ON THIS DAY: May 21, 2019

May 21st is

American Red Cross Founder’s Day *

National Memo Day

National Waitstaff Day

Strawberries and Cream Day

World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development *


MORE! Mary Anning, Fats Waller and Vicki Ruiz, click



Cameroon – Sheep Festival

Canada – Victoria Day

Cayman Islands –
Discovery Day

Chile – Navy Day
(Battle of Iquique 1879)

Columbia – Afro-Columbian Day

Hungary – Day of Patriots

India – Anti-Terrorism Day

Kabardino-Balkaria –
Circassian Day of Mourning *

Montenegro – Independence Day

Saint Helena – Saint Helena Day


On This Day in HISTORY

878 – Arab-Byzantine Wars, Siege of Syracuse: the city of Syracuse in Sicily, which was part of the Byzantine Empire, had been besieged by the forces of the Aghlabid dynasty of Ifriqiya (a large section of the North Africa Coast), since August 877. On this day, the city fell as the Aglabids breached the seaward walls. The defenders and many of the inhabitants were massacred, and Syracuse was sacked, a major step in the Muslim conquest of Sicily

The 878 capture of Syracuse, from the Madrid Skylitzes

1260 – Hao Jing, envoy of Mongol leader Kublai Khan, is imprisoned by order of the high Chancellor of China, Jia Sidao, at the Song Dynasty court of Emperor Lizong while attempting to negotiate with the Song

Song Emperor Lizong

1471 – Albrecht Dürer born, German Renaissance artist and mathematician; noted for wood-cut prints and engravings, he was also an early landscape artist; he wrote theoretical treatises on mathematics, perspective and proportions

 Self-Portrait by Albrecht Dürer – 1493

1554 – Queen Mary I grants a royal charter to Derby School, as a grammar school for boys in Derby, England; the school will last until 1989

Queen Mary I, by Hans Eworth

1688 – Alexander Pope born, English essayist, poet, and translator; best known for his satirical verse, and his translation of Homer

1758 – Ten-year-old Mary Campbell is abducted by a band of Lenape, also known as the Delaware, in Pennsylvania. Increased numbers of British military troops in Pennsylvania and Ohio because of hostilities between Native Americans and settlers eventually led to a meeting of several tribes with Colonel Henry Bouquet in which he demanded return of all known captives, a list of 60 names, including Mary Campbell. She was returned to her family in 1764

1780 – Elizabeth Fry born, English philanthropist, reformer and Quaker, called “angel of prisons” for her campaigns to improve prison conditions after she made a visit to Newgate Prisons in 1813, and found overcrowded conditions and women who had not even been tried; she later funded a school for the children living in the prisons with their prisoner mothers, and founded the ‘Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate’ which provided materials for the women to learn sewing and knitting in order to earn money after their release

1799 – Mary Anning born, British fossil collector and paleontologist, made a number of important finds; although widely known for her fossil studies, she wasn’t permitted to join the Geological Society of London because she was a woman, and did not always receive credit for her work

1806 – Harriet Elizabeth Georgiana Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland born. During Whig administrations, she was Mistress of the Robes (the senior lady in the Royal Household – when the Queen was queen regnant, meaning queen in her own right, as Victoria was, instead of queen consort, married to the ruling king, the appointment is political).  She used her social position to undertake philanthropic projects, including organizing the protest by English ladies against American slavery

Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland –
(1849), by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

1819 – The first bicycles in the U.S. are seen in New York City, nicknamed “swift walkers” which are imported from London

1832 – The first Democratic Convention is held in Baltimore MD

1832 – Elizabeth Storrs Mead born, American academic, Mount Holyoke College President (1890-1900). Mount Holyoke, a private women’s liberal arts college in South Hadley, Massachusetts, was founded in 1837 as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, and received its collegiate charter in 1888 as the Mount Holyoke Seminary and College. During Mead’s tenure, ‘Seminary’ was dropped, and it became Mount Hollyoke College. She also pushed the Trustees for more on-campus accommodations for students, and for the hiring of servants to take over many of the domestic chores, such as washing dishes, being done by the students, to allow them more time for their studies

1840 – Captain William Hobson R.N. proclaims British sovereignty over New Zealand; the North Island by treaty and the South Island by ‘discovery’

1846 – The first steamship arrives in Hawaii

1851 – Slavery is abolished in Columbia, South America

1856 – Grace Hoadley Dodge born, American philanthropist, organizer, founder of first Working Girls Society in New York City, and the Association of Working Girls’ Societies; she was the main source of funds for the New York College for the Training of Teachers; Dodge was also one of the founders of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)

1860 – Willem Einthoven born, Dutch physiologist; developer of the electrocardiograph; 1924 Nobel Prize

1864 – Circassian Day of Mourning * commemorates the end of the Russian-Circassian War, when many Circassians were forced into exile

