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Good People Doing Good Things — Dr. Daniel Ivankovich

Dr. Daniel Ivankovich is a Chicago surgeon and hero who works tirelessly to bring quality medical care to the uninsured and the poor – not only in Chicago but also in Haiti! Thanks to Jill Dennison who brightened my day today with this inspirational story. Please share!

Filosofa's Word

Every Wednesday, I go in search of good people who are giving of themselves to others.  They are not hard to find, but so often go unnoticed because they are busy taking care of business and do not have time to toot their own horns as others may do.

It seems that we only hear about the bad things in Chicago:  the crime, drugs, gangs and violence.  But there are some really good people doing their best to help people survive and thrive.  Meet Dr. Daniel Ivankovich.

IvankovichIn 2010 after seeing so many in the Chicago area who were left without the ability to pay for medical care turned away, Dr. Ivankovich decided it was time to do something positive.  He and his wife, Karla, started the nonprofit OnePatient Global Health Initiative, a non-profit “designed to establish sustainable programs of outreach, prevention and patient education at multiple locations throughout…

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Black History Month in Canada… Viola Davis Desmond

Viola Davis Desmond took a courageous stand against racial discrimination in Nova Scotia in 1946.

Viola Davis Desmond’s Stand Against Racial Discrimination

Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), businesswoman, civil libertarian (born 6 July 1914 in Halifax, NS; died 7 February 1965 in New York, NY). Viola Desmond built a career and business as a beautician and was a mentor to young Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. It is, however, the story of her courageous refusal to accept an act of racial discrimination that provided inspiration to a later generation of Black persons in Nova Scotia and in the rest of Canada. In December 2016, it was announced that Desmond would be the first Canadian woman depicted on the face of a Canadian banknote — the $10 note in a series of bills released in 2018. Continue reading “Black History Month in Canada… Viola Davis Desmond”

John’s Believe It Or Not… February 7th

* 1997 – Lennox Lewis knocks out Oliver McCall in Las Vegas to become WBC heavyweight champion. * 1964 Beatles arrive in New York. * 1984 First human satellite. * 1914 First appearance of “Little Tramp”. * 1812 Earthquake causes fluvial tsunami in Mississippi.

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did You Know…

* 1997 – Lennox Lewis knocks out Oliver McCall in Las Vegas to become WBC heavyweight champion.

Lennox Lewis vs. Oliver McCall II was a professional boxing match contested on February 7, 1997, for the vacant WBC Heavyweight Championship.
Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 7th”

Black History — Dr. Dan

Dr. Daniel Williams was a great medical hero in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Thanks to Jill Dennison I was able to learn about this great man and share his story with my readers. Jill is an avid blogger and I encourage my readers to check out her site!

Filosofa's Word

As I mentioned in a post last week, I want to take some time this month to highlight the accomplishments of some of our African-American brothers and sisters in honour of Black History Month.  We all know about Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Bessie Coleman, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X and many others who are routinely highlighted during Black History Month, so I wanted to take an opportunity to seek out some who we may not have heard of before.  Today, I am focusing on one remarkable man …

Daniel Hale WilliamsDaniel Hale Williams III, was born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania in 1856, five years before the start of the Civil War. His father, Daniel Hale Williams II, was a barber, having inherited a barbershop, but more importantly, he also worked with the Equal Rights League, a black civil rights organization.

When Daniel was only ten years old, his father died, and young…

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Black History Month in Canada… Donovan Anthony Bailey

As a Canadian sprinter, Donovan Bailey set records at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Donovan Anthony Bailey – Olympian Hero

Donovan Anthony Bailey, Oakville Ont., track and field sprinter (born 16 December 1967 in Manchester Parish, Jamaica). Donovan Bailey won the gold medal for Canada in the men’s 100m at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia, and set a world record with a time of 9.84 seconds. He later won a second Olympic gold medal when he led Team Canada to a first-place finish in the men’s 4x100m relay. During his athletic career, he also won four medals (three gold and one silver) at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships.

Donovan Bailey was born in Manchester Parish, in the mountainous region of Jamaica, the fourth of five sons to George and Daisy Bailey. Before going to Mount Olivet Primary School each morning, Donovan would take care of the family’s pigs, chickens, and goats.

