5 Famous African Americans You Should Know More About

Not too long ago, as we see in movies and read in history books, African Americans didn’t stand a chance for professions such as lawyers, architects, doctors, politicians, photographers and not even small business owners.  While the lives of African Americans have improved considerably in the United States decade after decade, they remain underrepresented in almost all mediums, with the confinement of Black History Month as a source of compromise. The shortest month of the year is insufficient, so here is a list with the names and stories of 5 famous African Americans who became heroes through their work.

1.     Bessie Coleman

Famous African Americans 1

In an era when being a black or female meant your life is going to be much more difficult from the get-go, Bessie Coleman was two for two and was part Cherokee, as well. Born in 1892 as the tenth of thirteen children of sharecroppers, she had to walk for four miles on foot to her segregated, one-room school. After hearing stories from pilots returning from World War I while working as a manicurist, she decided to become a civil aviator, but was unable to do so in the United States due to her race and gender. Determined, she travelled to France where, in 1921, she became the first black woman to earn an aviation pilot’s license and the first American, among both males and females. to hold an international license. She cemented her place as one of the most inspirational and famous African Americans of the air, despite dying only 5 years later, like so many other pioneers, during a flight accident.

2.     W. E. B. Du Bois

Famous African Americans 2

Born less than three years after the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States, Du Bois lived for 95 years, having died just one day before one of the most famous civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. All of his adult life was spent in a constant struggle to improve the lives of people of colour. He became the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard, going on to become a professor of history, sociology and economics, and in 1909 he was one of the leaders and cofounders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). While his main activism was against lynching, Jim Crow laws and discrimination, which were widespread through much of his life, he also militated for Asian and African men, women and kids in their struggle against imperialism and was a proponent of Pan-Africanism as a way of ending European colonialism.

3.     bell hooks

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Born in 1952 Kentucky, bell hooks attended her early education in racially segregated schools and was the subject of abuse when making the transition to an integrated one. Despite adversity from teachers and others, she continued her education with great determination and today is one of the most important educators and writers in the field of gender studies and beyond. Using a postmodern perspective, hooks’ writing focuses on the interconnectivity of race, capitalism and gender and is by far one of the most cited feminist authors/ scientists among the most famous African Americans in academia.

4.     Don Thompson – CEO of McDonald’s

Famous African Americans 4

When Don Thompson became the first black Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s in 2012, the media rushed to find out more about him and what they found made for a great story. Thompson grew up near the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago, one of the most notoriously violent areas of the cities. A bright student who started sixth grade at the age of 10, Thompson fled the area while in high-school due to increasing gang violence and went to live with relatives in Indianapolis, following up with a bachelor’s from Purdue University. Thompson was with McDonald’s for 22 years at the time of his appointment, first joining in the electrical engineers’ department and, despite climbing the corporate ladder quickly, in 1994, while taking a managing position in the Operations department, he chose to spend six months to learn the inner workings of a McDonald’s restaurant. Starting from fry cook in a South Chicago restaurant, he was one of the entrepreneurs who moved up to the top of the business. Today he lives in Oak Brooks, Illinois, just a few miles from where he was born.

5.     Sojourner Truth

Famous African Americans 5

After being born in slavery in 1797, Isabella Baumfree managed to escape, along with her infant daughter in 1806. Subsequently she went to court to recover her son and became the first black woman to win such a case against a white male. She took the name of Sojourner Truth in 1843 when she felt the need to travel and help other slaves through the abolitionist movement, becoming one of the most famous African American women of her time. While on the road, she also gave what was to become the most famous of her speeches, “Ain’t I a Woman?” which exposed gender inequalities.

The Best Long Distance Relationship Songs and Movies

Notoriously difficult to make it work, the long distance relationship is far from being a modern invention, as one should just look at the list of wars throughout history to realize that, yet the 20th century explosion of population mobility, as well as the emancipation of women lead to a huge number of couples living in different places throughout the world. Thankfully, the modern world also works towards alleviating the very problems it created, by offering communication channels that would have been unthinkable even two decades ago and art skilfully plays its role in soothing the soul. Whenever a relationship seems doomed and worthless, music and film can be there to make the heart strong, by proving you are not the only one who feels like that. Here are 5 best movies and songs ideas to help with a healthy long distance relationship.

