On this day, May 17 …
1954: A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court hands down its Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, which held that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal, and therefore unconstitutional.
Also on this day:
- 1792: The New York Stock Exchange has its beginnings as a group of brokers met under a tree on Wall Street and signed the Buttonwood Agreement.
- 1946: President Harry S. Truman seizes control of the nation’s railroads, delaying -- but not preventing -- a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.
- 1973: A special committee convened by the U.S. Senate begins its televised hearings into the Watergate scandal.
- 1996: President Bill Clinton signs "Megan’s Law," a measure requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in. ("Megan's Law" is named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and murdered in 1994.)
- 2004: Massachusetts becomes the first state to allow same-sex marriages.
- 2009: President Barack Obama dives head-on into the abortion debate, telling graduates at the University of Notre Dame that both sides have to stop demonizing one another.
- 2017: The Justice Department appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.
- 2017: Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the soldier who was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for giving classified materials to WikiLeaks, walks free after serving seven years behind bars, her sentence having been commuted by President Barack Obama in January 2017.
- 2018: With six Democrats joining Republicans in voting to confirm her, Gina Haspel wins Senate confirmation to become director of the CIA.
- 2019: Grumpy Cat, feline Internet legend known for her permanent scowl, dies at age 7.