VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Jordy McKen
These historical events deserve more attention! For this list, we'll be looking at famous and important moments in the world's history that educators either touched upon briefly or completely ignored, leaving us to discover them on the internet. Our countdown of major historical events that school didn't teach you includes The Mao Massacre (1966-76), The Stonewall Riots (1969), The Trail of Tears (1830-40), and more!
Top 10 Major Historical Events School Didn’t Teach You About
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Major Historical Events School Didn’t Teach You About.
For this list, we’ll be looking at famous and important moments in the world’s history that educators either touched upon briefly or completely ignored, leaving us to discover them on the internet.
What other events did schools fail to teach us about? Let us know below!
#10: The Mao Massacre (1966-76)
In 1966, Mao Zedong’s power in China was threatened after the disastrous “Great Leap Forward” that caused a massive famine. So, he initiated the Cultural Revolution to renew the communist spirit and remove infiltrators. This caused youths to form groups like the Red Guard, who shut down schools, ransacked religious places, and slaughtered any perceived enemies of Mao’s vision, such as party officials and intellectuals. While art and entertainment believed to be too Western were banned, including work by William Shakespeare. The Cultural Revolution eventually finished in 1976 with Mao’s passing. But not before it destroyed the county’s economy, took the lives of up to two million people, and forced around 20 million to flee the carnage Chairman Mao instigated.
#9: The Wall Street Attack (1920)
Before 9/11, the worst terror attack in the United States happened in 1920. During midday in September, a horse-drawn carriage rode down Wall Street, New York. It stopped outside the U.S. Assay Office and opposite the J.P. Morgan & Co. building. The area was packed as workers went to get lunch. But then, the driver vanished. Moments later, the wagon filled with dynamite exploded, causing shrapnel to fly everywhere. At least 38 people and the horse perished from the attack, with 143 seriously injured. No group or individual came forward to claim responsibility. While the authorities had many theories on who was responsible, no formal arrests ever happened, and it remains unsolved.
#8: The Iranian Revolution (1978-79)
After years of Iran being reigned by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and aligning himself with the West, tensions came to a head in 1978. Supporters of cleric Ruhollah Khomeini, who had been in exile, believed he was routinely slandered by the country’s press. On top of this, opposition against Pahlavi’s rule blamed his secret police for the Cinema Rex fire that killed 477 people. These, mixed with the Shah using the military to supplant his rule and viciously attacking opponents, caused many people to protest the monarchy. By 1979, this led to Pahlavi fleeing and the return of Ayatollah Khomeini, who became the first Supreme Leader of Iran, turning the country more politically conservative. Some believe this event inspired several uprisings in the Middle East.
#7: The Stonewall Riots (1969)
Being part of the LGBTQ+ community in 1960s New York was rough. The police regularly targeted the then-illegal group. When people attended LGBTQ+ bars or clubs, many of which were operated by organized criminals, the cops would raid them and arrest those inside, often taking liberties with detainees. By June 1969, the situation hit a boiling point at the Stonewall Inn when the police raided the bar. With years of discrimination, violent attacks by the cops, and inspired by the civil rights movement, the LGBTQ+ community and supporters began rioting, which lasted for several days. This sparked LGBTQ+ leaders to petition for rights. By 1970, the first Pride events happened in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
#6: Bacon's Rebellion (1676)
Way before the American Revolution against Great Britain’s reign came to be, the seeds of rebellion were sown in Virginia in 1676. The colonist Nathaniel Bacon was livid at Governor William Berkeley, his cousin, for the high taxes and his lack of support for attacking a Native American settlement. As such, he organized a makeshift militia formed of white and Black people to lay siege to Berkeley within Jamestown. Bacon’s forces caused the Governor to flee as they set Jamestown aflame. By the time England sent the navy to battle the rebellion, Bacon had already passed from dysentery. With a lack of leadership, Berkeley’s newly engorged forces defeated the militia. But the Governor’s reputation was left in tatters.
#5: The First Bus Refuser (1955)
While Rosa Parks is credited for ushering in the civil rights movement in the US after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person in 1955, there was someone before who made a similar stand. Nine months before this monumental event, 15-year-old student Claudette Colvin refused to move on a bus for white passengers in Montgomery, Alabama. This led to her arrest and being convicted on multiple charges. Colvin was also involved in the court case that forced Alabama to end bus segregation. But even further back, in 1854 in New York, Elizabeth Jennings Graham was forcibly removed from a whites-only streetcar. So, she took the Third Avenue Railroad Company to court and won, causing the firm to desegregate its streetcars.
#4: The English Civil War (1642-51)
While England still has a monarchy, that hasn’t always been the case. Charles I clashed with Parliament several times. With Catholics facing off against Protestants in several skirmishes adding to the fire and Charles’s religious loyalty questioned, things escalated when he entered the House of Commons and tried, and failed, to arrest opponents in 1642. This kicked off the first of three civil wars in England, Scotland, and Wales between Royalists and Parliamentarians. In 1649, a captured Charles was tried for treason, found guilty, and executed. By 1651, the Parliamentarians had won the final battle in the civil war. With Oliver Cromwell in charge and later his son Richard, the Commonwealth of England reigned until 1660, when Charles II reestablished the monarchy.
#3: The Armenian Genocide (1915-16)
In the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, the Young Turk Revolution happened in 1908. After years of Christian Armenians being targeted by the country, they believed this was a positive turning point. Sadly, it wasn’t. As nations were engrossed by World War I in 1915, the Empire suffered heavy losses. As such, they shifted the blame onto Armenians. Authorities began arresting and either deporting or executing Armenians for treachery. Then, groups were taken from their homes and forced to walk through the Syrian desert without supplies, causing many to perish before they reached the terrible conditions at concentration camps. By 1916, there are estimates that at least one million Armenians were massacred in the genocide.
#2: The Trail of Tears (1830-40)
Ever since Europeans colonized the US, Native Americans have experienced many atrocities. In 1829, a gold rush commenced in Georgia, then operated by the Cherokee people. This caused the government to implement forced displacement of Native nations so they could take over the resource-rich ground in the Deep South. Starting in 1830 and ending in 1850, 100,000 people of the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations were forcefully taken from their settlements and taken on a journey to a new place west of the Mississippi, known as “Indian Territory.” Many traveled hundreds of miles, and thousands didn’t survive. Another atrocity was the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. The US Army slaughtered upwards of 150 people of the Lakota nation in South Dakota.
#1: Tulsa Race Massacre (1921)
In May 1921, the neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was thriving. So much so that it was deemed “Black Wall Street.” But the segregated city was about to erupt in horrifying violence when black teenager Dick Rowland was falsely arrested. After the white and black communities faced off outside the courthouse, it sparked into a fight. However, the Greenwood community was outnumbered. Several white residents were deputized, handed weapons, and attacked Greenwood violently over 18 hours. On top of buildings being set aflame, as many as 300 people were killed, with 800 injured, while thousands of people lost their homes. In the immediate aftermath, the event was suppressed by the media. Only in more recent years has it become more well-known.