Birthday

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678)

Vivaldi was an Italian composer, considered the greatest master of Italian baroque. He became a priest in 1703 and spent most of his life after 1709 in Venice, teaching and playing the violin and writing music for the Pietà, a music conservatory for orphaned girls. Although he produced vocal music, including 46 operas, Vivaldi is best known for instrumental music, including The Four Seasons and nearly 500 concertos for violin and other instruments.

Why was he nicknamed the “Red Priest”?

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Birthday of Richard Allen

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The son of two slaves, Richard Allen (1760-1831) was born in Philadelphia on this day. By the time he was 26 years old, he had saved enough money to buy his way out of slavery, and soon after that he established America’s first African-American church.

Allen’s work among African Americans expanded at such a rapid rate that in 1816 he had to expand the organization of his church nationwide. Members of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church commemorate the birth of their founder and first bishop on this day.

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Soong Ch’ing-ling (1893)

Born to an influential Chinese family, Soong was educated in the US. She returned to China, became prominent in revolutionary politics, and married Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary 26 years her senior now known as the father of modern China. She and her sisters—along with their husbands, including Chiang Kai-shek—became some of the most significant political figures in the Communist government, with Soong becoming vice chair after Sun’s death. What magazine, still in publication, did she found?

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Ernie Kovacs (1919)

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Kovacs was an American comedian. He turned to television after studying acting and writing, and he did much of the performing, writing, and producing for his three series—Time for Ernie, The Ernie Kovacs Show, and Kovacs Unlimited. He utilized the television format imaginatively, employing sight gags and zany improvisations, and showed off his wacky personality in 10 movies before dying prematurely in a car crash.
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Clive Staples “C. S.” Lewis (1898)

 

Lewis was an Irish-British scholar noted for his witty explorations of Christianity, as well as for his classic series of children’s fantasy novels, The Chronicles of Narnia, which includes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He also wrote The Screwtape Letters, a satirical novel in which an experienced devil teaches his young charge about temptation.

During World War I, Lewis made a pact with a fellow soldier before the man was killed. How did Lewis keep his promise?
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Carrie Nation (1846)

 

Carrie Nation was an American temperance advocate with an unorthodox style of destroying saloons with a hatchet while supporters sang hymns. Her passion was likely fueled by her first husband’s alcoholism. Though she was successful in focusing public attention on the cause of prohibition, most temperance organizations were hesitant to support her. At 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, Nation was hard to contain and was arrested 30 times before declining health forced her retirement. How did she pay her fines? Discuss
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John Belushi (1949)

Belushi was an American comedian, actor, and musician. He started out with the Second City comedy troop in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, in 1971, achieved national recognition in National Lampoon’s Lemmings in 1973, and joined Saturday Night Live as an original cast member in 1975. He also starred in several films, including Animal House and The Blues Brothers, before dying of a drug overdose in 1982. Who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his death?

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Christa McAuliffe (1948)

Sharon Christa McAuliffe, a high school history teacher, was among the seven crew members killed when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded soon after its launch in 1986. She had been selected to be the first civilian in space from a field of more than 11,000 applicants to NASA’s Teacher in Space program, and she was slated to teach two lessons during the flight.

In 2004, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor

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Janis Joplin (1943)

 

Joplin began singing folk rock in Texas bars after running away from home at the age of 17. In 1966, she moved to San Francisco and became lead vocalist of the rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. The band catapulted Joplin to stardom. By the late 1960s, she was almost as well known for her unconventional lifestyle as for her gritty, memorable vocals. Before her death from a heroin overdose at 27, she released hit albums with two other bands beside Big Brother. What were they called?
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