Today’s Highlight in History:
On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in which the civil rights activist responded to a group of local clergymen who had criticized him for leading street protests; King defended his tactics, writing, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
On this date:
In 1789, President-elect George Washington left Mount Vernon, Virginia, for his inauguration in New York.
In 1889, comedian and movie director Charles Chaplin was born in London.
In 1917, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia after years of exile.
In 1945, during World War II, U.S. troops reached Nuremberg. U.S. forces invaded the Japanese island of Ie Shima (ee-eh shee-mah).
In 1947, the cargo ship Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate, blew up in the harbor in Texas City, Texas; a nearby ship, the High Flyer, which was carrying ammonium nitrate and sulfur, caught fire and exploded the following day; the blasts and fires killed nearly 600 people. At the South Carolina statehouse, financier Bernard M. Baruch declared: “Let us not be deceived — we are today in the midst of a cold war.”
In 1960, shortly before midnight, rock-and-roll performer Eddie Cochran, 21, was fatally injured in a taxi crash in Chippenham, Wiltshire, England (he died the next day).
In 1962, New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Rummel excommunicated three local Roman Catholics for fighting racial integration of parochial schools. Bob Dylan debuted his song “Blowin’ in the Wind” at Gerde’s Folk City in New York.
In 1972, Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon with astronauts John W. Young, Charles M. Duke Jr. and Ken Mattingly on board.
In 1977, Alex Haley, author of the best-seller “Roots,” visited the Gambian village of Juffure, where, he believed, his ancestor Kunte Kinte was captured as a slave in 1767.
In 1986, dispelling rumors he was dead, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (MOO’-ah-mar gah-DAH’-fee) appeared on television to condemn the U.S. raid on his country and to say that Libyans were “ready to die” defending their nation.
In 2003, the Bush administration lowered the terror alert level from orange to yellow, saying the end of heavy fighting in Iraq had diminished the threat of terrorism in the United States.
In 2007, in one of America’s worst school attacks, a college senior killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech before taking his own life.
Ten years ago: The U.S government accused Wall Street’s most powerful firm of fraud, saying Goldman Sachs & Co. had sold mortgage investments without telling buyers the securities were crafted with input from a client who was betting on them to fail. (In July 2010, Goldman agreed to pay $550 million in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but did not admit wrongdoing.)
Five years ago: U.N. Security Council members were moved to tears as a Syrian doctor, Mohamed Tennari, an eyewitness to suspected chlorine attacks on civilians in Syria, gave a graphic eyewitness account of dying children during a closed-door briefing. The NFL reinstated Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, clearing the way for him to return after missing most of the previous season while facing child abuse charges in Texas for disciplining his son with a wooden switch.
One year ago: French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral “even more beautifully,” a day after a raging fire destroyed the cathedral’s spire and roof; he said he wanted to see the renovation of the landmark completed within five years. France’s richest businessman, Bernard Arnault, and his luxury goods group LVMH pledged more than $220 million for the reconstruction of Notre Dame; other French companies pledged aid totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. U.S. health regulators halted sales of a type of surgical mesh used to repair pelvic conditions in women, after years of patients’ reports of injuries and complications. The Seattle Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson announced agreement on a $140 million, four-year extension that made him the highest-paid player in the NFL.
Today’s Birthdays: Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is 93. Actor Peter Mark Richman is 93. Singer Bobby Vinton is 85. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II is 80. Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is 73. Former Massachusetts first lady Ann Romney is 71. NFL coach Bill Belichick is 68. Rock singer and former politician Peter Garrett is 67. Actress Ellen Barkin is 66. Actor Michel Gill is 60. Rock musician Jason Scheff (Chicago) is 58. Singer Jimmy Osmond is 57. Rock singer David Pirner (Soul Asylum) is 56. Actor-comedian Martin Lawrence is 55. Actor Jon Cryer is 55. Rock musician Dan Rieser is 54. Actor Peter Billingsley is 49. Actor Lukas Haas is 44. Actress-singer Kelli O’Hara is 44. Actress Claire Foy (TV: “The Crown”) is 36. Figure skater Mirai Nagasu is 27. Actress Sadie Sink is 18.
Thought for Today: “We think too much and feel too little.” — Charles Chaplin, English actor-comedian-director (born this date in 1889, died in 1977).