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Today in History: February 11, Nelson Mandela freed after 27 years

Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie, walking hand in hand, raise clenched fists upon his release from Victor prison, Cape Town, Sunday, February 11, 1990.  The African National Congress leader had served over 27 years in detention. (AP Photo)

Nelson Mandela and wife Winnie, walking hand in hand, raise clenched fists upon his release from Victor prison, Cape Town, Sunday, February 11, 1990. The African National Congress leader had served over 27 years in detention. (AP Photo)

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Today in History:

On Feb. 11, 1990, South African Black activist Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in captivity.

On this date:

In 660 B.C., tradition holds that Japan was founded as Jimmu ascended the throne as the country’s first emperor.

In 1847, American inventor Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio.

In 1937, a six-week-old sit-down strike against General Motors ended, with the company agreeing to recognize the United Automobile Workers Union.

In 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin signed the Yalta Agreement, in which Stalin agreed to declare war against Imperial Japan following Nazi Germany’s capitulation.

In 1963, American author and poet Sylvia Plath was found dead in her London flat, a suicide; she was 30.

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Conservative Party.

In 1979, followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (hoh-MAY’-nee) seized power in Iran.

In 2006, Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded Harry Whittington, a companion during a weekend quail-hunting trip in Texas.

In 2008, the Pentagon charged Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (HAH’-leed shayk moh-HAH’-med) and five other detainees at Guantanamo Bay with murder and war crimes in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks.

In 2011, Egypt exploded with joy after pro-democracy protesters brought down President Hosni Mubarak, whose resignation ended three decades of authoritarian rule.

In 2012, singing superstar Whitney Houston was found dead in a hotel room bathtub in Beverly Hills, California on the eve of the Grammy Awards at age 48.

In 2013, with a few words in Latin, Pope Benedict XVI did what no pope had done in more than half a millennium: announced his resignation. The bombshell came during a routine morning meeting of Vatican cardinals. (The 85-year-old pontiff was succeeded by Pope Francis.)

In 2018, a Russian passenger plane crashed into a snowy field six minutes after taking off from Moscow, killing all 65 passengers and six crew members.

In 2020, the ϰϲ Health Organization gave the official name of COVID-19 to the disease caused by the coronavirus that had emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In 2021, at the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Democrats asserted that Trump had incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol, put his own vice president in danger and expressed solidarity with rioters who sought to overturn the 2020 election in his name.

In 2023, rescue crews pulled more survivors, including entire families, from toppled buildings despite diminishing hopes as the death toll of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck a border region of Turkey and Syria five days earlier surpassed 28,000. (It would eventually reach more than 50,000.)