1.     True Love Waits – Radiohead

An amazing track about long-distance relationships by Radiohead that the band almost tried to keep secret, only ever preforming it live beginning with 1995, coming close to an official release by being included on their 2001 bootleg-like EP “I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings” where it, suitably, provides the record’s coda. The song’s brief lyrics fir perfectly with the minimalistic acoustic instrumentation and does manage to speak to those who deal with desperation of loneliness, as well as the desire to find true love, knowing full well that the true love is one that waits.

2.     Like Crazy (2011)

A small budget cute indie film with a big heart, the 2011 Like Crazy tells not only the story of a transatlantic love that is constantly thwarted by bureaucracy, but of the often absurd consequences that the immigration system can lead to. Anna (Felicity Jones) is a British student who falls in love during college with American student Jacob (Anton Yelchin), but the two are separated after she overstays her student visa, leading to her being banned from travelling to visit him in the United States. Their stories unfold as both he and she are dealing with the chaos, and the creative ways they manage to cope with a constantly out of country partner, while trying to make their relationship last.

3.     Such Great Heights – The Postal Service

Few people would instantly associated electronic music with songs for a long distance relationship, yet the 2003 single from The Postal Service challenges that preconception. A more optimistic take on the issue, this song is taking a proactive approach to longing, decided do away with using music to tell the world how desperation feels and, instead, uses the song as a lighthouse that will create a connection directly between the singer and his lover. In lieu of a sample, here’s a quote for any of you that will stay on your mind for days on end: “When you are out there on the road/For several weeks of shows/And when you scan the radio,/I hope this song will guide you home”.

4.     You’ve Got Mail (1998)

This 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fun romantic comedy-drama may seem outdated now, but it was an ahead-of-it-time movie to depict the use of the Internet to maintain a long term relationship and, indeed, one of the first motion pictures making a point about the Internet as something else other than a Sci-Fi whiz-kid contraption. Based on the 1937 play “Parfumerie” by Miklós László, You’ve Got Mail updates the plot by using a modern setting and pairs up Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in an online date scheme/electronic letters courtship, where, funny enough, they are unaware of their business rivalry in the real world.

5.     Take It with Me – Tom Waits

An undisputed master of the broken heart, few songwriters are able to capture the desolation of longing as well as the legendary Tom Waits. Unlike his other masterpiece inspired by a long distance relationship, the energetic “Telephone Call from Istanbul”, Take It with Me is a sad and mellow affair. This piano and voice piece from his 1999 “Mule Variations” album is a constructed in a way that gives insight to the once good times of the past, where the two were together, the low present, where distances are made visible by the mentions of trains, as well as the bitter-sweet future, where a hope of reunification remains.

A Brief History of Thanksgiving: The Roots of the Holiday

Despite being one of the most popular and important holidays in the United States and Canada, as well as being the holiday that is probably the most associated with the U.S. worldwide, decades and even centuries of mystification, derived either from nationalistic pathos, advertising campaigns or football have left many people, even among those who celebrate it, confused about the real story behind Thanksgiving and its relation to American history. Here are four historical facts along with some brief trivia information that serve as roots of the holiday, inexorably shaping the history of Thanksgiving in North America.

1.     Puritanical Tradition

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Timeline-wise, the first days of thanksgiving in the form that acted as basis for the North American holiday have a European origin. It was brought by pilgrims from England, during the reign of Henry VIII. Having distanced themselves from the Catholic Church, the puritanical English now tried to do away with many of the Catholic traditions and replacing them with new ones, a process that was to include many of the holidays. Thus, some puritans planned to eliminate all old holidays, including Christmas and Easter, which were to be replaced with special days of Fasting in the case of natural disaster or hardship and days of Thanksgiving in response to fortunate events, such as war victories or royal celebrations.

2.     Harvest Holiday

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Having gained, mostly retroactively, so many meanings, it is easy to forget that Thanksgiving Day, games and turkey aside, is mainly a harvest holiday. Long story short, it is the sort of celebration that takes place all around the world in late autumn, usually uniting the adults and kids around the dinner table, in a day of rest and feasting that follows the weeks hard work spend harvesting the food that is meant to get them through the winter. An extra dimension of the afore-mentioned tradition of thanksgiving is given to the holiday, as a way of being thankful for the yield of the land and, in a more general sense, of the year that is about to end. This is also the reason why Thanksgiving is celebrated earlier by the Canadian neighbours, a country with a colder climate, where the harvest would end sooner than further south.