Donovan visited Canada when he was seven years old and moved to Canada when he was 12. He settled in Oakville, Ontario, with his father and his older brother, O’Neil, and attended Queen Elizabeth Park High School. O’Neil Bailey was an outstanding track and field athlete who won the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Outdoor Provincial Championships four times in boys’ long jump (1980, 1981, 1982 and 1984). O’Neil also excelled in the 100m and football, where he was a star high school halfback. Donovan was also a fast runner in high school, having clocked 10.65 seconds in the men’s 100m at the age of 16. However, his primary passion and focus was basketball.

After graduating from high school, Bailey attended Sheridan College in Oakville and earned a diploma in business administration, with a focus on marketing and economics. During the 1986–87 school year, Bailey played basketball as a forward for the Sheridan Bruins in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association.

After graduating from Sheridan College, Bailey worked as a property and marketing consultant and had a business of importing and exporting clothing. By the age of 22, he owned a house and a Porsche 911 convertible.

“I could have left high school and run track right away, but that wasn’t what I wanted,” Bailey told Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated in 1996. “I wanted a nice house, money, fast cars. I was taught to work real hard, to work on my own.”

In 1990, Bailey was watching the Canadian Track & Field Championships when he noticed that some of the competitors were athletes he had beaten in high school. This motivated him to return to competitive sprinting on a part-time basis.

In 1991, Bailey won the 60m race at the Ontario indoor championships and was chosen to represent Canada at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba, where he won a silver medal as part of the men’s 4x100m relay.

At the 1992 Canadian Track & Field Championships, Bailey finished second in the men’s 100m. The following year, he won bronze in the 100m and silver in the 200m at the national championships.

Despite his success at the national level, Bailey did not represent Canada at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and was only an alternate for the Canadian relay team at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

Bailey was upset by these decisions and, while in Stuttgart, he complained to anyone who would listen, including Dan Pfaff, who coached Bailey’s high-school friend Glenroy Gilbert. Pfaff, an assistant track coach at Louisiana State University (LSU), told Kenny Moore of Sports Illustrated in 1995, “I’ve never seen anyone run so fast who looked so bad.” He invited Bailey to train with Gilbert at LSU.

According to Pfaff, Bailey wasn’t fit and had terrible form. After three months of coaching, weightlifting and sprint training and an improved diet, Bailey was able to cut one-third of a second off his 100m time and ran 10.03 seconds at the Duisburg track meet in Germany in June 1994.

At the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Bailey was a strong contender in a very competitive men’s 100m. In addition to Bruny Surin, Michael Marsh and Linford Christie, the field included Fredericks (who had beaten Bailey in Lausanne), Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago (the reigning World Championships bronze medallist), Michael Green of Jamaica (the reigning Commonwealth Games silver medallist) and Dennis Mitchell of the United States (the reigning Goodwill Games champion).

Bailey won his opening heat of the Olympic Games on 26 July 1996 but finished second to Christie in his quarter-final heat and second to Fredericks in his semifinal heat. Surin, meanwhile, finished a surprising fifth in his semifinal heat and failed to make the final. In the men’s 100m Olympic final on 27 July 1996, Christie was disqualified for two false starts. With the competition down to seven sprinters, Bailey once again got off to a slower start, but by the middle of the race, he had the most energy and momentum. He caught the halfway leaders, Boldon and Mitchell, and beat Fredericks by five one-hundredths of a second to win Olympic gold.

Bailey’s winning time of 9.84 seconds was also a world record at the time. Even though he no longer holds the world record for the men’s 100m, Bailey is currently tied with Surin as the Canadian record holder in distance. Bailey became the second Canadian to win the Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100m, following Percy Williams of Vancouver, British Columbia, who won gold at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.

Bailey won a second gold medal in Atlanta in the men’s 4x100m relay. Bailey, Surin, Gilbert, and Esmie ran an outstanding final relay on 3 August 1996, defeating the favored American squad that included two sprinters (Mitchell and Marsh) from the men’s 100m final.

