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MILESTONES: February 12, birthdays for Gucci Mane, Robert Griffin III, Arsenio Hall

Brooklyn Today

February 12, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gucci Mane. Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP
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Greetings, Brooklyn.  Today is the 43rd day of the year.

On this day in 1927, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle front page reported on the police raid of the Ashland Gardens night club. Dancing girls clad in tights were sent home. This was one of the first enforcements of the New York City Cabaret Law, a ban on dancing in restaurants and clubs, which took effect in 1926 during Prohibition and the Harlem Renaissance. Although some claim the law was racist as it criminalized the social mixing of races, other history accounts describe the ban as a more general morality drive. On Halloween 2017, the New York City Council, voting 44-1, repealed the Cabaret Law to much jubilation.

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On this day in 1909, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle carried a special edition tribute to Abraham Lincoln on the anniversary of his birth (see below). The section included a full-page recollection from Adelaide W. Smith, who was believed to be the only Brooklyn woman in the army during the War of the Rebellion — the Civil War. Miss Smith served as a field and hospital nurse during the war. The tribute also carried a reproduction of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Walt Whitman’s poem, “O Captain, My Captain,” a lament on Lincoln’s assassination. Whitman had briefly been the editor of the Eagle during its first decade from 1846-48. Whitman died 17 years before the Lincoln commemorative edition was published.

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On this day in 1912, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle front page reported on the abdication of the Manchu Dynasty and its child Emperor Hsian-T’ung. Upon the death of the Kuang-hsu emperor in 1908, Hsian-T’ung, later known as Henry Pu Yi, had ascended the throne at the age of 3 and underwent training for his imperial rule. However, just three years later, the Manchu dynasty fell to Sun Yat-sen’s revolution, which changed the government from absolute rule to representative. Pu Yi was given a pension and allowed to stay in his home in Beijing’s Forbidden City — until he was exiled 12 years later. The Eagle story included a history of the Manchu dynasty and explained a series of edicts, which included unconditional surrender.

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On this day in 1915, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle front page featured the obituary of Fanny Crosby, the renowned poet and prolific hymn writer. Although physically blind, she is said to had spiritual vision through her faith. The obit included the story behind her hymn “Rescue the Perishing,” when she prayed over a former, now repentant drunk pirate. Crosby wrote about 8,000 hymns, many of which were quickly beloved and now classic. In addition to “Rescue the Perishing,” some of the most sung-hymns include:  “Blessed Assurance,” and “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” According to some historical accounts, Crosby had a solid friendship with U.S. President Grover Cleveland.

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On this day in 1946, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle front page was filled with stories about labor strikes that were crippling the nation. New York City Mayor William O’Dwyer enacted a drastic Disaster Control Board order, which essentially shut down the world’s largest metropolis except for those activities deemed necessary to protect life. Mayor O’Dwyer’s action was called “unprecedented in any American city, even during the war.” The Eagle published a summary of the concurrent strikes that took place: electrical workers in Pittsburgh, transit workers in Philadelphia; tugboat workers in New York City (on whom the delivery of coal for fuel was dependent) plus, union locals around the nation in the steel, automobile and electrical industries.

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NOTABLE PEOPLE born on this day include actress MAUD ADAMS, who was born in 1945; actor JOE DON BAKER, who was born in 1936; former Israeli Prime Minister EHUD BARAK, who was born in 1942; author JUDY BLUME, who was born in 1938; actor JOSH BROLIN, who was born in 1968; actor CLIFF DE, who was born in 1947; football player ROBERT GRIFFIN III, who was born in 1990; comedian and actor ARSENIO HALL, who was born in 1955; rapper GUCCI MANE, who was born in 1980; singer CHYNNA PHILLIPS, who was born in 1968; actress CHRISTINA RICCI, who was born in 1980; Hall of Fame basketball player BILL RUSSELL, who was born in 1934; actor JESSE SPENCER, who was born in 1979; and stage and film director FRANCO ZEFFIRELLI, who was born in 1923.

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS BORN ON THIS DAY IN 1809. The 16th U.S. president was especially remembered for his Emancipation Proclamation, his Gettysburg Address and his proclamation establishing the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. Born in Kentucky, he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., in 1865.

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THE NAACP WAS FOUNDED ON THIS DAY IN 1909. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded by W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida Wells-Barnett, among others, to wage a militant campaign against lynching and other forms of racial oppression. Its legal wing brought many lawsuits that successfully challenged segregation in the 1950s and ’60s.

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CHARLES DARWIN WAS BORN ON THIS DAY IN 1809. The author and naturalist is best remembered for his books “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life,” “The Descent of Man” and “Selection in Relation to Sex.” Darwin died in 1882 in England.

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“DRACULA” PREMIERED ON THIS DAY IN 1931. The horror film classic starring Bela Lugosi premiered on this day at the Roxy Theatre in New York City. It had been slated to premiere on Friday, Feb. 13, but director Tod Browning, confessing to a superstitious nature, asked for the opening to be moved up a day. Dracula made the Hungarian actor Lugosi a star, but at a price: he was offered only horror film roles the rest of his career.

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BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY (BHS) WILL HOST “Cheryl Wills: A Family Story of Slavery and Freedom” tonight at 6:30 p.m. In her book, “Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale,” award-winning news anchor Cheryl Wills traces the powerful story of her enslaved great-great-great-grandfather, who ran away from a Tennessee plantation to join the fight for freedom. From the Civil War and Jim Crow to the Great Migration, Wills’ story is as sweeping as it is personal. Join BHS for this talk and book signing. For more information, visit brooklynhistory.org.

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Special thanks to “Chase’s Calendar of Events” and Brooklyn Public Library.

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“I don’t think people change; electronics change, the things we have change, but the way we live doesn’t change.” — Judy Blume, who was born on this day in 1938


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