News Display: Big Ben Rings Out!, Wednesday, 5/31Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check the news postings on Learning at the Library, where you can delve into history.
Did you know that Big Ben, the famous bell inside the iconic London clock tower, rang out for the first time on May 31st, 1859? Designed by Edmund Beckett Denison and built E.J. Dent & Co, the clock tower had four faces, each 23 feet across, and a bell weighing in at more than 13 tons. So heavy was the bell that it was transported to Westminster by a team of sixteen horses, and was found not to withstand the heavier weight of the striker. The massive bell cracked within two months of use, and earned a new and lighter hammer that could be applied to all the bell's surfaces. Despite its long-standing and infamous crack, Big Ben functions to this day!
The traditional May Day is celebrated on May 1st to herald in the Spring. It brings festivities, dancing (Morris and other), singing, maypoles, and small baskets with flowers and treats. Now a popular holiday throughout Europe and North America, May Day has its roots in ancient times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. Since the 1700's, it has become associated with Catholic devotions to Mary. In the late 1800's May Day also became International Workers' Day, arising from the Haymarket labor riots in Chicago.
News will feature stories about the history of May Day, with a focus on the secular celebration throughout the world.
On May 11, 1934 the most severe dust storm to date spread 350 million tons of silt from the northern Great Plains to the eastern seaboard. This major storm was preceded by a series of lesser dust storms in the West, brought on by drought and farming methods (over-plowing and over-grazing) that failed to address environmental needs. Thousands of families, known as "Okies", were forced to migrate to California from Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The dust was felt as far east as New York, causing many to be sick, and this massive storm eventually helped prompt legislation for smarter farming, including crop rotation and grass seeding.
May 17, 1954 marked a major victory in the civil rights movement, as racial segregation was ruled unconstitutional in public schools. The landmark case, Brown versus Board of Education, involved Linda Brown, a third grade African American student, who was denied admission to her local public school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin. The critical legal decision influenced the end of racial segregation in all public places.
News will highlight stories about Brown versus Board of Education, with reference to the 1896 case, Plessy versus Ferguson, which ruled on “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars.
On May 22, 1843, a thousand pioneers headed west to Oregon from Independence, Missouri, in a massive wagon train and in search of a better life: gold, rich farmland, avoidance of yellow fever and malaria that plagued the midwest. The dangerous two thousand mile journey along the route known as The Oregon Trail, previously laid down by fur trappers, involved adverse weather conditions, including dust; lack of food and supplies; illness; not to mention conflicting personalities. After five months of hardship, the settlers arrived in Willamette Valley, Oregon, now synonymous with "wine country", due to the large number of vineyards.
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