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  • Alana Stephenson

This Month in History: October

October is a month full of history. For one, it is Black History Month in the UK, and is dedicated to the celebration of Black people in Britain. A plethora of important political, geo-political, and military events also took place across this month, as well as contributions to the arts and science, brought to attention in this article.

Black History Month

First celebrated in London in 1987, it was created on October 1 by the Ghanaian coordinator for special projects within the Greater London Council, Akyaaba Addai-Sebo. He wanted to instigate wider recognition of the contributions of African, Asian and Caribbean people to life in the UK. The year coincided with 150th anniversary of emancipation of slavery in the Caribbean.

According to Addai-Sebo, October was chosen for the UK Black History Month so that “children were fresh after the long summer vacation and had less to worry about exams and tests, and the camaraderie was stronger as they shared experiences”.

Today, it aims to educate about and celebrate the Black people in Britain and their achievements, a topic which is often absent within school curriculums. Some important Black achievements include Walter Tull, the first Black person to become an Officer in World War I, Dianne Abbott, who became the first Black MP, serving in the Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency since 1987, and Sir Trevor McDonald, a Trinidadian-British journalist, who was knighted in 1999 for services to journalism.

Political History in October

  • October 1, 1946 - 12 Nazi leaders sentenced to death at the International War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, recognising and punishing the horrors and destruction committed by the Nazi Party in the Holocaust and World War 2.

  • October 1, 1949 - People’s Republic of China founded, with Chairman Mao Zedong - the legacy of this is seen today, as China is still governed by a single party, the Communist Party of China.

  • October 2, 1967 - The first African-American associate justice, Thurgood Marshall, was sworn in to the U.S Supreme Court, serving until 1991, who championed free speech and civil liberty

  • October 7, 1949 - In East Germany, under Soviet Russia, the German Democratic Republic came into existence, and lasted until reunification in 1990

  • October 10, 1902 - Emmeline Pankhurst, a leading English Suffragette, founded ‘The Women’s Social and Political Union’, campaigning for women’s suffrage, in the first wave of Feminism.

  • October 15, 1990 - Mikhail Gorbachev, final President of the Soviet Union, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Cold War between the USA and USSR, which had lasted 45 years

  • October 24, 1922 - Irish Parliament voted for the Constitution of an Irish Free State, the separation from the United Kingdom formally beginning in December.

  • October 26, 1951 - Following the narrow victory of the Conservative Party, Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister for the second time.

  • October 31, 1517 - Martin Luther nails the ’95 Theses’ to the church door at Wittenberg, Germany triggering the Protestant Reformation of Europe.

Geo-Political History

  • October 1, 1960 - Nigeria was granted independence and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa

  • October 3, 1990 - East and West Germany reunify as the Federal Republic of Germany

  • October 9, 1962 - Uganda achieved independence from Britain after 68 years of rule

  • October 12, 1492 - Christopher Columbus is credited with ‘discovering America’ after arriving in the Bahamas

  • October 24, 1945 - The United Nations was founded following the end of the Second World War, with 51 founding members

Military History

  • October 16, 1853 - Start of the Crimean War, between Russia and the Turkish Ottoman Empire, allied with France, Britain and parts of Italy.

  • October 19, 1781 - More than 7000 British troops surrender to Americans in Yorktown, Virginia. The American Colonies, led by George Washington, ending the war for independence.

  • October 21, 1805 - The Battle of Trafalgar took place, between the British Royal Navy and French/Spanish fleets, with British victory aboard the leading ship, HMS Victory.

  • October 24, 1994 - Cease fires by the Irish Republican Army and pro-British forces cause the streets of Londonderry, Northern Ireland to be free from British troops

  • October 25, 1944 - Japanese pilots use the kamikaze suicide bombing tactic in effort to win in World War II.

Arts and Music in History

  • October 9, 1940 - John Lennon was born in Liverpool, who later became a member of the Beatles

  • October 20, 1632 - British architect Christopher Wren was born. He went on to design St Paul's Cathedral and 52 churches for the City of London

  • October 20, 1971 - Snoop Dogg, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. was born in California, later becoming a famous rapper

  • October 25, 1881 - Spanish Artist, Pablo Picasso, regarded as a greatly influential artist in the twentieth century, was born

Scientific History

  • October 4, 1957 - Beginning of the Space Age as the Russians launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, into orbit, triggering the race between Russia and America to be first on the moon

  • October 6, 1956 - Polio vaccine, created by Dr Albert Sabin, a Polish-American medical researcher, was announced as ready for mass testing

  • October 9, 1876 - Bell and Watson held the first two way telephone conversation, which took place over outdoor wires, connecting Boston with East Cambridge in Massachusetts

  • October 11, 1939 - After his warning that Nazi Germany could create an atomic bomb, Albert Einstein suggesting that the USA create their own. This was the beginning of the secret ‘Manhattan Project’.

  • October 28, 1955 - Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, was born in Washington. The company was co-founded in 1975 alongside Paul Allen, and led Gates to become a billionaire by age 31.

Notable Figures in History

  • October 2, 1869 - Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbandar, India. He is known for his non violent resistance to the British rule over India

  • October 14, 1964 - Martin Luther King Jr. became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the time (age 34), which he won for his role in the Civil Rights Movement in America, especially his nonviolent resistance to racial segregation. He donated the $54,123 prize money to the Movement.

  • October 16, 1793 - French queen Marie Antoinette was beheaded following the French Revolution. She was the symbol of extravagance, was hated by many, and reportedly responded “Let them eat cake” after hearing that the poor had no bread to eat.

  • October 17, 1979 - Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the order, ‘The Missionaries of Charity’, to look after abandoned babies and to help the very poor.

  • October 31, 1984 - The only female Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by 3 of her Sikh bodyguards. This sparked four days of riots and left over 8000 Indian Sikh’s dead from revenge attacks.

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