This Month in History: February


February 1, 1960: Four African-American students sit down at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., and refuse to leave upon being denied service.  This is repeated for several days, with protests spreading to other southern states, and over 1,600 people are arrested for participating in sit-ins.

February 3, 1870: The 15th and 16th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution are ratified, guaranteeing the right for all citizens to vote regardless of race, color or previous degree of servitude, and granting Congress the authority to collect income tax, respectively.  

February 7, 1812: Victorian novelist Charles Dickens is born in Landport, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.  

February 11, 1990: Nelson Mandela, leader of the South African movement to end apartheid, is released after 27 years in prison.  He is elected president of South Africa four years later.

February 14: Valentine’s Day is celebrated, and is the second-greatest card-buying holiday after Christmas.  The holiday may be named for the third-century Roman St. Valentine, who performed secret marriages for young lovers after marriage is outlawed for young men by Emperor Claudius II, who thought that single men made better soldiers.  

February 15, 1950: The feature film “Cinderella”, produced by Walt Disney, is released by RKO Radio Pictures.

February 21, 1925: The magazine The New Yorker debuts, founded by Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant, a New York Times reporter.  

February 21, 1965: African-American nationalist and religious leader Malcolm X is assassinated while addressing his Organization for Afro-American Unity in Washington Heights, New York City, N.Y.  

February 23, 1868: W.E.B. Du Bois, an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor, is born in Great Barrington, Mass.

February 26, 1970: National Public Radio (NPR) is founded in Washington, D.C., following Congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.

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