barcelona - spain - psycho - movie poster - 1960 - paramount pictures - feature

This Day in History – June 16th – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight

***

NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.

***

THIS DAY IN HISTORY… JUNE 16

***

1822 – The Rising.

An alleged slave rebellion uncovered in Charleston, South Carolina. Led by freed slave, Denmark Vesey. About 1,000 slaves were involved in this plot to rise up and kill slave owners. The plot was too large, and a slave loyal to his master revealed it. A militia was formed, slaves were rounded up, and after a quick trial, Vesey and 35 others were hung. Vesey, a carpenter who had won a lottery and purchased his freedom, was a leader in a African Methodist church. Anger over efforts to suppress the church led to talk of an uprising. Whether there was an actual plot or not is a matter of speculation; some believe it just might have been a matter of white panic. The trial and executions, however, had the effect of politicizing the black community and helped to inspire such black leaders as Frederick Douglass. During the Civil War when all-black units went to fight, the name of Denmark Vesey was their battle cry.

Almost two hundred years later justice is still being sought.

***

1858 – Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” Speech.

Matthew 12:25. Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. Abraham Lincoln borrowed from this bible passage when he made his acceptance speech as the Republican candidate for the Senate. His speech began with the words: “A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.” Lincoln was immediately criticized for it, including those from his own party, and the speech gave his opponent Stephen Douglas campaign material. Lincoln lost that election, but the speech helped elevate him to the moral high ground that would eventually define his presidency.

Over a hundred and sixty-two years later we’re still trying to put that house together.

***

1960 – “Psycho” released.

Starring Tony Perkins and Janet Leigh, this horror film, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is ranked among the greatest films of all time. A runaway box office success, “Psycho” is credited with creating the slasher film genre.

Although movies were a major form of entertainment for me at the time, I purposefully chose to skip seeing it. Back then, and it hasn’t changed, I felt no need to introduce fantasy horror into my life. The real world provides enough.

***

Birthdays:

1882 – Mohammad Mosaddegh.

Prime Minister of Iran. A progressive, Mosaddegh was the leader of Iran from April 1951 to August 1953. During that time he introduced such major reforms as social security, land reforms, health benefits for sick and injured workers, and the nationalization of the oil industry. The international oil industry did not sit still for the last of these changes. Led by the CIA and the British MI6, a coup overthrew his rule. They spread rumors he was anti-religion and then incited both the pro and anti-government forces, leading to street clashes and violence. He was removed from office and replaced with someone more sympathetic to the Western world’s oil industry. Mosaddegh spent three years in prison and then the rest of his life under house arrest.

What did the guy expect, people before Big Oil? C’mon!

***

1920 – John Howard Griffin.

Journalist and writer. Griffin, a white man, wrote a book called “Black Like Me.” A Texan, he wondered about the black experience in the Deep South. He shaved his head, got a doctor to prescribe a drug to darken his skin, spent hours under a sun lamp, and then set off to experience a new life. The book he wrote about it became a best seller. It also brought him death threats, to the point where he and his family temporarily moved to Mexico. Once, in Mississippi, he was beaten with chains so severely it took him five months to recover.

Even before this experiment Griffin had led an interesting life. Studying in France when WWII started, he joined the French Resistance and helped smuggle Jewish children to England. He returned to the U.S., enlisted in the Army,  and went to the South Pacific where he was the only white person on Nuni, one of the Solomon Islands. While there he married one of the island’s inhabitants, caught malaria which left him paralyzed for a time, and was wounded by shrapnel that blinded him. Returned to the States, he got a divorce, remarried, had four children, taught piano lessons, and wrote a book about being blind. Then in 1957 his sight miraculously returned. Soon after he was embarked on his “Black Like Me” quest.

The book was criticized and questioned as implausible, and there were suggestions of patronization, but the book is still being read today and has sold 10 million copies. Writer Studs Terkel said of Griffin, “He was just one of those guys that comes along once or twice in a century and lifts the hearts of the rest of us.” Griffin died in 1980 from complications of diabetes.

