Jan-12: Glass Ceilings, Genocide and TV Gold

Today marks the anniversary of the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate;  the end of the Nigerian Civil War which was won by a blockade that starved the breakaway Biafran Republic; and the debut of “All in the Family” on CBS.


Hattie Caraway Becomes First Woman Elected to the Senate

Arkansas’ Hattie Caraway, was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by her late husband and became the first woman elected to the Senate when she won a special election on this day in 1932 to fill the remaining months of his term.  She was the first female Senator to preside over this body as well as the first to chair a Committee.

She stunned the political establishment by announcing that she would seek reelection and won. She won reelection again in 1938 before losing to J. William Fulbright who would serve in the Senate until 1974 (and was a mentor to future President Bill Clinton).


Biafra Surrenders Ending Nigerian Civil War After Campaign of Starvation 

Biafra independent state map-enOn this day, the Biafran Republic made up of states from Southeastern Nigeria, announced its surrender to the Nigeria government bringing an end to a 30-month civil war.  Biafra was brought to its knees by a blockade that brought about a severe famine in which approximately two million died from starvation and disease.  John Lennon relinquished his knighthood partly in protest of the British role in supporting the blockade.

One Red Cross volunteer, outraged by the forced famine and what he viewed as the Red Cross’ complicity in the atrocities, founded Comité de Lutte contre le Génocide au Biafra which in 1971 became Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

After announcing the surrender, a formal surrender ceremony was held with one of the participants being General Ọbasanjọ.  Thirty years later, as President of Nigeria, Obasanjo commuted to retirement the dismissal of all military persons who fought for the breakaway state of Biafra during the Nigerian civil war. In a national broadcast, he said that the decision was based on the principle that “justice must at all times be tempered with mercy.”


“All in the Family” Premiers

On this day, the sitcom “All in the Family” began its 8-year run on CBS.

From Wikipedia:

Produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin and starring Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton,Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, All in the Family revolves around the life of a working-class bigot and his family. The show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, religion, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence. Through depicting these controversial issues, the series became arguably one of television’s most influential comedic programs, as it injected the sitcom format with more realistic and topical conflicts.


  • First TV series to top Nielsen ratings 5 years in a row (1971-1976);
  • 32 Emmy Awards
  • The episode “Sammy’s Visit” was ranked #13 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time
  • TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time ranked All in the Family as #4.
  • Bravo also named the show’s protagonist, Archie Bunker, TV’s greatest character of all time.
  • In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked All in the Family the fourth best written TV series ever
  • TV Guide ranked it as the fourth greatest show of all time.

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