May 15 to May 31, 2020
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in 1927 to be the film industry’s official trade organization; two years later–on May 16, 1929—the first Academy Awards were presented, but it wasn’t until 1939 that the golden statuettes became known as the Oscars. According to Hollywood lore, Margaret Herrick, executive director of the Academy, apparently said they looked like her Uncle Oscar. The moniker stuck, and today, the annual event lures viewers from all over the world, who set aside an evening to observe televised glamor — American style.
The movie industry has told — and re-told — the story of America in films of adventure, comedy, and history, which have nabbed millions of imaginations, and transformed the country into a powerful, worldwide messenger of culture.
For more information about Hollywood, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Gregory Paul William’s The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History.
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs Board of Education that racial segregation in the nation’s schools was unconstitutional. Civil Rights attorney, Thurgood Marshall, who would become the first African-American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 13 years later, led the team that argued the case for Linda Brown, who was denied entry into a local Topeka, Kansas school because of the color of her skin. A year later, the Court issued new rules, ordering all public schools to integrate.
For a better understanding of the case, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests Susan Goldman Rubin’s Brown vs Board of Education: A Fight for Simple Justice.
On May 28, 1958 baseball fans in New York learned that their beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, and New York Giants, were leaving town. There was no joy in Mudville that day. “Dem bums,” as the Dodgers were affectionately nicknamed, were headed to a new hometown — Los Angeles– and Big Blue or “the jints” were about to become the San Francisco Giants.
According to the New York Daily News, the Dodgers had played baseball in Brooklyn since 1871, and the Giants—originally known as “The Gothams” had formed their team in 1883 but were renamed in 1885. Legend has it that their manager, Jim Mutrie, entered the locker room after a particularly satisfying win over the Philadelphia Phillies, shouting to the players: “My big fellows! My giants!”
The rest is history.
For more information about the intricate relationship between baseball and America, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Lawrence S. Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It.
History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.