Civil rights protesters beaten in “Bloody Sunday” attack

On March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, a 600-person civil rights demonstration ends in violence when marchers are attacked and beaten by white state troopers and sheriff’s deputies. The day’s events became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

The demonstrators—led by civil rights activists John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference—were commemorating the recent fatal shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old church deacon, by state trooper James Bonard Fowler. The group planned to march the 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. Just as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge outside Selma, they were ordered to disperse. Moments later, police assaulted them with tear gas, bullwhips and billy clubs. Lewis, then 25, was one of 17 marchers hospitalized; dozens more were treated for injuries. 

The violence was broadcast on TV and recounted in newspapers, spurring demonstrations in 80 cities across the nation within days. On March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 2,000 marchers to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On March 15, President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke on the need for voting reform, something activists in Selma had long been fighting for: “There is no issue of states’ rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. We have already waited 100 years and more, and the time for waiting is gone.”

King completed the march to Montgomery, along with 25,000 demonstrators, on March 25, under the protection of the U.S. military and the FBI. The route is now a U.S. National Historic Trail. Prodded by what Johnson called “the outrage of Selma,” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law five months later, with the purpose to “right that wrong.” Lewis became a U.S. congressman from Georgia in 1986. 

READ MORE: How Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ Became a Turning Point in the Civil Rights Movement

Source

George W. Bush describes Iraq, Iran and North Korea as “axis of evil”

On January 29, 2002, in his first State of the Union address since the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush describes Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”

Just over a year into his presidency and several months into a war which would eventually become the longest in American history, Bush identified the three countries as the major nodes of a wide-ranging and highly dangerous network of terrorists and other bad actors threatening the United States. The speech outlined the logic behind Bush’s “War on Terror,” a series of military engagements which would define U.S. foreign policy for the next two decades.

Bush speechwriter David Frum is credited with coining the term “axis of evil,” which was meant to evoke the Axis powers against which the United States and its allies fought in World War II. The Bush administration wanted to emphasize the outstanding threat posed by these three “terror states,” arguing that each was in the process of building weapons of mass destruction and supporting terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda. Bush’s father, former president George H.W. Bush, had invaded Iraq in 1990 after repelling the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait, but left Saddam Hussein in power. 

After 9/11, George W. Bush’s administration waited less than a month before invading Afghanistan and deposing the Taliban regime there. It was not long before Bush turned his attention to “regime change” in Iraq. Although there were no direct links between Iraq, Iran and North Korea—Iraq and Iran, in fact, were commonly understood to be geopolitical enemies—the concept of an “axis of evil” united in its desire to harm Americans proved useful to those making the case for a second invasion of Iraq.

READ MORE: A Timeline of the U.S.-Led War on Terror

Source

Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial airs during Super Bowl XVIII

Year
1984
Month Day
January 22

During a break in the action of Super Bowl XVIII on January 22nd, 1984, audiences first see a commercial that is now widely agreed to be one of the most powerful and effective of all time. Apple’s “1984” spot, featuring a young woman throwing a sledgehammer through a screen on which a Big Brother-like figure preaches about “the unification of thought,” got people around the United States talking and heralded a new age for Apple, consumer technology and advertising.

HISTORY THIS WEEK PODCAST KEY ART

LISTEN NOW: What happened this week in history? Find out on the podcast HISTORY This Week. Episode 3: The Apple Ad That Changed the World

The ad was directed by Ridley Scott, who directed the genre-defining dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner in 1982. The spot was in a similar vein, depicting a bleak and monocrhome future where a crowd of bald extras—many of them actual skinheads from the streets of London—stood before an enormous screen broadcasting a message of conformity. A runner enters, pursued by police, and hurls the hammer at the screen, destroying it just as the Big Brother figure announces “We shall prevail!” The text in the last shot makes the references to George Orwell explicit: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs loved the ad, but Apple’s board did not. They asked the agency that produced it, Chiat/Day, to sell back the time they had purchased for the ad, and “1984” only aired because Chiat/Day resorted to subterfuge, intentionally failing to sell back the time. It was the right decision: the ad achieved every company’s dream of becoming news itself, receiving free replays on news broadcasts the next day. Super Bowl ads were already big business, but many in the advertising world point to “1984” as the moment when the big game became a venue for innovative, marquee ads, which soon became e a major part of the overall spectacle of the Super Bowl. The spot also cemented Apple’s reputation for being iconoclastic, disruptive and forward-thinking, an image that has been central to its brand ever since. By telling a somewhat high-minded story and barely mentioning the product it was selling—no computers appear in the ad—it also helped establish that bolder, less literal advertising could be just as effective, if not more so, than simpler commercials.

