Today we get to celebrate multiple important birdthays. First, it’s the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the president of the United States who not only prosecuted and resolved a war that threatened to destroy the nation but also led the nation in freeing enslaved citizens. This is also the birthday of Charles Darwin (last year’s entry); see the Darwin Day site for more.
Both Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Darwin were born in 1809, so this is a two-centuries celebration for them.
And it’s the b’day for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (last year’s entry), but that group’s only 100 this year. The founders chose Mr. Lincoln’s birthday for the NAACP founding day; I wonder if they knew that it was also Mr. Darwin’s birthday.
Interestingly, according to an editorial in Nature, Mr. Darwin’s “thinking about the natural world was profoundly influenced by his revulsion for slavery,” as developed in a new book entitled Darwin’s Sacred Cause by Adrian Desmond and James Moore. So, mayhaps some of the NAACP founders were aware of Darwin’s views and found 12 February even more appealing.
Don’t forget that it’s also the b’day of Bill Russell, the magnificent basketball player who, along with his teammates, repeatedly topped my favorites (Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, et. al) in NBA championships. Mr. Russell, you were superb on the court and I admire your accomplishments as a basketball player and as an advocate for equality, but I submit that Mr. Lincoln and and Mr. Darwin are ahead of you in the relative rankings for improving human life. Still, here are two thanks: (a) one (begrudgingly) for your b’ball lessons and (b) another for, more importantly, your integrity.
Anyway, it’s a banner day, in my book.