Today in History

September 20, 2021 GMT

Today in History

Today is Monday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2021. There are 102 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Sept. 20, 2001, during an address to a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush announced a new Cabinet-level office to fortify homeland security and named Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge its director.

On this date:

In 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew set out from Spain on five ships to find a western passage to the Spice Islands. (Magellan was killed enroute, but one of his ships eventually circled the world.)

In 1881, Chester A. Arthur was sworn in as the 21st president of the United States, succeeding the assassinated James A. Garfield.

In 1946, the first Cannes Film Festival, lasting 16 days, opened in France.

In 1962, James Meredith, a Black student, was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Democratic Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was later admitted.)


In 1967, the Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 was christened by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in Clydebank, Scotland.

In 1973, in their so-called “battle of the sexes,” tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.

In 1976, Playboy magazine released an interview in which Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter admitted he’d “looked on a lot of women with lust.”

In 1984, a suicide car bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy annex in north Beirut, killing at least 14 people, including two Americans and 12 Lebanese. The family sitcoms “The Cosby Show” and “Who’s the Boss?” premiered on NBC and ABC, respectively.

In 1995, in a move that stunned Wall Street, AT&T Corporation announced it was splitting into three companies.

In 2000, Independent Counsel Robert Ray announced the end of the Whitewater investigation, saying there was insufficient evidence to warrant charges against President and Mrs. Clinton.

In 2004, CBS News apologized for a “mistake in judgment” in its story questioning President George W. Bush’s National Guard service, saying it could not vouch for the authenticity of documents featured in the report.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years, struck the island, wiping out as much as 75 percent of the power distribution lines and causing an island-wide blackout.

Ten years ago: Repeal of the U.S. military’s 18-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise took effect, allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve openly. A suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy assassinated former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani (boor-HAHN’-uh-deen ruh-BAH’-nee).


Five years ago: In their final speeches at the annual gathering of world leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon railed against leaders who kept “feeding the war machine” in Syria, while U.S. President Barack Obama said there was no military solution to the five-year conflict. A Black police officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott, a Black man, at a Charlotte, North Carolina, apartment complex, prompting days of civil unrest. (Charlotte-Mecklenburg police later said that the shooting was justified.)

One year ago: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the Republican effort to approve a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election was an “abuse of power”; he said voters should pick the president who would pick the justice. (Amy Coney Barrett would be confirmed days before the election.) “Schitt’s Creek,” a Canadian show about a fish-out-of-water family, made history at the Emmy Awards by sweeping the comedy categories; the virtual awards ceremony included remote links to 100-plus nominees. Byron DeChambeau closed with a 3-under-par 67 for a six-shot victory over Matthew Wolff in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, on a course so tough that no one else broke par. Tour de France rookie Tadej Pogacar won cycling’s showpiece race on the eve of his 22nd birthday.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Sophia Loren is 87. Rock musician Chuck Panozzo is 73. Actor Tony Denison is 72. Hockey Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur is 70. Actor Debbi Morgan is 70. Jazz musician Peter White is 67. Actor Betsy Brantley is 66. Actor Gary Cole is 65. TV news correspondent Deborah Roberts is 61. Country-rock musician Joseph Shreve (Flynnville Train) is 60. Rock musician Randy Bradbury (Pennywise) is 57. Actor Kristen Johnston is 54. Rock singers Gunnar and Matthew Nelson are 54. Rock musician Ben Shepherd is 53. Actor Enuka Okuma is 49. Actor-model Moon Bloodgood is 46. Actor Jon Bernthal is 45. Singer The-Dream is 44. Actor Charlie Weber is 43. Rock musician Rick Woolstenhulme (WOOL’-sten-hyoolm) (Lifehouse) is 42. Rapper Yung Joc is 41. Actor Crystle Stewart is 40. Actor Aldis Hodge is 35. Rock drummer Jack Lawless is 34. Actor Malachi (MAL’-ah-ky) Kirby is 32.