REAL Democracy History Calendar – September 5-11

September 5

1964 – Death of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, labor leader, activist, and feminist
“History has a long-range perspective. It ultimately passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates those who fought, suffered, were imprisoned, and died for human freedom, against political oppression and economic slavery.”

September 6

2012 – Publication of the article “How A Republican Appeals Court Just Made Citizens United Even Worse” by Ian Hillhiser
“One of the few silver linings on the Supreme Court’s election-buying decision in Citizens United was its holding that — although corporations are now free to spend as much money as they want to elect their preferred candidates — such spending could still be subject to disclosure laws so long as those laws bear a “substantial relation” to “‘providing the electorate with information’ about the sources of election-related spending.” The most Republican federal court of appeals in the country just wiped away much of this silver lining, however, striking down a Minnesota law requiring corporations seeking to buy elections to register their political fund and make regular public disclosures of its activities.”

September 7

1873 – Birth of Carl Becker, historian
“Corporations have at different times been so far unable to distinguish freedom of speech from freedom of lying that their freedom has to be curbed.”

September 8

1941 – Birth of Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator and 2016 Presidential Candidate
“Congress does not regulate Wall Street. Wall Street regulates Congress.”

2014 – “Citizens Divided: Corporate Money, Speech, and Politics” debate
Indiana University in Bloomington hosts a public debate between David Cobb of Move to Amend’s National Leadership Team and James Bopp, General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and lead attorney for Citizens United.
Watch the debate at

September 9

1776 – The Continental Congress officially names its new union of sovereign states the United States.

2009 – Publication this month of the article “When Will Your Neighbor Join the Movement?” by Megan Wade
“All good philosophers know that a good answer is only a new question in disguise…Hiding in a description of how people join and build movements is the question of how to make that happen today. How are we – especially those of us in the movement for radical democracy – creating opportunities for people to meet their needs in empowering, democratic, and community-building ways? How are we training them and making sure meaningful actions are ready and waiting? How can we help ourselves and those around us acquire individual self-respect and collective self-confidence?”

September 10

1998 – Petition filed calling on the attorney general (AG) of California to revoke the charter of Union Oil of California (Unocal)
”We’re letting the people of California in on a well-kept secret,” said lead attorney Robert Benson. ”The people mistakenly assume that we have to try to control these giant corporate repeat offenders one toxic spill at a time, one layoff at a time, one human rights violation at a time. But the law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing and sell its assets to others who will operate in the public interest.”

“[T]he law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing….Baseball players and convicted individuals in California get only three strikes. Why should big corporations get endless strikes?”

2003 – Release of the film “The Corporation”
“The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly upon North American corporations, especially those in the United States. One theme is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the United States Supreme Court in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite led to corporations as ‘persons’ having the same rights as human beings, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

September 11

2001 – First complete version of Timeline of Personhood Rights and Powers publicly unveiled
The timeline was developed by Jan Edwards of Point Arena, CA. She led the effort to pass the first-ever municipal resolution to end corporate personhood in 2000.

The Timeline is a useful education tool to describe how corporations have used the legal system to gain constitutional rights through court decisions and how people have organized to gain constitutional rights through amendments and laws.

The Timeline was first used by Jan and others in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and later by democracy activists across the country to engage individuals in understanding issues that were not discussed in schools, media, places of worship, workplaces, political arenas or activist organizations.
Original timeline with background description:
Current version:

2001 – “Globalization’s Children Strike Back” article by James Harding published in the Financial Times
“NAFTA, WTO and other similar agreements “have created supranational authorities that override national and local governments.”

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