Today in History
Today is Easter Sunday, April 4, the 94th day of 2021. 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.) Suspected gunman 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 1818, Congress decided the flag of the United States would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state of the Union.
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 1850, the city of Los Angeles was incorporated.
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 1933, the Navy airship USS Akron crashed in severe weather off the New Jersey coast with the loss of 73 lives.
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 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 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: 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. President Barack Obama’s campaign announced in a web video that he would run for re-election in 2012. The Connecticut Huskies beat the Butler Bulldogs 53-41 for the NCAA men’s basketball title.
Five years ago: The Supreme Court, in Evenwel v. Abbott, unanimously endorsed election maps that bolstered the growing political influence of America’s Latinos, ruling that states could count everyone, not just eligible voters, in drawing voting districts. A tourist helicopter crashed and burned in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee, killing all five people aboard. Kris Jenkins hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Villanova to the national title with a 77-74 victory over North Carolina in one of the wildest finishes in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
One year ago: President Donald Trump warned that the country could be heading into its “toughest” weeks yet as the coronavirus death toll mounted, but he also expressed growing impatience with social distancing guidelines; he said of the virus-related shutdowns, “The cure cannot be worse than the problem.” A cruise ship with coronavirus victims on board, including two who died, docked in Miami; the Coral Princess, with nearly 1,900 passengers and crew, had been in limbo for days awaiting permission to dock as passengers self-isolated in their staterooms.
Today’s Birthdays: Recording executive Clive Davis is 89. Author Kitty Kelley is 79. Actor Craig T. Nelson is 77. Actor Walter Charles is 76. Actor Christine Lahti is 71. Country singer Steve Gatlin (The Gatlin Brothers) is 70. Actor Mary-Margaret Humes is 67. Writer-producer David E. Kelley is 65. Actor Constance Shulman is 63. Actor Phil Morris is 62. Actor Lorraine Toussaint is 61. Actor Hugo Weaving is 61. Rock musician Craig Adams (The Cult) is 59. Talk show host/comic Graham Norton is 58. Actor David Cross is 57. Actor Robert Downey Jr. is 56. Actor Nancy McKeon is 55. Actor Barry Pepper is 51. Country singer Clay Davidson is 50. Rock singer Josh Todd (Buckcherry) is 50. Singer Jill Scott is 49. Rock musician Magnus Sveningsson (The Cardigans) is 49. Magician David Blaine is 48. Singer Kelly Price is 48. R&B singer Andre Dalyrimple (Soul For Real) is 47. Country musician Josh McSwain (Parmalee) is 46. Actor James Roday is 45. Actor Natasha Lyonne is 42. Actor Eric Andre is 38. Actor Amanda Righetti is 38. Actor-singer Jamie Lynn Spears is 30. Actor Daniela Bobadilla is 28. Pop singer Austin Mahone (muh-HOHN’) is 25. Actor Aliyah Royale is 21.