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Good InfoGood News in History, March 30

Good News in History, March 30

Happy 60th Birthday to singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman. Her debut album Tracy Champman has been certified sextuple-platinum and received 6 Grammy Award nominations. Her down low voice and the small number of instruments present music perfect for almost any occasion, but the arrangements, much more complex than most acoustic singer-songwriter work, and the deep quality of the lyrics reveal an inherent musical genius. READ more… (1964)

Tracy Chapman in 2009 – CC Hans Hillewaert 4.0. SA

Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs at age 8. At Tufts University in Boston, where she graduated with degrees in anthropology and African Studies, she often busked in busy places.

Between her first and fourth albums, Chapman sold over 10 million records, and received an invitation to perform at a concert commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet she remains very humble in her ability to use music for social activism and rarely takes outright stances beyond general support of human rights.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to do my work and be involved in certain organizations, certain endeavors, and offered some assistance in some way. Whether that is about raising money or helping to raise awareness, just being another body to show some force and conviction for a particular idea. Finding out where the need is – and if someone thinks you’re going to be helpful, then helping,” she said in an interview with the Guardian.

MORE Good News on this Date in History:

  • Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch Impressionist artist, was born (1853)
  • The Queensboro Bridge in New York City—also known as the 59th Street Bridge designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark—which includes a pedestrian walkway and bicycle path linking Manhattan and Queens, opened (1909)
  • Happy 86th Birthday to Warren Beatty, the director–producer, and actor (Bonnie & Clyde, Shampoo, Dick Tracy, Reds) was born in Virginia (1937)
  • Albert Einstein announced his revised Unified Field Theory (1953)
  • The Yonge Street subway line opened in Toronto—the first subway in Canada (1954)
  • The first Gay Rights Parade was held in Michigan (1979)
  • Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers sold for a record $39.7 million (coincidentally, on the anniversary of his 1853 birth), despite the painter only selling a single canvas during his lifetime (1987)
  • Myanmar’s first democratically-elected president in more than 50 years was sworn in, after the National League of Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won the November general election (2016)

157 years ago today, Uncle Sam whipped out his checkbook and laid down $7.2 million worth of 1867 dollars to buy Alaska for the union. U.S. Secretary of State William Seward entered into negotiations with Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl for the purchase of Alaska, after Tsar Nicolas II had decided it was too difficult to defend if it came under attack by the British. The purchase is considered the crowning achievement of Andrew Jackson’s presidency.

“The Alaska Purchase” picturing Russian minister Eduard de Stoeckl at the globe, and Sect. of State William Seward seated with the map.

Even adjusted for inflation, that $7.2 million only reaches $133 million in 2020 dollars, or in other words around a mere one one-thousandth of Apple’s market cap; a startlingly low amount considering the landmass and natural resource wealth of Alaska. Public opinion about the purchase was that it probably opened up a lot of trading opportunities for important markets in Asia, although some newspaper editorials described it as “Seward’s Icebox” or “Walrussia,” and that perhaps that taxpayer money had been wasted on a “polar bear garden.”

The territory’s capital of Sitka experienced a population decline from about 2,500 to a few hundred over the first six years following the transfer of Alaska to the U.S., and it wouldn’t come to feel the major footfalls of pioneers until the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, shortly after which it became a U.S. territory. Today what we think of as the great wilderness playground of the U.S. didn’t even become a state until 1959. (1867)

43 years ago today, Chariots of Fire premiered in a Royal Command Film Performance in England. Based on a true story of two British athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics, the drama won four of seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. The iconic electronic theme by Vangelis won the Oscar for Best Original Score and is often mimicked during slow-motion scenes today.

The story centers around two very different men: Eric Liddell a devout Scottish Christian who runs fast to honor the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, a Jewish student at Cambridge University who runs to overcome prejudice and anti-Semitism on campus.

In one of the famous scenes, Abrahams, played by Ben Cross, becomes the first person ever to complete the Trinity Great Court Run, sprinting around the perimeter of the college courtyard in the time it takes for the clock to strike 12. Though Liddell beats him in their first race, Abrahams achieves an undefeated string of victories in national track events and both are heading for the Olympics.

With its stirring use of spiritual and patriotic themes, the film’s title was inspired by the line “Bring me my Chariot of fire!” from the William Blake poem adapted into the British hymn Jerusalem, which is the climactic number heard at the end of the film. WATCH the trailer rereleased in 2012… (1981)


Happy 79th Birthday to Eric Clapton, the blues-rock musician, singer, and songwriter that Rolling Stone magazine named the second greatest guitar player of all time.

By Majvdl, CC license

The British rocker was a founding member of the Yardbirds, Derek and the Dominos, and Cream and produced huge hits like Layla, Crossroads, and Let It Rain. He survived heroin addiction to launch a successful solo career and open his own recovery center for addicts in Antigua, called the Crossroads Centre. (1945)

154 years ago today, the 15th Amendment was certified as duly ratified and part of the United States Constitution, guaranteeing all men the right to vote regardless of race. It was the crucial first step in a long war that saw court battles striking down state regulations for many more decades that sought to deny voting rights to blacks. It would be fifty more years until women were granted the same rights. (1870)

2017, by Egghead06, CC license

Happy 56th Birthday to Celine Dion, who sang the theme from the film Titanic, My Heart Will Go On. After hearing her voice, the music manager Rene Angelil mortgaged his house to produce her debut album. The French-Canadian pop artist became his wife and they sold over 200 million albums. (1968)

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band-coverAnd, 57 years ago today, Michael Cooper photographed the cover for the Beatles masterpiece, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. British ‘pop’ artist Peter Blake and his wife were hired by art director Robert Fraser to create more than 70 life-sized cut-out figures of Beatle heroes for the famous collage, including Edgar Allen Poe, Fred Astaire, Carl Jung, Lenny Bruce, Dylan Thomas, Karl Marx, H.G. Wells, Laurel and Hardy, Lewis Caroll, Tony Curtis, one-time Beatle bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe, and — at George’s request — a number of Indian gurus. WATCH a video about the photo shoot below with tantalizing details… (1967)


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