Day By Day

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This Day In History

Today is World AIDS Awareness Day, established as such by the United Nations World Health Organization, so if you weren't aware of the fact that there is a sexually-transmitted disease called AIDS and it is spread world-wide, you have now been informed. Plan your future encounters accordingly.

On this date in 1881 the Earps, Virgil, Morgan and Wyatt, along with Doc Holliday sat in a courtroom in Tombstone, Arizona to hear their fate. Wyatt and Doc had been charged with murder for their part in the famous "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" five days earlier. The presiding Justice of the Peace, Wells Spicer, heard several hours of testimony and finally ruled that there was not enough evidence to indict either man. Two weeks later a grand jury agreed and the Earps walked free. There ensued a vendetta in which Virgil Earp was wounded, Morgan was killed, and several colorful characters who had opposed the Earps ceased to breathe. The last of these to be killed was "Johnny Ringo" who was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head. His death was officially ruled a "suicide". Doc Holliday claimed that he wasn't even in the territory at the time. Such was frontier justice. For details on all of this go here.

And on this dy in 1955 Rosa Parks, a secretary working for the NAACP, famously refused an order to vacate her seat on a bus to make way for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. She was not the first person to challenge segregation laws. Two other black women had previously challenged segr egation laws and won cases before the Supreme Court and the ICC and nine months before the Parks incident a fifteen-year old girl, Claudette Colvin, had refused to obey a similar order on the same bus line. Colvin's case, however, was not taken up by the civil rights establishment because she was not considered to be a sympathetic figure -- fifteen, pregnant, dark skinned, and lower class -- and the more sympathetic Rosa Parks was chosen instead as a symbol of the injustice of segregation. Unlike these earlier figures Parks' civil disobedience was followed up by an escalating series of protests including the Montgomery Bus Boycott organized by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result she, and not her predecessors, has been celebrated as an icon of the civil rights movement. You can find a lot of information on Rosa Parks here.

Entering the Building:

Madame Tussaud [1761] who created London's famous wax museum.

Rex Stout [1886] who wrote the "Nero Wolfe" mysteries. When I was young I read the whole series before I realized, on reflection, just how pathological that whole boys club setup was.

Allen Stewart Konigsberg [1935]. You know him as "Woody Allen".