Week of March 4 - 10, 2012
Garrett Morgan (1877 – 1963): African American. Inventor, Morgan patented two widely known inventions, the gas mask (1914) and the three-light traffic signal system (1923).
Kazimierz (Casimir) Pulaski (1748 – 1779): Polish. Soldier. An aristocrat and patriot, Pulaski left Poland after participating in a failed uprising protesting the increasing dominance of foreign powers in Polish affairs. He then offered his services to the American Revolution. He fought in a number of engagements before being mortally wounded at the siege of Savannah, Georgia.
Independence Day: Ghana. On this date in 1957, the British territories of the Gold Coast and Togoland became the independent nation of Ghana.
Purim (Feast of Lots): Jewish. The festive holiday celebrates the rescue of the ancient Persian Jews from a plot to destroy them. The king's advisor, Haman, cast lots to choose the day for carrying out his plan. Esther, the Jewish queen, persuaded her husband to spare the Jews. Fasting on the day before Purim commemorates Esther’s fasting before seeing the king to plead for the Jewish People. The “Megillah,” the story of Purim, is read in the synagogue. Children twirl gragers (noisemakers) to drown out Haman’s name each time it is mentioned. Homentashen, special pastries in the form of Haman’s hat, are eaten. Gifts are distributed to the poor as well as exchanged among family and friends.
Holi: Hindu. This two-day holiday celebrates the coming of spring throughout India. Large bonfires are lit, and coconuts and other foods are thrown into the fire. Games and folk dancing take place as well as the throwing of colored powder and water on friends. (3/27/2013)
International Women’s Day. The movement to create an International Women’s Day began as part of the socialist movement for greater women’s rights, particularly the right to vote. First designated as the last Sunday in February by the Conference of Socialist Women in Copenhagen, Denmark, in l910, it was later changed to be uniformly celebrated on March 8 to honor women’s role in the Russian Revolution. With the resurgence of feminism in the late 1960s, International Women’s Day gained renewed interest as a day to celebrate women’s lives and work.
Raul Julia (1940-1994): Puerto Rican. Actor. One of the most versatile and successful actors of his generation, Julia won acclaim in dramatic and musical roles in the New York theater and for a variety of performances in films and television. His stage roles ranged from Shakespeare’s Othello and Prospero to Mack the Knife in the Three Penny Opera and Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. His best known film roles include that of Gomez, the comically macabre father in The Adams Family, and Valentin, the courageous political prisoner in the drama Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Lorenzo da Ponta (1749-1838): Italian American. Librettist, businessman, and teacher. Da Ponte immigrated to the United States at the age of 57, having won fame in Europe as the librettist for Mozart’s opera Le noose di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte. After arriving in the United States, da Ponte worked as a grocer, impresario, and teacher of Italian at Columbia University. As one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Italian Opera House in New York in 1832, da Ponte helped to promote the appreciation of Italian culture in the United States.
Harriet Tubman (1820-1913): African American. Tubman became the “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, a clandestine system for helping slaves escape to freedom in the North. An escaped slave, she earned the name “Moses” for her heroic work in leading some 400 slaves to freedom. She died on this date.