rights and remember those killed.
March 21 - 25, 1965
The third Selma to Montgomery March. After two previous attempts (March 7th and 9th) by civil rights activists to walk from Selma to Montgomery Alabama were attacked and halted, a third march sets out. They reach Montgomery County on the 24th; the following day Martin Luther King Jr. delivers a speech at the State Capital Building in which he says “The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative non-violence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”

January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
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For more information about people and events in Seeds of Fire, explore these pages: