Good News in History, February 3

40 years ago today, Gro Harlem Brundtland was elected as the first female Prime Minister of Norway. Trained as a physician, she served three terms and then became Director-General of the World Health Organization. She is also known for having chaired the Brundtland Commission on sustainable development, after becoming an activist.

Currently 81 years old, she is deputy chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together to resolve conflict, challenge injustice, and address problems around the world. She wrote a memoir, Madam Prime Minister: A Life in Power and Politics. (1981)

(Photo courtesy of The Elders)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Norman Rockwell, the iconic American illustrator, was born (1894)
  • History’s first embryo transfer from one woman to another resulted in a live birth at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, thanks to Dr. John Buster and his research team (1984)
  • Mother Teresa was visited in her home for the sick and dying in Calcutta by the Pope who helped feed the patients; she called it “the happiest day of my life” (1986)
  • Retired Air Force Col. Eileen Collins became the first woman astronaut to pilot a Space Shuttle when the NASA Discovery shuttle blasted off (1994)
  • The term Open source – to define free software with code structure open to the public, such as Firefox, Android, and Linux, was invented by Christin Peterson (of the Foresight Institute) at a strategy session held in Palo Alto, California (1998)
  • The UK singing sensation Adele reached No.1 on the UK album chart within a week of the release of her debut album, ’19’ (2008)

151 years ago today, with the intention to empower millions of former black slaves, the Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, granting voting rights to all men regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.

To close loopholes in the amendment, Congress later enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ensured federal oversight of elections in cities that still discriminated through the use of poll taxes. It also banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by prejudice.

The amendment drew the ire of some in the women’s suffrage movement because it did not give females the right to vote. They would need to protest for a half century more, until 1920 when they finally won the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. (1870)

And Happy 65th Birthday to Nathan Lane, the comedic actor and writer of stage, film and television.

2018 photo by Btvway, CC license

Born and raised Irish-Catholic in New Jersey, he renamed himself after the character ‘Nathan Detroit’ from the musical Guys and Dolls because there was already a Joseph Lane registered with Actors Equity. His Catholic high school voted him best actor and he moved to New York City to become a success. He is perhaps best known to non-theater goers for his role as Albert, in the Robin Williams film The Birdcage, or for voice work as Timon in The Lion King.

Lane won Tony Awards for his performances in A Funny Thing That Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Producers. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, and in 2008 he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. CHECK out his movies, and a children’s book he authored about his bulldog, Naughty MadelineWATCH an appearance in 2014 with Producers co-star Matthew Broderick… (1956)

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