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Black Facts for June 6th

1950 - Chantal Anne Akerman

Chantal Anne Akerman, (born June 6, 1950, Brussels, Belg.—died Oct. 5, 2015, Paris, France), Belgian filmmaker who explored the mundane details of ordinary life with a clear eye and a strong feminist sensibility She burst onto the international scene at the 1975 Cannes film festival with her avant-garde classic Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975). The film, which runs 201 minutes, follows the daily minutiae in the life of a widowed mother (portrayed by Delphine Seyrig) as she cooks, cleans, and engages in part-time prostitution to help pay the bills—with tragic results. Akerman’s Jewish father spent World War II in hiding, while her mother was the only member of her Jewish family to survive the Auschwitz concentration camp, and the director readily acknowledged that she was influenced by their experiences during and after the war. She studied at a film school in Brussels, but she dropped out and briefly lived in New York City. She gained respect with the black-and-white short Saute ma ville (1968) and the New York-based documentary Hôtel Monterey (1972). Akerman directed more than 40 films, including Je, Tu, Il, Elle (1974; she also played the lead), the musical Golden Eighties (1986), and the romantic comedy A Couch in New York (1996), as well as documentaries and video installations. Her final work, No Home Movie (2015), consisted of a documented conversation with her mother recorded shortly before the latter’s death in 2014. Akerman had long struggled with depression, and it was reported that she committed suicide.

Melinda C. Shepherd

1964 - Gloria Reuben

Gloria Reuben (born June 6, 1964) is known as a Canadian-American singer and actress of both TV and film. She is well known for her role as Jeanie Boulet in ER as well as other medical drama related shows. Reuben was born to Peal Avis who was a classicist singer and Cyril Reuben who was an architect. Reuben’s father is of Jewish descent and her mother is African-American.

Reuben is probably best remembered for her role in ER and even though she was not very prominent in Season 1, in Season 2 she became a full-time member of the show, returning to ER in season 6 as well. In 2008, Gloria returned to ER for one more episode during the show’s season 14 and she has stated that this was the episode that promptly propelled her towards her activism where HIV/AIDs is concerned. In 2006, Gloria was named as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world, by People Magazine.

Yet again Gloria Reuben played a major role in a TV series- she played the FBI Agent Brooke Haslett in the 2003-2004 TV series 1-800-Missing and went on to star in the series, ‘Raising the Bar’ where she played Rosalind Whitman. In 2000, Reuben came to know Tina Turner who invited her to sing as a backup singer when she was on her Twenty Four Seven Tour.

Reuben made another appearance in Season 2 of Drop Dead Diva when she guest starred as Professor Kathy Miller. She went on to star in Season 12 of NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit. In 2012, Reuben appeared in a CBS TV movie titled Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt.

Finally in 2012, Reuben played a part in a well received movie, ‘Lincoln’ which was directed by Steven Spielberg; She essayed the role of Elizabeth Keckley. She received much praise and in 2013, Gloria Reuben again hit headlines when she starred in the movie Falling Skies.

2015 - Ronnie Gilbert

Ronnie Gilbert

American musician

Ronnie Gilbert (Ruth Alice Gilbert), (born Sept. 7, 1926, Brooklyn, N.Y.—died June 6, 2015, Mill Valley, Calif.), American folk singer and actress who was the hearty contralto singer in the Weavers, the seminal vocal quartet whose hit songs sparked the 1950s folk-music renaissance and popularized that genre as an agent of social change. In her teens Gilbert began singing informally in New York City homes and union halls. She and Fred Hellerman, Lee Hays, and Pete Seeger came together formally as the Weavers in 1949. Their enthusiasm, wide-ranging repertoire, and unique sound made their recordings American favourites, including “Goodnight, Irene,” “On Top of Old Smokey,” and “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You.” At the height of the politically liberal group’s success, they were accused of being communists, blacklisted, and boycotted, and in 1952 they disbanded. However, a capacity crowd attended their 1955 reunion concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the outpouring of affection reignited their career, which lasted until 1964. Gilbert then appeared on and off Broadway and in Paris, and in the 1990s she created and toured in a one-woman show—Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America—about the prominent American labour leader. In addition, Gilbert worked as a psychotherapist, practicing in California and British Columbia. She continued to perform onstage, including at concerts with fellow singer Holly Near.

John Litweiler

1939 - Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman is a children’s rights activist, lawyer and educator. Born on June 6, 1939 in Bennettsville, South Carolina, her father was a Baptist preacher, who taught Marian and her siblings the value of education. He passed away when Marian was 14, and his dying advice to Marian was not to let anything stand in the way of her pursuit for education. Marian studied at Marlboro Training High School in Bennettsville. She then enrolled at Spelman College, where she received the Merrill Scholarship to study abroad. She traveled to the Soviet Union, where she became a Lisle fellow. She returned to the U.S. in 1959, where she actively became involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Deferring her plans to enter the Foreign Service, but political events in the country made her change her direction. During her student days, Marian had been an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement. She attended protests against racial segregation at City Hall and was arrested on one occasion. This made her realize that she could bring about a positive change in the socio-economic status of African Americans.

Marian Wright Edelman then decided to study law, and was accepted at Yale University. As a student at Yale, Marian was actively involved in a project to register African American voters in Mississippi. She graduated from Yale Law School in 1963, after which she joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She first worked in New York for the NAACP Legal and Defense Fund, and then moved to Mississippi. In Mississippi, she became the first African American woman to be admitted to the Bar Association and practice law. After leaving the NAACP, she was employed at the Child Development Group in Mississippi. Here, she became deeply involved in securing government funding for the Head Start Programs. Working for children’s causes became the focus of the rest of her career.

While working in Mississippi, Marian met Benjamin Edelman, who was then working as an assistant to Senator Robert F.