this day in history

August 27, 1984

President Ronald Reagan announces the Teacher in Space Program (TiSP) which was designed to inspire students, honor teachers, and promote interest in STEM subjects. The program would take the first civilian, a teacher, into space as a Payload Specialist and return them to Earth to talk about the experience with their students. TiSP was the first in a series of planned programs to send civilians into space, first a teacher, then a journalist, possibly an artist or poet afterwards.

After receiving 11,000 teacher applications and training a select group of finalists, the chosen teacher was Christa McAuliffe with Barbara Morgan as her backup. McAuliffe planned to broadcast two lessons from space to millions of American children to spark their interest in science and space. Tragically, Christa McAuliffe died in the Challenger explosion, and TiSP was cancelled as NASA decided space exploration was too dangerous for civilians. In 2007, Barbara Morgan would travel into space as the 1st Educator Astronaut after becoming a fully trained Mission Speciailist.

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December 1st 1955: Rosa Parks on the bus

On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old black seamstress from Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. A member of the NAACP, Parks was returning home from a long day at work when the bus driver ordered her to give up her seat on the full bus for a white man. No stranger to civil rights activism, she was subsequently arrested for civil disobedience in defying the state’s Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Through this act of defiance, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which time African-Americans - under the leadership of a young, charismatic reverend called Martin Luther King Jr. - refused to use the city buses, arguing that they should be integrated per the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. The boycott was successful in forcing Montgomery to end its discriminatory segregation laws, and marked the beginning of the main phase of what is now known as the Civil Rights Movement. From Montgomery, African-Americans across the United States went on to lead sit-ins, freedom rides, and political marches, in an attempt to bring an end to segregation laws which had oppressed their community for so long. These activists were all indebted to Rosa Parks - known as the ‘mother of the Civil Rights Movement’ - for her simple act of defiance, firmly asserting her humanity and her rights as an American citizen. As the movement grew, Parks remained an influential symbol and leader of the movement, which ultimately brought an end to legal segregation and forced Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. As for Parks herself, the affair of her arrest and the subsequent boycott caused her to lose her job and made her a victim of harassment and threats. She moved to Detriot and in 1965 began to work in the office of Congressman John Conyers. In 1999, Rosa Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her role in transforming American race relations, and upon her death in 2005 she lay in state at the U.S. Capitol. Today, 60 years on, we remember Rosa Parks’s personal bravery, the successes of the movement she inspired, and the steps yet to be taken as the struggle against systemic racism continues.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”

60 years ago today

September 16, 1810: Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores”)

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, launches the Mexican War of Independence with the issuing of his Grito de Dolores, or “Cry of Dolores,” The revolutionary tract, so-named because it was publicly read by Hidalgo in the town of Dolores, called for the end of 300 years of Spanish rule in Mexico, redistribution of land, and racial equality. Thousands of Indians and mestizos flocked to Hidalgo’s banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and soon the peasant army was on the march to Mexico City. Since October 1825, the anniversary of the event is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day.

In the early 19th century, Napoleon’s occupation of Spain led to the outbreak of revolts all across Spanish America. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla–“the father of Mexican independence”–launched the Mexican rebellion with his “Cry of Delores,” and his populist army came close to capturing the Mexican capital. Defeated at Calderón in January 1811, he fled north but was captured and executed. He was followed by other peasant leaders, however, such as José María Morelos y Pavón, Mariano Matamoros, and Vicente Guerrero, who all led armies of native and racially mixed revolutionaries against the Spanish and the Royalists.

Ironically, it was the Royalists–made up of Mexicans of Spanish descent and other conservatives–who ultimately brought about independence. In 1820, liberals took power in Spain, and the new government promised reforms to appease the Mexican revolutionaries. In response, Mexican conservatives called for independence as a means of maintaining their privileged position in Mexican society.

In early 1821, Agustín de Iturbide, the leader of the Royalist forces, negotiated the Plan of Iguala with Vicente Guerrero. Under the plan, Mexico would be established as an independent constitutional monarchy, the privileged position of the Catholic Church would be maintained, and Mexicans of Spanish descent would be regarded as equal to pure Spaniards. Mexicans of mixed or pure Indian blood would have lesser rights.

Iturbide defeated the Royalist forces still opposed to independence, and the new Spanish viceroy, lacking money, provisions, and troops, was forced to accept Mexican independence. On August 24, 1821, Spanish Viceroy Juan de O’Donojú signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which approves a plan to make Mexico an independent constitutional monarchy. In 1822, as no Bourbon monarch to rule Mexico had been found, Iturbide was proclaimed the emperor of Mexico. However, his empire was short-lived, and in 1823 republican leaders Santa Anna and Guadalupe Victoria deposed Iturbide and set up a republic, with Guadalupe Victoria as its first president.

:
“Mexican War of Independence Begins.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.

