For the week of Dec. 10, 2017
Ralph Bunch (1904-1971): African American. Diplomat, political scientist, and United Nations official. For his work in negotiating an agreement between Israel and Arab nations in 1949, Bunch was awarded the Nobel Peace Price Prize.
T(homas) H(opkins) Gallaudet (1787-1851): French. Educator. An American teacher, Gallaudet established the first school for the hearing impaired in the United States in 1817.
Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first such statement of principle by an international body. The document, conceived as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, sets forth the basic civil, economic, political, and social rights that should be guaranteed to very person.
Fiorello LaGuardia (1882-1947): Italian American. Political leader. Energetic, colorful, and incorruptible, LaGuardia was the first Italian American political figure of national importance. During his three terms as mayor of New York City (1934-1945), LaGuardia instituted political reforms and public works projects and achieved the adoption of a new city charter.
Latlat al-Qadr: Islam. This festival occurs during the month of Ramadan and commemorates the revelation of the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad.
Frank Sinatra (1915-1998): Italian American. Singer, actor, entertainer. Frank Sinatra became the modern popular superstar with a singing and acting career that spanned more than 50 years. Although probably best known for his singing career, Sinatra made over 58 films and received an Academy Award for best actor for The Man with the Golden Arm and won An Academy Award for the best supporting actor for From Here to Eternity. He invented the solo singing style that has become the model for most other singers since the 1940s. His single recordings and albums have become American music classics. Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, the only child of Sicilian immigrant Martin Sinatra and his wife Natalie Garavante.
Composition of Lift Every Voice and Sing 1900): African American. On this date the brothers James Weldon Johnson and James Rosamond Johnson completed the words and music to the hymn of pride and hope that became known as the Negro National Anthem.
fiesta de Guadalupe: Mexico. Feast day of the patron saint of Mexico. The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Mexico's most sacred religious site. December 12 is the anniversary of the day on which Juan Diego, an Aztec peasant, is said to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary, who ordered him to go and tell the Bishop of Mexico to build a church on that spot.
Younghill Kang (1903-1972): Korean American. Writer. Kang came to the United States in 1921, three years before the passage of the law that would bar Koreans and Japanese for 28 years from settling in the United States. He attended university classes and read widely in American literature, beginning to write in English in 1928. He published translations of Korean works, book reviews, a memoir, and two novels recounting the experiences of Korean immigrants, The Grass Roof and East Goes West. Though he achieved only modest recognition during his lifetime, he is now acknowledged as an important figure, perhaps the first writer to express the claim of Asian immigrants to be full participants in American society.
Santa Lucia: Sweden. This holiday, also celebrated in states such as Minnesota where there are many Scandinavian communities, honors an Italian martyr named Santa Lucia. Like many winter festivals, its central feature is lights. In Sweden, a young girl wearing a white robe and a crown of seven lighted candles serves special buns and coffee.
Tatanka-Yatanka (Sitting Bull) (1830s-1890): American Indian. (Sioux). Spiritual and military leader. Sitting Bull fought and negotiated throughout his life to maintain his people's way of life and their right to their lands in the Black Hills. Leader of the army of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors who annihilated General George Custer's command at Little Bighorn in 1876, Sitting Bull continues to lead the resistance to displacement and assimilation even after most of his followers had capitulated. He was killed on this date while under arrest, in a confrontation between his followers and federal police officers.
Eid al-fitr (The Feast of Breaking the Fast): Islam. This marks the end of Ramadan. It begins at the sighting of the new moon and is the time for breaking the fast. This is a three-day festival of feasting, buying and wearing new clothes, and celebrations. Since Islamic holidays are based on the lunar calendar, Eid al-fitr may occur twice in the same year.
Las Posadas: Mexico. Las Posadas, celebrated from December 16 to December 24, commemorates Mary and Joseph's effort to find an inn and the events associated with the birth of Jesus. The holiday takes its name from the Spanish word posadas, meaning a dwelling. A candlelight procession represents the star in heaven that guided the three wise men on their way. After a religious ceremony on December 24, there is a traditional celebration centering on the pinata, a decorated clay container filled with toys and candy. A child is blindfolded, turned around a few times, and given a wooden stick and three chances to break the pinata. When the pinata is broken, the children scramble for the candy.
Victory Day: Bangladesh. This marks the day in 1971 that Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan.
Repeal of Chinese Exclusion Acts (1943): United States. On this date, as the United States fought side by side with China in World War II, Congress repealed the laws that had excluded Chinese from immigration to the United States since 1882. The new law also permitted Chinese immigrants to become naturalized citizens. The yearly quota was set at only 105 immigrants, however, and applicants for citizenship were required to document their legal entry into the United States and pass tests in English language, American history, and knowledge of the Constitution.
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