Black Facts for March 27th

Spirituality Facts

1888 - Barghash

Barghash , in full Barghash ibn Saʿīd (born c. 1834—died March 27, 1888, Zanzibar [now in Tanzania]), sultan of Zanzibar (1870–88), a shrewd and ambitious ruler, who, for most of his reign, looked to Britain for protection and assistance but eventually saw his domains divided between Germany and his former protector.

Although not the first heir to the throne of his father, Saʿīd ibn Sultān, Barghash had made plans to seize the throne at his father’s death in 1856; he was, however, forestalled by the rightful heir, his brother Mājid, and spent two years in exile in Bombay. Shortly after Barghash came to power (1870), his longtime friend John Kirk became British consul. Kirk, a strong advocate of British support of Zanzibar, forced Barghash to sign an antislavery treaty in 1873 and two further proclamations in 1876 to close additional slave-trade loopholes. The British government (despite Kirk’s recommendations) was not prepared to support actively the extension of Barghash’s authority in the interior, but British pressure did discourage Egyptian expansion along the East African coast in 1875.

Recognizing his political and military weakness, Barghash afterward looked to Britain both as a protector and as a source of technical and military aid. In the following years, with British help, he created a small but modern army and attempted to modernize his government. By 1882, however, he recognized the threat posed by Belgian King Leopold II’s determination to control the rich ivory trade of the Congo basin. At first Barghash tried to prevent that control by supporting the state-building efforts of the Arab trader Tippu Tib. But when Leopold’s claims had been recognized by other European powers in 1885 and Germany was claiming most of present-day Tanzania, the disillusioned Barghash had no choice but to acquiesce in the dismemberment of his kingdom late in 1886.

Sports Facts

1812 - Definition of Gerrymander

To gerrymander is to draw the boundaries of electoral districts in an irregular way so as to create an unfair advantage for a particular political party or faction.

The origin of the term gerrymander dates back to the early 1800s in Massachusetts. The word is a combination of the words Gerry, for the state"s governor, Elbridge Gerry, and salamander, as a particular electoral district was jokingly said to be shaped like a lizard.

The practice of creating oddly shaped electoral districts to create advantages has endured for two centuries.

Criticisms of the practice can be found in newspapers and books going back to the time of the incident in Massachusetts that inspired the term.

And while it has always been viewed as something done wrongfully, nearly all political parties and factions have practiced gerrymandering when given the opportunity.

The United States Constitution specifies that seats in Congress are apportioned according to the U.S. Census (indeed, that"s the original reason why the federal government has conducted a census every ten years). And the individual states must create congressional districts which will then elect members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The situation in Massachusetts in 1811 was that the Democrats (who were political followers of Thomas Jefferson, not the later Democratic Party which still exists) held the majority of seats in the state legislature, and could therefore draw the required Congressional districts.

The Democrats wanted to thwart the power of their opponents, the Federalists, the party in the tradition of John Adams. A plan was devised to create Congressional districts that would divide any concentrations of Federalists. With the map drawn in an irregular way, small pockets of Federalists would then be residing within districts where they would be heavily outnumbered.

The plans to draw these peculiarly shaped districts were, of course, highly controversial. And the lively New England newspapers engaged in quite a battle of words, and, eventually, even

1924 - Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan was a popular twentieth century African-American Jazz singer. She was recognized for her beautiful voice and often nicknamed ‘Sassy’, ‘Sailor’ and ‘The Divine One’ for her salty speech. Moreover, she won a Grammy Award and was awarded the “highest honor in jazz” by The National Endowment for the Arts.

Sarah Lois Vaughan was born on March 27, 1924 in Newark, New Jersey to carpenter and guitarist father, Asbury Vaughan. Her mother also had a singing background as she used to sing in choir. During the First World War her family moved from Virginia to Newark. Sarah began to take piano lessons at the young age of seven. She would sing in the church choir and play piano at different services. The popular records and radio music were her favorite. Newark in those days had an active live music scene at night clubs. Seeing various bands on tour performing at those clubs inspired Sarah and she ventured into Newark’s night clubs and performed as pianist and sang occasionally.

