February 12: This Day in History

darwinFebruary 12, 2015 – Segment 1

Marc shares some of the events that happened on this day in history, including the births of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, and the establishment of the NAACP.

Peanuts Theme


That’s the theme from the Peanuts cartoon series, performed by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. We play that today as we remember the great American cartoonist who created the Peanuts comic strip, Charles M. Schulz. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and his comic strip that featured Charlie Brown and Snoopy was very influential in the cartooning world.  He passed away today in 2000.

Two men, who changed the course of our world, were born today in the same year — 1809 –, but on different continents:

The man who gave us the theory of evolution, the idea that we all descended from common ancestors, English geologist and theorist Charles Darwin.

And the man who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, officially freeing slaves held in the Confederacy, American lawyer and 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln.

Happy Birthday.

And Henry Highland Garnet became the first African American minister to preach in the Halls of Congress, but not to Congress, in 1865. He preached to those who gathered in the halls as he declared that the United States must move full force to ensure full emancipation.  Garnet was born enslaved, and became one of the Nation’s great orators. He was shunned by many in the Abolitionist movement when he spoke to the Negro National Convention in 1845 with a speech entitled, “A Call To Rebellion.”  Many consider him the spiritual father of Black Nationalism in America.

And Black United States Army veteran Isaac Woodard was severely beaten by a South Carolina police officer to the point where he lost vision in both of his eyes today in 1946, just hours after he was honorably discharged from the Army. This incident galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and a federal investigation was launched by President Harry S. Truman after the South Carolina police refused to look into the circumstances of the incident. The sheriff eventually went to trial for the beating, but was acquitted by an all-white jury in South Carolina. Still, this incident sparked a string of federal civil rights initiatives under President Truman.

A really interesting thing happened today in Baltimore in 1866. Issac Myer, friend and business partner of Frederick Douglass, purchased a shipyard and railway today. Myer and Douglass had started the Colored Caulkers Trade Union when white tradesmen barred their full participation in the union. With their own shipyard and railway, they had not just a business, but a workers cooperative that was run and managed by mostly Black workers who worked there. It survived until 1884.

And it’s the 96th birthday of the NAACP. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded today in 1909.

Something important in the world of music and our history happened today. On President Lincoln’s birthday in the year 1900, 500 school children at the celebration delivered a poem written by James Weldon Johnson for the first time.

“Lift every voice and sing

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty…”

Sound familiar? It’s “Life Every Voice and Sing,” which actually started as a poem. It was later set to music and adopted by the NAACP as its official song and has been known for over a hundred years as The Negro National Anthem.

What you’re hearing under me right now is jazz singer Rene Marie’s 2008 performance of the song at the Denver State of the City Address. Rene Marie was asked to sing the United States national anthem at the event, but instead she sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner, which unleashed a huge controversy around the national anthem, patriotism, and the song.

We hear Rene Marie’s 2008 performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on the day that poem by James Weldon Johnson was first performed as a poem.

Rene Marie – Lift Every Voice and Sing


To continue your exploration of this day in history, take a look at some of our favorite sources: Charles H. Wright Museum: Today in Black History; African American Registry; BlackPast; NYTimes on this Day; EyewitnessToHistory.com; The Civil War Trust; Voices in Labor: Today in Labor History; Union Communication Services at The Worker Institute: Today in Labor History; BBC On This Day; The Holocaust History Project; PBS African American World; PBS; Today in Women’s History; South African History Online; This Day In North American Indian History; Jewish Virtual Library; The People History; Wikipedia List of Historical Anniversaries; Yenoba; and This Day in Music