Today in history, an 8-year-old Gladys Knight took first prize on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour television show, Napoleon’s armies stumbled upon the Rosetta Stone, and The All Negro Comics were first published.
Transcript of this day in history included below.
This is Marc Steiner, and today is July 15th. Welcome to This Day In History.
Do you know whose voice that was? It’s the voice of an 8 year old girl who appeared on Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour television show today in 1952, taking the first prize of $2,000. Believe it or not, that is the voice of a young Gladys Knight. Five years later, she would be an established recording artist.
Rosetta Stone is a phrase that has come to symbolize the unlocking of secrets, which that stone did. It was 1799 and Napoleon’s armies we taking over much of Europe and North Africa. On this day his troops stumbled across what has become known as the Rosetta Stone, a black basalt slab with ancient writing in three ancient languages: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian Demotic. Napoleon wanted all artifacts seized and brought to Paris. The slab was honoring Egyptian King Ptolemy V from the second century BCE. It turned out that each story was the same, and this unlocked the key for the world to be able to translate the ancient, lost, written language we call Egyptian Hieroglyphics. While it deepened our knowledge of the world, it unleashed a centuries-long controversy over who should own the world’s antiquities, the West’s museums or the nations from which they came. The British took the Rosetta stone from the French in war, and it now resides in a British museum. The Egyptians want it returned to them.
And after almost 250 years of the Spanish Church killing and attacking Jews, Muslims, Africans, and Indigenous people .. the Spanish Inquisition came to an end by papal decree today in 1834.
Four years later in 1838 in the United States, the Protestant churches were in an uproar that caused a national debate when the great poet Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered an address to Harvard Divinity School arguing that the Bible’s miracles were fictions and that Jesus, while being a great man, was not a god and not the son of God. He spoke of the power of the prophets, of moral nature and the law of laws, but denied the grand design of God. America could not handle it.
The first comic magazine written and drawn by African Americans featuring stories, heroes and heroines depicting Black men and women was published on this day in 1947. It was called the All Negro Comics. As interesting was the man who created them, Orrin Evans. His father passed for white to get work. He witnessed his father not being able to acknowledge him or his mother till he got home. Orrin Evans was a journalist who in 1944 wrote a series of articles on segregation in the armed forces for which he won accolades and death threats so real that his home had to be protected by friends 24 hours a day. When he went to cover Charles Lindbergh when his son was kidnapped, Lindbergh — a racist and pro-Nazi — would not begin the press conference till Evans was removed. He had been arrested by police for covering stories. But, he loved comics and thought Black people and the world needed Black heroes in popular comics and culture, so he created The All Negro Comic with other Black illustrators and writers, one of whom lived in Baltimore.
Tweet once meant the song of birds, but it took on a new meaning today in 2006, when Twitter was launched. Once again, new digital technology redefining 21st century communications ..
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