1864 – Princess Stéphanie of Belgium born, Crown Princess of Austria, and inventor;
she took out patents in several countries on a combination chafing dish and spirit lamp

1877 – Romania declares itself independent from the Ottoman Empire following its Senate’s adoption of Mihail Kogălniceanu’s Declaration of Independence

1878 – Glenn Curtiss born, American aviation pioneer

Curtiss winning the Scientific American trophy in 1908

1881 – Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross, in Washington DC – celebrated as American Red Cross Founder’s Day *

1884 – Dinizulu succeeds his father Cetshwayo as King of the Zulus

1887 – Ruth Law born, pioneering American woman aviator who was inspired to become a pilot by her brother, movie stuntman Rudman Law. Orville Wright refused to give her lessons because he believed that women weren’t mechanically inclined, which only made her more determined. Law not only learned to fly at the Burgess Flying School, she became an adept mechanic. She earned her pilot’s license in 1912.  In 1915, she gave an aerobatics demonstration in Daytona Beach, Florida, where she looped the loop twice, causing her husband great anxiety. In 1916, she was a close second to a male flyer in an altitude competition, and in 1916, she broke the existing cross-America flight air speed record of 452 miles (728 km), set by Victor Carlstrom, when she flew nonstop 590 miles (950 km) from Chicago to New York State. The next day, as she flew over Manhattan, her fuel cut out, but she glided safely to land on Governors Island, where ‘Hap’ Arnold, future Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces, changed her spark plugs. When the U.S. entered WWI in 1917, she campaigned unsuccessfully for women pilots to fly military aircraft. After the war, she set a women’s altitude record of nearly 14,7oo feet (4,481 m), but it only lasted two days before Raymonde de Laroche broke it. In 1922, her husband, exhausted by her dangerous exploits, announced her retirement to the newspapers without telling her, and she reluctantly gave in to his demand

1901 – Baroness Suzanne Lilar born, Belgian journalist, author and playwright, member of the Royal Academy of French Language and Literature; Le Divertissement portugais

1901 – Regina M. Anderson born, American playwright and librarian; her mixed heritage included Native American, Jewish, East Indian, Swedish, and other European ancestry (including a Confederate general grandfather); one of her grandparents was of African descent, born in Madagascar; though she identified herself as simply American, she was a key member of the Harlem Renaissance. She was born in Chicago, and spent a year at Wilberforce University and worked in its Carnegie Library. In 1921, she returned to Chicago, and was hired as a junior library assistant at the Chicago Public Library. She then moved to New York, and was living at the YWCA when she applied for a job with the New York Public Library. When the interviewer saw that she had filled in ‘American’ in the blanch for nationality, he told her that she was a negro, not an American. But she was hired to work at the 135th Street branch in Harlem, which was run by innovative librarian Ernestine Rose. The 135th Street Branch became a community center where groups like the NAACP and a high school boys group studying black history held meetings, and  there were frequent speakers and events. Anderson’s apartment, dubbed ‘Dream Haven,’ was shared with civil rights activist Ethel Ray and Louella Tucker, on the staff at Opportunity magazine. It quickly became a social center for writers like Zora Neale Hurston (she slept on their couch during a financial drought), Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude MacKay. Soon a who’s who of the rest of the Harlem Renaissance were frequent visitors to Dream Haven. Anderson also read voraciously so she could recommend new books to the library’s patrons. She became involved in two theatre groups and wrote three plays under the pen name Ursula Trelling. She was promoted within the library system, but then found herself being passed over. W.E.B. Du Bois wrote a series of letters on her behalf to the NY Public Library higher-ups, and in 1938, she became the first African-American head of a branch, at the 115th Street branch, and later became head of the Washington Heights branch. After almost 40 years, she reached the mandatory retirement age of 65, and spent much of her retirement traveling, before she passed away in 1993

1904 – Fats Waller born, American pianist and composer

1913 – Gina Bachauer born, Greek classical pianist who frequently appeared with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. In 1976, the Gina Bacjauer International Piano Competition was founded in Salt Lake City in her memory

1914 – The Greyhound Bus Company begins in Minnesota

1918 – The US House of Representatives passes the amendment to give women the vote by 274 to 136. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress, spoke: “How shall we answer their challenge, gentlemen: how shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted for war to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?”  The amendment fails to pass in the Senate, and has to be introduced all over again 1919

1921 – Andrei Sakharov born, Soviet scientist and dissident, 1975 Nobel Peace Prize

1922 – The Pulitzer Prize for Drama awarded to Eugene O’Neill for Anna Christie

1923 – Dorothy Hewitt born, Australian poet, novelist, playwright and feminist; while working under pen names for the Communist paper, The Tribune, she also worked in a clothing factory, so her first novel, Bobbin Up, is semi-autobiographical; she became disillusioned with the Communist Party in the 1960s, and renounced her membership after the Soviet Army’s brutal suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968; her collection of poems, Rapunzel in Suburbia, was published in 1975, and Virago Press published her autobiography, Wild Card

1925 – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen leaves Spitsbergen with two seaplanes for the North Pole

Roald Amundsen in 1925

1927 – Aviator Charles Lindbergh, in the Spirit of St Louis, lands in Paris after the first solo air crossing of Atlantic

1927 – Lida Kittrell Barrett born, American mathematician, and head of the mathematics department at the University of Tennessee (1973-1980), then administrator and mathematics faculty member at Northern Illinois University, where she was Associate Provost, and at Mississippi State University, where she was Dean of Arts and Sciences. After retiring from MSU, she was a Senior Associate att he Education Directorate of the National Science Foundation for 3 years, followed by 3 years as a Professor of Mathematics at West Point. She is an active member of the American Mathematics Society and the second woman president of the Mathematical Association of America. In 2008, the MAA  presented Barrett with the Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics

1929 – Sergei Prokoviev’s ballet Prodigal Son premieres in Paris

1934 – Jocasta Innes born in China, British author, journalist and businesswoman; her father was an oil company executive, and her mother was a teacher; by the time she was 12, Innes had lived on every continent except Antarctica. She read Modern Languages at Girton College, Cambridge. Early in her career, she worked on the Evening Standard’s ‘Londoner’s Diary’ and was known for her charm in gatecrashing debutante balls that were a main source of material for the ‘Diary.’ In 1971, after she left her first husband and two children, her first book was published, The Pauper’s Cookbook, and became a bestseller in Britain, followed by The Pauper’s Homemaking Book, The Country Kitchen and Paint Magic. She founded her company, Paint Magic, and was the company’s CEO during its ten years of operation

1944 – Mary Robinson born, first woman President of Ireland (1990-1997); UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002)

1944 – Haleh Afshar born in Iran, Baroness Afshar, British academic and life peer in the House of Lords; prominent Shi’a Muslim feminist; educated in England, earning a PhD from New Hall, Cambridge; in Iran, she worked as a civil servant in land reform, and as a journalist, one of the first cohort of Iranian women to vote, but left during the Iranian Revolution; professor of women’s studies at the University of York; appointed to the board of the Women’s National Commission in 2008, and is a founding member of the Muslim Women’s Network

1947 – Linda Laubenstein born, American physician, specialist in hematology and oncology, and early HIV/AIDS researcher and activist, one of the first U.S. doctors to recognize the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s; co-author of the first article linking AIDS with Kaposi’s sarcoma; a childhood bout of polio left her paraplegic, and in a wheelchair for the remainder of her life; she died suddenly at age 45 of a heart attack

1955 – Vicki L. Ruiz born, American historian, author and essayist, expert on Mexican-American women in the 20th century. Her first book, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950, was inspired by her graduate school professor Albert Camarillo at Stanford University, who introduced her to the history of women’s cannery unions in California, and the Labor activist Luisa Moreno. Her other books include Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U. S. Women’s History (editor), Las Obreras: Chicana Politics of Work and Family and Memories and Migrations: Mapping Boricua and Chicana Histories. In 2015, Ruiz was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and also awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama


1958 – Muffy Thomas Calder born in Canada, Scottish computer scientist and academic; since 2005, Vice-Principal and Head of College of Science and Engineering, as well as Professor of Formal Methods at the University of Glasgow; Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government (2012-2015)

1959 – The musical Gypsy opens on Broadway

1966 –Mamas and the Papas album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears is #1

1968 – The majority in the South African Parliament votes for the Prohibition of Improper Interference Bill, against the votes by the Opposition. The bill prohibits multiracial membership of political parties, participation in the affairs of political parties belonging to one racial group by members of another group, or acceptance by political parties of funds from abroad

1970 – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young record “Ohio”

1979 – Former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White is convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder for killing Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. White only served five years of a seven-year prison sentence

1980 – The Empire Strikes Back, the second Star Wars movie, is released

1985 – Marvin Gaye’s last album, Dream of a Lifetime, is released

1994 – Tim McGraw’s album Not a Moment Too Soon is #1

2001 – France’s Taubira law, named for French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, officially recognizes the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as crimes against humanity

Christiane Taubira

2002 – The first World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development * following UNESCO’s adoption of the 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity

2011 – Evangelist Harold Camping gets it wrong again; he was predicting that the Rapture, the day when all good Christians, alive or dead, will meet Jesus in the sky, would occur on this date; previously, he had claimed that Judgment Day and the Rapture would happen in the middle of September, 1994

2015 – Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates urges an end to the BSA  blanket ban on openly gay leaders. Gates, a former U.S. Secretary of Defense, oversaw the end of the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay members of the armed services. He said at the Boy Scouts’ national annual meeting that the courts would likely force the organization to change the longstanding blanket ban if the group does not do it first. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it would be,” Gates said

1911 Boy Scouts of America pin with their original motto: Be Prepared


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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