The Canadian team got off to a great start, and by the time Surin handed the baton over to Bailey, he lifted his hands in the air, knowing that Canada would win. Right before Bailey crossed the finish line, Don Wittman of CBC Sports reported: “If you’re Canadian, you have to love Saturday nights in Georgia!”

Donovan Bailey - 1996 Olympic Champion
Donovan Bailey – 1996 Olympic Champion

Today’s Sources:

* The Canadian Encyclopedia                                        

John’s Believe It Or Not… February 6th

* 1948 – Barbara Anne Scott Wins Olympic Gold Medal at St. Moritz. * 1952 Elizabeth becomes queen. * 1820 Freed U.S. slaves depart on journey to Africa. * 1928 Anastasia arrives in the United States. * 1937 Of Mice and Men is published.

It’s Tuesday! Did You Know…

* 1948 – Barbara Anne Scott Wins Olympic Gold Medal at St. Moritz.

Barbara Ann Scott, figure skater (born at Ottawa, Ont, 9 May 1928; died at Amelia Island, US, 30 Sept 2012). One of Canada’s best-remembered athletes, Scott endeared herself to Canadians in winning the 1948 St Moritz Olympic Games figure-skating title. At age 9, she had begun a daily 7-hour training routine; a year later, she became the youngest Canadian to earn a gold medal for figures. She was Canadian senior women’s champion 1944-48, N American champion 1945-48, and European and world champion 1947-48. Her capture of the coveted Olympic gold medal on 6 Feb 1948 made her a celebrity; in Ottawa, she was honored by adoring crowds and showered with gifts; she was the object of endless media attention. Scott received the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year in 1945, 1947 and 1948. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 6th”

Black History Month in Canada… Marie-Josephe Angelique

Marie-Joseph Angelique 1705-1734, was Portugese-born and sold into slavery as a young teen, ending up in Montreal, New France. She is a symbol of Black resistance.

Marie-Josephe Angelique: Symbol of Black resistance in Canada

Marie-Joseph Angélique (born circa 1705 in Madeira, Portugal; died 21 June 1734 in Montréal, QC). Angélique was an enslaved Black woman owned by Thérèse de Couagne de Francheville in Montréal. In 1734, she was charged with arson after a fire leveled Montréal’s merchants’ quarter. It was alleged that Angélique committed the act while attempting to flee her bondage. She was convicted, tortured and hanged. While it remains unknown whether or not she set the fire, Angélique’s story has come to symbolize Black resistance and freedom.

Angélique was born in Madeira, Portugal, around 1705. Little is known of the first 20 years of her life. She may have been first enslaved in Portugal, an active port of the Atlantic slave trade. It was likely there that Angélique was sold to the Flemish merchant Nichus Block when she was in her early teens. Angélique was taken by boat to North America, possibly stopping in Flanders (what is now northern Belgium), which had close trading ties with Portugal. Angélique arrived in New England, where she was purchased at age 20 by the French merchant François Poulin de Francheville in 1725. Francheville brought Angélique back to his hometown of Montréal to work as a domestic slave. (Between the time Angélique left Europe and arrived in Montréal, she had been sold at least twice.)

When Francheville died in 1733, ownership of Angélique passed to his widow, Therese de Couagne, who is thought to have renamed the enslaved woman from Marie-Joseph to “Angélique,” after her deceased daughter. While enslaved for nine years at the Francheville home, Angélique had three children, none of whom lived beyond infancy. Birth records indicate that the father was Jacques César, a Madagascar-born slave owned by a Francheville family friend. Some researchers believe that the couple was forced by their owners to produce offspring. Angélique also had a lover, an indentured white laborer from France named Claude Thibault, with whom she tried to flee from enslavement and who was believed to have helped her set fire to Montréal.

In December 1733, Angélique asked her mistress for her freedom, a request that Madame de Francheville denied. This infuriated Angélique, who “went on a small reign of terror in the household.” She talked back to her owner, threatened her with death by “roasting,” quarreled with the other servants in the house, threatened them, too, with “burning,” and made life so unbearable for her fellow servant Marie-Louise Poirier that she quit her job. (The Hanging of Angélique, 2006)

In early 1734, Francheville sold Angélique to François-Étienne Cugnet of Québec City for 600 pounds of gunpowder. She was waiting for the ice to thaw on the St. Lawrence River in order to send Angélique by boat. It was rumored that Cugnet would, in turn, sell Angélique into enslavement in the West Indies. Upon hearing news of her sale, Angélique threatened to burn down Francheville’s house with her in it.

