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Today in History: May 9, Nelson Mandela chosen to lead South Africa

Today in History

Today is Thursday, May 9, the 130th day of 2024. There are 236 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On May 9, 1994, South Africa's newly elected parliament chose Nelson Mandela to be the country's first Black president.

On this date:

In 1860, writer J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson, acting on a joint congressional resolution, signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

In 1945, with World War II in Europe at an end, Soviet forces liberated Czechoslovakia from Nazi occupation. U.S. officials announced that a midnight entertainment curfew was being lifted immediately.

In 1951, the U.S. conducted its first thermonuclear experiment as part of Operation Greenhouse by detonating a 225-kiloton device on Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific nicknamed "George."

In 1962, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology succeeded in reflecting a laser beam off the surface of the moon.

In 1965, Russian-born American pianist Vladimir Horowitz performed publicly for the first time in 12 years with a recital at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon made a surprise and impromptu pre-dawn visit to the Lincoln Memorial, where he chatted with a group of protesters who'd been resting on the Memorial steps after protests against the Vietnam War and the Kent State shootings.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee opened public hearings on whether to recommend the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. (The committee ended up adopting three articles of impeachment against the president, who resigned before the full House took up any of them.)

In 1980, 35 people were killed when a freighter rammed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay in Florida, causing a 1,400-foot section of the southbound span to collapse.

In 2016, Filipinos went to the polls to elect Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial, tough-talking mayor of Davao city, to be their country's next president.

In 2019, Pope Francis issued a groundbreaking new church law requiring all Catholic priests and nuns to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities.

In 2020, Rock 'n' roll pioneer Little Richard, known for his piercing wail, pounding piano and towering pompadour, died in Tennessee at the age of 87 after battling bone cancer; he had helped shatter the color line on the music charts while introducing Black R&B to white America.

Today's Birthdays: Actor-writer Alan Bennett is 90. Producer-director James L. Brooks is 87. Musician Sonny Curtis (Buddy Holly and the Crickets) is 87. Singer Tommy Roe is 82. Singer-musician Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield and Poco) is 80. Actor Candice Bergen is 78. Pop singer Clint Holmes is 78. Actor Anthony Higgins is 77. Singer Billy Joel is 75. Blues singer-musician Bob Margolin is 75. Rock singer-musician Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick) is 74. Actor Alley Mills is 73. Actor Amy Hill is 71. Actor Wendy Crewson is 68. Actor John Corbett is 63. Singer Dave Gahan (GAHN) (Depeche Mode) is 62. Actor Sonja Sohn is 60. Rapper Ghostface Killah is 54. Actor Chris Diamantopoulos (dy-uh-MAN'-toh-POO'-lehs) is 49. R&B singer Tamia (tuh-MEE'-ah) is 49. Actor Daniel Franzese is 46. Rock singer Pierre Bouvier (Simple Plan) is 45. Actor Rosario Dawson is 45. Rock singer Andrew W.K. is 45. Actor Rachel Boston is 42. TV personality Audrina Patridge is 39. Actor Grace Gummer is 38.