Today’s Highlight in History
On May 17, 1954: A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision which held that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal, and therefore unconstitutional.
On this date
In 1536: Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of England’s King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn invalid after she failed to produce a male heir; Boleyn, already condemned for high treason, was executed two days later.
In 1940: The Nazis occupied Brussels, Belgium, during World War II.
In 1946: President Harry S. Truman seized control of the nation’s railroads, delaying — but not preventing — a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.
In 1973: A special committee convened by the U.S. Senate began its televised hearings into the Watergate scandal.
In 1980: Rioting that claimed 18 lives erupted in Miami’s Liberty City after an all-white jury in Tampa acquitted four former Miami police officers of fatally beating Black insurance executive Arthur McDuffie.
In 1987: 37 American sailors were killed when an Iraqi warplane attacked the U.S. Navy frigate Stark in the Persian Gulf. (Iraq apologized for the attack, calling it a mistake, and paid more than $27 million in compensation.)
In 1996: President Bill Clinton signed a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. (“Megan’s Law,” as it’s known, was named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered in 1994.)
In 2004: Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriages.
In 2010: The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that young people serving life prison terms should have “a meaningful opportunity to obtain release” provided they didn’t kill their victims.
In 2015: A shootout erupted between bikers and police outside a restaurant in Waco, Texas, leaving nine of the bikers dead and 20 people injured.
In 2017: The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.
In 2020: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was tested for the coronavirus on live TV as he announced that all people in the state who were experiencing flu-like symptoms were eligible for tests.
Ten years ago: The ousted head of the Internal Revenue Service, Steven Miller, faced hours of intense grilling before Congress; both defiant and apologetic, Miller acknowledged agency mistakes in targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, but insisted that agents broke no laws and that there was no effort to cover up their actions. Jorge Rafael Videla (HOHR’-hay rah-fay-EHL’ vih-DEH’-lah), 87, the former dictator who took power in Argentina in a 1976 coup and led a military junta that killed thousands during a “dirty war” against alleged subversives, died in Buenos Aires while serving life in prison for crimes against humanity.
Five years ago: With six Democrats joining Republicans in voting to confirm her, Gina Haspel won Senate confirmation to become director of the CIA. The Miss America Organization announced that it would now have women in its three top leadership positions, after an email scandal in which male officials were caught making vulgar and insulting comments about past winners.
One year ago: President Joe Biden condemned the poison of white supremacy and said the nation must “reject the lie” of the racist “replacement theory” espoused by a shooter who killed 10 Black people in Buffalo, N.Y. Mariupol appeared on the verge of falling to the Russians as Ukraine moved to abandon the steel plant where hundreds of its fighters held out for months under relentless bombardment in the last bastion of resistance in the devastated city. Baltimore Orioles pitcher Matt Harvey was suspended for 60 games by Major League Baseball for distributing a prohibited drug of abuse.