Soon after, Angélique ran away with Thibault. Her intent was to return to Portugal, the land of her birth. The couple set fire to Angélique’s bed at Alexis Monière’s home — where Francheville had chosen to move them temporarily — and fled in the direction of New England, where they hoped to catch a ship bound for Europe. Two weeks later, Angélique and Thibault were tracked down by the police in nearby Chambly. Angélique was returned to her owner to await transportation to Québec City, and Thibault was sent to jail. Once she returned to Montréal, Angélique continued to state that she would burn down her mistress’ house because she wanted to be free.

On the evening of Saturday 10 April 1734, a large portion of Montréal — the merchants’ quarter — was destroyed by fire. At least 46 buildings, mainly homes, were burnt, plus the convent and hospital of the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal. Angélique was accused of starting the fire and arrested by police on 11 April. She was taken to court the following morning, where she was charged with arson, a capital crime punishable by death, torture or banishment. In the French legal system of the 18th century, the accused was presumed guilty, and in New France, there were no trials by jury, only inquisitorial tribunals in which the defendant was meant to prove her innocence. Lawyers were banned from practicing in the colony by Louis XIV.

So began one of the most spectacular trials to come out of 18th-century Canada. Over 24 witnesses were called, 23 of whom— including a five-year-old girl — stated that they believed Angélique had set the fire because, at one point or another, she had told them that she would. One witness said that she saw Angélique carrying a pot of live coals up to the roof minutes before the fire started. The court felt that she had intended to flee enslavement, and had set the fire in order to cover her tracks.

After a six week tribunal, Angélique was found guilty and sentenced to death. She was to have her hands cut off and be burned alive. The sentence was appealed to the superior court in Québec City, where the death penalty was upheld and the gruesome aspects of the sentencing lessened. Angélique would be tortured, hanged, and then her body burned. She returned to Montréal to await her death. Throughout her trial, at both the lower court in Montréal and the upper court in Québec, she denied setting the fire.

After the torture, Angélique, dressed in a white chemise and holding a burning torch in her hand (the symbol of her crime), was placed in a garbage cart and taken to the portal of the Notre-Dame Basilica, where she confessed to her crime, and begged pardon of God, the king and the people. She was then hanged. The hangman and torturer was Mathieu Léveillé, an enslaved Black man employed as royal executioner. Angélique’s body was displayed on a gibbet for two hours. At 7:00 p.m., her body was placed on a pyre and burnt, her ashes gathered and cast to the four winds.

The burning of Montréal, as well as the arrest and subsequent trial of Angélique, reveals much about the nature of enslavement in Canada, a legal institution that existed for over two hundred years. It is possible that Angélique did not set the fire. But she made an ideal scapegoat for the crime: she was Black, enslaved, poor, and a foreigner, and so in every aspect was a social outcast. As a slave, Angélique had no rights that New France or white society would respect.

On the other hand, Angélique may have set the fire. She had many grievances against white society in Montréal. Whites had enslaved her, stripped her of her freedom and human rights, and taken her from a homeland that she clearly loved. In Montréal, she had attempted at least once to escape from enslavement but was thwarted. Arson had played a role in that earlier escape. Centuries later, Marie-Joseph Angélique has become a symbol of Black resistance and freedom.

Marie-Joseph Angélique was an enslaved Black woman in Montréal.
Marie-Joseph Angélique was an enslaved Black woman in Montréal. (

John’s Believe It Or Not… February 5th

* 1963 – John Diefenbaker’s minority government defeated over nuclear weapons policy. * 1994 Beckwith convicted of killing Medgar Evers. * 1989 The last Soviet troops leave Kabul. * 1631 Roger Williams arrives in America. * 1957 The American Invasion begins as Bill Haley and the Comets storm Britain.

It’s Monday! Did You Know…

* 1963 – John Diefenbaker’s minority government defeated over nuclear weapons policy.