At first Sarah went to Newark’s East Side High School and later transferred to Newark Arts High School. However, the academic pressure began to affect her love of music and late night performances, thus she dropped out of the high school. This time around Sarah and her friends began to wander across New York City to catch popular bands playing music. Inspired by their performances, Sarah tried her luck at Harlem’s Zeus Theater. It is recorded by some biographers that she immediately became popular after that amateur night performance. Soon after, she was introduced to bandleader and pianist Earl Hines. He took her under his wings and replaced the current male singer in his band with her.

During 1943 to 1944, Sarah Vaughan toured with Hines’ band which she joined as a pianist. But when Hines brought another pianist to the band, her duties became limited exclusively to singing. The major band member Billy Eckstine, left the band in late 1943. He gathered various talented jazz artists to perform in his band. Upon invitation from him in

1965 - Fauset, Crystal Bird (1894–1965)

Crystal Bird Fauset, the first African-American female state legislators in the United States, was born on June 27, 1894 in Princess Anne, Maryland. She grew up in Boston, Massachusetts but spent most of her adult and political life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Between 1914 and 1918 Fauset worked as a public school teacher in Philadelphia.  In 1918 she began working as a field secretary for African American girls in the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), a job she held until 1926. In 1925 the Interracial Section of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC or Quakers) was formed and Fauset joined the organization in 1926, wanting, as she said, to work on her interest “in having people of other racial groups understand the humanness of the Negro wherever he is found.”  Between September 1927 and September 1928 she made 210 appearances before more than 40,000 people for the AFSC.  During the late 1920’s Fauset studied at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, graduating in 1931.

In 1932 Fauset founded the Colored Women’s Activities Club for the Democratic National Committee where she helped African American women register to vote.  In response to her efforts the Roosevelt Administration appointed her Director of the Women and Professional Project in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Philadelphia.  In 1935 she also served on the Federal Housing Advisory Board.  That same year Crystal Bird married sociologist and political thinker Arthur Fauset and they became a dynamic political couple. Fauset then began to work on the Joint Committee on Race Relations of the Arch and Race Streets (Quaker) Yearly Meetings where she helped establish the famous Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations which documented employment and housing discrimination against Pennsylvania African Americans.  

In 1938 Fauset was elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature, representing the 18th District of Philadelphia, which was 66% white at that time. As a state representative Fauset introduced nine bills and

1934 - Mitchell, Arthur (1934- )

Arthur Mitchell, co-founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), America’s first African American ballet company, was born in New York City, New York on March 27, 1934. Under Mitchell’s direction, Dance Theatre of Harlem rose to become one of the premier ballet companies in the United States, performing full-length neoclassical ballets, nationally and internationally from 1971 until the company’s performing hiatus in 2004. Mitchell served as the Artistic Director of DTH from the company’s first performance at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1971, until his retirement as artistic director in 2009.

Raised in Harlem, Mitchell began his dance training at New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts. At age 18 he was awarded a full scholarship to continue his classical ballet training at the School of American Ballet, New York City Ballet’s official training school. In 1955, under the direction of George Balanchine, Mitchell was the first African American male to become a permanent member of New York City Ballet. With the Ballet from 1955 to 1970, Mitchell quickly rose to the rank of principal dancer, and is best known for his lead role performances in the pas de deux from Agon, and as “Puck” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  These roles were choreographed by Balanchine specifically for Mitchell.

Prior to founding DTH in 1969, Mitchell was asked to organize the now defunct American Negro Dance Company in 1966 and was designated by the United States International Association to found the National Ballet Company of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro in 1967.

