This week in history
For the week of Oct. 11, 2015
Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943): African American. Composer and educator. Dett was the first American to incorporate Negro folk tunes into classical compositions, chiefly piano works and choral pieces. He also taught music and directed choral groups at several colleges, notably at Hampton Institute, where he worked from 1913 to 1932.
National Coming Out Day/March on Washington (1987) : Gay/Lesbian. On October 11, the largest gay and lesbian gathering of its time-some estimate as many as 200,000-600,000people-took place to protest anti-gay discrimination and demand a stronger federal government response to the AIDS crisis.
Charles Gordone (1925-1995): African American. Playwright. In 1970, Charles Gordone became the first African American playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize. The play for which he won the prize, No Place to Be Somebody, opened in 1969 and became an immediate success. Gordone challenged the idea of a distinct black theater, seeking instead a multiracial American theater. Like Ralph Ellison, whose first published novel also won outstanding critical acclaim, Gordone never published a second play.
Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day) : Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela. This day commemorates the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and the common Spanish and Indian heritage of Latin American Countries.
Liberation from France: Laos. This day commemorates Laos' liberation from its protectorate status with France and establishment of a monarchy in 1954.
National Day: Spain. This holiday commemorates the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus and Spain's gaining of a colonial empire.
Columbus Day observed: United States. This is the day set aside for observing the anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World. Columbus Day is a national holiday that has come to be especially important to Italian Americans. At annual Italian American get-togethers, there are speeches by celebrities, and citizens of Italian heritage are honored for their rich contributions to community life.
Arna Bontemps (1902-1973): African American. Writer and anthologist. Bontemps won acclaim for poems, stories, novels, nonfiction writings, and his works of children's literature. He also edited anthologies of African American stories and poems and served as librarian at fisk University from 1943 to 1965.
(William) Allison Davis (1902-1983): African American. Anthropologist and educator. After attending Williams Collage and receiving a M. A. in anthropology from Harvard University, Allison Davis taught at Dillard University and later at the University of Chicago where he received a Ph.D. in education in 1942. In 1948, he became one of the first African Americans to receive tenure at a non-historically Black academic institution. His work in psychology and education includes the development of the Davis-Ellis intelligence test and several studies on social and class influences on the education of children. When he died in 1983, he was the John Dewey Distinguished Professor at the University of Chicago. In 1994, the United States Postal Service honored Dr. Allison Davis with a postage stamp bearing his picture.
Frank Yankovic (1915-1983): Polka musician. Known as the Polka King since 1948, Yankovic became the Premier figure in Sloveian polka style. Beginning his playing on local Slovenian radio programs in Cleveland, he formed the Slovenian Folk Orchestra. After serving in World War II, he recorded Just Because, the first polka record to sell more that a million copies. In 1986, Yankovic won a Grammy Award when polka first became a Grammy category. He continued to record and perform until shortly before his death. October 14 is the anniversary of his death.
John L. Sullivan (1858-1918): Irish American. Prizefighter. Sullivan won the world heavyweight championship in 1882.
Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins (1844-1887): American Indian (Northern Piute). Writer and lecturer. While working as an interpreter, Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins observed the injustices perpetrated against her people by federal officials. Her book Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (1883) blended autobiography, history, and ethnographic description with advocacy of the Piute claim to autonomy and to ownership of their homelands. She died on this date.
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972): African American. Gospel singer. Mahalia Jackson's rich contralto voice and the powerful spirituality that she conveyed won her an international following and greatly increased the audience for gospel *music. *
Henry Lewis (1932-1996): African American. Musician and conductor. Henry Lewis was the first Black conductor and music director of a major American Orchestra, and the first Black to conduct the New York City Metropolitan Opera.
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953): Irish American. Playwright. O'Neill expanded the range of American drama with his tragedies focusing on ordinary people and his expressionistic experimental plays.
John Brown's raid at Harper Ferry (1859): African American. A passionate *foe of slavery, Brown led a band of 21 men in an attack of a federal armory at Harper's Ferry , West Virginia, on this date. After seizing the armory and the bridges leading to it, he was forced to surrender, tried for treason, and hanged. Brown, a white man, was hailed by abolitionists as a martyr.
Jean Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806) Haitian. Revolutionary leader. Dessalines, born a slave, joined the revolt against French rule by Francois Dominique Toussiant-Louveture. After Tossaint-Louverture's capture in 1802, Dessalines, along with Henri Christophe, led the successful effort to defeat the French army of Napoleon I. He declared independence from France on January 1, 1804, gave the land the name of Haiti (Indian for hills), and proclaimed himself Emperor Jacques I. He ruled Haiti as the first independent nation in Latin America from 1804 to 18906. This is the day of his death.