Throughout his term as Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker struggled to determine whether Canada should acquire nuclear weapons. Minister of Defence George Peakes recommended that Canada integrate its air defenses with the United States in order to present a united front designed to protect both nations. The North American Aerospace Defence Command policy (NORAD) was approved by Diefenbaker in early 1957. Although NORAD represented a major defense commitment, the decision was made without discussion with Cabinet or the Defence Committee. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… February 5th”

Black History Month In Canada… Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Lincoln Alexander was a political trailblazer in Canadian politics and an inspiration for all visible minorities.

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander – Political Trailblazer

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, CC, QC, OOnt, lawyer, parliamentarian, public servant, lieutenant-governor of Ontario (born 21 January 1922 in Toronto, ON; died 19 October 2012 in Hamilton, ON). Alexander was the first Black Canadian Member of Parliament, cabinet minister and Lieutenant-Governor (Ontario).

Born of West Indian immigrant parents — his mother was from Jamaica, his father from St. Vincent — Alexander grew up in an Ontario in which people of African descent could occasionally leap the barriers set by discrimination. When he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1942 for example, that branch of the armed forces often restricted non-whites from entering service. Alexander served as a corporal in the RCAF until 1945. After the Second World War, he turned to higher education.

Alexander earned a BA from McMaster University in 1949, followed by a degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1953. Alexander practiced law and was eventually appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1965. That year, he entered politics, running as Conservative MP for Hamilton West, but was defeated. Three years later, on 25 June 1968, he won the seat, making him the first Black Canadian to sit in the House of Commons. He was re-elected four times, serving a total of 12 years. In 1979, he was appointed the Minister of Labour in the Clark government, a portfolio he held until 1980. That year, he resigned his seat in the House after he was appointed the chairman of the Ontario Workers’ Compensation Board, where he worked for the next five years.

On 20 September 1985, Lincoln Alexander was sworn in as Ontario’s 24th lieutenant-governor, the first Black Canadian to be appointed to a viceregal position in Canada. As lieutenant-governor, Alexander was able to take an active role in the multicultural affairs of Ontario. In 1991, when his term of office was up, Alexander accepted a post as chancellor of the University of Guelph, where he served an unprecedented five terms.

Lincoln Alexander was known for his sound judgment, compassion, and humanity. He was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Canada and to the Order of Ontario in 1992.

On 28 November 2013, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario declared 21 January of each year Lincoln Alexander Day, citing Alexander’s life as “an example of service, determination, and humility. Always fighting for equal rights for all races in our society, and doing so without malice, he changed attitudes and contributed greatly to the inclusiveness and tolerance of Canada today.” On 21 January 2015, the event was observed for the first time across the country.

Lincoln Alexander
Lincoln Alexander (Radio Canada International)

John’s Believe It Or Not… February 4th

* 1623 – Louis Hebert, Canada’s First French Colonist, Granted First Seigneury in New France. * 2004 Mark Zuckerberg launches Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room. * 1974 Patty Hearst kidnapped. * 1983 Karen Carpenter dies of anorexia.

It’s Sunday! Did You Know…

* 1623 – Louis Hebert – Canada’s First French Colonist – Granted First Seigneury in New France.

Louis Hébert (c. 1575 – 25 January 1627) is widely considered to be the first Canadian apothecary as well as the first European to farm in Canada. He was born around 1575 at 129 de la rue Saint-Honoré in Paris to Nicolas Hébert and Jacqueline Pajot. He married Marie Rollet on 19 February 1601 at the Church of Saint-Sulpice, Paris.[1]

In 1606, he accompanied his cousin in law, Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt et de Saint-Just, to Acadia along with Samuel Champlain. He lived at Port-Royal (now Annapolis, in southern Nova Scotia) from 1606 to 1607 and from 1611 to 1613 when Port-Royal was destroyed by the English deputy governor of Virginia Samuel Argall.

In 1617, with his wife, Marie Rollet, and their three children, Guillaume (3 years old), Guillaumette (9 years old), and Anne (14 years old), he left Paris forever to live in Quebec City. He died there 10 years later because of an injury that occurred when he fell on a patch of ice.

Statues of Louis Hébert, Marie Rollet, and their children are prominent in Parc Montmorency overlooking the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City.

