Today is Friday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2013. There are 102 days left in the year.
On Sept. 20, 1962, James Meredith, a black student, was blocked from enrolling at the University of Mississippi by Democratic Gov. Ross R. Barnett. (Meredith was later admitted.)
On this date:
In 1519, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew set out from Spain on five ships to find a western passage to the Spice Islands. (Magellan was killed enroute, but one of his ships eventually circled the world.)
In 1870, Italian troops took control of the Papal States, leading to the unification of Italy.
In 1873, panic swept the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in the wake of railroad bond defaults and bank failures.
In 1884, the National Equal Rights Party was formed during a convention of suffragists in San Francisco; the convention nominated Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood for president.
In 1911, the British liner RMS Olympic collided with the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke off the Isle of Wight; although seriously damaged, the Olympic was able to return to Southampton under its own power.
In 1947, former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia died.
In 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. was seriously wounded during a book signing at a New York City department store when Izola Curry stabbed him in the chest. (Curry was later found mentally incompetent.)
In 1967, the Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 was christened by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in Clydebank, Scotland.
In 1973, in their so-called battle of the sexes, tennis star Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome.
In 1979, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, self-styled head of the Central African Empire, was overthrown in a French-supported coup while on a visit to Libya.
In 1980, Spectacular Bid, ridden by Bill Shoemaker, ran as the only entry in the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park in New York after three potential challengers dropped out in horse racing’s first walkover since 1949.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton announced that he was signing the Defense of Marriage Act, a bill outlawing same-sex marriages, but said it should not be used as an excuse for discrimination, violence or intimidation against gays and lesbians.
Ten years ago: Aquila al-Hashimi, a member of Iraq’s Governing Council, was shot in Baghdad; she died five days later. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi easily won re-election as head of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. A sightseeing helicopter crashed in the Grand Canyon, killing all seven on board. Five of six children riding on an all-terrain vehicle in Coffee County, Georgia, were killed when they were hit by a motorist.
Five years ago: The Bush administration asked Congress for the power to buy $700 billion in toxic assets clogging the financial system and threatening the economy as negotiations began on the largest bailout since the Great Depression. A suicide truck bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, killed 53 people, including the Czech ambassador.
One year ago: On a day when thousands of angry Pakistanis tried to make their way to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the embassy aired an ad on Pakistani TV showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing an anti-Islamic video produced in the United States. Space shuttle Endeavour landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California en route to its eventual retirement home, the California Science Center in Los Angeles.