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MILESTONES: May 29, birthdays for Laverne Cox, Carmelo Anthony, Mel B

May 29, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Laverne Cox. Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
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On this day in 1914, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the sinking of the Canadian Pacific liner the Empress of Ireland. The liner, which was carrying 1,437 crew and passengers, had left Quebec for Liverpool, England, when she was hit by a collier (a ship carrying coal) headed in the opposite direction. The collier hit the Empress of Ireland on the port side, tearing through the middle of the Empress … “leaving a rent through which the water poured in such a deluge that the ship sank before many of the passengers were aware of what had happened.” The Empress of Ireland sank before dawn in the St. Lawrence River.

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On this day in 1922, the Eagle reported that correspondent Percy Noel cabled to the Eagle announcing that Germany was about to split into two parts. “In a low voice, it is being discussed what stand France will take when the climax of certain grave preparations comes. In Brussels, where King Albert’s court is not only deeply concerned but is also holding the principal strings in the matter, it is mentioned only in inner circles.” The article spelled out the project “for the rupture of the German Reich into two parts and at the same time the formation of two kingdoms and the foundation of a new Republic.” The plan called for the Rhineland to declare a Republic. Bavaria would call Prince Rupprecht to the throne. 

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On this day in 1933, the Eagle front page reported that Mahatmas Gandhi, beloved as the father of the Indian people, broke the latest in his many voluntary fasts. His ultimate goal was to gain independence from Great Britain, but also better treatment of the “Untouchables” caste of people in India and Nepal, who were ostracized, denied basic rights and treated as “less than human.” Gandhi had started the fast to “remove bitterness, purify hearts and make clear that the movement in behalf of untouchables is moral.” He declared also that if the Government truly wanted peace, it would release those imprisoned for civil disobedience. The result, read the Eagle, “Government announced no change in policies or concessions … Gandhi’s weight dropped from 99 to 80 pounds. 

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On this day in 1953, the Eagle featured several interesting front-page Brooklyn stories. The lead story involved the sharp eye and “long memory” of a police detective, who recognized in Brooklyn a woman jogger who had originally caught his attention when he visited San Antonio, Texas to trace the smuggling of dope into New York.  His alertness also led to the seizure of $80,000 worth of marijuana, when they caught up to her in the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn Heights. The female happened to be the mob boss’ girlfriend. The detective, Lt. Louis Cottell, said to the girl, “Just wanted to make sure you’re being a good girl.” She instantly capitulated, telling Cottell he could find the marijuana in her closet. 

Just below that article was a story about a 64-year-old grandmother from Russia who had just won a diploma from Erasmus Hall High School. “It took a long time to get there, according to Molly Ashkenazy … whose gallant crusade for an American education began in 1942 when she entered the WPA Citizenship and Education Project.” In her native Russia, her only opportunity to study was at the Saturday church school. By the time she received her diploma at Erasmus Hall’s commencement, she had raised 19 children and had 24 grandchildren. 

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NOTABLE PEOPLE born on this day includebasketball player Carmelo Anthony, who was born in 1984; actress, singer and talent judge Mel B; actressAnnette Bening, who was born in 1958; actor Kevin Conway, who was born in 1942; actress Laverne Cox, who was born in 1984; former baseball player Eric Davis, who was born in 1962; population biologist Paul Ehrlich, who was born in 1932; singer and guitarist Melissa Etheridge, who was born in 1961; actor Rupert Everett, who was born in 1959; actor Anthony Geary, who was born in 1948; actress Riley Keough, who was born in 1989; U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, who was born in 1954; actor Adrian Paul, who was born in 1959; former auto racer Al Unser Sr., who was born in 1939; former Commissioner of Major League Baseball Fay Vincent, who was born in 1938; and actress Lisa Whelchel, who was born in 1963.

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JOHN F. KENNEDY WAS BORN ON THIS DAY IN 1917. The35th president of the U.S. was the youngest man ever elected to the presidency, the first Roman Catholic and the first president to have served in the U.S. Navy. He was the fourth U.S. president to be killed by an assassin and the second to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was assassinated while riding in an open automobile in Texas in 1963.

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CONSTANTINOPLE FELL TO THE TURKS ON THIS DAY IN 1453. The city of Constantinople was captured by the Turks, who later renamed it Istanbul. This conquest marked the end of the Byzantine Empire; the city became the capital of the Ottoman Empire.

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SOJOURNER TRUTH GAVE HER “AIN’T I A WOMAN” SPEECH ON THIS DAY IN 1851. During the Women’s Rights Convention held at Akron, Ohio, from May 28 to May 29, 1851, former slave Sojourner Truth delivered an impassioned speech that is now titled after its common refrain: “I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? And when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain’t I a woman?”

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TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPERS. It isa day to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served in United Nations peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace (Res 57/129, Dec 11, 2002). Annually, May 29. For info: United Nations, Dept of Public Info, New York, NY 10017. Web: www.un.org.

 

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THE BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY (BHS) will host “Walt Whitman Turns 199: Harbors, Heights, and a Brooklyn Celebration” tonight at 6:30 p.m. From 1824 through the 1855 publication of “Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman’s relationships with Brooklyn’s built and natural environments and the citizens who inhabited them left an indelible mark on his work. Join contemporary stewards of Whitman’s Brooklyn legacies, including Greg Trupiano of The Walt Whitman Project, Charles Jarden and Julian Macrone of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, and Karen Karbiener of NYU and the Walt Whitman Initiative, along with readers Lonely Christopher and Elizabeth Nunez and opera singer Nicole Mitchell for this immersive, multimedia exploration of Brooklyn’s Bard on the occasion of his 199th birthday. 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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“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” — President John. F. Kennedy, who was born on this day in 1917


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