At this time, Quebec was a settlement of some fifty white men who were all transient soldiers, fur trappers, or missionaries. The economy of the settlement was dependent on some 20,000 beaver pelts that were annually returned to French merchants in exchange for supplies. The “Compagnie de Canada”, made up of merchants from Rouen, St. Malo, and La Rochelle had a trading monopoly that controlled the fur trade in Quebec.

Champlain, who founded Quebec in 1608, saw a desperate need for medical service and agricultural self-sufficiency for Quebec. Champlain had met Louis Hébert during the earlier expedition to Port Royal and had recognized Louis’ outstanding qualities. Champlain approached Louis with an offer from the “Compagnie de Canada”. He had met Louis when they were both in Acadie. They mutually respected each other.

Champlain spent the winter of 1616-1617 in Paris searching for support for his colony of Quebec. Hébert was allured, believing that there would be good opportunities for him in the St. Lawrence Valley. The Compagnie de Canada made Hébert an offer: If he would take his family to Quebec for three years and practice medicine in the settlement and establish farming, the company would pay him an annual salary of 600 livres (pounds) and grant him ten acres of land at the settlement on which to build his house and farm. Louis agreed to the terms and signed the contract.

Louis sold his practice and his home and proceeded with his wife, son, and two daughters to the port of Honfleur, France. When he arrived, Louis was told by the ship’s master that instructions from the Compagnie de Canada were that they could only board if Louis agreed to sign a new contract with the company. The new provision reduced his annual salary to 300 livres per year, required him to serve as the physician and surgeon at the settlement, and required him to farm ten acres of land and give the company exclusive right to buy all of his agricultural products at the prevailing price in France. Having already sold his house and left his practice, Louis reluctantly accepted and signed the new contract.

In the spring of 1617, Louis became the first private individual to receive a grant of land in the New World from the French Government.

Upon his arrival in Quebec, Louis selected ten acres on a site that is today located in the city of Quebec between Ste. Famille and Couillard Streets, on the grounds of the Seminary of Quebec and Basilica of Notre Dame. Soon afterward, Louis started clearing out some old-growth forest so he could plant crops. This put him in conflict with the fur trading company, who was strongly opposed to deforestation for farming because of its adverse effect on the fur business. Louis had to work very hard, doing all the work by hand. The fur trading company would not let him import a plow from France. On this land, Louis, his son Guillaume, and an unnamed servant with the help of only an ax, a pick, and a spade, broke the soil and raised corn, winter wheat, beans, peas, and livestock including cattle, swine, and fowl. He also established an apple orchard and a vineyard.

By 1620, Louis’ hard work was finally recognized as having been of great service to the colony: for being the physician and surgeon; for being its principal provider of food; and for having fostered good relationships with the natives. He was appointed Procurator to the King, which allowed him to personally intervene in matters in the name of the King.

In 1623, Louis became the first “Seigneur” of New France when he was granted the noble fief of “Sault-au-Matelot”. In 1626 he was further granted “le fief de la Riviere, St Charles” in recognition of his meritorious service.

LOUIS HÉBERT (c. 1575 – January 1627): the First Farmer - scattering seeds
LOUIS HÉBERT (c. 1575 – January 1627): the First Farmer

* 2004 Mark Zuckerberg launches Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room.

FaceMash, Facebook’s predecessor, opened in 2003. Developed by Mark Zuckerberg, he wrote the software for the Facemash website when he was in his second year of college. The website was set up as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. The website allowed visitors to compare two student pictures side-by-side and let them decide who was hot or not.

Mark Zuckerberg, 23, founded Facebook while studying psychology at Harvard University. A keen computer programmer, Mr. Zuckerberg had already developed a number of social-networking websites for fellow students, including Coursematch, which allowed users to view people taking their degree, and Facemash, where you could rate people’s attractiveness.

In February 2004 Mr. Zuckerberg launched “The Facebook”, as it was originally known; the name taken from the sheets of paper distributed to freshmen, profiling students and staff. Within 24 hours, 1,200 Harvard students had signed up, and after one month, over half of the undergraduate population had a profile.

