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Archive for the ‘Black Poets’ Category

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans for October 18


1.  Chuck Berry (Charles Edward Anderson Berry),  guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and considered one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Chuck Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music.

2. Ntozake Shange( Paulette Williams),  playwright, and poet.   As a self proclaimed black feminist, much of the content of her work addresses issues relating to race and feminism.  Shange is best-known for the Obie Award-winning play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.  She also wrote Betsey Brown, a novel about an African American girl who runs away from home. Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, and a Pushcart Prize.

3.  Terry McMillan, Novelist, editor, and educator, author. Her interest in books comes from working at alibrary when she was sixteen. She received her BA in journalism in 1986 at University of California, Berkeley. Her work is characterized by strong female protagonists.  Her first book, Mama, was self-published.   She achieved national attention in 1992 with her third novel, Waiting to Exhale, which remained on The New York Times bestseller list for many months. In 1995, Forest Whitaker turned it into a film starring Whitney Houston. In 1998, another of McMillan’s novels, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was made into a movie. McMillan’s novel Disappearing Acts was subsequently produced as a direct-to-cable feature, starring Wesley Snipes and Sanaa Lathan. She also wrote the best seller A Day Late and a Dollar ShortThe Interruption of Everything was published on July 19, 2005. Getting to Happy, the long-awaited sequel toWaiting to Exhale, was published on September 7, 2010.

4.   Tommy Hearns,  retired  boxer. He won 8 world titles in six different weight divisions.  Hearns became the first boxer in history to win world titles in four divisions. He would also become the first fighter in history to conquer 5 world titles in 5 different divisions.  He has scored many memorable knockouts in his career and is widely considered to be one of the greatest knockout artists of all time.  Hearns was voted the greatest Super Welterweight of all time and received the “Fighter of the Year” award in 1980 and 1984.

He fought 21 current, past or future world champions.  Blessed with exceptional height for a welterweight (6’1″), a broad back, and unusually long arms, Hearns had a unique build combined with destructive punching power. He is known best for his devastating right hand, his powerful left hook and for carrying his left hand low—a stance he used to lure foes into an exchange, as well as to maximize the speed and change the angle of his jab, a technique called the “flicker jab”.

As a fighter, his aggression set him apart, controlling fights with his incredible reach, power and great boxing skills. He lost only one decision in his entire career, at the age of 33, to Iran “The Blade” Barkley.

5.   Wynton Learson Marsalis,   Trumpeter, composer, bandleader, music educator, and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Marsalis has promoted the appreciation of classical and jazz music often to young audiences. Marsalis has been awarded nine Grammys in both genres, and was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for Music for a jazz recording.  Marsalis is the son of jazz musician Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (pianist), grandson to Ellis Marsalis, Sr., and brother to Branford (saxophonist),Delfeayo (trombonist), Mboya, and Jason (drummer).

6. Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley-Grace (born October 18, 1968) is an American R&B/gospel singer and actress, best known for her 1988 ballad, “Thanks for My Child.”

Cheryl Riley, who worked as a nurse for handicapped children for ten years before beginning her singing career, topped the US R&B chartand hit the Top 40 on the pop chart at #32 with the 1988 ballad, “Thanks for My Child,” a song written by Full Force. It peaked at #75 in theUK Singles Chart in January 1989.[1] The genesis of “Thanks for My Child” began with Full Force member Bowlegged Lou’s experience with the complications of his wife’s first pregnancy.

As pivotal as “Thanks for My Child” was for Riley’s career, it was not the first song Lou offered to her. She refused his offer to record “I Wonder If I Take You Home” because she did not want to spread herself too thin, but after it became a million-selling hit for Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam in 1985, she thought she had missed her big break. Lou then offered her “Thanks for My Child”. Riley still had her nurse’s job when the song went to number one on the R&B chart.

The title track single to her debut LP Me Myself and I made it to number 18 on the R&B charts in early 1989. Another single, “Every Little Thing About You,” peaked at number 55 on the R&B charts later that year. Her second LP, Chapters, was issued and yielded the singles “How Can You Hurt the One You Love” and a cover of Aretha Franklin’s 1968 hit “Ain’t No Way”. Her third album All That! was released by Reprise, and featured the singles “Gimme” and “Guess I’m in Love.”

After a hiatus from the entertainment industry, Riley re-emerged in the early 2000s as a star in a number of gospel plays for best-selling playwright Tyler Perry, including Madea’s Class ReunionMadea Goes to JailWhy Did I Get Married? and the film version of Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea’s Big Happy Family.

7. Vickie Winans,  Gospel recording artist.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For October 17


Jupiter Hammon
1. Jupiter Hammon, the first black American poet, is born in slavery. He was a Calvinist and a self-educated writer.  He was the first African American to publish his writings.  One of his poems appeared in print in 1760 and is considered one of the founders of African-American literature.

Cozy Cole

2. Cozy Cole (William R. Cole), jazz drummer who scored a #1 Cashbox magazine hit with the record “Topsy Part 2”. “Topsy” peaked at number three on Billboard Hot 100, and at number one on the R&B chart.  It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.  The track peaked at #29 in the UK Singles Chart in 1958. The recording contained a lengthy drum solo, and was one of the few drum solo recordings that ever made the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single was issued on the tiny Brooklyn-based Love Records label.

Lerone Bennett, Jr

3. Lerone Bennett, Jr. Historian, scholar, author and Ebony magazine editor. His best- known book is Before the Mayflower.  Bennett graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He has noted this time was integral to his intellectual development. Mr. Bennett is also a distinguished member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Howard E. Rollins

4. Howard Ellsworth Rollins, television, film, and stage actor. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in the film Ragtime, and as Virgil Tibbs on the NBC/CBS television series In the Heat of the Night.  He also starred as Captain Davenport in the 1984 drama A Soldier’s Story which also starred
Adolph Caesar, David Alan Grier, Denzel Washington and Robert Townsend.

Mae Jamison

5. Mae Jamison, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

Ziggy Marley

6. David “Ziggy” Marley, musician and leader of the band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. He is the oldest son of famed reggae musician Bob Marley.

wyclef jean

7. Wyclef Jean, musician, record producer, and politician.  He first received fame as a member of the acclaimed New Jersey hip hop group the Fugees. Along with being a world famous and highly respected performing artist, he is now a visiting fellow at Brown University in the Department of African Studies.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For October 13


Edith Spurlock Sampson

1. Edith Spurlock Sampson, was a Lawyer and judge, and the first Black Woman Delegate appointed to the United Nations.  She studied law while working as a social worker in Chicago, taking night courses at John Marshall Law School,

Arna Wendell Bontemps

2. Arnaud Wendell Bontemps, Was a Writer (100 years of Negro Freedom), Poet   and a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance.

Art Tatum

3. Art Tatum, jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind.  Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time.  He came from a musical family and when younger had some formal training at the Toledo School of Music, however he was largely self-taught.  His teacher there recognized his talents and tried to steer him towards as a career as a classical concert pianist.  Tatum was more interested in the music of Fats Waller, which would be a strong influence on his music.  At 18 he was playing interludes at a local radio station and within a short period of time he had his own show.  In 1932 he was heard by the singer Adelaide Hall who brought him to New York as her accompanist.  One year later he made his first recordings, among which was “Tiger Rag”. This song which features breakneck tempo and rippling left- and right-hand cascades and crashing bass notes had every pianist in the country amazed by his astonishing dexterity.  While in New York he established his reputation in “cutting contests” with other top pianists, which he never lost.  He spent the next few years playing in Cleveland, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles and even England in 1938.  During this time he established himself as a major figure in jazz circles.  In the early 1940s Tatum formed an extremely popular trio with bassist Slam Stewart and guitarist Tiny Grimes.  He spent much of the next decade touring North America.  In 1953 Tatum signed by producer Norman Granz and recorded extensively both as a soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, Buddy De Franco, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster and others.  His incredible talent allowed him to be extremely productive during this time.  Ray Spencer in his biography, noted that Tatum was constantly “refining and honing down after each performance until an ideal version remained needing no further adjustments”.  This allowed him to achieve a remarkable work rate.  For example, his solo sessions for Granz were mostly completed in two days.  That is a total of 69 tracks and all but three of them needed only one take.

Jesse Leroy Brown

4. Jesse Leroy Brown, was the first African-American naval aviator in the United States Navy. Brown enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946 and was appointed a Midshipman, at the Ohio State University NROTC the following year. After attending Navy pre-flight school and flight training, he was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1948. Midshipman Brown was then assigned to Fighter Squadron 32. He received his commission as Ensign in April 1949.

Ray Brown Musician

5. Ray Brown, Jazz Bassist, had piano lessons from the age of eight. After noticing how many pianists attended his high school, he thought of taking up the trombone, but was unable to afford one. With a vacancy in the high school jazz orchestra, he took up the upright bass. 

Shirley Caesar

6. Shirley Caesar, Evangelist, Gospel Singer, songwriter and recording artist whose career has spanned six decades. A multi-award winning artist, with eleven Grammy Awards and seven Dove Awards to her credit, she is known as “First Lady of gospel”.

Pharoah Sanders

7. Pharaoh Sanders, is a Grammy Award–winning American jazz saxophonist.  Emerging from John Coltrane’s groups of the mid-60s Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multi phonic techniques on the saxophone, as well as his use of “sheets of sound.”

Demond Wilson

8. Demond Wilson,  is an actor, author, and pastor. He is best known for his role opposite Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford’s son, Lamont Sanford, in the 1970s NBC-TV sitcom Sanford and Son.

Reggie Theus

9. Reggie Theus, is an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He is also a retired basketball player and the former head coach for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Jerry Rice

10. Jerry Rice, is a retired football wide receiver. He is generally regarded as the greatest wide receiver of all time and one of the greatest players in National Football League history.  On November 4, 2010, Rice was chosen by NFL Network’s NFL Films production The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players as the greatest player in NFL history.

The all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers and the all-time NFL leader in touchdowns scored with 208, Rice was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times (1986–1996, 1998, 2002) and named All-Pro 11 times in his 20 NFL seasons. He won three Super Bowl rings playing for the San Francisco 49ers and an AFC Championship with the Oakland Raiders.

Tisha Campbell

11. Tisha Michelle Campbell-Martin, is an actress and singer, known for her starring roles in television series Martin and My Wife and Kids and now is starring in the new television series “The Protector”. Apart from her achievements in television, she also has notable accomplishments in film (including the House Party franchise), theater, and music.

Ashanti

12. Ashanti, Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas, Rapp and R&B recording artist, record producer and actress who rose to fame in the early 2000s and then largely faded from view. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous debut album, which featured the hit song “Foolish”, and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release throughout the U.S. in April 2002. The album set a Soundscan record as the biggest opening week sales for a new female artist.  In the same week, she became the first female performer to simultaneously hold the top two places on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with “Foolish”, and “What’s Luv?” (with Fat Joe). Ashanti broke records again by having three top ten songs, “Foolish,” “What’s Luv?” and “Always on Time”, on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the same week, being the first woman to accomplish this feat. In 2003, the self-titled debut album won Ashanti her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B album. As of 2011, she has sold more than 30 million albums.

Events In African American History For Sept 27


 

1. In 1876, Edward Mitchell Bannister upsets racist whites who believe blacks have no artistic skill by winning a bronze medal for a painting he displayed at the American Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

2. In 1877, John Mercer Langston named minister of Haiti.

3. In 1892, A. L. Lewis received Patent for Window cleaner.

4. In 1912, W.C. Handy published (Memphis Blues) the first Blues Song.

5. In 1915, Xavier University, the first Black Catholic college in the US, opens in New Orleans.

6. In 1950, Charles H. Houston awarded the Spingarn Medal posthumously for his pioneering work in developing the NAACP legal campaign.

7. In 1950, Ezzard Charles defeated Joe Louis in heavyweight championship fight in New York City.

8. In 1950, Gwendolyn Brooks awarded Pulitzer Prize  for her book of poetry, Annie Allen. She was the first Black cited by the Pulitzer committee.

9. In 1950, Ralph J. Bunche is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in mediating a conflict between Palestinians and the newly established Jewish state of Israel. Arabs had gone to war arguing the Jewish state had been established on land which rightfully belonged to the Palestinians.

10. In 1967, Washington D.C.’s Anacostia Museum dedicated to informing the community of contributions by African Americans to U.S. political, social, and cultural history, opens.

11. In 1969, Baby, I’m For Real” by the Originals is released, Until then the greatest piece of pure soul ever to come from Motown

12. In 1970, Diana Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is the #1 pop single and Ross’ first #1 hit as a solo artist.

13. In 1973, Fashion Fair Cosmetics went on sale at Marshall Field’s, Chicago.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For Sept 24


Frances Harper

1. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper , writer, Teacher, Poetess, Anti-slavery activist.  She had a long and prolific career, publishing her first book of poetry at twenty and her first novel, the widely praised Iola Leroy, at age 67.

