Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, often called the the “Muslim Gandhi,” was an Afghan political and spiritual leader known for his nonviolent opposition to British Rule in India. A devout Muslim and dedicated pacifist, he worked with Gandhi to put an end to the British Raj and bring unity among the divided people of South Asia. A man of great integrity, he once declared that it is “better [to] be poisoned in one’s own blood then to be poisoned in one’s principle.”
Khan was also a reformer and social activist who sought to alleviate the poverty, violence, and hatred of his society. To that end, he formed the Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God) movement, in which members would take an oath of honesty, integrity, self-sacrifice, and the serving of others without regard to faith or ethnicity. The success of this group led to a harsh crackdown by the British, though Khan remained committed to nonviolence.
He opposed the partition of India, and because of this – as well as his lifelong opposition to authoritarian rule – he was frequently arrested, exiled, and harassed by the Pakistani authorities. Despite this, he never wavered in his values and remained a pacifist for the rest of his life.
On this day in 1954, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, because “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” which thereby violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Since the 1870s and the 1880s, there had been several local observances honoring mothers in America, including an attempt by Julia Ward Howe to establish a national “Mother’s Day for Peace” (although it was for organizing pacifist mothers against war rather than honoring motherhood in general).
In any case, the modern holiday of Mother’s Day stems from 1908, when American Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her deeply-loved mother in Grafton, West Virginia. From there, she began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States. Jarvis wanted to accomplish her mother’s dream of making a celebration for all mothers, and kept promoting the holiday until President Woodrow Wilson made the day an official national holiday in 1914. However, by the 1920s, the holiday was already so commercialized that she herself became a major opponent of what it had become, spending the rest of her life and all her inheritance fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration.
In any case, the holiday gradually became adopted by other countries and is now celebrated all over the world, albeit at different times. However, there have been numerous celebrations of mothers and motherhood across the world for millennia. Examples include the Greek cult to the mother goddess Cybele, the Roman festival of Hilaria (based on the Greek one), or the Christian “Mothering Sunday” traditionally celebrated in Europe on the 4th Sunday of Lent.
With all that said, I wish you all a happy Mother’s Day.
Besides serving as the Mexican equivalent to St. Patrick’s Day (at least in the US), Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s resounding victory against the French in the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5th, 1862.
France invaded and occupied Mexico because it refused to pay interest to its foreign debt, and because Napoleon III had imperial ambitions (much like his more famous uncle). France was one of the most powerful countries at the time, while Mexico was weakened by instability and poverty. Mexico’s forces had been under-equipped and outnumbered (about 4,000 versus 8,000), but managed to hold their own and win through tactical superiority and greater morale. The nonetheless unlikely victory is why the battle remains celebrated to this day.
Well, sort of: Cinco De Mayo is actually not a major holiday in Mexico itself (except in the Puebla region where the battle was fought). It’s far more popular in the US, where it is often mistaken as Mexico’s independence day (which is actually on September 16). Apparently, the holiday began in California to protest the French occupation of Mexico. Afterward, it clearly caught on and evolved into a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture (any excuse to get sloshed right? :P)
In any case, I hope you all have a happy – AND SAFE! – Cinco De Mayo.
[Note that despite losing the battle, the French did actually go on to win the war, occupying Mexico until around 1867, when Maximilian I, who had been installed by the French as a monarch, was overthrown and executed by Mexican revolutionaries. So despite losing the bigger battle, Mexico remained proud that it was able to hold it’s own and eventually win it’s freedom.]
Newly discovered human bones prove the first permanent British settlers in North America turned to cannibalism over the cruel winter of 1609-10, US researchers have said.
According to documents, this is an Ottoman official teasing starving Armenian children by showing them bread during the Armenian genocide, 1915.
One has to imagine what sort of person is capable of tormenting dying children. Of course this genocide, like all others, involved more than just a single individual.
If anyone is curious, the first most quoted writer in the English language is reportedly Samuel Johnson.
The oldest known musical melody, performed by the very talented Michael Levy on the lyre. This ancient musical fragment dates back to 1400 BCE. and was discovered in the 1950s in Ugarit, Syria. It was interpreted by Dr. Richard Dumbrill. He wrote a book entitled “The Archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near East.”
Junius Stinney was the youngest person in America to be executed on death row in 1944 at age 14. He was quickly accused by the (white police) of ‘killing’ two little (white girls) with lack of evidence. His conviction and sentencing opened and closed in one day. There were no witnesses called and there was no transcript of the trial details and black people were not allowed inside the courtroom during that time.
[I always repost this because i don’t want anyone to forget about him!]
Stinney walked to the execution chamber with a Bible, under his arm, which he later used as a booster seat in the electric chair. Standing 5’1” and weighing just over 90 pounds, he was small for his age, which presented difficulties in securing him to the frame holding the electrodes. The state’s adult-sized face-mask did not fit him, and when he was hit with the first 2,400 V surge of electricity, the mask covering his face slipped off, “revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth”…After two more jolts of electricity, the boy was dead.” Stinney was declared dead within four minutes of the initial electrocution. From the time of the murders until Stinney’s execution, eighty-one days had passed
April 12, 1861: The Civil War Begins
On this day in 1861, General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter and remained there for thirty-three hours until the fort was surrendered.
Early on, the southern states wanted to secede from the nation due to conflicting opinions regarding slavery between the north and south. Once Abraham Lincoln was elected, it incited the southern states to secede and form the Confederate States of America. When the Confederates took over Fort Sumter, President Lincoln declared war.
The Civil War lasted until 1865 with about 620,000 casualties.
Explore this historical event further with Ken Burns’s The Civil War photo gallery.
Image: Md. Allan Pinkerton, President Lincoln, and Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand (Library of Congress)
Borobudur Temple Park, Indonesia