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This Day in History is DUE’s daily dose of trivia for all the history buffs out there. So sit back and take a ride of all the fascinating things that happened on 8th April!

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in people, and hence, every day has been a significant one in the foibles of history. Now, let’s take a tour of “This Day in History – 9th April”.

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1939: Black superstar Marian Anderson sings on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Marian Anderson was an international superstar in the 1930s, possessed of what Arturo Toscanini called “a voice such as one hears once in a hundred years.” It came as a shock when the DAR organization (Daughters of the American Revolution) didn’t allow Marian to perform at Constitution Hall due to her skin color. Many women then quit the organization including Eleanor Roosevelt. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes then, invited Marian to sing on the Lincoln Memorial steps. She performed before a gathered crowd of 75,000 and a live radio audience of millions.

Marian Anderson

1959: NASA introduces America’s first astronauts

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduced America’s first astronauts to the press. Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr. and Donald Slayton. NASA carefully selected the seven men, all military test pilots, from a group of 32 candidates. They were to take part in Project Mercury, America’s first manned space program. NASA planned to begin manned orbital flights in 1961. Read more about them HERE. 

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NASA’s First American Astronauts

1962: Rita Moreno becomes the first Hispanic woman to win an Oscar

Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno became the first Hispanic woman today to win an Oscar. She achieved this feat for her role of Anita in West Side Story (1961). The film remake of a famous musical by the same name was an enormous success. It won ten Oscars including Best Picture. As she accepted her award for Best Supporting Actress, Moreno remarked, “I can’t believe it. Good Lord! I leave you with that.”

Rita Moreno

1990: Kristen Stewart is born

Bella Swan aka Kristen Stewart turns 31 today. She is best known for her roles in the Twilight Saga, Panic Room and Snow White and the Huntsman. She won the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2010. In 2020, she also received the Actress of the Decade Award by the Hollywood Critics Association. “You’re not confused if you’re bisexual. It’s not confusing at all. For me, it’s quite the opposite,” she said identifying herself as a bisexual in 2017.

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Kristen Stewart

2003: The Fall of Baghdad

Three weeks into the Iraqi invasion, US forces pulled down a bronze statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. This was not only an early victory for the States, but also the end of the Iraqi President’s long, often brutal reign. Dramatic images of the toppled statue became widespread instantly. With Hussein in hiding and much of the city under US control, the day became known as the Fall of Baghdad. The US forces captured Hussein in December 2003 and executed him in December 2006. But it was only in December 2011 that the United States would formally withdraw from Iraq, eight years after the conflict first began.

The Fall of Baghdad
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