1964 — By a vote of 290-130, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited any state or local government or public facility from denying access to anyone because of race or ethnic origin. It also provided the U.S. attorney general with the power to bring school desegregation lawsuits. The federal government was allowed to stop giving federal funds to companies or states that discriminated. The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, 1964.
1971 — Bill White, the former first baseman and five-time All-Star, is recommended for the New York Yankees’ play-by-play job by broadcast/radio legend Howard Cosell. White became the first African-American broadcaster for a major league team.
1989 — Attorney Ronald Brown becomes the first African-American elected national chairman of the Democratic Party. Five years later, he was named secretary of commerce by President Bill Clinton and served in that role until he was killed, along with 34 other people, in a 1996 plane crash en route to a diplomatic mission in Croatia.
1990 — South African President F.W. de Klerk announces to parliament that Nelson Mandela would be released unconditionally on Feb. 11. The news took many by surprise. Besides Mandela, other activists were also freed. The formation of a democratic South Africa would eventually result from this action.
1992 — Author Alex Haley dies. He was well-known for his novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which traced his family’s lineage to Africa and retells the story of seven American generations.
1997 — O.J. Simpson jury reaches decision on $25 million in punitive damages.