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

January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  

May 15, 1525  
Massacre of Frankenhausen. Troops commanded by the Landgrave of Hesse and the Duke of Saxony attack rebellious peasants who have gathered near the town of Frankenhausen. Although a truce has been declared during which the peasants hope to negotiate about their grievances, the ‘nobles’ break the truce and attack with 6,000 well-armed mercenary soldiers.
Estimates of the number of dead on the peasant side range from 3,000 to 10,000, while on the other side, four soldiers are killed. The peasant leader Thomas Mntzer is captured, tortured, and executed.
Further Reading: a href="">Friedrich Engels: The Peasant War in Germany
Related Topics: MassacresPeasant Uprisings
May 15, 1897
Magnus Hirschfeld founds the Wissenschaftlich-humanit„res Komitee (Scientific Humanitarian Committee) in Berlin to organize for homosexual rights.
May 15, 1919
The Winnipeg General Strike. Virtually all workers in Winnipeg go out on strike seeking wage increases and recognition for their unions. A Strike Committee co-ordinates the strike and arranges for essential services to continue.
The ruling elite mobilizes to defeat the strike. A “Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand” organizes anti-strike propaganda and calls for federal government and military intervention to crush the strike. The capitalist newspapers scream that Bolsheviks have taken control, and run cartoons showing hooked-nosed Jewish radicals throwing bombs. The government dismisses virtually the entire Winnipeg Police Force because police have voted to support the strike. In their place, they bring in federal troops, militia, Royal Northwest Mounted Police, and “special constables” (hired thugs who are paid significantly more than the police were paid). Strike leaders, including J.S. Woodsworth, the future leader of the CCF) are arrested and sent to prison.
On June 26, the Strike Committee calls off the strike.
May 15, 1935
Birth of Utah Phillips (1935-2008), radical folksinger, storyteller and labour organizer.
Quote: “Time is an enormous, long river, and I#m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through and everything they gave their lives to, and every song they created, and every poem that they laid down flows down to me – and if I take the time to ask, and if I take the time to see, and if I take the time to reach out, I can build that bridge between my world and theirs. I can reach down into that river and take out what I need to get through this world.”
Further Reading: Utah Phillips 1935-2008
Related Topics: Folk MusicStory Telling
May 15, 1965  
A National Teach-in on the Vietnam War is held in Washington, with 3,000 participants, and with the discussions broadcast to over 100 campuses.
May 15, 1969
People’s Park” in Berkeley is occupied by National Guard troops and police sent in by California Governor Ronald Reagan. The park was set up on April 20 when students and local residents took over a derelict lot owned by the University of California and started clearing away rubble, debris and abandoned cars in order to create a park. Local residents and businesses provided free food, and soon more than 1,000 people were taking part in creating and using the park. Governor Reagan, who calls the Berkeley campus “a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters and sex deviants” sends in police to clear the park of people and seize the property. The police seal off an eight-block area around the park, put up chain-link fences to keep people out, and start uprooting trees and destroying what has been created.
When protestors gather to protest the police actions, the police attack the crowd, after first removing their identification, and begin beating anyone they catch. Other police open fire with live ammunition. A bystander is killed, more than 100 are injured, many of them shot in the back. Afterwards Governor Reagan justifies his actions with the words “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.”
May 15, 2011  
Anti-austerity protests across Spain mark the beginning of the Movimiento 15-M, also known as the Indignados (Indignants Movement). The protests are aimed at draconian ‘reforms’ whose purpose is to force working people and the poor to pay for the international financial crisis caused by the banks and investment funds. The slogan of the protests is “we are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers.”
Some protestors occupy public squares in Madrid and Barcelona and other cities. By May 20, the encampments have grown to tens of thousands of people.The protest movement spreads to other forms of action. In July, an Indignant People’s March has columns of people from around the country walking towards Madrid.
The movement continues.
Related Topics: AusterityNeo-LiberalismProtestSpain
May 15, 2012
Start of the Yo Soy 132 movement in Mexico. It originates in popular opposition to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) presidential candidate Enrique Pe¤a Nieto in the 2012 election and to the mainstream media’s blatantly biased coverage of the election. On May 11, students at Ibero-American University protest against Pe¤a Nieto at a campaign event at the university. Media claims that the protesters were outsider agitators, not really students at all. In response, 131 students who had attended the event posted a video on YouTube showing their student IDs and expressing their disgust with the media. Other people spontaneously start tweeting their solidarity with the students, using the slogan “I’m the 132nd student.” The movement that springs up becomes known as “yo soy 132.” It goes on to organize massive protests throughout Mexico, and becomes a continuing social movement.
Further Reading: Yo Soy 132
Related Topics: ElectionsMexicoProtestStudent Activism

January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  
For more information about people and events in Seeds of Fire, explore these pages: