ON THIS DAY: August 24, 2020

August 24th is

Pluto Demoted Day *

Sack Like a Visigoth Day *

Strange Music Day *

Vesuvius Day *

William Wilberforce Day *


MORE! Edith Sampson, Stephen Fry and Ava Du Vernay, click



India – Krishna Janmashtami
(Hindu: Birth of Lord Krishna)

Liberia – National Flag Day

Peru – Cusco: Willka Raymi
(Pachamama – Mother Earth)

Ukraine – Independence Day

Uruguay – Nostalgia Night


On This Day in HISTORY

79 – (Traditional date) After centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupts, buries Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae – Vesuvius Day *

The Eruption of Vesuvius, by Abraham Pether – painted 1825

410 – The Sack of Rome: The city is attacked by the Visigoths led by King Alaric. Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, having been replaced in that position first by Mediolanum in 286 and then by Ravenna in 402. But Rome retains a paramount position as “the eternal city” and a spiritual center of the Empire. The sack is a major shock to contemporaries, friends and foes of the Empire alike, the first time in almost 800 years that Rome has fallen to a foreign enemy (see also 2017 entry)

1215 – Pope Innocent III declares the Magna Carta invalid

1349 – 6,000 Jews, blamed for the bubonic plague, are killed in Mainz, Germany

1456 – The first printing of the Guttenberg Bible is completed

1552 – Lavania Fontana born, Italian painter of the Bolognese Mannerist school; considered the first woman professional artist; she supported the family, her husband took care of the house and kids; she was among the first women artists to depict nude women, in spite of the social unacceptability of women being exposed to nudity, and the art academy barring women from viewing any nude body, a crucial part of an artist’s training. Art historians have long debated whether family members modeled for her.

La Regina di Saba e Salomone (Solomon and Sheba)
by Lavinia Fontana

1556 – Sophie Brahe born, Danish horticulturalist, genealogist, and student of chemistry and medicine; assisted her brother, astronomer Tycho Brahe, with observing and recording. She spent her last years writing up the genealogy of Danish noble families, publishing the first major version of Det Kongelige Bibliotek in 1626, and made later additions. It is still considered a major source of early history on Danish nobility.

1572 – St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre – French King Charles IX, swayed by his mother Catherine de Medici, orders the assassination of leaders of the French Protestants, called Huguenots, in Paris, which becomes a bloodbath, killing 70,000 protestants, and causing a resumption of the French religious civil war

1662 – Act of Uniformity requires all English to accept the Book of Common Prayer

1669 – Alessandro Marcello born, Italian composer

1724 – George Stubbs born, English painter and draftsman

Horse and Dog by George Stubbs

1759 – William Wilberforce born, head of the English parliamentary campaign to abolish the slave trade. Small in stature, but with a fine speaking voice and a sharp wit, he tirelessly advocated for ending the slave trade, in spite of his numerous health problems, from 1789 until the passage of Abolition of the Slave Trade bill in 1807.  William Wilberforce Day * honors his persistence

1814 – British forces capture Washington DC, set fire to the Capitol and the President’s Mansion (now called the White House), the only time the city has been occupied by a foreign force. First Lady Dolley Madison organizes the household staff and slaves of the presidential residence to save valuables and records as the British are entering the city

1847 – Charles McKim born, influential American architect

Courtyard of the Boston Public Library, designed by McKim, completed in 1895

1857 – The Panic of 1857 becomes first world-wide economic crisis, brought on by an international economic downturn and over-expansion of U.S. economy, but sparked by the sinking of SS Central America carrying a large shipment of gold to  NY banks, combined with failure of Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company

1862 – Zonia Baber, born as Mary Arizona Baber, American geographer, geologist, activist and teacher, known for her development of teaching methods for geology. After graduation from a Normal school as a teacher, she worked as a private school principal (1886-1888), then became an instructor and head of the Geography Department (1890-1899) at Cook County Normal School (now Chicago State University). While there, she designed a school desk specifically for use by students studying geography and other sciences. Baber was an associate professor and head of geography and geology in the Department of Education at the University of Chicago (1901-1902), and was also principal of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She continued her own studies, and earned her Bachelor of Science in 1904 from the University of Chicago. As a teacher, she focused on field work and first-hand experience, but she also chaired a committee of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to review textbooks, and recommend eliminating outdated or in appropriate phrases and concepts to stop the perpetuation of prejudices. In 1898, she co-founded the Geographic Society of Chicago, served as a term as its President and was active in the society for 50 years. Baber was an anti-imperialist,  a feminist and suffragist,  and a member of the executive committee of the Chicago branch of the NAACP. In 1926, she traveled with a WILPF delegation to Haiti and Puerto Rico, and advocated for extending suffrage to the women of Puerto Rico.  Co-author with Wallace Atwood of Geography: The Elementary School Teacher and Course of Study.

1869 – Cornelius Swarthout patents the waffle iron *

1890 – Ella Rees Williams born, Dominican-English author of novels and short stories, under pen name Jean Rhys; Wide Sargasso Sea

1891 – Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera

1898 – Malcolm Cowley born, American novelist, poet, and critic; New Republic editor

1899 – Jorge Luis Borges born, Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator; Labyrinths

1900 – Maria Zubreeva born, Russian Soviet realist (Leningrad school) painter and portraitist, graphic artist and designer

1903 – Graham Sutherland born, English Surrealist painter

The Dying Swan, by Graham Sutherland – c. 1942

1904 – Ida Cook born, English novelist under the pen name Mary Burchell, and Jewish rescuer; with her sister, Mary Louise Cook, and funded mainly by her writing, helped 29 Jews escape from the Nazis during the late 1930s, and smuggled valuables out of Germany for Jewish families, after Jews were severely restricted by law in what they could take with them; ‘Mary Buchell’ was known for her romance novels; as Ida Cook, she published We Followed Our Stars, the story of the sisters’ rescue operation; in 1965, the Cook sisters were honored as Righteous Gentiles by Yad Vashem in Israel

Ida, left, and Mary Louise Cook in 1926

1905 – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup born, American Delta Blues singer-songwriter; best-known songs are “That’s All Right” “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re Mine”

1909 – Workers begin pouring concrete for the Panama Canal

1919 – Tosia Altman born, Polish Jewish courier and smuggler for Hashomer Hatzair, a secular Socialist Zionist youth movement, and for the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB), during the WWII German occupation of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Volunteering as a courier, she passed herself off as a Polish gentile using false papers, and risked her life to visit ghettos, first to organize underground education and later to warn them of the impending mass extermination of Jews. After formation of the ŻOB, she became their liaison with the Home Army, smuggling weapons and explosives into the Warsaw Ghetto, and establishing a ŻOB group in the Kraków Ghetto. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, she was a courier between bunkers, and was one of only six to escape from the command bunker when the Germans discovered it, in spite of head and leg wounds. Altman was captured two weeks later, when the factory she was hiding in caught fire. Severely burned, she was handed over to the Gestapo, and died two days later, at the age of 23

1926 – Nancy Spero born, American visual artist, anti-war and feminist activist, noted for epic-scale works, including a linear mosaic in NY subway walls at Lincoln Center station, and collage on paper; member of the Art Workers Coalition, Women Artists in Revolution, and Ad Hoc Committee of Women Artists; founding member of A.I.R. Gallery (Artists in Residence)

 A section from Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers (2001), a glass and ceramic mosaic on NY subway platform walls at the Lincoln Center station

1929 – Betty Dodson born, American sex educator, artist and author, pioneer in women’s sexual liberation

1932 – Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly nonstop across the U.S., from Los Angeles to Newark NJ in just over 19 hours

1936 – Antonia Duffy born, uses pen name A. S. Byatt, English novelist and poet; Angels and Insects,  Babel Tower

1937 – Susan Sheehan born, American author; won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction for Is There No Place on Earth for Me?, her landmark book on mental illness and the mental-health system; staff writer for The New Yorker

1938 – Mason Williams born, American guitarist and composer; Classical Gas

1940 – Francine Lalonde born, Canadian member of the House of Commons 1993-2011 (for two different districts); campaigned for Assisted Suicide/Death With Dignity bill

1945 – Ronee Blakley born, singer-songwriter, actor, producer; women’s rights activist

1948 – Alexander McCall Smith born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), British internationally best-selling author, and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law, expert on bioethics; notable for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agencyseries and the 44 Scotland Street Series

1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty goes into effect

1950 – Edith Sampson becomes the first black U.S. delegate to the U.N.

Eleanor Roosevelt with Edith Sampson

1952 – Marion Bloem born, Indonesian-Dutch writer and filmmaker; author of Geen gewoon Indisch meisje (No Ordinary Indo Girl) and as director of the feature film Ver van familie (Far from Family)

1954 – Congress passes the Communist Control Act, declaring the Communist Party to be an “agency of a hostile foreign power”

1957 – Stephen Fry born, English comedian, writer, presenter and activist; teamed with Hugh Laurie, he made A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster, then starred in the British television series Kingdom; hosted the documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, and the travel series Stephen Fry in America; author of four novels and three volumes of memoirs; active supporter of the Labour Party, and an advocate for LGBT rights, Palestinian rights and the organization Sense About Science

1959 – Meg Munn born, Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors of Sheffield Hallam University, and Chair of the British Council’s Society Advisory Group; international consultant on governance, including parliamentary processes gender, political party development, gender mainstreaming and women in leadership, working with organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women; British Labour Member of Parliament (2001-2015); advocate for women in STEM and other non-traditional careers

1967 – Led by Abbie Hoffman, the Youth International Party  temporarily disrupts trading at the New York Stock Exchange by throwing dollar bills from the viewing gallery, causing trading to cease as brokers scramble to grab them.

1970 – A  bomb, planted anti-war extremists, explodes at the University of Wisconsin’s Army Research Center; a researcher is killed

1972 – Ava Du Vernay born, American producer, director, screenwriter and film distributor; the first African American woman to win the Sundance Film Festival  directing award, in 2012 for Middle of Nowhere; Director of the feature film Selma, which was nominated for an Academy award as Best Picture 2014, and the recently released A Wrinkle in Time; creator and producer of the TV series, Queen Sugar

1981 – Mark David Chapman sentenced to 20 years-to-life for killing John Lennon

1991 – Ukraine declares its independence from the Soviet Union

1992 – A special commission in Brazil concludes that there is sufficient evidence to begin impeachment proceedings against President of Brazil Fernando Collor de Mello, finding he had accepted millions of dollars worth of illegal payments from business interests

1994 – An initial accord between Israel and the PLO giving partial self-rule to Palestinians on the West Bank

1998 – Musician Patrick Grant starts Strange Music Day * – “listen to a CD you never heard before, just for the hell of it”

2006 – Pluto Demoted * – 424 astronomers still present on final day of the International Astronomical Union meeting in Prague, less than 5% of the world’s astronomers, voted to demote Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet

2017 – Sack Like a Visigoth Day * is inaugurated – if you love Talk Like a Pirate Day, this one’s right up your alley (see also year 410 entry) – How to play along:

2018 – Tom Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Obama administration, was placed under arrest for alleged forcible touching, sex abuse, and harassment. Allegations against Frieden were levied by a longtime friend of Frieden and his wife, who reported that in October 2017 at his Brooklyn home, he had grabbed her buttocks without her consent. Frieden surrendered to Brooklyn police. President Barack Obama appointed him as head of the CDC in  2009, and Frieden served until he resigned when Donald Trump took office in 2017. In June, 2019, Frieden pled guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly contact. At that time of the incident, he was the New York City health commissioner. He could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail if he had been tried on the original charges against him. The judge ordered Frieden to avoid contact for a year with the woman who reported him.

2019 – The city of Paris begins celebrating the 75th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi occupation during WWII, honoring both French Resistance fighters and American soldiers who played a part in ousting the Germans. Liberation came after a week of strikes by Parisians, and bloody clashes with German soldiers as the Parisian Resistance put up make-shift barricades all over the city to thwart the Nazi troops and tanks. French firefighters will unfurl a huge French flag from the Eiffel Tower, recreating the moment on August 25, 1944, when a French tricolor replaced a swastika flag atop the iconic monument. People dressed in World War II-era military uniforms and dresses will parade in the southern part of Paris, retracing the entry of French and U.S. tanks into the city. A group of U.S. WWII veterans have made a pilgrimage to the city to attend the celebration. 

Paris liberation reenactment in August 2019 – REUTERS/Charles Platiau photo


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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