Today in History

Today is Saturday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2015. There are 313 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 21, 1965, black Muslim leader and civil rights activist Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in New York by assassins identified as members of the Nation of Islam. (Three men – Talmadge X. Hayer, Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson – were convicted of murder and imprisoned; all three were eventually paroled.)

On this date:

In 1437, James I, King of Scots, was assassinated; his 6-year-old son succeeded him as James II.

In 1513, Pope Julius II, who’d commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, died nearly four months after the project was completed.

In 1613, Mikhail Romanov, 16, was unanimously chosen by Russia’s national assembly to be czar, beginning a dynasty that would last three centuries.

In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.

In 1912, the Great Fifth Ward Fire broke out in Houston, Texas; although property losses topped $3 million, no one was killed in the blaze.

In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France as German forces attacked; the French were able to prevail after 10 months of fighting.

In 1945, during the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea was sunk by kamikazes with the loss of 318 men.

In 1964, the first shipment of U.S. wheat purchased by the Soviet Union arrived in the port of Odessa.

In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.

In 1975, former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman were sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up (each ended up serving a year and a-half).

In 1989, the future president of Czechoslovakia, playwright Vaclav Havel (VATS’-lahv HAH’-vel), was convicted for his role in a banned rally and sentenced to nine months in jail (he was released in May 1989).

In 1995, Chicago adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean by balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Ten years ago: President George W. Bush, in Belgium for a NATO summit, scolded Russia for backsliding on democracy and urged Mideast allies to take difficult steps for peace. Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton wrapped up their tour of tsunami-ravaged nations with a visit to the Maldives. Israel freed 500 Palestinian prisoners in a goodwill gesture.

Five years ago: A mistaken U.S. missile attack killed 23 civilians in Afghanistan. (Four American officers were later reprimanded.) The United States stunned Canada 5-3 to advance to the Olympic men’s hockey quarterfinals in Vancouver. Bode (BOH’-dee) Miller finally captured his elusive gold medal, winning the super-combined for his third medal in three events. Spectator Susan Zimmer, 52, was killed at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler when a tire flew off a crashing dragster and struck her.

One year ago: President Barack Obama granted an audience to Tibet’s Dalai Lama over the strong objections from China that the U.S. was meddling it its affairs. Matteo Renzi formed a coalition government in Italy; at 39, he became the country’s youngest premier ever. At age 18, Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. made Alpine skiing history as the youngest ever winner of an Olympic slalom gold medal, finishing 0.53 seconds faster than Austrian Marlies Schild.

Today’s Birthdays: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is 91. Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is 88. Movie director Bob Rafelson is 82. Actor Gary Lockwood is 78. Actor-director Richard Beymer is 76. Actor Peter McEnery is 75. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is 75. Film/music company executive David Geffen is 72. Actor Alan Rickman is 69. Actress Tyne Daly is 69. Actor Anthony Daniels is 69. Tricia Nixon Cox is 69. Former Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, is 68. Rock musician Jerry Harrison (The Heads) is 66. Actress Christine Ebersole is 62. Actor William Petersen is 62. Actor Kelsey Grammer is 60. Country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter is 57. Actor Kim Coates (TV: “Sons of Anarchy”) is 57. Actor Jack Coleman is 57. Actor Christopher Atkins is 54. Rock singer Ranking Roger is 54. Actor William Baldwin is 52. Rock musician Michael Ward is 48. Actress Aunjanue Ellis is 46. Blues musician Corey Harris is 46. Country singer Eric Heatherly is 45. Rock musician Eric Wilson is 45. Rock musician Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) is 42. Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is 36. Singer Charlotte Church is 29. Actress Ashley Greene is 28. Actress Ellen Page is 28. Actor Corbin Bleu is 26. Actress Hayley Orrantia (TV: “The Goldbergs”) is 21. Actress Sophie Turner (TV: “Game of Thrones”) is 19.

Thought for Today: “You owe it to us all to get on with what you’re good at.” – W.H. Auden, Anglo-American poet (born this date in 1907, died 1973).

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