The momentum of the Civil Rights Movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 inspired Mitchell to create opportunities for children living in Harlem to study dance. Mitchell began teaching dance classes in a remodeled garage in the summer of 1968 and quickly amassed 400 students. In 1969, Mitchell and his mentor and ballet teacher, Karel Shook, invested Mitchell’s personal savings, along with financial

Education Facts

2002 - Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder , original name Samuel Wilder (born June 22, 1906, Sucha, Austria [now in Poland]—died March 27, 2002, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.), Austrian-born American motion-picture scenarist, director, and producer known for films that humorously treat subjects of controversy and offer biting indictments of hypocrisy in American life. His work often focused on subjects that had previously been considered unacceptable screen material, including alcoholism (The Lost Weekend, 1945), prisoner-of-war camps (Stalag 17, 1953), and prostitution (Irma La Douce, 1963). A number of his films, such as Sunset Boulevard (1950) and The Apartment (1960), weighed the emptiness of modern life.

Wilder (who was named Samuel but called Billy because of his mother’s affinity for William [“Buffalo Bill”] Cody) was raised in Vienna and attended the University of Vienna as a prelaw student. After a year he dropped out to work as a sports reporter for a Vienna newspaper. A major paper in Berlin hired him away in 1926 to cover the crime beat, experience that would serve him well in his subsequent career. Wilder earned his first screenwriting credit working on Edgar Ulmer and Robert Siodmak’s Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday; 1930).

More scripts for a variety of German and French films followed over the next four years, but when the Nazis took power in 1933, Wilder, like so many other Jews in the arts, fled. In Paris he codirected Mauvaise Graine (1934) with Alexander Esway before continuing on to the United States, after a brief period in Mexico.

During Wilder’s first years in Hollywood, when he spoke little English, he roomed with expatriate German actor Peter Lorre and accumulated credits on modest scripts such as Music in the Air (1934) and The Lottery Lover (1935) by collaborating with writers who could translate his contributions. In 1937 Paramount assigned him to work with former New Yorker theatre critic Charles Brackett. After first collaborating on Ernst Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938), they wrote such

Black Sands : Rumble in Kerma Part 2

2012 - Johnson, Joseph William "Billy" (1934–2012)

Joseph William “Billy” Johnson, an import officer for the state metal industries of Ghana, played a foundational role in establishing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that African nation in the 1960s. Johnson was born on December 17, 1934, in Lagos, Nigeria. While Johnson’s prepared autobiography for American audiences identifies him as a devout Catholic, Ghanaian Mormonism’s local chronicler, Emmanuel Kissi, identifies Johnson as a reverend in the Church of the Lord (Aladura). Rooted in visions, prophecies, and the production of sacred scripts, Johnson’s religious background would have prepared Johnson to be receptive to the narrative histories undergirding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

In early 1964, Dr. Raphael Abraham Frank Mensah, a Ghanaian schoolteacher, visited Lillian Clark, a Sufi mystic living in St. Agnes, Penhalls, United Kingdom. Clark had been meeting with LDS missionaries, Loretta Johnson and Karen Nelson, and, according to Johnson’s account, gave Mensah Mormon literature after he issued a public appeal for support in his religion-building efforts in Ghana. 

Upon returning to Ghana, Mensah shared with Billy Johnson his newfound interest in Mormonism and some of the literature he had received from Clark. Johnson spent the next month reading The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Articles of Faith, and The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Impressed by what he read and by Mensah’s devotion to Mormonism, Johnson converted to the faith. The two began preaching “door to door” and reading from The Book of Mormon on the streets of Accra, the capital of Ghana. Johnson and Mensah, along with some of their converts, also established the Brigham Young Educational Institute.

In 1969 Mensah appointed Johnson to head the Mormon congregation in Cape Coast, the second largest city in Ghana, while Mensah oversaw the congregation in Accra. Another convert, Rebecca Mould, led the congregation in Sekondi-Takoradi. For the next eight years, Mensah, Johnson, and


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