A Congolese freedom fighter, Patrice Lumumba was one of the leaders of the independence movement that overthrew Belgian colonial rule in 1960, a struggle in which he faced physical and legal dangers constantly, and was arrested repeatedly by colonial authorities. The struggle was eventually successful, however, and shortly after victory was achieved, Lumumba became the first legally elected leader of a free and independent Congo republic.
His time as head of state was cut short by a Belgian-sponsored counter-coup, which saw Lumumba and other members of his government imprisoned and later executed a mere twelve weeks into their rule.
John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in Dayton, Ohio, because the god-fearing people of Dayton felt that evolution contradicted the sacret teachings of the Bible. The trial was a media circus (by 1925 standards, when they didn’t have a 24 hour news cycle) and ignited a national debate about evolution across America.
It would ultimately result in the conviction of John Scopes for one of the most ridiculous ‘crimes’ ever invented by superstitious idiots.
One of the greatest actors of the Twentieth Century, Paul Newman starred in – among others – “The Hustler”. “The Sting”, “The Great Escape”, “Hud”, “Cool Hand Luke”, “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Cars”. In his time, he was nominated for an Academy Award nine times, although he won only one (Best Actor, for “The Color of Money” a sequel to “The Hustler”).
From the mid-Sixties onwards, Newman was increasingly active politically – his opposition to the Vietnam War scored him a place on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List – and also became a notable philanthropist.
It seems absurd today – although perhaps not as absurd as we might like – but back in 1925, the entire American nation was up in arms over a court case in which a young teacher stood accused of the heinous crime of teaching evolution. Admittedly, this did happen in the Bible Belt, but even so, 1925? In the heyday of eugenics, teaching evolution was still verboten in Tennessee.
That was what John Scopes learned that day. Despite the impassioned defence of Clarence Darrow, he was convicted and made to pay a fine of $100 (that would be equal to about $1,250 in 2010 dollars). Scopes did not contest his guilt – he had taught evolution – but contended that the law itself was unjust. After the failure of an appeal to the State Supreme Court, Scopes, left Tennessee, never to return. Evolution, in open defiance of the ban on its teaching, continued to occur in the state of Tennessee, and to date, all efforts to cause it to cease this unconstitutional activity have failed utterly.