This Day in History — March 21
1965: More than 3,000 civil rights demonstrators led by the Rev Martin Luther King Jr begin a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
1500: French garrison in Novara, Italy, capitulates to forces of Ludovico Sforza of Milan.
1801: French forces are defeated at Alexandria, Egypt, by British under Ralph Abercromby, who is mortally wounded.
1829: Earthquake in Spain kills 6,000.
1831: Austrian troops enter Italy to put down revolt.
1848: Denmark’s Frederick VII announces decision to incorporate Schleswig.
1871: Journalist Henry M Stanley begins his famous expedition to Africa to locate the missing Scottish missionary David Livingstone.
1884: France legalises trade unions.
1905: Britain and Persia sign agreement to counter Russian designs in Near East.
1919: Soviet Republic is proclaimed.
1939: Germany annexes Memel from Lithuania.
1945: After bombing the Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen, British RAF planes mistakenly bomb the French School killing 86 children and 10 nuns.
1946: The United Nations sets up temporary headquarters at Hunter College in New York City.
1953: Sudan achieves self-government.
1960: Pan-African demonstration against pass laws in South Africa leads to shooting and killing 60 blacks in Sharpeville. A state of emergency is declared.
1963: Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay is emptied of its last inmates at the order of Attorney General Robert F Kennedy.
1975: Military government in Ethiopia abolishes royal position of Emperor.
1977: India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi resigns after losing her seat in parliamentary elections.
1985: Police in Langa, South Africa, open fire on black protesters marching to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville shootings, killing at least 21 demonstrators.
1988: Jordan’s King Hussein calls on Muslim world to support Palestinian unrest in Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
1990: Clashes between ethnic Hungarians and Romanians in Tirgu Mures, Transylvania, Romania, leave six dead.
1991: A Saudi transport plane trying to land in bad weather and heavy smoke from burning Kuwaiti oil wells crashes, killing 92 Senegalese soldiers and six Saudi crew members.
1993: El Salvador’s Congress approves amnesty for people accused of civil war atrocities.
1996: Russian forces launch air and artillery attacks on villages in western Chechnya.
1997: US President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin hold summit in Helsinki, Finland, and agree to slash their nuclear arsenals.
1999: Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov escapes an assassination attempt when a remote-controlled mine explodes near his motorcade. One person is killed and eight are injured.
2002: Pope John Paul II releases his first statement addressing the large number of recent cases of sexual abuse of minors by members of the Roman Catholic clergy. He denounces the priests saying they betrayed their vows and succumbed to evil.
2003: South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), set up in 1995 to investigate human rights abuses during the apartheid system of white-minority rule, urges the government to pay US$270 million (euro 201.25 million) to some 20,000 victims who testified about atrocities suffered under apartheid.
2005: Secretary General Kofi Annan unveils a plan to overhaul the United Nations and immediately begins the task of selling his vision to all 191 UN member states, urging them to make the proposals a reality when they meet again in six months.
2006: Thousands of protesters seeking the resignation of Thailand’s prime minister march through Bangkok’s business district.
2007: Somali insurgents drag the corpses of four Somali soldiers and two of their Ethiopian allies through the streets of Mogadishu and set the bodies on fire, drawing crowds who throw stones and kick the bodies as violence rages throughout the capital.
2008: A journalist for state-run Russian television is found dead in Moscow and prosecutors open a murder investigation. Firefighters find Channel One correspondent Ilyas Shurpayev’s body in his apartment with stab wounds and a belt around his neck.
2009: Hungary’s prime minister stuns the country by announcing his resignation because he had become an “obstacle” to reforms needed to pull the country out of its worst financial crisis since the end of communism 20 years ago.
2010: Thirteen Afghan civilians die in violence as the nation’s hard-line vice-president expresses hopes for reconciliation and representatives of a militant group with ties to the Taliban bring their own draft of a peace deal to the capital.
2011: Officials race to restore electricity to Japan’s leaking nuclear plant, but getting the power flowing will hardly be the end of their battle: With its mangled machinery and partly melted reactor cores, bringing the complex under control is a monstrous job. Syrians chanting “No more fear!” hold a defiant march after a deadly government crackdown failed to quash three days of mass protests in the southern city of Deraa — an extraordinary outpouring in a country that is known for brutally suppressing dissent.
2012: Britain’s finance minister cuts the rate of income tax for the country’s wealthiest citizens but imposes a raft of measures to prevent tax avoidance and a hefty new charge on expensive property sales in an attempt to spread the burden of austerity across the UK’s taxpayers.
Johann Sebastian Bach, German composer (1685-1750); Frederick Richter (Jean Paul), German author (1763-1825); Benito Juarez, Mexican president (1806-1872); King Ghazi of Iraq (1912-1939); Timothy Dalton, Welsh actor (1944- ); Gary Oldman, US actor (1958- ); Rosie O’Donnell, US comedian/former talk show host (1962- )