Good News in History, February 11

60 years ago today, Robert Weaver became the first African-American to be appointed to a U.S. cabinet-level position. Weaver was named the administrator of the U.S. Housing and Home Financing Agency by President John Kennedy.

Soon, the economist, academic, and administrator became the first ever Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (H.U.D.), when the department was newly established by President Lyndon Johnson to deal with urban issues, like substandard and aged housing in many cities, and problems of unemployment.

The Washington, DC native held more Harvard degrees at the time—three, including a doctorate in economics—than anyone else in the administration’s upper ranks. (1961)

27 years earlier, with a reputation for knowledge about housing issues, Weaver was invited to join President Franklin Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet, which included 45 prominent Black men and women given positions in executive agencies, to advise him on public policy.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The Society of Friends (Quakers) petitioned the U.S. government to abolish slavery (1790)
  • First session of the U.S. Senate opened to the public (1794)
  • General Motors recognized the United Auto Workers Union to end a strike (1937)
  • The Beatles performed their first concert in the United States, in Washington D.C. (1964)
  • Vietnam released first American prisoners of war (1973)
  • China lifted a ban on Aristotle, Shakespeare and Dickens books (1978)
  • The Episcopal Church named its first woman bishop (1989)
  • The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization formed to represent self-proclaimed “indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognized or occupied territories (1991)
  • The Egyptian Revolution culminated in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the transfer of power to the Supreme Military Council after 18 days of mostly peaceful mass protests (2011)

Happy Birthday to actress Jennifer Aniston who turns 52 years old today.

2012 photo by Angela George, CC license

Aniston became a breakout star on the Emmy winning sitcom Friends—and with film hits like The Break-Up, Just Go With It, Horrible Bosses, and Marley & Me, Jen is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.

Aniston has been a celebrity advocate for numerous charities and received attention for her own donations such as $500,000 to Doctors Without Borders, Partners In Health in Haiti, and AmeriCares. She donated $500,000 to the Red Cross and another $500,000 to the Ricky Martin Foundation in 2017 to help victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. (1969)

And, 90 years ago today, the actor, director, and producer Burt Reynolds was born. Reynolds was once turned down for a film in 1957 because he looked too much like Marlon Brando, so he grew his trademark thick mustache to solve that problem. Over his long career, he starred in and won awards for many television series and feature films, such as The Longest Yard and The Cannonball Run.

His 1972 breakout performance in Deliverance made him a star, but his role in Smokey and the Bandit made him wealthy. He said in his 1974 memoir that he never would have had the same career without Johnny Carson, the host The Tonight Show, who frequently invited him as a guest or guest host. He later wrote another memoir with other great stories. (1931–2018)

Photo by South Africa Good News, CC license

31 years ago today, Nelson Mandela was freed from a South African prison after more than a quarter century locked up as the leader of the banned African National Conference. Four years later he became that country’s first black president.

WATCH the euphoria that day as Nelson Mandela walks into freedom after 27 years behind bars… (1990)

SHARE the Milestones, Memories, and Music…

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