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1964 King wins Nobel Peace Prize

African American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. At 35 years of age, the Georgia-born minister was the youngest person ever to receive the award.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta in 1929, the son of a Baptist minister. He received a doctorate degree in theology and in 1955 organized the first major protest of the civil rights movement: the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. Influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, he advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to racial segregation. The peaceful protests he led throughout the American South were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted, and their nonviolent movement gained momentum.

A powerful orator, he appealed to Christian and American ideals and won growing support from the federal government and northern whites. In 1963, he led his massive March on Washington, in which he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” address. In 1964, the civil rights movement achieved two of its greatest successes: the ratification of the 24th Amendment, which abolished the poll tax, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public facilities. In October of that year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He donated the prize money, valued at $54,600, to the civil rights movement.

In the late 1960s, King openly criticized U.S. involvement in Vietnam and turned his efforts to winning economic rights for poor Americans. By that time, the civil rights movement had begun to fracture, with activists such as Stokely Carmichael rejecting King’s vision of nonviolent integration in favor of African American self-reliance and self-defense. In 1968, King intended to revive his movement through an interracial “Poor People’s March” on Washington, but on April 4 he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by escaped white convict James Earl Ray, just a few weeks before the demonstration was scheduled to begin.

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General Interest

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Music

1957

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General Interest

1912

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General Interest

1066

The Battle of Hastings

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General Interest

1964

King wins Nobel Peace Prize

African American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. At 35 years of age, the Georgia-born minister was the youngest person ever to receive the award.Martin Luther King, …read more

Vietnam War1968U.S. servicemen sent to Vietnam for second toursU.S. Defense Department officials announce that the Army and Marines will be sending about 24,000 men back to Vietnam for involuntary second tours because of the length of the war, high turnover of personnel resulting from the one year of duty, and the tight supply of experienced …read more

Vietnam War

1964

Khrushchev ousted as premier of Soviet Union

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2003

Steve Bartman catches ball

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Dwight D. Eisenhower is born

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Ralph Lauren, designer of popular western-style clothing, is born in New York

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1822

Victor Hugo marries Adele Foucher

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Pulp Fiction debuts

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Disaster

1913

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Trial begins in Amityville murders

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Cold War

1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis begins

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Civil War

1863

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Automotive

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Elwood Haynes, “Grandsire of Gasoline Cars,” is born

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American Revolution

1780

Patriots sting Loyalists at Shallow Ford, North Carolina

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More History

When Sexual Assaults Made History

Incidents of sexual violence have long been a brutal part of the human story. Sometimes they’ve changed the course of history.

Nearly as long as people have been recording history, they have documented sexual assaults. From the writings of ancient Greece to the Bible to the letters of early explorers, sexual violence has long been a brutal part of the human story. Some assaults have even changed the course of history. And, like all history, what we know about sexual assaults of the past is generally what was told by the victors—mostly men.

“Women are erased,” says Sharon Block, professor of history at University of California, Irvine and the author of Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America. “The historic rapes that ‘mattered’ are the only ones where men saw themselves damaged.”

Wars, especially, have been linked to egregious sexual assaults, from mass rape committed by Soviet soldiers as they advanced into Germany during World War II to sexual violence amid the genocides in Rwanda in 1995. In fact, the ubiquity of sexual assault in wars makes those crimes a category unto themselves.

With the understanding that no list could ever be comprehensive, below are sexual assaults that have both influenced history and those that, notably, did not.

4. Columbus and slavery

Christopher Columbus receiving a Native American girl as a gift.

Christopher Columbus receiving a Native American girl as a gift.

Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images

When Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus voyaged to the Caribbean in the 1490s, he not only discovered new lands, at least one of his men would document his own rape and torture of an indigenous woman. Michele de Cuneo, a noble friend of Columbus, tells of a “Carib woman” given to him by the admiral. When she fought back against his attempted sexual attacks, he “took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly…finally we came to an agreement in such manner that I can tell you she seemed to have been brought up in a school for harlots.” Columbus’ ships would eventually sail back to Europe, carrying more than 1,000 slaves.

7. ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself.’

Harriet Jacobs, circa 1894.

Harriet Jacobs, circa 1894.

Public Domain

It is impossible to estimate the number of enslaved women of color assaulted by slave owners in the colonies and the United States before the end of the Civil War. What is clear is that such instances were common and wouldn’t have been considered “assault.” As early as 1662, Virginia’s governing body, the House of Burgesses, instituted rules addressing children born of enslaved women wherein the father might be a white (free) man: “If mother (whatever her racial background, whether Indian, black, or mixed) is a slave, child is a slave—no matter who the father might be,” says Peter Wallenstein, author of Cradle of America: A History of Virginia. Surviving stories of such assaults only came from escaped or freed slaves, who managed to record them. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself by Harriet Jacobs is an example. The father of two of her enslaved children, Samuel Treadwell Sawyer, was elected to Congress.

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