This Day in History: Feb. 21

On this day, Feb. 21 …

1965: Malcolm X, 39, is shot to death inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in New York City by assassins identified as members of the Nation of Islam. (Three men would be convicted of murder and imprisoned; all were eventually paroled.)

Also on this day:

  • 1613: Mikhail Romanov, 16, is unanimously chosen by Russia’s national assembly to be czar, beginning a dynasty that would last three centuries.
  • 1916: Battle of Verdun in World War I begins in France as German forces attack; the French are able to prevail after 10 months of fighting.
  • 1945: During the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II, the escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea is sunk by Japanese kamikazes; 318 men are killed.
  • 1958: The USS Gudgeon (SS-567) becomes the first American submarine to complete a round-the-world cruise, eight months after departing from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
  • 1972: President Richard M. Nixon begins his historic visit to China as he and his wife, Pat, arrive in Beijing.
  • 1973: Israeli fighter planes shoot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 over the Sinai Desert, killing all but five of the 113 people on board.
  • 1975: Former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman are sentenced to 2 1/2 to 8 years in prison for their roles in the Watergate cover-up.
  • 1986: Larry Wu-tai Chin, the first American found guilty of spying for China, kills himself in his Virginia jail cell.
  • 1992: Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States wins the gold medal in ladies’ figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France; Midori Ito of Japan wins the silver, Nancy Kerrigan of the U.S., the bronze.
  • 2000: Consumer advocate Ralph Nader announces his entry into the presidential race, bidding for the nomination of the Green Party.
  • 2009: In the last full day of talks in Asia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stresses American and Chinese cooperation on the economy and climate change.
  • 2013: Drew Peterson, the Chicago-area police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007, is sentenced to 38 years in prison for murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio.
  • 2014: President Obama grants an audience to Tibet’s Dalai Lama over the strong objections from China that the U.S. was meddling in its affairs.
  • 2018: The Rev. Billy Graham, a confidant of presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, dies at his North Carolina home at age 99.