Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a Black man, died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe; Floyd’s death, captured on video by a bystander, would lead to worldwide protests, some of which turned violent, and a reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.
On this date:
In 1787, the Constitutional Convention began at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia after enough delegates had shown up for a quorum.
In 1935, Babe Ruth hit his last three career home runs — Nos. 712, 713 and 714 — for the Boston Braves in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (The Pirates won, 11-7.)
In 1946, Transjordan (now Jordan) became a kingdom as it proclaimed its new monarch, Abdullah I.
In 1959, the U.S. Supreme Court, in State Athletic Commission v. Dorsey, struck down a Louisiana law prohibiting interracial boxing matches. (The case had been brought by Joseph Dorsey Jr., a Black professional boxer.)
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy told Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, ordered the Virginia county to reopen its public schools, which officials had closed in an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka desegregation ruling.
In 1965, Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in the first round of their world heavyweight title rematch in Lewiston, Maine. (Ali’s victory generated controversy over whether he’d truly connected when he sent Liston crashing to the canvas with a right to the head, or whether it was a “phantom punch,” implying that the fight had been fixed.)
In 1977, the first “Star Wars” film (later retitled “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”) was released by 20th Century Fox.
In 1979, 273 people died when an American Airlines DC-10 crashed just after takeoff from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Six-year-old Etan Patz (AY’-tahn payts) disappeared while on his way to a school bus stop in lower Manhattan. (In April 2017, former store clerk Pedro Hernandez, convicted of killing Etan, was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.)
In 1992, Jay Leno made his debut as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” succeeding Johnny Carson.
In 2008, NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander arrived on the Red Planet to begin searching for evidence of water; the spacecraft confirmed the presence of water ice at its landing site.
In 2018, Harvey Weinstein was charged in New York with rape and another sex felony in the first prosecution to result from the wave of allegations against him; the once-powerful movie producer turned himself in to face the charges and was released on $1 million bail after a court appearance. (Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault; he is serving a 23-year prison sentence.)
Ten years ago: A judge in Salt Lake City sentenced street preacher Brian David Mitchell to life in prison for kidnapping and raping Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 at the time of her abduction in 2002. A judge in Tucson, Arizona, ruled that Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of wounding U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six in a shooting rampage, was mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Five years ago: President Barack Obama wrapped up his historic visit to Vietnam before heading to Japan, the site of a two-day summit of wealthy nations. It was announced that about a dozen states were suing the Obama administration over its directive to U.S. public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identity. (A federal judge put the directive on hold after the suit was filed; the Trump administration lifted the Obama guidelines in February 2017.) Actor Johnny Depp’s wife, Amber Heard, filed for divorce in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences after 15 months of marriage.
One year ago: President Donald Trump threatened to pull the Republican National Convention from North Carolina if the state’s Democratic governor would not agree to allow a full-capacity gathering. (Charlotte would host a scaled-back portion of events; prime-time speeches were delivered from Washington and elsewhere to a largely virtual audience.) Trump made Memorial Day visits to Arlington National Cemetery and Baltimore’s Fort McHenry; Democrat Joe Biden chose Memorial Day to make his first public appearance in two months; he placed a wreath at a park near his Delaware home. Americans observed Memorial Day with small processions and online tributes that also remembered those lost to the coronavirus. A white woman, Amy Cooper, called 911 to claim she was being threatened by “an African American man,” Christian Cooper, who had confronted her for walking her dog without a leash in New York’s Central Park. (After a video of the confrontation was widely circulated, Amy Cooper lost her job with investment firm Franklin Templeton and was charged with filing a false police report; the charge was dismissed after she completed a counseling program.)
Today’s Birthdays: Actor Ann Robinson is 92. Former White House news secretary Ron Nessen is 87. Country singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall is 85. Actor Sir Ian McKellen is 82. Country singer Jessi Colter is 78. Actor-singer Leslie Uggams is 78. Movie director and Muppeteer Frank Oz is 77. Actor Karen Valentine is 74. Actor Jacki Weaver is 74.
Rock singer Klaus Meine (The Scorpions) is 73. Actor Patti D’Arbanville is 70. Playwright Eve Ensler is 68. Musician Cindy Cashdollar is 66. Actor Connie Sellecca is 66. Rock singer-musician Paul Weller is 63. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is 61. Actor-comedian Mike Myers is 58. Actor Matt Borlenghi is 54. Actor Joseph Reitman is 53. Rock musician Glen Drover is 52. Actor Anne Heche (haych) is 52. Actors Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush (TV: “Little House on the Prairie”) are 51. Actor-comedian Jamie Kennedy is 51. Actor Octavia Spencer is 51. Actor Justin Henry is 50. Rapper Daz Dillinger is 48. Actor Molly Sims is 48. Actor Erinn Hayes is 45. Actor Cillian Murphy is 45. Actor Ethan Suplee (soo-PLEE’) is 45. Rock musician Todd Whitener is 43. Actor Corbin Allred is 42. Actor-singer Lauren Frost is 36. Actor Ebonee (cq) Noel is 31. Musician Guy Lawrence (Disclosure) is 30. Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman is 27.