February 3: This Day In History

Percival PrattisFebruary 3, 2015 – Segment 1

Marc talks about what happened on this day in history, including the day Percival Prattis became the first African American journalist to be allowed to sit in the press galleries of the U.S. Congress, and the 145th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment that guaranteed voting rights to all Americans regardless of race –- American men, that to is to be clear.

Transcript of this day in history is included below.

This is Marc Steiner, and today is February the 3rd.

(Buddy Holly & The Crickets – Oh Boy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXiwhzFZYAQ)

That was Buddy Holly & The Crickets performing “Oh Boy!” live on the Ed Sullivan Show. We play that today, because in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a tragic plane crash in Iowa. Folk rock songwriter Don McLean referred to this as “the day the music died” in his hit song “American Pie”.

And this is the anniversary of two very important constitutional amendments. Both of them seem to still be at the heart of the battleground for how we describe, believe in, and see our democracy.

It is the 145th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment that guaranteed voting rights to all Americans regardless of race –- American men, that to is to be clear. It stated, “no state shall have the right to deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color or previous servitude.” Five years after the Civil War ended, the 15th Amendment came as Reconstruction was being dismantled, and newly enfranchised African Americans were fighting to maintain their freedom and a semblance of power in the face of Confederate resurgence.

And it’s the 98th anniversary of the ratification of the 16th Amendment, authorizing the collection of the income tax. A tax, which did not have to be shared among the states, but went to the Federal government. It was passed at a time when Republicans represented progressive government, thinking there was federal responsibility to address the needs of all citizens and take on the robber barons –- yesterday’s 1%. Today, we still are at war over guaranteeing the right to vote and over whether – and how much – we should be paying taxes.

Today in 1917, the U.S. broke relations with Germany and prepared to enter World War I. Two years later on this day, then-President Woodrow Wilson took his place as head of the committee to start the League of Nations, which was the precursor to the United Nations. The League of Nations was about to divide up the spoils of war for the West to control Africa and the Middle East, and end all wars between European nations through cooperation on sharing the resources of the world.

Do you know the name Percival Prattis? In 1947, Percival Prattis became the first African American journalist to be allowed to sit in the press galleries of the U.S. Congress. He was a veteran of World War I, and he began writing as soon as he returned home. He became Editor of the Chicago Defender, where he built a circulation of 100,000 readers, creating sensational photographs and graphics depicting lynchings and oppression of Black Americans, until he moved on to become editor of the Associated Negro Press. There, he wrote stories for Black newspapers around America, and he went on to become Editor of the Pittsburgh Courier. He went to Ethiopia to interview Haile Selassie and became one of the leading lights of journalism, covering the battle for civil rights and African independence.

And speaking of independence, this was the day that British Prime Minister Harold McMillan gave his “Wind of Change” speech, acknowledging that days of colonial rule in Africa were on the wane and African consciousness was rising. Just a year later, cotton workers in Angola went out on strike. It escalated and white bosses were attacked, pitched battles arose, and the Portuguese who controlled Angola bombed them killing thousands. This day is seen as the opening of the Angolan War of Liberation against the Portuguese and is celebrated as Liberation Day in Angola.

Here’s a great song and for us to think about on this February the 3rd. We celebrate the birthday of an American blues, soul and funk musician, who was born today in Houston, Texas in 1935. This artist was inspired by the music of T-Bone Walker and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and taught himself the guitar at a young age. He was known for his over-the-top personality on stage and inspired many of the great guitarists that came after him. I’m talking about Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and we’re hearing his song “A Real Mother For Ya.”

(Johnny “Guitar” Watson – A Real Mother For Ya https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z-hKprKdII&list=PL_IhRJb4msC8VC34x_oki9HW3bfWzMDsR)

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

Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show currently airs on The Real News Network. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Email us to share your comments with us.