Plus: Columbus and Coal |

By Lily Rothman
Senior Editor

Yesterday in Paris, four activists were handed fines for their attempt to remove an artifact from its place at the Quai Branly museum in June. But, while it may seem as if the matter is now settled, that's far from the case. As the presiding judge in the Paris trial told the court, the activists weren't the only ones facing justice—"the history of Europe" was on trial too.

The artifact in question was just one example of the many items that were taken to Europe's museums from Africa during the colonial period. Though officials in France have made promises about the restitution of such artifacts to the countries from which they came, activists like those in Paris feel that the time for patience has passed. As Congolese activist Mwazulu Diyabanza told TIME's Suyin Haynes, they consider actions like that at the Quai Branly "active diplomacy" based on their "right to have access to our cultural heritage and to the recovery of our history." Click here to read more about the history behind the conflict—and why it's coming to the surface now.

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

Column: How Coal Miners Shaped American Labor History
By Mark A. Bradley
Coal miners inspired workers in other unions to rise up and challenge their own entrenched, out-of-touch leaders
Read More »
As Indigenous Peoples Day Becomes More Widely Celebrated, Christopher Columbus Statues Become Lightning Rods
By Sanya Mansoor
While some cities are taking extra precautions to protect their Christopher Columbus statues from potential vandalism on this year's Indigenous Peoples' Day, others are preparing to have them removed.
Read More »
Column: The Threats That Faced U.S. Democracy Before the Civil War Have Returned
By Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman
A plot against an embattled governor? Militias disrupting elections? It happened in the 1850s—and holds a lesson for today
Read More »
What We Get Wrong About Medieval Libraries
By Mateusz Fafinski / History Today
Medieval manuscripts reveal the reading communities of the early Middle Ages
Read More »
How Canadian Thanksgiving Is Different From the U.S. Version
By Olivia B. Waxman
The date difference — one is in October, the other in November — isn't the only thing that separates the two holidays
Read More »
Today in 1984: Crackdown on the Mafia

“It was a moonless night in the Sicilian city of Palermo, a night filled with the sirocco, a torrid, noisy wind that blows in across the Mediterranean from the Sahara, moaning through the city's narrow streets and driving its inhabitants indoors. Few if any residents noticed as squads of armored cars raced through the streets and gun-toting officers cordoned off the city into three sections. Nor, except for the street cleaners, who were just beginning their rounds, did anyone see the law men begin rousing out of their beds and hustling off to jail the men whose names appeared on a single, shockingly long arrest warrant.” (Oct. 15, 1984)

Read More »
Today in 1973: War in the Middle East

“As crowds of worshipers emerged from synagogues at the end of the five-hour-long morning services of atonement, they found the streets filled with speeding trucks, buses and Jeeps. The Israeli radio was back on the air. All afternoon its broadcasts of news bulletins and classical music were interrupted by such incongruous phrases as ‘meat pie,’ ‘sea wolf’ and ‘wool string’—military codes calling reservists to duty. By late afternoon, virtually every Israeli—and much of the rest of the world as well—knew that what Defense Minister Moshe Dayan defiantly called ‘all-out war’ had begun again." (Oct. 15, 1973)

Read More »
This Week in 1972: Joe Namath

“At 29, after six turbulent, injurious seasons, Joe Namath has established himself as the pre-eminent quarterback in professional football today. Playing on a pair of frangible knees, Namath—after the 27-17 win by the Miami Dolphins over the Jets this week—had passed for a career total of 116 touchdowns and more than 18,000 yds. Even more significant are the changes that Namath is signally responsible for working on the structure of pro football.” (Oct. 16, 1972)

Read More »

Founding Framing A year after its initial release, the New York Times’ 1619 Project shows no sign of becoming less of a lightning rod. Sarah Ellison at the Washington Post has a solid overview of where the debate now stands.

Carved in Stone In the U.S., the controversy over statues is often focused on Confederate monuments, but at Smithsonian, Carol Schaeffer reports on how Germany is confronting a tradition of anti-Semitic sculptures that goes all the way back to the medieval period.

Hoop-skirt History For the Wilmington StarNews, Hunter Ingram looks at the history behind the local tradition of including “Azalea Belles” in the annual North Carolina Azalea Festival—a tradition that has been canceled following controversy over how it evokes the region’s antebellum past.

Viewers Like You As PBS hits its 50th birthday, a range of staffers and contributors at the New York Times weighed in on how it changed their lives and American culture.

Toward Freedom Reina Gattuso at Atlas Obscura has the story on how an archaeological dig in Maryland is revealing new information about the realities of life on the Underground Railroad.

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