The network was promptly extended to other Boston universities, the Ivy League and eventually all US universities. It became in August 2005 after the address was purchased for $200,000. US high schools could sign up from September 2005, then it began to spread worldwide, reaching UK universities the following month.

As of September 2006, the network was extended beyond educational institutions to anyone with a registered email address. The site remains free to join and makes a profit through advertising revenue. Yahoo and Google are among companies which have expressed interest in a buy-out, with rumored figures of around $2bn (£975m) being discussed. Mr. Zuckerberg has so far refused to sell.

Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dormitory room.
Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dormitory room. (Business Insider)

* 1974 Patty Hearst kidnapped.

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19-year-old daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California, by two black men and a white woman, all three of whom are armed. Her fiance, Stephen Weed, was beaten and tied up along with a neighbor who tried to help. Witnesses reported seeing a struggling Hearst being carried away blindfolded, and she was put in the trunk of a car. Neighbors who came out into the street were forced to take cover after the kidnappers fired their guns to cover their escape.

Three days later, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a small U.S. leftist group, announced in a letter to a Berkeley radio station that it was holding Hearst as a “prisoner of war.” Four days later, the SLA demanded that the Hearst family give $70 in foodstuffs to every needy person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. This done, said the SLA, negotiation would begin for the return of Patricia Hearst. Randolph Hearst hesitantly gave away some $2 million worth of food. The SLA then called this inadequate and asked for $6 million more. The Hearst Corporation said it would donate the additional sum if the girl was released unharmed.

In April, however, the situation changed dramatically when a surveillance camera took a photo of Hearst participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank, and she was also spotted during a robbery of a Los Angeles store. She later declared, in a tape sent to the authorities, that she had joined the SLA of her own free will.

On May 17, Los Angeles police raided the SLA’s secret headquarters, killing six of the group’s nine known members. Among the dead was the SLA’s leader, Donald DeFreeze, an African American ex-convict who called himself General Field Marshal Cinque. Patty Hearst and two other SLA members wanted for the April bank robbery were not on the premises.

Finally, on September 18, 1975, after crisscrossing the country with her captors–or conspirators–for more than a year, Hearst, or “Tania” as she called herself, was captured in a San Francisco apartment and arrested for armed robbery. Despite her claim that she had been brainwashed by the SLA, she was convicted on March 20, 1976, and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 21 months before her sentence was commuted by President Carter. After leaving prison, she returned to a more routine existence and later married her bodyguard. She was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001.

Patty Hearst
Patty Hearst (Wikipedia)

* 1983 Karen Carpenter dies of anorexia.

Karen Carpenter, a singer who long suffered under the burden of the expectations that came with pop stardom, died on this day in 1983, succumbing to heart failure brought on by her long, unpublicized struggle with anorexia.

Carpenter had a fixation with her weight from her earliest days performing with her brother, Richard, in and around their hometown of Downey, California. As a teenager, she dropped at least 25 pounds on a popular and severe weight-loss program known as “the Water Diet,” so that by the time she and Richard burst on the pop scene with their smash hit “Close To You” in the summer of 1970, she was a thin but healthy 20-year-old carrying 120 lbs. on a 5′ 5″ frame. She maintained that weight through the early years of the Carpenters’ success, yet it appears that Karen’s insecurities about her appearance only grew, even as she was becoming one of the biggest pop stars of her era.

In pictures printed in Rolling Stone magazine in late 1974, when the Carpenters were one of the most successful acts in all of pop music, Karen looks fit and healthy. Yet by mid-1975, the Carpenters were forced to cancel tours of Japan and Europe after Karen collapsed on stage in Las Vegas. Her weight had plummeted to only 90 lbs., and though it would rebound somewhat after a brief hospitalization, the next seven years were a repeating cycle of dramatic weight loss, collapse and then hospitalization. The name of Karen’s condition was virtually unknown to the public at this time, but all that was about to change. Early on the morning of February 4, 1983, while staying in her parents home in Downey, Karen suffered a deadly heart attack, brought on by the physiological stresses placed on her system by the disease whose name soon entered the public consciousness: anorexia nervosa. She was only 32 years old.

Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter (Pinterest)

Today’s Sources: 

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport               

* This Day In History – What Happened Today              

* Wikipedia                                                                                          

* The Guardian