On this day 550 years ago, the spiritual teacher and founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, was born. A poet, mystic, philosopher, and singer, Guru Nanak’s philosophy centered on belief in one God for all of creation, a God that is formless, omnipresent, compassionate, and attainable through prayer, humility, service, meditation, and virtuous living.

Nanak was born in Punjab, an area of Northern India and Pakistan. After a revelatory experience at the age of 37, Nanak traveled extensively to spread his message, that there is one God and one human race. He denounced ritualism, discrimination against women—and against those of lower socioeconomic status. This philosophy became the foundation of Sikhism (meaning: seeker or truth or disciple), which is today the fifth largest religion in the world. (1469)

More Good News on this Date:

  • The Gunpowder Plot failed when Guy Fawkes was seized from the cellar before he could blow up the English Parliament (1605)
  • Suffragist Susan B. Anthony voted in her hometown of Rochester, New York, in defiance of the law prohibiting women from casting ballots—she later refused to pay the $100 fine, and continued her fight until in 1920 the right for women to vote became the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1872)
  • Parker Brothers released the board game Monopoly, the property trading game based on streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey that became licensed in more than 103 countries and printed in 37 languages—with charity versions that have raised thousands for nonprofits (1935)
  • Ella Grasso was elected governor of Connecticut, becoming the first woman to win gubernatorial office without succeeding her husband (1974)
  • NPR news show Morning Edition premiered (1979)
  • Apartheid fighter Govan Mbeki was released from South African jail after 24 years (1987)

Also, on this day in 1917, an historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling decided that a city ordinance prohibiting the sale of property to blacks in white-majority neighborhoods or buildings violated the Fourteenth Amendment. In Louisville, Kentucky, the city ordinance forbade any black individuals to own or occupy buildings in an area in which a greater number of white persons resided. After a white property owner, Charles H. Buchanan, filed suit so he could sell to a black man, the high Court unanimously agreed in Buchanan v. Warley that the law “destroy(ed) the right of the individual to acquire, enjoy, and dispose of his property,” and therefore was unconstitutional.

And, Happy 78th Birthday to Art Garfunkel, the singer, poet and actor who rose to fame in the 60s with the duo Simon and Garfunkel.

2013 photo by Adam Schartoff, CC license

Born in Queens, NY, the son of a traveling salesman, he met Simon in school while acting in a play. He is still performing–as a solo act, he attained a no.1 single–and in 1989, he released an acclaimed collection of prose poetry. He has also walked across Japan, Europe, and America, writing poetry along the way. (1941)

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