Today’s Highlight in History
On May 25, 2020: George Floyd, a Black man, was killed 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 1946: Transjordan (now Jordan) became a kingdom as it proclaimed its new monarch, Abdullah I.
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 1968: The Gateway Arch in St. Louis was dedicated by Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall.
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.
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 2011: 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.
In 2016: Actor Johnny Depp’s wife, Amber Heard, filed for divorce in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences after 15 months of marriage.
In 2020: 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.)
Ten years ago: Making his first official trip to sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that Nigeria respect human rights as it cracked down on Islamist extremists and pledged to work hard in the coming months to ease tensions between Sudan and South Sudan. A French soldier, Cedric Cordier, was wounded in the throat in a busy commercial district outside Paris; a suspect was later arrested. Marshall Lytle, 79, the original bass player for Bill Haley & His Comets, died in New Port Richey, Fla.
Five years ago: 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. A student opened fire in a classroom at a suburban Indianapolis middle school; the student was tackled and disarmed by a teacher, Jason Seaman, who was shot three times as he ended the shooting, which also seriously wounded a 13-year-old girl. President Donald Trump signed a trio of executive orders to overhaul the federal bureaucracy by making it easier to fire federal workers for poor performance and misconduct. By a two-to-one margin, voters in Ireland chose to repeal a constitutional ban on abortion.
One year ago: Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, the gunman who massacred 19 children and two teachers at an Uvalde elementary school a day earlier, warned in online messages sent minutes before the attack that he had shot his grandmother and was going to shoot up a school. Ramos was killed by police. Former reality TV star Josh Duggar was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on child pornography charges. Harold Billow, the last known survivor of a World War II POW massacre during the Battle of the Bulge, died at age 99. Johnny Depp called his ex-wife’s accusations of sexual and physical abuse “insane” as he returned to the witness stand in his libel suit against Amber Heard.