Apr. 6, 1999


by G. E. Patterson

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY, 6 April 1999 Poem: "Mary," by G. E. Patterson, from Tug (Graywolf Press).

It was on this day five years ago that the GENOCIDE IN RWANDA began a 100-day campaign in which 800,000 to one million people were murdered by Hutu extremists, mostly by machete in churches and villages and on the run, and prompting an exodus of over 1.5 million refugees. Rwanda had been in a civil war since 1990 and a peace accord had been signed in 1993, but the killing was sparked on this day when a plane carrying the Rwandan president crashed. Hutu government officials blamed the incident on their Tutsi opponents and used public radio to urge the killing of Tutsis.

The composer and conductor ANDRÉ PREVIN was born on this day in 1929, in Berlin. His family came to Los Angeles where he got his music education on the job, arranging and playing studio piano for MGM while still a teenager. He started writing film scores, (Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Irma La Douce, and My Fair Lady) and playing classical as well as jazz concerts.

It's the birthday of geneticist JAMES DEWEY WATSON, in Chicago, 1928, the man who helped discover the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, and that it is the base of heredity. He and Francis Crick won the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology.

It was on this day in 1909 that Americans Robert Peary and Matthew Henson became the first men to reach the NORTH POLE. Peary was a surveyor before joining the Navy, and had gotten interested in the Arctic after reading about the exploration of Greenland. He and Henson made their first voyage together in 1886, into Greenland's interior. For the next two decades they made five trips across Greenland, each time further north, then began trying to reach the Pole. In March 1909, Peary and Henson set out with four Eskimo guides whose survival techniques are credited with getting the expedition safely to the Pole on April 6.

It's the birthday in Woodington, Ohio, 1892, of LOWELL THOMAS, the radio broadcaster who for nearly fifty years signed on every night at 6:45 with "Good evening, everybody," then read America the news and signed off at 7:00 with, "So long until tomorrow." In the years before television, his was probably the most recognized voice in America.

It's the birthday in 1866, San Francisco, of journalist JOSEPH LINCOLN STEFFENS, a journalist for whom President Teddy Roosevelt coined the term "muckraker." In the 1890s Steffens moved east and went to work for New York City newspapers, then became editor of McClure's Magazine and began a series of articles on how politicians were being bought out by businessmen. He earned a national following when he published the collected articles as the book The Shame of the Cities.

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