This week in history
For the week of Nov. 16, 2014
W(illiam) C(hristopher) Handy (1873-1958) : African American. Composer, band leader, and publisher. Handy is known as the Father of the Blues for both his work in collecting and popularizing blues and other African American folk music, and his own compositions based on the blues tradition. His best known work is St. Louis Blues, published in 1916.
Jan Ignacy Paderewski (1860-1941): Polish. Composer, pianist, and statesman. Paderewski, an internationally known virtuoso, interrupted his concert career to work for Poland's independence from Russia. He headed the Polish government briefly in 1919 and was elected president of the Polish Republic in exile in 1939, after the invasion of his country by the Germans and the fall of independent Poland.
Discovery of Puerto Rico Day: Puerto Rico. This holiday commemorates the discovery of Puerto Rico by Christopher Columbus in 1493.
Anniversary of the Revolution: Mexico. This holiday marks the anniversary of the social revolution launched by Francisco Madero against the dictatorship *of Porfirio Diaz that eventually led to the creation of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the creation of a constitutional democracy.
Capture of Alcatraz Island (1969): American Indian. On this date a group of American Indians led by Richard Oakes took over Alcatraz Island, site of a former federal prison, demanding that it be made available to Indians as a cultural center and declaring that all federal surplus property must by law revert to American Indians. The occupation of Alcatraz, which lasted until June 11, 1971, dramatized the long-standing grievances of American Indians against the federal government and signaled the rise of a new activism among Indians.
Carlos Bulosan (1913-1956): Filipino American. Writer and labor organizer. Arriving in the United States at the age of 17, Bulosan worked as a migrant agricultural laborer and eventually became involved in efforts to organize packinghouse and cannery workers. After he began to write for a union paper, he discovered writing as his vocation. With the coming of World War II and the involvement of the United States in combat in the Philippines, Bulosan rose to literary prominence, publishing poetry and essays in magazines and volumes of poetry and autobiographies. His most famous work, his memoir, America Is in the Heart, speaks eloquently of the economic exploitation and ethnic discrimination suffered by poor Filipinos in his adopted country.
Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-11949): Mexican. Painter. Along with Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros, Orozco was a leader of the Mexican muralist movement, one of the major creators of large-scale paintings on patriotic themes in the public buildings of the nation. His powerful works embody his own strong belief in the ideals of revolutionary Mexico and his faith in the courage and resilience of the common people. He also worked in the United States, where he painted an important series of frescoes at Dartmouth College.
Labor Thanksgiving Day (Keiro Kansha No Hi): Japan. This observance began as a harvest festival when Japan was primarily and agricultural society and now is a public holiday celebrating all those who work.