Posted by pplotkin on October 29, 2018 in News, This Week in History

This Week in History is Ancestry’s look back at notable events from the past. Featuring three moments from our archives, this Week in History is our way of remembering what came before us.

During the week of October 29, Hurricane Hattie struck Belize, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday, and Barack Obama became the first African American U.S. President.

On October 31, 1961, the enormous Hurricane Hattie struck Belize with 150 MPH winds, high tides, and downpours. Luckily, most of the island’s 31,000 residents fled before the storm hit due to advance warnings. The governor at the time estimated that 70% of the buildings in the city had been terribly damaged, leaving over 10,000 people homeless in the aftermath, and it was declared the strongest and deadliest tropical storm during the 1961 hurricane season.

Read more about this devastating cyclone via The Miami News


Four days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman John Conyers introduced a bill that would make January 15th a national holiday in his honor. Unfortunately, Congress didn’t act and the bill kept failing. The bill was reintroduced in the 1980s, more than a decade later, and was still fought against due to racial tensions and the idea that it would be too expensive to create a federal holiday. It took years of effort, a song written by Stevie Wonder, and the support of Coretta Scott King, MLK’s widow, to get the third Monday in January recognized as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On November 3, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill, and the holiday was first observed three years later in 1986.

Check out coverage of the moment Ronald Reagan signed the bill via The Honolulu Advertiser

History was made on November 4, 2008 when Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected as the President of the United States. In his victory speech that he delivered in Chicago’s Grant Park, he declared that “change is coming to America.” Obama defeated John McCain with 365 electoral votes, giving him a monumental victory.

Read more about this historic moment via the Green Bay Press-Gazette


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  1. Rick Alvarez

    History was made out 20 2018 when King Richard surfaced again with a message to the world..1633 Jhon Elliot from the annals it’s time!

  2. sam sears

    I marched behind Reverend Martin Luther King across the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma Alabama. As the grandson of a Captain in the rebel army I was proud to have made this effort to improve the lot of persons of color and live to see the day of an African American become president of the United States. Barak Obama served two terms advancing the cause of equality for all and providing an example for Americans of all color and creed that is a great contribution to our nation and the world.

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