Tag Archives: African American

Almanac – April 13

1919 – Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, for speaking out against the draft during World War I.

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1946 – Al Green born.  American singer, best  known for a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including “Tired of Being Alone”, “I’m Still In Love With You”, “Love and Happiness” and  “Let’s Stay Together”.

Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Green was referred to on the museum’s site as being “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music”, and he was included in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, ranking at No. 66

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1964 – At the Academy Awards, Sidney Poitier became the first African-American male to win the Best Actor award for the 1963 film Lilies of the Field.

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Almanac – March 31

1596 – René Descartes born. French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy‘, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings.

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1878 – Jack Johnson born. American boxer. At the height of the Jim Crow era, Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915).

In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes that “for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.”

Miles Davis‘s 1971 album entitled A Tribute to Jack Johnson was inspired by the boxer. The end of the record features the actor Brock Peters (as Johnson) saying:  “I’m Jack Johnson. Heavyweight champion of the world. I’m black. They never let me forget it. I’m black all right! I’ll never let them forget it!”

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1990 – 200,000 protestors took to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax.

The Poll Tax Riots were a series of mass disturbances, or riots, in British towns and cities during protests against the Community Charge (commonly known as the poll tax), introduced by the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The London event was by far the largest.

The riot in central London, with the national opposition to the Community Charge (especially vehement in the North of England and Scotland) contributed to the downfall of Thatcher, who resigned as Prime Minister in November the same year, defending a tax which an opinion poll had found only 12% favoured. The next Prime Minister, John Major, announced it would be abolished.

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Almanac – March 25

421 – Venice  founded, according to legend,  identified with the dedication of the first church, that of San Giacomo at the islet of Rialto ,which is said to have been at the stroke of noon on 25 March 421

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1807 – The Slave Trade Act became law, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.  The act abolished the slave trade but not slavery itself.

Slavery on English soil was unsupported in English law and that position was confirmed in Somersett’s Case in 1772, but it remained legal in most of the British Empire until the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

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1931 – Tom Wilson born. American record producer best known for his work with Sun Ra,  Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel and The Velvet Underground.

As a staff producer at Columbia Records he  was one of the ‘midwives’ of folk-rock, producing three of Bob Dylan’s key 1960s albums: The Times They Are a-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, and Bringing It All Back Home, along with the 1965 single, “Like a Rolling Stone.”

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1942 – Aretha Franklin born.  American musician, singer, songwriter, and pianist. In a recording career that has spanned over half a century, her repertoire has included gospel, jazz, blues, R&B, pop, rock and funk.

She has been described as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of the black America” and a symbol of black equality.

She first became connected with the movement through her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, a preacher, who traveled the country as well as recorded a weekly sermon for the radio station, WLAC, which reached 65 percent of the African-American population.

On tours with her father, Franklin began her singing career. Rev. Franklin also introduced Franklin to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., starting a lifelong friendship between the two.

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Almanac – March 07

1274 – Saint Thomas Aquinas died. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, his influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived in development or refutation of his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.

He is held in the Roman Catholic Church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood, and indeed the highest expression of both natural reason and speculative theology.

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1671 – Rob Roy MacGregor born.  Scottish folk hero and outlaw of the early 18th century, sometimes known as the Scottish Robin Hood. Rob Roy is anglicised from the Gaelic Raibeart Ruadh, or Red Robert – he had red hair.

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1942 – Lucy Parsons died.  American labor organizer and radical socialist and anarchist communist, described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”  (in 2004, the City of Chicago named a park after her.)

Born circa 1853 in Texas, probably as a slave, to parents of Native American, African American and Mexican ancestry, in 1871 she married Albert Parsons, a former Confederate soldier. They were forced to flee north from Texas due to intolerant reactions to their interracial marriage, and settled in Chicago, Illinois.

She died in a house fire in Chicago, believed to be 89 years old.   Her lover, George Markstall, died the next day from injuries he received while trying to save her.  After her death, police seized her library of over 1,500 books and all of her personal papers.

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1988 – Divine died. American actor, disco singer and drag queen. A character actor who often performed female roles in both cinema and theater, Divine adopted a female drag persona in his musical performances, leading People magazine to describe him as the “Drag Queen of the Century”.

Often associated with independent filmmaker John Waters, he starred in ten of his films, usually in a lead role.

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