READ MORE: They Can’t All Be iPhones: The Story of Apple’s Forgotten Flop

Source

Radio host Don Imus makes offensive remarks about Rutgers’ women’s basketball team

Year
2007
Month Day
April 04

On April 4, 2007, syndicated talk radio host Don Imus ignites a firestorm after making racially disparaging remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, insulting their appearance and tattoos and, most infamously, calling them “nappy-headed hos.” After a nationwide torrent of criticism, Imus apologized and lost his job but ultimately salvaged his career.

The remarks came during a discussion between Imus, his producer, and a reporter about a game between Rutgers and the University of Tennessee. Activists and journalists began to call for Imus to be fired almost immediately. Imus apologized on his show two days later, calling himself “a good man who did a bad thing,” but numerous sponsors, including General Motors, Staples, and other major companies, pulled their advertising. The Rev. Al Sharpton called for Imus to be “taken off the airwaves,” and Barack Obama, who would become the nation’s first African American president the following January, called Imus’ remarks “divisive, hurtful, and offensive.” MSNBC, which simulcast Imus in the Morning on television, dropped the show on April 11. The following morning, Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, who announced the cancellation of Imus in the Morning that afternoon.

Imus’ defenders—as well as Imus himself—pointed to the frequent use of words like “ho” in rap music as the source of the problem, arguing that Imus was merely using offensive language that was commonplace in the world of hip-hop. Though many commentators decried what they felt was an over-reaction that ruined Imus’ career, Imus was in fact only off the air from April until December. He signed a five-year deal worth $40 million with New York station WABC and returned to the air on December 3. Two years later, Imus in the Morning returned to television, simulcast on Fox Business News. Imus’ career survived the incident, and he retired due to health reasons in 2018.

Source

Hank Aaron ties Babe Ruth’s home run record

Year
1974
Month Day
April 04

As the 1974 Major League Baseball season began, all eyes were on Hank Aaron. He had finished 1973 with 713 career home runs, one shy of the all-time record set by Babe Ruth. On April 4, Opening Day, a 39-year-old Aaron sent the very first pitch he saw over the wall, finally tying Ruth and setting the stage for his ascent to the top of the all-time home runs list.

Aaron, who played in the majors from 1954 until 1976, was known for his longevity and consistency in addition to his power-hitting. He had hit 40 homers the previous season, drawing the nation’s attention as he approached Ruth’s record. The Post Office declared that Aaron received the most mail of any private citizen in the country, and although the majority was positive he was also the recipient of hate mail and death threats. Ruth’s record had stood for four decades, and racist fans were upset at the thought of Aaron, one of the last MLB players to have played in the Negro Leagues, breaking it.

The ownership of the Braves wanted to sit Aaron for the first series of the 1974 season to ensure that he broke Ruth’s record in Atlanta. The league, however, insisted that he play at least two of the three games. It looked for all the world like he would break the record in Cincinnati after he homered on the very first pitch of the season, but 715 eluded him until he returned to Atlanta. He broke Ruth’s record in the fourth inning of the Atlanta Braves’ home opener on April 8.

Aaron retired two years later with a career total of 755 home runs. That record would stand until 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds, but Bonds’ well-documented and extensive use of performance-enhancing drugs has made his record illegitimate in the eyes of many fans and kept him out of the Hall of Fame. Aaron was inducted into the Hall in 1982, as soon as he was eligible, and continues to hold a number of MLB records.

READ MORE: Jackie Robinson’s Battles for Equality On and Off the Baseball Field

Source

World Trade Center, then the world’s tallest building, opens in New York City

Year
1973
Month Day
April 04

The “Twin Towers” of the World Trade Center officially open in New York City. The buildings replaced the Empire State Building as the world’s tallest building. Though they would only hold that title for a year, they remained a dominant feature of the city’s skyline and were recognizable the world over long before they were destroyed in a terrorist attack in 2001.

Planning, designing and clearing space for the World Trade Center took over a decade. The New York State Legislature originally approved the idea in 1943, but concrete plans did not materialize until the 1960s. The deal that created the new complex, of which the Twin Towers would be the centerpiece, also included the creation of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation, or PATH, to operate the trains which entered Manhattan from New Jersey on what was to become the grounds of the WTC. Architect Minoru Yamasaki drew inspiration from Arabic architecture for the towers’ design. In order to efficiently move people up and down the 110-story towers, Yamasaki and his team developed the concept of express elevators—based on the New York City Subway’s system of express and local trains—that traveled directly to “sky lobbies” on the 44 and 78 floor, from which “local” elevators ran to neighboring floors. The first tenants moved into the North Tower in December of 1970, with the official opening of both buildings taking place over two years later.

