Today is Friday, Feb. 21, the 52nd day of 2014. There are 313 days left in the year.
On Feb. 21, 1965, black Muslim leader and civil rights activist Malcolm X, 39, was shot to death inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York by assassins identified as members of the Nation of Islam.
On this date:
In 1513, Pope Julius II, who had commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, died nearly four months after the project was completed.
In 1613, Mikhail Romanov, 16, was unanimously chosen by Russia’s national assembly to be czar, beginning a dynasty that would last three centuries.
In 1862, Nathaniel Gordon became the first and only American slave-trader to be executed under the U.S. Piracy Law of 1820 as he was hanged in New York.
In 1885, the Washington Monument was dedicated.
In 1916, the World War I Battle of Verdun began in France as German forces attacked; the French were able to prevail after 10 months of fighting.
In 1925, The New Yorker magazine made its debut.
In 1945, during the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea was sunk by kamikazes with the loss of 318 men.
In 1947, Edwin H. Land publicly demonstrated his Polaroid Land camera, which could produce a black-and-white photograph in 60 seconds.
In 1964, the first shipment of U.S. wheat purchased by the Soviet Union arrived in the port of Odessa.
In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon began his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrived in Beijing.
In 1989, the future president of Czechoslovakia, playwright Vaclav Havel, was convicted for his role in a banned rally and sentenced to nine months in jail (he was released in May 1989).
In 1994, Aldrich Ames, a former head of Soviet counterintelligence for the CIA, and his wife, Maria del Rosario Casas Ames, were arrested on charges of spying for the former Soviet Union and later Russia. (Ames is serving a life prison term; his wife was released after serving four years of a five-year conspiracy sentence.)
Ten years ago: International Red Cross workers visited Saddam Hussein, who was in U.S. custody in Iraq, checking his health and allowing him to write a note to his family.
Five years ago: In a last full day of talks in Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stressed American and Chinese cooperation on the economy and climate change. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to discuss the ongoing American strategic review of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
One year ago: Drew Peterson, the Chicago-area police officer who’d gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007, was sentenced to 38 years in prison for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.