Good News in History September 22

23 years ago today, The West Wing debuted on NBC. Created by political pop culture specialist Aaron Sorkin, it ran for 154 episodes across 7 seasons. Set largely in the west wing of the White House, where the Oval Office and other executive offices are, the fictional president Jedidiah Bartlet is played by Martin Sheen, and has been described as an amalgamation of John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. READ More… 

The West Wing has been ranked among the best television shows of all time in publications such as Time, TV Guide, Empire, Rolling Stone, and the New York Daily News.

It received a war chest of accolades, including two Peabody Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and 26 Primetime Emmy Awards, including the award for Outstanding Drama Series, which it won four consecutive times from 2000 to 2003.

In 2011, The New York Times even reported the then-fledgling government of Myanmar used DVDs of The West Wing episodes to study democracy, which was subsequently corroborated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the following year.

MORE Good News on this Day:

The (first) French Republic was established following the revolution (1792)
President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves in rebel states should be freed beginning in January of the following year (1862)
Independence Day in Bulgaria (1908); and Mali (1960)
Fiddler on the Roof, a play set in 1905 Russia, opened on Broadway and later became the first musical theater run in history to surpass 3,000 performances (1964)
David Hempleman-Adams became the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an open-air, wicker-basket hot air balloon (2003)
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was made an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro for his work helping Brazilian street children by opening Casa Jimmy (Jimmy’s House), which had supported more than 300 kids since 1998 (2005)
An email led to the creation of Airbnb when Joe suggested to Brian that they turn their place into a bed and breakfast for designers attending a 4-day conference (2007)

31 years ago today, a long-running, bitter dispute among biblical scholars over access to the Dead Sea Scrolls ended as The Huntington Library in California released a complete set of photocopies of the priceless Hebrew manuscripts that date to the age of Jesus.

Also known as the Qumran Caves Scrolls, for the location they were found, 3,000 photographs of the artifacts on microfilm became instantly available online to universities.

Called the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century, some of the documents, which are now in the Israel Museum, were well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts of parchment and papyrus in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages.

The texts have great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism.

The initial discovery of the handwritten parchments, housed in jars inside 11 caves for safekeeping, was made in 1946 and 1947 by Bedouin shepherds who stumbled upon the first of a few caves. (1991)

21 years ago today, 35 American TV networks and cable channels simultaneously aired  ‘A Tribute to Heroes’, a live commercial-free benefit concert and telethon organized to raise money for victims and their families– especially firefighters– following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, U2, Sting, Céline Dion, and Willie Nelson were some of the performers. Actor George Clooney organized celebrities to perform or staff the telephones to take pledges. Stars included Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Will Smith, Cameron Diaz, and many more. They raised over $200 million, including funds from DVD and CD sales, for the September 11 Fund. (2001)

Also, Happy 64th birthday to Joan Jett, who took her mother’s maiden name and jetted to fame as the founding member and singer of The Runaways and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

2010 photo by Jessie Pearl, CC license

When she was 14, she quit guitar lessons because she didn’t want to learn folk songs, and later made three albums certified Platinum or Gold. The songwriter is known for hits like “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” “Cherry Bomb,” and “Bad Reputation“—from her 1980 debut LP of the same name. Jett appeared with Michael J. Fox in the film Light of Day, as they portrayed rockers in a bar band. The film, The Runaways, chronicled the band’s career, and starred Twilight’s Kristen Stewart playing Jett. (1958)

And, 53 years ago today, The Band released their self-titled album, with songs like Up on Cripple Creek and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down which became critically acclaimed folk-rock classics.

They wanted to produce a collection of songs evoking an Americana past, though the members of the group were Canadian. Known for being Bob Dylan’s band while he toured, The Band recorded this LP, their second, in a pool house on the grounds of a residence belonging to Sammy Davis, Jr.

The group’s chief songwriter and guitarist Robbie Robertson said they chose the location in order to give the songs a certain basement-tapes feeling. It reached #9 on the Billboard chart and later was preserved into the National Recording Registry as an album that was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and reflects life in the United States.”

The other band members included Levon Helm on drums and vocals, singer-songwriter Rick Danko on bass, and multi-instrumentalists Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel. (1969)

And, 37 years ago today, the first Farm Aid benefit concert was held to raise money for family farmers in the United States. The concert was organized by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, spurred on by Bob Dylan’s comments at Live Aid earlier in that year that he hoped some of the money would help American farmers in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt. The show at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign raised $7 million, with a crowd of 80,000 people enjoying performances by Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, John Fogerty, Bonnie Raitt, and Tom Petty.

Willie and the other founders had originally thought that they could have one concert and the problem would be solved, but they realized they needed to do more. As a result, Farm Aid is still raising money with its annual concert and working to increase awareness of the importance of family farms.

Singer-songwriters Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, and Boz Scaggs are joining the 2020 music festival this Saturday, September 26, when Farm Aid will mark its 35th anniversary with a virtual at-home festival experience streaming on and their YouTube channel, AXS TV, and SiriusXM at 8pm EDT, according to the board of directors, which currently includes Nelson, Mellencamp, Young, and Dave Matthews—who will also perform. The funds raised are used to pay the farmer’s expenses and provide food, legal and financial help.

The organization also operates an emergency hotline that offers farmers resources and advice about challenges they’re experiencing. They lobbied Congress which subsequently passed the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987 to save farms from foreclosure. Farm Aid also operates a disaster fund to help farmers devastated by natural disasters, such as the victims of Hurricane Katrina. All this, and the fact that the movement also spurred the organic-local food revolution. WATCH a little story about how it happened… (1985)

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