The towers’ construction ended the Empire State Building’s 41-year run as the tallest building in the world. They were replaced by Chicago’s Sears Tower the following year, an indication of the rising trend of supertall construction. The World Trade Center dramatically altered the New York skyline and the cityscape of Lower Manhattan. As such, they were often used as a shorthand for the area in visual media, and were frequently included in establishing shots of films set in New York. Though most of the World Trade Center was occupied by office space, the Top of the World Observation Deck on the South Tower became a popular tourist destination, as did the North Tower’s Windows on the World restaurant, which featured its own wine school.

The towers were first targeted by terrorists in 1993, when a bomb exploded in the garage under the North Tower, killing six and injuring over 1,000. The Twin Towers were destroyed, and were the site of the vast majorities of the casualties, on September 11, 2001, a final chapter that has since overshadowed the rest of the World Trade Center’s story. The building that replaced them, One World Trade Center, was completed in 2014 and is currently the seventh-tallest building in the world.

Source

Spain announces it will expel all Jews

Year
1492
Month Day
March 31

In 1492, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castille conquered the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, finally freeing Spain from Muslim rule after nearly 800 years. Not long after, the monarchs, whose marriage and conquests cemented Spain as a unified kingdom, issued the Alhambra Decree, mandating that all Jews be expelled from the country.

In 1478, Ferdinand and Isabella had instituted the Inquisition, an effort by Spanish clergy rid to the country of heretics. Pogroms, individual acts of violence against Jews, and anti-Semitic laws had been features of Catholic Spain for over a century before the Alhambra Order, causing deaths and conversions that greatly reduced Spain’s Jewish population. Having already forced much of Spain’s Jewish population to convert, the Church now set about rooting out those who suspected of practicing Judaism in secret, oftentimes by extremely violent methods. Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, is said to have petitioned the monarchs to expel all Jews for years before they finally issued the order on March 31, 1492.

The results were catastrophic. Jews were given until the end of July to leave the country, resulting in the hasty selling of much of their land and possessions to Catholics at artificially low prices. Many converted in order to remain in Spain, with some continuing to practice their religion in secret and others assimilating into Catholicism. Estimation is difficult, but modern historians now believe around 40,000 Jews emigrated, with older estimates putting the number at several hundred thousand. Many died trying to reach safety, and in some cases it is believed that refugees paid for passage to other countries only to be thrown overboard by Spanish captains. While the Ottoman Empire welcomed the influx of Spanish Jews, many other nations in Europe treated them as cruelly as the Spaniards—though Portugal was a popular destination, its rulers issued a similar decree five years later.

Communities established by Spanish Jews, known as Sephardim in Hebrew, formed the foundation of the Sephardic communities that now make up a significant percentage of the world’s Jewish population. The year of the Alhambra Decree was also the year that Christopher Columbus, sailing for Spain, “discovered” the Americas, and thus it marks the beginning of two centuries of Spanish efforts to force its Catholicism on its substantial colonial holdings. Spain has never had a significant Jewish population since; current estimates put the Jewish population of Spain at lower than .2 percent. Spain formally revoked the Alhambra decree in 1968, and in the early 2000s both Spain and Portugal granted Sephardic Jews the right to claim citizenship of the countries that expelled their ancestors 500 years before.

Source

Coca-Cola sold in glass bottles for the first time


Year
1894
Month Day
March 12

Though today there is almost nothing as ubiquitous as a bottle of Coca-Cola, this was not always the case. For the first several years of its existence, Coke was only available as a fountain drink, and its producer saw no reason for that to change. It was not until March 12, 1894 that Coke was first sold in bottles.

Originally developed as a non-addictive substitute for morphine, then marketed as a non-alcoholic “temperance drink,” Coca-Cola was invented by John Pemberton, a druggist in Columbus, Georgia, in 1886. It was soon popular throughout the region, and the rights to the brand passed to Asa Griggs Candler. Candler’s nephew had advised him that selling the drink in bottles could greatly increase sales, but Griggs apparently wasn’t interested. The first person to bottle Coke was Joseph A. Biedenharn, owner of a candy store in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Correctly determining that bottles could boost sales, Biedenharn put the drink into Hutchinson bottles, a common and reusable glass bottle that bore no resemblance to the modern Coke bottle. He sent Candler a case, but Candler continued to stick with fountain sales.

Five years later, Candler finally sold the national bottling rights to Coke—excluding the right to bottle it in Vicksburg—to two brothers from Chattanooga. Still convinced that bottling would not be a major source of revenue, Candler sold the bottling rights for a dollar and reportedly never collected even that. The contract stipulated that a bottle of Coke would cost 5 cents and had no end date, a legal oversight that resulted in the price remaining the same until 1959. In 1915, the bottlers put out a call for a new design, one so distinctive that one could recognize it if it were in pieces on the ground or by feeling it in the dark. The winning design, produced by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, gave the world the iconic contoured bottle we know today.

