Special Report

The Biggest News Story Every Year Since 1950

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1950: Korean War starts
> Date: June 25
> Location: Korea

The North Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea, which prompted an almost immediate response from U.S. President Harry Truman and marked the beginning of the Korean War — a proxy battle between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. The parties would agree to a ceasefire three years later. The uneasy relations between North Korea and South Korea last to this day.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

1951: Rosenbergs sentenced
> Date: March 29
> Location: New York City

Husband and wife Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage for their part in passing along atomic secrets to the Soviet Union during and after World War II. They were executed two years later. Not everyone was convinced of their involvement in the scheme. Supporters claimed they were scapegoats swept up in the Cold War hysteria of the time. Documents would reveal decades later the extent of Julius Rosenberg’s involvement in the spy ring, though Ethel’s participation in the scheme remained inconclusive.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1952: First hydrogen bomb test
> Date: Nov. 1
> Location: Marshall Islands

The United States successfully detonated its first hydrogen bomb, a second-generation thermonuclear device. The detonation in the Marshall Islands was part of Operation Ivy, one of a series of nuclear bomb tests. From 1946 to 1958, the United States used the remote Pacific Marshall Islands as its nuclear weapons testing site, conducting a total of 67 nuclear tests.

Source: Svisio / Getty Images

1953: The dawn of DNA
> Date: Feb. 28
> Location: Cambridge, England, U.K.

Cambridge University scientists James Watson and Francis Crick announced that they have discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. Though scientists had been aware of DNA since the 1860s and of its role in genetic inheritance since 1943, Watson and Crick were the first to explain how DNA works to replicate itself and pass on genes from one generation to the next.

Source: Ted Eytan / Flickr

1954: Brown v. Board of Education
> Date: May 17
> Location: Washington D.C.

In a landmark case that involved Linda Brown of Topeka, Kansas, who had to cross a railroad track to reach an all-black elementary school even though an all-white school was closer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the segregated school system is unconstitutional on the basis of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The clause would be used again by the courts to reverse state-level racial segregation practices and ordinances.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

1955: Parks starts a movement
> Date: Dec. 1
> Location: Montgomery, Alabama

Rosa Parks made history after she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. Her arrest for insisting to remain seated led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the ascent of a young pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr., as a local activist leader working to advance the civil rights cause. A successful federal lawsuit by the NAACP against the city led to the desegregation of the Montgomery bus system.

Source: Gabor B. Racz / Wikimedia Commons

1956: Soviets suppress Hungary
> Date: Nov. 4
> Location: Budapest

After the start of the Cold War, Hungarians took to the streets to demand democratic reforms in October of 1956. The Soviet Red Army troops invaded Hungary and killed thousands. Nine days after the incursion, on Nov. 4, Soviet troops occupied Budapest in one of the largest and most aggressive actions taken by the Soviet Union since the end of World War II.

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