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October 30th 1938: ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles broadcast his radio play of H.G. Wells’s 1898 science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds on PBS. Coinciding with Halloween, the play was broadcast as a realistic series of news bulletins, detailing a Martian invasion of Earth. Millions of Americans were listening to the radio that night, but did not turn over to Welles’s broadcast on CBS until 12 minutes into the show, after a popular ventriloquist show ended on NBC. By this time, the play was underway, taking the form of orchestral music frequently interrupted by news updates about an alien invasion. Welles described his fictional Martians vividly, expaining how their “eyes are black and gleam like a serpent”, and detailing their use of walking war machines and heat-ray weapons. The popular story goes that the frighteningly realistic broadcast caused milions of Americans to believe that a real alien invasion was occuring. People supposedly fled the fictional crash site in New Jersey, and took to the streets in mass hysteria. The CBS studio heard about the panic, and Welles reasured listeners that the story was fictitious. While Welles and CBS feared that the confusion would damage their reputation, CBS was cleared of wrongdoing, and the play launched Welles’s Hollywood career. The story of the mass panic caused by Welles’s War of the Worlds remains popular, but recent research has suggested that the extent of the commotion is far more limited than the myth allows. Newspapers at the time greatly exaggerated listeners’ panic - most of the show’s audience understood the play was fictitious - as a way to discredit radio, which was emerging as a serious competition to newspapers.

This Day in Mexican History: Aztec Calendar Unearthed 225 Years Ago

225 years ago today, on December 17, 1790, the Aztec Calendar Stone was unearthed in Mexico City’s Zócalo.

Workers were laying water pipes in the south side of the plaza when they found the 24 ton colossal stone carving. Soon after, it was mounted on the western wall of the Metropolitan Cathedral where it remained for almost a hundred years until 1885 when officials transferred it to the Monolith Gallery of the National Museum in downtown Mexico City.

In 1964, officials again moved the Mexica Sun Stone to Mexico’s newly formed National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park, where this year it celebrated 50 years as the centerpiece of the museum’s Mexica Hall.

Archaeologists believe the Stone of the Sun was carved in 1479, just 40 years before contact with the Spanish.

While called a calendar, it is actually several calendars in one. The Xiuhpohualli is a 365-day solar calendar that sets dates for yearly rituals and agricultural activities. The 260-day Tonalpohualli is considered by most scholars a sacred calendar dedicated to the divine forces for spiritual guidance. Others track specific planets and stars.

Within its elaborate carvings are the symbols that represent the Mexica’s cosmology, their history and account of the universe and their place within it.

The Aztec Calendar remains a symbol of our heritage and identity as Mexican people.

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February 21st 1965: Malcolm X assassinated

On this day in 1965, African-American civil rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated aged 39. Born as Malcolm Little in Nebraska in 1925, his family were forced to relocate when the Ku Klux Klan threatened his father, who was active in the black nationalist movement. Malcolm’s father was ultimately murdered by white supremacists - but the white police insisted it was suicide - and the family disintegrated. The young Malcolm dropped out of school and became involved in crime, eventually going to prison for burglary in 1946. While imprisoned, he was exposed to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, who argued that the white man is the devil and cannot live peaceably with blacks, who should establish a separate black nation. Malcolm was powerfully affected by this ideology, and changed his last name to reject the ‘slave’ name he had been given. After his release from prison, Malcolm X became a preacher in New York, calling for black self-defence against white aggression. His eloquent advocacy of black nationalism and the neccessity of securing civil rights “by any means necessary”, including violence, made him a respected, but also feared, figure. Malcolm X was feared by white and black Americans, as some civil rights activists worried that his more radical message threatened the strategy of non-violence espoused by Martin Luther King Jr.. While his fame contributed to the Nation of Islam’s growing popularity, Malcolm began to split from the organisation, disillusioned by Elijah Muhammad’s hypocrisy and alleged corruption. He formally left the organisation in 1964, and visited Mecca, an experience which tempered his rhetoric and led him to abandon the argument that whites are devils. At this point, Malcolm changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, returning to America influenced by socialism and pan-Africanism and more hopeful for a peaceful resolution to America’s race problems. As he was preparing to speak at a rally for his recently-founded Organisation of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, Malcolm X was shot 15 times by three members of the Nation of Islam. In death, his legacy loomed large over the civil rights movement, and African-American activists increasingly urged black power for black people. Malcolm X remains one of the most famous and respected figures of the civil rights movement, and his seminal autobiography is considered one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

“We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

One year ago today (4/29/2016): Darren’s opening night in HATAI - 
↳ “The makeup changes everything.  You suddenly look at yourself in the mirror and you just want to be a bitch.  It’s your game face.  It really is your game face.” - Darren   (Out.com)

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April 14th 1912: Titanic hits an iceberg

On this day in 1912, at 11.40pm, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg. The Titanic was the largest and most opulent passenger liner the world had ever seen, attracting notable dignitaries to its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. The vessel was built in Belfast for White Star Line, with the intention of trumping the company’s rivals at Cunard. The Titanic was lauded as an ‘unsinkable’ ship, but subsequent examinations have suggested some fatal flaws in the ship’s design, in addition to a lack of lifeboats, which only could accommodate half the passengers. Just four days after setting sail, on April 14th at around 11.40pm, the Titanic hit an iceberg. The collision caused a massive gash in the ship’s hull, dooming the vessel to sink. As the ship filled with water and slowly sank, its over two thousand passengers rushed to lifeboats. The panicked evacuation was haphazard, with lifeboats lowered despite not being at full capacity. The ship’s final hours saw a number of particularly touching stories, including the elderly Straus couple who stayed in their cabin to die together, the violin players continuing to perform as the ship sank, and Benjamin Guggenheim changing into his formal dress and declaring “We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.”  The Titanic finally sank at around 2.20am, leaving thousands to die of hypothermia in the freezing ocean. Over 1,500 people died in the tragedy, with around 700 survivors rescued by the Cunard’s Carpathia. The demise of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic shocked the world, and the tragic fate of a symbol of early twentieth-century optimism continues to captivate people’s imagination.