3.     Setting an official date

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Throughout the history of Thanksgiving, the date on which it is celebrated fluctuated wildly and proved to be a true ordeal. To this day, it is being celebrated one and a half months apart in Canada and the US.  In the United States, between the time of the Founding Fathers and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the date on which Thanksgiving was observed varied with every state, though most were using the last Thursday in November by the end of 19th century. Only in 1863, through a presidential proclamation by Lincoln, was the date fixed for all states on the same day, in an attempt to unify the North and the South. In Canada, Thanksgiving was celebrated on November 6 until the end of World War I, when Armistice Day ended up celebrated in the same week, leading to the decision to move Thanksgiving to the second Monday of October.

4.     Native American Participation

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Though the participation of Native American population in the original Plymouth Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 is usually considered a historical fact, the truth about what their role was in the subsequent institution of the holiday remains disputed by both Native Americans and academics. While Tim Giago, founder of the Native American Journalists Organization, seeks to reconcile Thanksgiving with Native American tradition, comparing it to Great Plains holiday of “wopila”, other see the celebrations as a way to mystify and whitewash the genocide that the local population suffered at the hands of subsequent waves of European immigrants. To this day, the history of Thanksgiving remains a highly controversial and politicized topic, from the religious undertones to its surrender in the face of Black Friday.

The Nail Polish Shades We’re Most Excited about in Fall-Winter 2014

This is a post mostly for the girls in our readership, so sorry guys if we’re boring you with nail polish shades talk, but as most of my female buddies know, there’s no such thing as too many nail polish bottles in one’s collection, if you happen to have a thing for this. Getting your hands on a new order of polishes is like receiving Christmas gifts in advance or the best candy of your life. I’ve witness female friends exhibit a strange Smeagol glow in their eyes while they were unwrapping their new polish bottles and calling them “precious” (ok, that may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea). The point is, everyone using nail polishes is always a bit excited about how shiny and candy-like new nail polish shades can be, and as soon as a new season hits, it can be pretty awesome to see what new collections the big brands will release.

So, for today, we’ve made a small selection of the nail polish shades we’re most excited about in the current season of fall-winter 2014. If summer seasons are usually known for neon colors and jelly textures, when fall hits in, nail polish shades take a turn to the darker side and become rich and saturated. But besides this general guideline, not every shade you can expect to see in the fall is along the dark red or brown or plum lines. Things can get pretty interesting, especially since fall colors are usually released together with nail polish shades for the winter holidays, which are especially glitzy and creative and party-fit. Without further ado, these are the top 5 nail polish shades we’re most excited about for this current season of fall-winter 2014.

1. OPI Cinnamon Sweet (from the Gwen Stefani Winter Holiday 2014 collection)

OPI Cinnamon Sweet

OPI Cinnamon Sweet

Everyone loves red nail polish shades since they are considered a classic and feminine answer to matching almost any outfit. A drop of red can revive anything and works with every skin tone. But even though red is a classic for all the right reasons, it can also get a bit predictable and boring. Well, this seems to be precisely the kind of dilemma which the Cinnamon Sweet shade was created: a different kind of red, with a softer edge and velvet undertones crossing the borders between pink and coral. You can’t quite put your finger on what kind of a red it is, all you know is that it looks soft and pretty, like a cinnamon bun. Oh, and the color was Gwen Stefani’s idea, so now we have all the more reason to get it.

2. OPI Viking in a Vinter Vonderland (from the OPI Nordic collection for Winter 2014)

OPI Viking in a Vinter Vonderland

OPI Viking in a Vinter Vonderland

Speaking of fall colors, purple is another classic, and from all the nail polish shades that we’ve seen over the last years, Viking in a Vinter Vonderland is the prettiest. It’s as deep as a six-month Finland night and you feel tempted to stare into it as into a bottomless purple abyss. Also, any dark purple or dark blue would make a wonderful base for our next entry on the list, the star of the nail polish shades for this season.

3. OPI Comet in the Sky (from the OPI Nordic Collection for Winter 2014)

OPI Comet in the Sky

OPI Comet in the Sky

The prettiest nails in the entire galaxy, pun intended. Sure, we’ve all seen our fair share of glitter nail polishes, but not quite as fascinating as this one. Applied over a dark blue base, as in the picture here, this irregular galaxy-like glitter can create the most mesmerizing effect on your nails, the kind of thing you previously only got from a pro session at the salon.