It might be a fine distinction but I don’t think he was trying to describe the black experience but rather trying to describe the experience of a white man being black.

***

1951 – Roberto Duran.

Professional boxer. Duran was one of the most formidable boxers of his era, which spanned a number of decades, boxing until he was fifty. His nickname was “Hands of Stone” and he held the championship belt in four different weight classes. Duran had two famous fights with Sugar Ray Leonard. The first was a fifteen round brawl that Duran won by decision. The second was the infamous “No Mas” fight. For some reason, in the eighth round, Duran quit fighting, said “no mas,” (no more) and walked to his corner. Leonard had been dancing about and taunting him. Duran denied saying “no mas,” instead claiming he said “I do not want to fight with this clown.” Whatever he said, he did quit and for however great a fighter he was, that remains his legacy.

I watched that fight with a friend, Steve. Duran was such s ferocious fighter we were puzzled he quit mid-fight. Theories abound but I like Steve’s as much as any. The two fighters were huge draws and a lot of money was to be made. So the fix was in. Duran won the first fight legit. If Leonard won the second the payoff for the rubber match would be immense. Leonard went off script however and began showing off and taunting Duran. In a brief moment of frustration it all suddenly wasn’t worth while to Duran and “no mas” became history.

***

Note: A correction from the June 11th entry. For the English playwright the name is Ben Jonson, not Ben Johnson. Oh well, it happens.

***

ABOUT GARY JENNEKE

At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at gary@newswhistle.com.

***

CREDITS

The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers.

Sources:

OnThisDay.com

BlackPast.org

The Bible

Wikipedia.org

TheGuardian.com

SmithsonianMag.com

***

We’d like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image (“Psycho” / 1960 Movie Poster from Barcelona, Spain) Paramount Pictures 

barcelona - spain - psycho - movie poster - 1960 - paramount pictures - embed

* Lincoln’s “House Divided” Speech (video)  – gilderlehrman / YouTube.com

* Alfred Hitchcock, “The Dick Cavett Show” ( video) – The Dick Cavett Show / YouTube.com

* Sugar Ray Leonard – Roberto Duran fight clip ( video) – sugarrayleonard / YouTube.com

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio / Shutterstock.com

***

OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 2

December 3

December 5

December 8

* December 9

December 11

December 12

* December 13

* December 15

December 16

December 18

* December 19

December 22

December 23

December 24

December 25

December 28

January 1

January 3

* January 4

January 6

January 7

January 8

January 11

* January 12

* January 14

January 15

January 17

January 19

January 22

January 23

January 24

January 28

January 29

February 1

February 2

February 3

February 5

* February 9

February 10

* February 12

February 14

February 15

February 20

February 21

February 22

February 25

February 28

February 29

March 2

March 4

March 6

* March 9

March 11

March 12

March 14

March 15

March 17

March 19

March 21

March 22

March 23

March 27

March 28

March 29

April 2

April 3

April 4

April 6

April 9

* April 11

April 13

April 16

April 18

April 21

April 22

April 23

April 26

April 28

April 29

May 1

May 2

* May 3

May 5

May 6

May 9

May 10

May 11

* May 13

May 16

May 17

* May 22

May 24

May 26

May 27

* May 28

May 29

May 31

June 1

June 3

June 4

June 8

June 10

June 11

* June 13

June 17

June 18

June 21

June 24

June 28

June 29

July 2

July 3

* July 9

July 13

July 15

July 19

July 23

July 25

July 30

July 31

* August 3

August 7

August 10

August 11

August 16

August 17

August 21

August 24

August 25

* August 28

August 31

September 2

September 5

September 6

September 8

September 11

September 12

September 15

September 16 

September 17

September 21

September 23

September 25

September 26

September 27

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 4

October 5

October 7

October 10

October 11

* October 12

October 14

October 15

October 16

October 18

October 20

October 24

October 25

October 26

October 27

October 30

October 31

November 1

November 3

* November 4

November 5

November 6

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

November 13

November 14

November 15

November 16

* November 17

November 18

* November 19

November 20

November 23

November 24

November 26

November 28

November 29

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

this-day-in-history-outro