Edward Franklin Frazier

2. Edward Franklin Frazier, sociologist. His 1932 Ph.D. dissertation The Negro Family in Chicago, later released as a book The Negro Family in the United States in 1939.  The Book analyzed the cultural and historical forces that influenced the development of the African American family from the time of slavery. The book was awarded the 1939 Anisfield Award for the most significant work in the field of race relations. This book was among the first sociological works on blacks researched and written by a black person. He helped draft the UNESCO statement The Race Question in 1950.

Herb Jeffries

3. Herb Jeffries, The Singing Cowboy (1930’s films), A jazz and popular singer, Jeffries is noted for being the first African American to star in an American western. He starred as a singing cowboy in several all-black Western films in which he sang his own western compositions. Jeffries got financing for the first black western film and hired Spencer Williams to appear with him. In addition to starring in the film, Jeffries sang and performed his own stunts as the cowboy character, “Bob Blake.”.

Alden (Allen) Bunn

4. Tarheel Slim (Alden “Allen” Bunn), Blues Artist, Vocals & Guitar during the ’50s, 60s and 70s.  “Number Nine Train”, Wilcat Tamer” and “Much Too Late”. Bunn Got his start with The Southern Harmonaires, then later joined the Selah Jubilee Singers as the group’s guitarist and second lead singer, and later with the Larks.  

Cardiss Robertson Collins

5. Cardiss Robertson Collins, Politician, U.S. House of Representatives.  Elected to 12 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Cardiss Collins ranks as one of the longest-serving minority women in the history of Congress. Succeeding her late husband, Representative George Collins, after his death in 1972, Cardiss Collins continued his legacy as a loyal politician in the Chicago Democratic organization directed by Mayor Richard Daley. One of only a handful of women to serve in Congress for more than 20 years, and the only black woman in the chamber for six years, Representative Collins evolved into a dedicated legislator who focused on the economic and social needs of her urban district.

Chick Willis

6. Chick Willis, blues singer. His cousin was Chuck Willis.  Chick Willis served in the military in the early 1950s before working as a chauffeur for Chuck Willis during his heyday. He won a talent show at the Magnolia Ballroom in Atlanta, Georgia and made his first record in 1956, with the Ebb Records’ single “You’re Mine”. Initially, he only sang, but learned guitar while touring with his cousin; Guitar Slim was one of his foremost influences.  Willis was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame on June 19, 2009.

Willie Kent

7. Willie Kent,  blues singer, bassist and songwriter.

Hubie Brooks

8. Hubie Brooks,  former Major League Baseball player. During his career, he played as a third baseman, shortstop and right fielder for the New York Mets (1980–84, 1991), Montreal Expos (1985–89), Los Angeles Dodgers (1990), California Angels (1992) and Kansas City Royals (1993–94).

Otis Bernard Gilkey

9. Otis Bernard Gilkey, former Major League Baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves. Primarily a left fielder, Gilkey occasionally played right field as well. He also played a small number of games as a center field, first baseman, and designated hitter. Gilkey was a right-handed batter.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For Sept 22


Sheri Belafonte Harper

1. Shari Belafonte, is an actress, model, writer and singer. The daughter of singer Harry Belafonte, she is known for her role as Julie Gilette on the 1980s television series Hotel and as a spokesman for the diet supplement Slim-Fast during the 1990s. She Also had a starring role in the  1985 Halloween classic “The Midnight Hour”.

Jeffrey Leonard

2. Jeffrey N. Leonard, former left fielder in Major League Baseball with a 14-year career from 1977 to 1990. He played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants, all of the National League, and the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners, both of the American League.

Nicknamed “HacMan” after the popular video game PacMan, Leonard was known for his “one flap down” routine: running around the bases after hitting a home run with one arm hanging motionless at his side.

Vince Coleman

3. Vincent Maurice Coleman, former Major League Baseball player, best known for his years with the St. Louis Cardinals. Primarily a left fielder, Coleman played from 1985 to 1997 and set a number of stolen base records. He was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed.

Big Rube

4. Big Rube (Ruben Bailey),  is an American rapper and hip-hop producer. He is a first generation member of the Dungeon Family & Society of Soul.  He is known for his spoken word intros and interludes for many of the Dungeon Family’s albums including Bubba Sparxxx, Goodie Mob, OutKast, & Witchdoctor. He has also contributed his spoken word poetry to Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and the motion picture ATL, as well as appearing on albums by Truth Hurts, Eightball & MJG and CunninLynguists. He appears on a Cee-Lo track called Scrap Metal.
In 1996, he appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation CD, America is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Coolio, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as “a masterpiece” by The Source magazine.

