March 21

Actor Gary Oldman was born in London in 1958. Often playing the role of a villain, he appeared as Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s JFK and Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Oldman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Other major roles occurred in Sid and Nancy (1986), Immortal Beloved (1994), and the Harry Potter series of films as Sirius Black.

The Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa occurred in 1960. Black demonstrators were protesting the pass laws when police opened fire on the crowd of 5,000 – 7,000, killing 69 people. In South Africa today, March 21 is celebrated as a holiday in honor of human rights. A flood of international protests followed the shootings and the act was condemned by the United Nations.

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary closed in 1963. It had opened in 1934 as a maximum security prison. The island is located about 1.25 miles from the city of San Francisco. Famous inmates included Al Capone, “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Stroud (“Birdman of Alcatraz). The prison claimed that no one ever escaped. Today, the prison is a tourist attraction for those visiting San Francisco.

The first Earth Day was held in San Francisco in 1970. Mayor Alioto proclaimed the day. The first Earth Day had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States. More importantly, it brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform. Earth Day is now celebrated on April 22 around the world.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced that the United States would boycott the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Moscow later that year. The boycott was a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The United States was joined by Japan, West Germany, the Philippines, Argentina, and Canada. In all, 65 nations chose not to compete in the games. The Russians got even in 1984 when they boycotted the Los Angeles Summer Olympic games.

Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.