Today’s Highlight in History:
On June 7, 1998, in a crime that shocked the nation, James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old black man, was hooked by a chain to a pickup truck and dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas. (Two white men were later sentenced to death; one of them, Lawrence Russell Brewer, was executed in 2011 and the other, John William King, was executed in April, 2019. A third defendant received life with the possibility of parole.)
On this date:
In 1712, Pennsylvania’s colonial assembly voted to ban the further importation of slaves.
In 1769, frontiersman Daniel Boone first began to explore present-day Kentucky.
In 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia offered a resolution to the Continental Congress stating “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”
In 1848, French painter and sculptor Paul Gauguin was born in Paris.
In 1892, Homer Plessy, a “Creole of color,” was arrested for refusing to leave a whites-only car of the East Louisiana Railroad. (Ruling on his case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld “separate but equal” racial segregation, a concept it renounced in 1954.)
In 1948, the Communists completed their takeover of Czechoslovakia with the resignation of President Edvard Benes (BEH’-nesh).
In 1958, singer-songwriter Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson in Minneapolis.
In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, struck down, 7-2, a Connecticut law used to prosecute a Planned Parenthood clinic in New Haven for providing contraceptives to married couples.
In 1977, Britons thronged London to celebrate the silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who was marking the 25th year of her reign.
In 1981, Israeli military planes destroyed a nuclear power plant in Iraq, a facility the Israelis charged could have been used to make nuclear weapons.
In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that religious groups could sometimes meet on school property after hours. Ground was broken for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
In 2004, a steady, near-silent stream of people circled through the rotunda of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, where the body of the nation’s 40th president lay in repose before traveling to Washington two days later for a state funeral.
Ten years ago: Extreme-right parties gained in European Parliament elections, including the first seats won by the all-white British National Party. Roger Federer completed a career Grand Slam, winning his first French Open title by sweeping surprise finalist Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4. The British musical “Billy Elliot” won 10 Tony Awards, including best musical and a unique best actor prize for the three young performers who shared the title character: David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish.
Five years ago: Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan was critically injured when a Walmart tractor-trailer rammed into his chauffeured limousine bus on the New Jersey Turnpike, setting off a chain-reaction crash that killed fellow comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair. Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, took the oath of office, calling for pro-Russian rebels in the country’s east to lay down their arms. Maria Sharapova won her second French Open title in three years, beating fourth-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 in the final. California Chrome failed in his bid to win the first Triple Crown in 36 years, losing the Belmont Stakes by coming in fourth to long shot Tonalist.
One year ago: The Trump administration said in a court filing that it would no longer defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, including provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any medical conditions; it was a rare departure from the Justice Department’s practice of defending federal laws in court. In advance of a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump declared that “attitude” is more important than preparation. A government report found that suicide rates inched up in nearly every U.S. state from 1999 through 2016. The Washington Capitals claimed their first NHL title with a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas.
Today’s Birthdays: Movie director James Ivory is 91. Former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner is 90. Actress Virginia McKenna is 88. Singer Tom Jones is 79. Actor Ronald Pickup is 79. Poet Nikki Giovanni is 76. Actor Ken Osmond (TV: “Leave It to Beaver”) is 76. Former talk show host Jenny Jones is 73. Americana singer-songwriter Willie Nile is 71. Actress Anne Twomey is 68. Actor Liam Neeson is 67. Actress Colleen Camp is 66. Singer-songwriter Johnny Clegg is 66. Author Louise Erdrich (UR’-drihk) is 65. Actor William Forsythe is 64. Record producer L.A. Reid is 63. Latin pop singer Juan Luis Guerra is 62. Vice President Mike Pence is 60. Rock singer-musician Gordon Gano (The Violent Femmes) is 56. Rapper Ecstasy (Whodini) is 55. Rock musician Eric Kretz (Stone Temple Pilots) is 53. Rock musician Dave Navarro is 52. Actress Helen Baxendale is 49. Actor Karl Urban is 47. TV personality Bear Grylls is 45. Rock musician Eric Johnson (The Shins) is 43. Actress Adrienne Frantz is 41. Actor-comedian Bill Hader is 41. Actress Anna Torv is 40. Actress Larisa Oleynik (oh-LAY’-nihk) is 38. Former tennis player Anna Kournikova is 38. Actor Michael Cera is 31. Actress Shelley Buckner is 30. Rapper Iggy Azalea is 29. Actress-model Emily Ratajkowski is 28. Rapper Fetty Wap is 28.
Thought for Today: “That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: ‘Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.’” — Dorothy Parker, American writer (born 1893, died this date in 1967).