Oct. 12, 2000
Broadcast date: THURSDAY, 12 October 2000
Poem: "Poetry Reading," by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, from On Lonely Mountain (Louisiana State University Press).
It's the birthday of operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, born in Modena, Italy (1935). After spending three years as a math teacher, Pavarotti resumed his voice studies, and in 1961 won the grand prize in the prestigious Concorso International. This led to his debut as Rudolfo in La Bohème in Vienna in 1963. He made his American debut two years later opposite Joan Sutherland in Lucia di Lammermoor. He became known as "The King of the High C," for his effortless mastery of nine high Cs in an aria in Donizetti's opera The Daughter of the Regiment.
It's the birthday of comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, born in St. Louis, Missouri (1932). In the 1960's, Gregory became famous both as a civil rights activist and as a night club performer who used humor to explore many of the explosive social and racial issues of the day. After one of his many arrests for participation in civil rights protests, Gregory was beaten by police in a Chicago jail. He was able to joke: "I wouldn't mind paying my income tax if I knew it was going to a friendly country."
It's the birthday of African-American novelist and playwright Alice Childress, born in Charleston, South Carolina (1916). She wrote, directed, and starred in her first play, Florence, in 1949. In 1965, she wrote The Wedding Band, an interracial love story which failed to find a producer until 1979, when it was presented by the New York Shakespeare Festival. In 1973, she published A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich, the story of a 13-year old heroin addict.
It's the birthday of English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams, born at Down Ampney, in Gloucestershire (1872), who devoted himself to collecting and arranging English folk songs.
On this day in 1492, at about two o'clock in the morning, Roderigo de Triana, the lookout on the Pinta, called out "¡Tierra, tierra!" Land, land! He had seen the white cliffs of a small island in what is now the Bahamas, which Christopher Columbus called San Salvador. The first Columbus Day was celebrated three hundred years later, on October 12, 1792, with a parade in New York City.
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