In 1915 – (103 years ago) — Arch and Cordella Stevenson, an African-American couple living in Columbus, Mississippi, were regarded by locals as respectable, hardworking people. But rumors were circulating that their son, who had a reputation as a troublemaker, had deliberately burned down a local white farmer’s barn several months earlier. Questioned just after the fire, Cordella Stevenson had told police that her son was out of town and that she had no idea where he was. Convinced of her honesty, the police had let her go, and dropped the case for lack of any evidence. But now, at ten in the evening, Cordella and her husband, Arch, were awakened by a loud knock on their door. Before they could answer it, a mob of angry, gun-wielding white people broke down the door and burst into their home. They grabbed Cordella and threatened to kill Arch, who somehow managed to escape and ran to get help. The next morning, Cordella Stevenson’s naked body was found hanging from a tree near a railway track, where it could be seen by horrified train passengers going in and out of town. It was left hanging there all day and through the night. Only on the following morning was it finally cut down and an inquest held, in which an all-white jury quickly ruled that Cordella Stevenson had been murdered by persons unknown.
In 1966 – (52 years ago) — The SS Heraklion, a Greek ferry, was sailing from the island of Crete to the port of Piraeus in high winds and rough seas, carrying some 270 passengers and crew along with a large load of cargo, including a refrigerator truck full of oranges. Evidently, the truck was poorly secured inside the ship’s cargo hold — and, as the ship pitched and rolled in the heavy waves, the truck repeatedly banged against a large loading door in the ship’s side. The door finally gave way, spilling the truck into the sea, and water rushed into the ship, causing it to capsize and sink in a few minutes. Hours went by before Greek, British, and US planes and ships arrived and were able to rescue thirty-seven passengers and sixteen crew. The other 217 people aboard the Heraklion all died. An inquiry later found the shipping company guilty of negligence, false documentation, and manslaughter. Twelve of the company’s other ships were pronounced unseaworthy, and its owner and general manager were both sent to prison.
In 1980 – (38 years ago) — While returning home from a recording studio mixing session with his wife, Yoko Ono, John Lennon was shot dead in the entrance of the Dakota Apartments, his residence in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. His twenty-five-year-old assailant, Mark David Chapman, who had waited there patiently for hours, put four bullets into Lennon’s back with a .38 special revolver. The shots tore Lennon’s left lung to pieces, and ruptured all the major blood vessels around his heart. Chapman then stood quietly, offering no resistance to police who arrested him while Lennon was carried to a police car and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi