Today in History: February 23, Mississippi grand jury declines new charges in Emmett Till killing


Today is Friday, Feb. 23, the 54th day of 2024. There are 312 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Feb. 23, 2007, a Mississippi grand jury refused to bring any new charges in the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till, the Black teenager who was beaten and shot after being accused of whistling at a white woman, declining to indict the woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, for manslaughter.

On this date:

In 1685, composer George Frideric Handel was born in present-day Germany.

In 1822, Boston was granted a charter to incorporate as a city.

In 1836, the siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington to take office, following word of a possible assassination plot in Baltimore.

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba to lease the area around Guantanamo Bay to the United States.

In 1942, the first shelling of the U.S. mainland during World War II occurred as a Japanese submarine fired on an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing little damage.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi, where they raised two American flags (the second flag-raising was captured in the iconic Associated Press photograph.)

In 1954, the first mass inoculation of schoolchildren against polio using the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh as some 5,000 students were vaccinated.

In 1998, 42 people were killed, some 2,600 homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, by tornadoes in central Florida.

In 2011, in a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

In 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was fatally shot on a residential Georgia street; a white father and son had armed themselves and pursued him after seeing him running through their neighborhood. (Greg and Travis McMichael and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted of murder, aggravated assault and other charges and were sentenced to life in prison.)

In 2021, golfer Tiger Woods was seriously injured when his SUV crashed into a median and rolled over several times on a steep road in suburban Los Angeles.

In 2023, a federal judge handed singer R. Kelly a 20-year prison sentence for his convictions of child pornography and the enticement of minors for sex but said he would serve nearly all of the sentence simultaneously with a 30-year sentence imposed a year earlier on racketeering charges.

Today’s birthdays: Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff is 81. Author John Sandford is 80. Actor Patricia Richardson is 73. Former NFL player Ed “Too Tall” Jones is 73. Rock musician Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) is 72. Singer Howard Jones is 69. Rock musician Michael Wilton (Queensryche) is 62. Country singer Dusty Drake is 60. Actor Kristin Davis is 59. Former tennis player Helena Sukova is 59. Actor Marc Price is 56. TV personality/businessman Daymond John (TV: “Shark Tank”) is 55. Actor Niecy Nash is 54. Rock musician Jeff Beres (Sister Hazel) is 53. Country singer Steve Holy is 52. Rock musician Lasse Johansson (The Cardigans) is 51. Film and theater composer Robert Lopez is 49. Actor Kelly Macdonald is 48. Rapper Residente is 46. Actor Josh Gad is 43. Actor Emily Blunt is 41. Actor Aziz Ansari is 41. Actor Tye White (TV: “Greenleaf”) is 38. Actor Dakota Fanning is 30.

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