January 21 in History
For the week of Jan. 15, 2017
Ruhiyyih Rabbani (1910-1969): Baha'i. Religious Leader. Ruhiyyih Rabbani became a prominent leader of the Baha'i faith after the death of her husband, Soghi Effendi Rabbani, the last official leader of the faith. Since his death, the Baha'is have been governed by a legislature. Rabbani was a member of the nine hands who oversaw the affairs of the Baha'i community and interpreted matters of faith. This is the day of her death.
Hiram Revels (1822-1901): African American. Legislator and university president. In 1870 Revels became the first African American elected to the United States Senate when he was chosen to fill the Mississippi seat vacated by Jefferson Davis. After serving his term in the Senate, he became president of Alcorn University in Mississippi. He died on this date.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: United States . National observance of Dr. King's birthday.
Pablo Manlapit (1891-1969): Filipino. Labor leader. A worker who came to Hawaii at the age of 19 to work on sugar plantations, Manlapit was discharged from his first job for involvement in labor organizing. While working as a janitor in a law office, he studied for a law degree, eventually becoming the first Filipino to pass the bar examination in Hawaii. Rather than practicing law, he resumed his efforts to organize unions that would press the powerful Hawaiian Sugar planters Association (HSPA) for improvements in the harsh living and working conditions of laborers, most of them Filipino and Japanese. Manlapit succeeded in building a united movement, but the HSPA repeatedly thwarted the workers' efforts, breaking strikes and using the resulting violence to charge Manlapit with criminal activity. He was permanently deported to the Philippines in 1935.
Sending Off the Kitchen God Day. China. This festival is associated with the New Year. In traditional Chinese homes, a paper image represents a home deity that is thought to keep track of the deeds of the household for the year. The chief deity then determines the fate of the family for the next year. On this day the family burns the image, whose spirit is believed to go to heaven and report to the chief deity on the family's behavior during the past year. The chief deity then determines the fate of the family for the next year. To positively affect the report of the Kitchen God, the family may put honey or sticky candy over its mouth - some say, to make sure that it reports only sweet things; others say, so that it will not be able to speak at all. This holiday is also celebrated on January 18.
Daniel Hale Williams (1858-1931) : African American. Surgeon and hospital administrator. After founding Provident Hospital in Chicago to provide a medical center open to doctors of all races, Williams made medical history in 1893 by performing the first successful heart operation on record.
Epiphany: Eastern Orthodox Christian. Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate this holiday on this day based on the Julian calendar.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968): African American. Civil rights leader. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gained national prominence during the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955-1956 and soon became the acknowledged national leader of the growing movement to obtain civil rights for African Americans. His commitment to nonviolence, his courage, and the moral power of his vision, eloquently expressed in masterful oratory and writings, won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Toward the end of his life King became convinced of the interrelatedness of all forms of social, economic, and military oppression, and broadened the sphere of his activism. He spoke out against U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam and was preparing to lead a massive Poor People's March on Washington when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Pilar Barbosa (189?): Puerto Rican. Historian and political activist. Pilar Barbosa de Rosario, historian and mentor to generations of Puerto Rican politicians, scholars, and intellectuals, was widely regarded as the conscience of the New Progressive Party. She started her career as the first woman to teach at the University of Puerto Rico and later created the departments of history and social studies. She became an authority on Puerto Rican political history and was named the Commonwealth's official historian in 1993. Professor Barbosa led the movement to make the Progressive Party both the party of statehood and of social justice. She died on this day at the age of 99.
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