READ MORE: How the ‘Blood Feud’ Between Coke and Pepsi Escalated During the 1980s Cola Wars

Source

Russian Bolshevik Party becomes the Communist Party


Year
1918
Month Day
March 09

On March 9, 1918, the ascendant Bolshevik Party formally changes its name to the All-Russian Communist Party. It was neither the first nor the last time the party would alter its name to reflect a slight change in allegiance or direction; however, it was the birth of the Communist Party as it is remembered to history. With this change, the cadre that had brought down both Czar Nicolas II and the Provisional Government that followed his abdication announced itself to the world as a communist government, and it would unilaterally rule the emerging Union of Soviet Socialists Republics until 1991.

The Bolsheviks—Russian for “members of the majority”—had been the more aggressive faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, pushing for a more militant membership and explicitly endorsing the nationalization of land. Despite the exile of their leader, Vladimir Lenin, the Bolsheviks supplied much of the manpower and intellectual fervor behind the February Revolution of 1917, which forced the abdication of the czar. As workers across the country organized themselves into political units known as soviets, the Bolsheviks’ support was more fervent and more widespread than that of the Provisional Government, which they eyed with distrust. Acting through the Petrograd Soviet, the Bolsheviks rose against this government in the October Revolution, quickly seizing the Winter Palace and arresting most of the cabinet.

As revolution spread throughout Russia, the Bolsheviks acted quickly. They withdrew Russia from World War I, the stresses of which are often cited as a major cause of the revolution. They also began seizing and redistributing imperial lands. By early 1918, factories had been turned over the soviets, private property had officially been abolished, and Russia had become the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, soon to be the largest constituent republic of the USSR. It was a stunning victory for Lenin, the forces of Russian socialism, and Marxists around the world. In keeping with the Marxist axiom that communism would inevitably replace capitalism by means of socialism, the Bolshevik Party rebranded as the Communist Party.

READ MORE: How Are Socialism and Communism Different?

For the rest of the Soviet Union’s existence, the leadership of the party and the leadership of the nation were one and the same. Under this leadership, the USSR became one of the two great economic and military powers of the world, sacrificing more of its people than all other Allied nations combined in World War II and emerging as the only serious competitor to the American juggernaut. Communist rule was notorious for authoritarian rule, the imprisonment of political dissidents, and the stifling of dissent, particularly under Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin

Source

Walter Cronkite signs off as anchorman of “CBS Evening News”


Year
1981
Month Day
March 06

On March 6, 1981, CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite signs off with his trademark valediction, “And that’s the way it is,” for the final time. Over the previous 19 years, Cronkite had established himself not only as the nation’s leading newsman but as “the most trusted man in America,” a steady presence during two decades of social and political upheaval.

Cronkite had reported from the European front in World War II and anchored CBS’ coverage of the 1952 and 1956 elections, as well as the 1960 Olympics. He took over as the network’s premier news anchor in April of 1962, just in time to cover the most dramatic events of the 1960s. The Cuban Missile Crisis came six months into his tenure, and a year later Cronkite would break the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. The footage of Cronkite removing his glasses and composing himself as he read the official AP report of Kennedy’s death, which he did 38 minutes after the president was pronounced dead in Dallas, is one of the most enduring images of one of the most traumatic days in American history. Cronkite would cover the other assassinations that rocked the country over the coming years, including those of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and John Lennon. He also reported on some of the most uplifting moments of the era, most famously the Moon Landing in 1969.

In 1968, at the invitation of the U.S. military, Cronkite traveled to Vietnam. In a televised special on the war, he said, “it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate.” “Uncle Walter” was already a household name and one of the most respected men in the country, and his pronouncement that the war was un-winnable is said to have contributed to President Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for re-election in 1968. Moments like these led to the perception that Cronkite was more straightforward with the American people than their own elected leaders, an attitude reflected in a 1972 poll that named him the most trusted person in the country. The next few years saw the unfolding of the Watergate Scandal, which further degraded public confidence in Washington and which Cronkite followed closely.

Cronkite relinquished the anchor’s chair at the age of 65 because CBS mandated that its employees retire at that age. He remained in public life for many years, writing a syndicated column and regularly hosting the Kennedy Center Honors. His replacement, Dan Rather, would hold the job even longer than Cronkite, anchoring the Evening News until 2005. Nonetheless, due both to his near-universally recognized credibility and to the century-defining events he reported to the nation, Cronkite remains a singular figure, quite possibly the most respected television news journalist in American history. He died in 2009. 

Source