Today in History
Today is Monday, April 4, the 94th day of 2022. There are 271 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 39, was shot and killed while standing on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; his slaying was followed by a wave of rioting (Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Chicago were among cities particularly hard hit). James Earl Ray later pleaded guilty to assassinating King, then spent the rest of his life claiming he’d been the victim of a setup.
On this date:
In 1841, President William Henry Harrison succumbed to pneumonia one month after his inaugural, becoming the first U.S. chief executive to die in office.
In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln, accompanied by his son Tad, visited the vanquished Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, where he was greeted by a crowd that included former slaves.
In 1917, the U.S. Senate voted 82-6 in favor of declaring war against Germany (the House followed suit two days later by a vote of 373-50).
In 1945, during World War II, U.S. forces liberated the Nazi concentration camp Ohrdruf in Germany. Hungary was liberated as Soviet forces cleared out remaining German troops.
In 1949, 12 nations, including the United States, signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, D.C.
In 1973, the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center were officially dedicated. (The towers were destroyed in the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.)
In 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves tied Babe Ruth’s home-run record by hitting his 714th round-tripper in Cincinnati.
In 1975, more than 130 people, most of them children, were killed when a U.S. Air Force transport plane evacuating Vietnamese orphans crash-landed shortly after takeoff from Saigon. Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In 1983, the space shuttle Challenger roared into orbit on its maiden voyage. (It was destroyed in the disaster of January 1986.)
In 1991, Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., and six other people, including two children, were killed when a helicopter collided with Heinz’s plane over a schoolyard in Merion, Pennsylvania.
In 2011, yielding to political opposition, the Obama administration gave up on trying avowed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators in civilian federal courts and said it would prosecute them instead before military commissions.
In 2015, in North Charleston, South Carolina, Walter Scott, a 50-year-old Black motorist, was shot to death while running away from a traffic stop; Officer Michael Thomas Slager, seen in a cellphone video opening fire at Scott, was charged with murder. (The charge, which lingered after a first state trial ended in a mistrial, was dropped as part of a deal under which Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.)
Ten years ago: A federal judge sentenced five former New Orleans police officers to prison for the deadly Danziger Bridge shootings in the chaotic days following Hurricane Katrina. (The verdicts in the case were later set aside by the judge, who cited prosecutorial misconduct; the officers pleaded guilty in 2016 to reduced charges.)
Five years ago: A chemical attack on an opposition-held town in northern Syria left about 100 people dead; a joint investigation team made up of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and U.N. experts concluded that the Syrian government was responsible. A federal appeals court ruled for the first time that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protected LGBT employees from workplace discrimination; the case involved an Indiana teacher who charged that she wasn’t hired full-time because she was a lesbian.
One year ago: On a second Easter Sunday marked by pandemic restrictions, Christianity’s most joyous feast day was celebrated worldwide with the faithful far apart in pews, and singing choruses of “Hallelujah” through face coverings. Pope Francis, in his traditional Easter Sunday address, denounced as “scandalous” how armed conflicts continued to rage even as the coronavirus pandemic triggered severe social and economic suffering and swelled the ranks of the poor. Stanford beat Arizona 54-53 to become NCAA women’s basketball champions.
Today’s Birthdays: Recording executive Clive Davis is 90. Author Kitty Kelley is 80. Actor Craig T. Nelson is 78. Actor Walter Charles is 77. Actor Christine Lahti is 72. Country singer Steve Gatlin (The Gatlin Brothers) is 71. Actor Mary-Margaret Humes is 68. Writer-producer David E. Kelley is 66. Actor Constance Shulman is 64. Actor Phil Morris is 63. Actor Lorraine Toussaint is 62. Actor Hugo Weaving is 62. Rock musician Craig Adams (The Cult) is 60. Talk show host/comic Graham Norton is 59. Actor David Cross is 58. Actor Robert Downey Jr. is 57. Actor Nancy McKeon is 56. Actor Barry Pepper is 52. Country singer Clay Davidson is 51. Rock singer Josh Todd (Buckcherry) is 51. Singer Jill Scott is 50. Rock musician Magnus Sveningsson (The Cardigans) is 50. Magician David Blaine is 49. Singer Kelly Price is 49. R&B singer Andre Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 48. Country musician Josh McSwain (Parmalee) is 47. Actor James Roday is 46. Actor Natasha Lyonne is 43. Actor Eric Andre is 39. Actor Amanda Righetti is 39. Actor-singer Jamie Lynn Spears is 31. Actor Daniela Bobadilla is 29. Pop singer Austin Mahone (muh-HOHN’) is 26. Actor Aliyah Royale is 22.
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