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Black Facts for April 24th

1942 - Dawson, Daisy Lee Tibbs (1924-2013)

When the principal, J.T. Wright and his wife, a white couple who served as mentors to Tibbs, accepted a position at the University of Washington (UW), they convinced her to move to Seattle with them in 1944 to continue her education.  As a student at the University of Washington Tibbs met Akiko Kurose, a Japanese American student who would become a famed educator.  She also met Floyd Schmoe, a forest and marine ecology professor and a popular Quaker who was committed to social justice, peace, and anti-racism. Through her connection to Schmoe, Dawson became involved in an effort (called work parties) to repair Nisei homes on the weekends after the U.S. government ordered the evacuation of the Japanese from King County on April 24, 1942.

After Tibbs graduated from the University of Washington in 1948, she took a teaching position at Harbison Junior College in South Carolina. Schmoe contacted her about joining a small interracial and interdenominational group in Seattle to help build houses in Hiroshima as a way to spread peace after the U.S. bombed the city.  The group reached Hiroshima in August of 1949 and found few resources and supplies.  Tibbs first volunteered at the Hiroshima Memorial Hospital preparing food in the kitchen. There, she witnessed the frailty of human bodies caused by the atom bomb four years earlier as well as the physical deterioration of the city that had been reduced to rubble and empty building frames.

Along with her work crew, Tibbs worked six hours a day, five days a week building new homes. Houses were built with timber frames and mud walls, the only materials available.  Tibbs and other volunteers hauled lumber and mixed straw with mud for mortar to build the three-room tile-roof houses. She made nails from wooden pegs since the war destroyed much of the metal and tools in the city.  She also walked back and forth to her job site everyday and slept on the floor in the basement of a church that was partly destroyed by the bomb. At the end of the three-month labor project, Tibbs had

Lifestyle Facts

2016 - Papa Wemba

Papa Wemba

Congolese singer

Papa Wemba (Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba), (born June 14, 1949, Lubefu, Kasai region, Belgian Congo [now Democratic Republic of the Congo]—died April 24, 2016, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), Congolese singer who earned the sobriquet “king of rumba rock” for his expertise in Congolese rumba, a form of dance music that combines indigenous traditional songs with Afro-Cuban rumba rhythms. Papa Wemba’s onstage exuberance and distinctive falsetto tenor voice helped to spread the popularity of African “world music,” notably soukous dance music, a blend of African rhythms, Cuban beats, and international pop that evolved from the Congolese rumba. He also served as a fashion icon for his fans, known as sapeurs (part of a movement called “La Sape” from the phrase La Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes; Eng. trans., The Society of Ambience-Makers and Elegant People), who emulated his passion for flashy, dandified Western designer clothes. Papa Wemba’s mother was a pleureuse (a professional funeral dirge singer). He joined the Roman Catholic Church after the death of his father, a chief of customs, and began singing in the church choir. In 1969 he joined the newly founded soukous band Zaiko Langa Langa, and in 1977 he formed his own spin-off band, Viva la Musica, with which he recorded (in both French and Lingala) and toured extensively. He later lived in Paris, toured with such European talent as British musician Peter Gabriel, and recorded (notably the 1995 album Emotion) with Gabriel’s Real World label. In 2003 Papa Wemba was arrested in France and briefly imprisoned for smuggling African refugees into Europe disguised as musicians.

Melinda C. Shepherd

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