1. 1955: Rosa Parks takes a stand
It was on this historical date in 1955 that Rosa Parks took a stand, or better yet refused to stand, which started a movement that would eventually lead to the end of segregation in the United States. Rosa was riding the city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, which at the time was segregated as only whites could sit in the front of the bus and African Americans had a small section in the back. But even when sitting in their designated section, if a white person came along they were obligated to give up their seat. According to reports, Rosa was actually sitting in the front row of the section she was supposed to be in when a white man came along and requested that she give up her seat and move to the back of the bus, she refused. She was actually arrested because of her historical act of civil disobedience. A young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King Jr. followed in her footsteps and successfully organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
2. 1990: The Chunnel breakthrough
It was on this date in 1990 that Great Britain and the European mainland were connected for the first time in more than 8,000 years when the final breakthrough of the now famous “Chunnel” was completed. In the four years leading up to that moment, more than 13,000 workers divided into two different crews dug more than 95 miles worth of tunnel under the English Channel. One crew started in the U.K. and the other in France, and it was on this date the two were connected. It was a major achievement of modern engineering that took an estimated $15 billion to complete the entire project. The two crews celebrated by swapping flags from each nation as well as champagne. But as much as they wanted to celebrate, they also had a lot more work to do. The final stages of construction took another four years and the “Chunnel” finally opened for service in May of 1994.
3. 1940: The legendary comedian Richard Prior was born
One of the most legendary comedians of all time was born on this date in 1940. He starred in so many hit films from the 1970’s and ’80s that it’s hard to count, but films like Stir Crazy, The Toy, and Brewsters Millions are some of my personal favorites. But his real claim to fame was his stand-up comedy that originally made him a star in the first place. He wasn’t afraid to say whatever was on his mind, no matter how personal or controversial the topic might’ve been. Many people feel as if Pryor was the comedian that “emancipated African-American humor” because he was willing to use jokes that were normally only used in African-American clubs, no matter who or what color his audience was. Over his lifetime, Pryor had many ups and downs, he has married a total of six times so that should give you some sort of indication, but it was a happy life. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986 that plagued him the remainder of his life. He passed away in December of 2005 after suffering from a massive heart attack.