1897 – Oscar Wilde released from Reading Gaol. Novelist, poet, and man about town in London, Wilde had served two years at hard labor for indecency. His crime? Homosexuality.
Homosexuality is still a crime in some parts of the world, probably to the envy of some in the U.S.,
1960 – Payola scandal results in eight arrests. Disc jockeys from rock and roll radio stations were charged with accepting money for playing certain songs. Among those arrested was Alan Freed who was widely credited with coining the term “Rock and Roll.”
Both Freed and Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame were suspected of taking bribes. Most of the focus was on Freed. “Why did the committee single him out? Freed was abrasive. He consorted with black R&B musicians. He jive talked, smoked constantly and looked like an insomniac. Clark was squeaky clean, Brylcreemed, handsome and polite.”(1)
Although Freed only received a fine and a suspended sentence his career was ruined and he died destitute five years later. Whereas Clark went on to become an industry icon.
I was in high school when the scandal broke and didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about.
“1960 was also an election year and the Congressional Subcommittee was eager to be seen on the right side of a highly visible “moral” issue.”(2)
Ah, yeah, now I get it.
1979 – Armed uprising begins on Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. Disturbed by what many felt was a corrupt administration under tribal chairman Roger Jourdain, a group led by Harry Hanson seized the B.I.A. building and burned it. Three days of rioting and sniper fire ensued with 4 more buildings burned to the ground, 45 others damaged, as well as many cars destroyed.
B.I.A. police, local county police, a special law enforcement task force and the FBI finally quelled the uprising. Harry Hanson was sentenced to 26 years in prison and his followers received sentences ranging from 10 to 16 years. The presiding judge said: “Mr. Hanson, you led a revolution of blatant lawlessness. Your oath as an Indian person is not now to be respected.” Unlike the oaths of the U.S. Government in the form of treaties.
In a prior post I noted that a German SS commander received a 12 years sentence for killing 15,000 Jews while Hanson received 26 years. I guess destroying property in the U.S. is more heinous than killing Jews in Europe.
That summer I went to northern Minnesota with a girlfriend. There was nothing political about our trip, just a weekend getaway. My girlfriend’s grandfather was from the Philippines and she had dark hair, brown eyes and olive skin. Pat grew up white in a small town and her partial ethnic background was in the far recesses of her mind.
We came across a small bar and grill in the middle of the northern woods and the idea of a beer and burger appealed to us. I realized later that we weren’t far from Red Lake and tensions were still high. At the entrance a beefy bouncer blocked our way. He shook his head. “Nope, you’re not coming in.” I was confused and argued. “We just want to get something to eat.” With the practiced benign malevolence of a seasoned bounced he looked at me and said, “If you want to get something to go, she can wait in the car.” Now I understood. He took her for an Indian. Pat laughed and said, “I didn’t really want to be in your crummy dive anyway.” The bouncer appeared to be offended. At what I’m not sure. That his establishment had been insulted or more likely because a member of a lesser race had lipped off to him. Showing our own disdain we walked away but, even though it was second hand for me, I felt the sting of racism.
1795 – Johns Hopkins. A philanthropist after whom the famous hospital was named. Hopkins grew up on a plantation in Virginia and was 12 years old when his Quaker parents emancipated their slaves and Hopkins became a lifelong abolitionist. As an adult he resided in Baltimore, became a shrewd businessman and amassed great wealth. He fell in love with a first cousin but Quaker law prevented them from marrying. Both remained single their whole lives. Hopkins was a strong supporter of President Lincoln and aided the Union cause during the Civil War. He appears to have been a man ahead of his times. He started an orphanage for African-American children, advocated equal health care for black and white and created medical schools for women. He believed there should be no discrimination due to sex or color and stood in opposition to the racial practices that began after the Civil War. Baltimore was a southern city and many of his prominent peers shunned him but Hopkins remained firm in his beliefs and deeds.
I never realized that Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University were named after such a great man.
1812 – Felix Zollicoffer. A newspaper editor, U.S. House Representative (1853-59) from Tennessee, and a general in the Confederate Army. In 1862 while fighting in Kentucky he was killed by Union forces.
Nothing to do with his achievements, I just included him because it’s a wonderful name.
1891 – Oswald Boelcke
1897 – Frank Luke
Both were aviators in The Great War. Boelcke German and Luke American. Oswald Boelcke was regarded as the father of the Luftwaffe and the man who trained the more famous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. Frank Luke had the second most “kills” for the Americans, behind only Eddie Rickenbacker and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Both were dashing, daring WWI aces. Neither lived out the war. Boelcke died in 1916 and Luke in 1918.
The Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903. It took only a little more than a decade to turn this magnificent achievement into an instrument of death, and create a new class of heroes, and victims.