4. Orly Tinsel (from the Holiday 2014 Sparkle Collection)

Orly Tinsel

Orly Tinsel

Another great glitter polish, this one basically screams Christmas when applied over a simple white base, as in the picture here. The long green bar glitter looks just like pine needles, white the small red glitter makes everything festive and tingly. One of the best choices of the season to apply over light nail polish shades (right after Comet in the Sky, which remains our absolute fave).

5. Zoya Dovima (from the Matte Velvet 2014 collection)

Zoya Dovima

Zoya Dovima

You will be going to a lot of parties in the coming holiday season, and a little black dress never fails to impress. While shiny and glittery nails are almost a go-to for any party opportunity, consider how classy and satin-like a matte black would look on your nails, especially one with such a delicate and eerie silver shimmer. Even though glitter nail polish shades are awesome, try something different.

The Worst Poetry in the World

There are good poems and there are bad poems in the world. Then there is the worst poetry in the world on a whole different level of its own. These are the poems that make your eyes bleed and make you want to forget all the words you have ever learned.

My Heart is a Wiffle Ball / Freedom Pole – Kristen Stewart

I reared digital moonlight

You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black

Worst Poetry in the World

The readers of Marie Claire magazine were deeply honoured to be able to read all of Kristen Stewart’s bold attempt at writing the world’s worst poem. She said that doesn’t want to sound “f**king utterly pretentious” but that after writing her delicious poems she thinks, “Holy f**k, that’s crazy”. With those delightful turns of phrase and imaginative use of vocabulary it is easy to see why she writes poetry.

The Tay Bridge Disaster – William McGonagall

For the stronger we our houses do build

The less chance we have of being killed.

Worst Poetry in the World

Scottish poet McGonagall is widely regarded as being the worst poet to have ever written horrible stuff on pieces of paper in an overly earnest way. His Tay Bridge Disaster is a genuine disaster and is often called the worst poem of all time. Oh I don’t know, a lady called Jennifer might have a thing or two to say about that.

Lucky in Love – Jennifer Aniston

You’ve brought luck to love

I’ve been hit by a truck in love

Worst Poetry in the World

Anyone who has ever been hit by a truck in love – and I think it’s safe to say we have all been at some point – knows exactly what Jen is getting at in this profound poem. She’s telling us that when someone brings you luck in love you can expect to get smashed by a heavy goods vehicle before they dump you. She wrote it as a tribute to the charming and not at all sleazy slimeball John Mayer.

Remembrance of Who I am – Britney Spears

You trick me one, twice, now it’s three

Look who’s smiling now /Damn, it’s good to be me!

The Worst Poetry in the World 

Ah Britney, you had the world at your feet and you tripped up and fell over it. Hit Me Baby One More Time was clearly a word of dark, twisted, poetic genius. However, this cringe inducing poem is just awful. It might not be the worst poetry in the world ever but it has got to be in the top ten.

A Poem for Dzhokhar- Amanda Palmer

You don’t know how orgasmic the act of taking in a lungful of oxygen is

Until they hold your head under the water

Worst Poetry in the World

Is it time to be controversial yet? As this is now the 21st century I reckon that it’s safe to say that I really don’t like Shakespeare’s poems at all. We all know phrases from his works, like “star cross lovers”, “all that glitters is not gold” and “a gangster’s paradise”. Hang on, that was Coolio, wasn’t it? Bill wrote about “a fool’s paradise”. He is said to have contributed more phrases to the English language than anyone else. That was nice of him but I still don’t like his poems. Having said that, next to Amanda Palmer the Bard looks like, actually, he looks like Shakespeare.

A Dog Named Beau – Jimmy Stewart

He’d dig up a rosebush just to spite me

And when I’d grab him, he’d turn to bite me.

Worst Poetry in the World

Jimmy Stewart turned up on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to delight the watching world with a hideous poem about his dead dog. It was gruesome stuff.

A Tragedy – Theophile Jules-Henri Marzials

Drop

Dead

Plop, flop

Plop

Worst Poetry in the World

Some people have called this the single worst line from a poem in history. It’s really hard to build up a convincing case to suggest otherwise.