MARY CHURCH TERRELL

5. Mary Church Terrell, A writer, educator, and activist, co-founded the National Association of Colored Women and served as the organization’s first president. Known as “Mollie” to her family, Church who was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1863, lived a life of privilege due to the economic success of her parents, both former slaves.  Her mother, Louisa Ayres Church, owned a hair salon, while her father, Robert Reed Church, was the first black millionaire in the South due to his business and real estate dealings. 

Church left her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, at an early age to enroll at the elementary school at the Antioch College laboratory school in Ohio.  She remained in Ohio to attend both Oberlin Academy and Oberlin College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Languages in 1884.  She earned a Master’s degree from Oberlin four years later.

Church became a teacher after graduating from Oberlin.  She taught at Wilberforce College in Ohio before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1887 to join the faculty at M Street Colored High School, which later became Dunbar High School.

Birthdays Of Famous African Americans For Sept 09


Otis Redding

1. Otis Redding, soul singer-songwriter and record producer. Born in Dawson and later moved to Macon, he began touring with blues guitarist Johnny Jenkins and served as the lead singer in the band Otis Redding and The Pinetoppers. He signed a contract with record label Stax Records and released his debut album Pain in My Heart in 1964. This album produced several successful singles, including “These Arms of Mine”.

Although he was not very successful among white audiences in the United States, the opposite was true in Europe. His performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 was one of his last big concerts until his death in a plane crash at the age of 26. One month later, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released, which sold about 4 million copies worldwide and would be his biggest hit.

Inez Foxx

2. Inez Foxx, R&B Artist along with her brother Charlie, a soul duo from Greensboro,North Carolina. Inez sang lead vocal, while Charlie sang back-up and played guitar.  Their most successful record was with their novelty composition, “Mockingbird”. Released in 1963, it made the Top 10 on both the rhythm and blues and pop charts

Dee Dee Sharpe

3. Dee Dee Sharp (Dione La Roux), R&B singer, who began her career recording as a backing vocalist in 1961. 

In 1962 she began a string of successful Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hits: “Slow Twistin'” (with Chubby Checker) (#3), “Mashed Potato Time” (#2), “Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)” (#9), “Ride” (#5) and “Do the Bird” (#10).[1] Both “Mashed Potato Time” and “Ride” each sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs.[2] “Do the Bird” provided her only entry in the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at #46 in April 1963.[3] In 1967, she married record producer Kenny Gamble and has since recorded under the name Dee Dee Sharp-Gamble.

She had a brief career resurgence during the disco era: as a member of the Philadelphia International All Stars (which also included Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays and Archie Bell) she had a minor hit with “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto.”

In 1981 she spent four weeks at number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart with “Breaking and Entering” / “Easy Money,” from her album Dee Dee.
More recent appearances included a performance at Pontins in the UK for the Northern Soul Show, and at the 2008 Detroit Jazz Festival. In May 2009, she appeared in Belgium at the Salle De L’Hotel de Ville.

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5. Benjamin Roy (B.J.) Armstrong, retired American professional basketball player. As a starting point guard, he was an integral part of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s.

His playing career left him with several distinctions, including being the last Chicago Bull to wear the number 10 jersey. The jersey was retired in honor of Bob Love after Armstrong left the team following the 1994–1995 season. He had a consecutive games played total of 577 until late in the 1996–1997 season, third-longest in the NBA. He was also the first player selected to play for the Toronto Raptors in 1996.

Krazy Drayzy

6. Rapper Dray, (also known as Krazy Drayzy, born Andre Weston, along with Skoob formed the  hip hop duo Das EFX.  They rose to popularity in the early 1990s with an affiliation with EPMD’s Hit Squad and the duo’s stream of consciousness lyrical delivery, which became one of the most influential lyrical styles in hip hop music during the early 1990s. Their style combined nonsensical lines with a fast-paced flow (that included words that end with “-iggedy“) and numerous pop culture references.

Sonia Sanchez

7. Sonia Sanchez,  Renowned poet, born Wilsonia Benita Driver in Birmingham, Al. She has written more than a dozen books of poetry and has been a professor at several American universities. Sanchez joined the Nation of Islam in 1972 but left in 1975 following a dispute over the issue of women’s rights.

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