For the week of Jan. 20, 2019
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.
Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993): African American. Gospel songwriter, blues singer, and pianist. The son of a Georgia revivalist preacher, Dorsey began his career as a pianist, composer, and arranger of blues pieces. When he turned to composing church music, he introduced elements of the blues into his work, thereby creating the sound of contemporary gospel music. In 1932 Dorsey became musical director of Chicago's Pilgrim Baptist Church, a position he held for more than 40 years. In the same year he cofounded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. The most famous of Dorsey's more than 1,000 gospel songs is Take My Hand, Precious Lord, written in 1932 after the death of his first wife and infant son.
Arthur Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938) : Puerto Rican. Scholar and collector. Son of a Black laundress and a German-born merchant, Schomburg left Puerto Rico at age 17 to continue his education in New York City. His growing involvement in efforts to improve conditions for Black and Latino people led him to become fascinated with African American Culture, and he began collecting books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and prints documenting the history of Black people in America. His personal collection, which he amassed as a hobby, became the finest of its kind in the nation and was purchased in 1926 by the New York Public Library. The Arthur A. Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and Art opened to the public in 1934 with Schomburg as its curator, a position he held until his death.
New Year: China. This is beginning of a three-day celebration of the Chinese New Year. The festivities mark the beginning of year 4699 (The Year of the Snake) since the mythical founding of the Chinese people. It is a day when all business accounts are settled and grudges forgotten. Traditional Chinese celebrate New Year's Day as a birthday and count themselves one year older. Celebrations include fireworks, a dragon dance and the beating of drums and cymbals, visits to temples, and prayers for blessings *In the new year. This is called Spring Festival in the People's Republic of China because the official New Years Day is January1, based on the Gregorian calendar. *
New Year (Sol) : Korea. This begins the traditional Korean New Year 4334 of the era of Tan'gun, the mythical progenitor of the Korean people. It is celebrated from January 24 to January 26.
New Year (Losar): Tibet. This begins the Tibetan lunar year 2128. This is a day of celebration that links all people in the Tibetan diaspora, resulting from the decision of many Tibetans, led by the Dalai Lama in 1959, to flee the Communist Chinese.
New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan) : Vietnam. This is the most important holiday in Vietnam. People dress in their best clothes to welcome the new year. There are ceremonies to bid farewell to the gods that attend each household, the kitchen gods, who go to heaven to report on the household's behavior during the past year. fireworks mark the departure of the kitchen gods.
Robert Burns (1759-1796): Scottish. Poet. Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, is known throughout the world for poems, including Comin Thru' the Rye and A Red, *Red, Rose. The celebration of Burns' birthday focuses around a Burns Night Supper that features the procession into the dining area of the haggis, accompanied by playing of the bagpipes. The haggis is a sheep stomach filled with a mixture of chopped lamb and oatmeal cooked just below boiling point. It is eaten with bashed neeps, which are turnips. The preferred drink is well-aged scotch. This feast often features the reading of Burns' poem To a Haggis. His birthday is celebrated throughout the world where there are Scottish communities, including Japan, other parts of Asia, and Russia. *
Australia Day: Australia. In order to relieve the pressures of crowding in British prisons, the British government established a penal colony in Australia. The first prisoners arrived on this date in 1788. This has been celebrated as Foundation Day, and now as Australia Day, since 1817. The trend in Australia is to celebrate this day on the actual day of its occurrence rather than on the nearest Monday to that day. The exact day of celebration, however, is determined by each state or division within Australia rather than by the federal government and therefore, may vary from one part of Australia to another.
Juan Pablo Duarte's Birthday: Dominican Republic. This holiday marks the birthday of one of the founders of the republic.
Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) : Jewish American. Labor leader. Gompers founded the first major labor union in the United States, the American Federation of Labor, and served as its president from 1886 to 1924.