July 31: This Day in History

whitneyyoungJuly 31, 2015 – Segment 1

On this day in history, Muslims conquered Iberia and Whitney Young of the Urban League was born.

Transcript of This Day in History Included Below

Homer Simpson “Saxamaphone” (Un-Edited!)


That was Homer Simpson, playing the saxophone on the Simpsons. On this day in 1845, the French army became the first army to introduce Adolphe Sax’s new invention, the saxophone, to  their marching band.

In the 8th century the Muslims conquered Iberia, in the south of what is now Spain. The tolerance of their rule attracted many Jews who prospered became partners in their world.  The Catholic Church in Spain and Europe wanted to push and destroy what they called infidels, being the Jews and Muslims.  In 1402 they defeated the Caliphate at Granada. Then on this day in 1492 they issued the Alhambra Decree banning all Jews who did not convert. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed as they fled to North Africa, Greece and Poland. Muslims, Jews and Africans were considered infidels and less than human.

On this day in 1498, Columbus stumbled onto an island now known as Trinidad on his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere.

The island was already thickly settled by Carib and Arawak people who called their home Kalinago – the land of the Hummingbird.  Within two years the Arawaks and Caribs were enslaved and forced to dive for pearls and the island we now as Trinidad was quickly depopulated by Spanish colonists.

Whitney Young, whose name and presence personified the Urban League, was born on this day in 1921.  He entered Lincoln University at 13 and graduated as Valedictorian at age 17, with his sister as Solitarian.  When he joined the army in World War II, he was assigned to a construction unit run by Southern white officers. He worked magic bringing them together, became Sargent, and discovering that he wanted to work in race relations. After the war, he and his wife got Social Work degrees, and in 1960 he became the head of the Urban League As civil rights militancy was rising Young said the Urban League was not doing direct action but quote “we are the social engineers, we are the strategists, we are the planners, we are the people who work at the level of policy-making, policy implementation, the highest echelons of the corporate community, the highest echelons of the governmental community – both at the federal, state and local level – the highest echelons of the labor movement.”  So while tension existed between him and SNCC and King, he helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, angering white business leaders. He designed a Marshall Plan for the inner cities of America that President Lyndon Johnson turned into the War on Poverty and advised both Johnson and Nixon, supporting the war in Vietnam over King’s opposition to it, though in the end he came to oppose the war.  This complex man, worked for civil rights till his death by heart attack in 1971 after swimming in waters off Nigeria.

We know Daniel Defoe as the man who wrote Robinson Crusoe.  Before he wrote that timeless novel late in his life, he was a spin doctor for the British government. In 1703, he wrote a satirical pamphlet called “The Shortest Way with Dissenters.” Even though he worked for the Crown, he privately supported dissenters and freedom.  He wrote as High Churchman foaming at the mouth about dissenters, writing that the Church of England was like Christ crucified between two thieves, the papists and nonconformists, so all non conformists and dissenters should be banished. The Church and Government saw no humor in it, found out who wrote it, and put Defoe into a pillory for three days.  Lucky for him instead of being pelted with mud, rock or feces the people threw flowers at him.  Fifteen years later he gave us, Robinson Crusoe.

On this day in 1972, Operation Motorman began in the North of Ireland. It was the largest British military operation since the Suez Crisis of 1956 invaded Northern Ireland.  The two main cities of Northern Ireland, Belfast and Derry, had become more segregated than ever since the start of the Troubles in 1969. Many neighborhoods were becoming either strictly Irish nationalist,republican, and Catholic or unionist, loyalist and Protestant. Many areas were sealed off by barricades patrolled by paramilitary groups.. The British military used 22.000 soldiers to retake areas controlled by republicans. There were few casualties, but it was a turning point in the conflict, and contributed to an escalation of violence on both sides.

Here’s a song for your July the 31st. It’s one of the few Beatles songs where each band member had a solo. The problem was that Ringo Starr wasn’t interested in soloing, he prefered to cater his drumming to whoever was singing in a particular performance. So instead of Ringo recording a solo, they pulled a clip of him performing with other instruments, then the producer muted the rest of the instruments for the final mix to give the effect of a drum solo. The song is The End by the Beatles, which was recorded on this day in 1969.

The End by the Beatles