Special Report

The Most Important Event in Every State's History

Source: Abernathy Family Photos / Wikimedia Commons

1. Alabama
> Event: Selma-to-Montgomery march
> Year: 1965
> Location: Selma to Montgomery

The march from Selma to Montgomery was an effort to register African American voters in Alabama. Early during the 54-mile trek, marchers were attacked by local police and those opposed to equal voting rights. The incident was broadcast on television and it horrified the nation. Eventually, the marchers received protection from the National Guard, and after three days they reached Montgomery. That August, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act that guaranteed the vote for African Americans.

Source: NOAA

2. Alaska
> Event: Exxon Valdez oil spill
> Year: 1989
> Location: Prince William Sound

When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker crashed into a reef in the Prince William Sound in Alaska the hull was pierced and more than 10 million gallons of oil spilled into the water. The problems were compounded as a storm spread the oil even farther across Alaska’s Southern coast.

Thousands of animals died as a result, and hundreds of miles of coastlines were polluted — and much of the coast is still damaged today. The Exxon Valdez spill is now known as of the most environmentally damaging events in history. The tanker’s captain was acquitted of piloting the ship while intoxicated.

Source: Grand Canyon National Park / Wikimedia Commons

3. Arizona
> Event: Grand Canyon National Park opened
> Year: 1919
> Location: Northern Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most impressive landscapes, and in 1919, the U.S. government made nature’s cathedral into a national park. The geological wonder is 277 river miles long, as many as 18 miles wide, and is one mile deep. The canyon is famous for its cavalcade of colors and ancient rock formations that tell the geological story of the North American continent. Nearly five million people visit the park each year.

Source: US Army

4. Arkansas
> Event: Desegregation of Little Rock schools
> Year: 1957
> Location: Little Rock

Even though the Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in 1954, segregation remained in effect in many areas and opposition to the ruling was fierce. When nine black children attempted to attend classes at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, Gov. Orval Faubus used the Arkansas National Guard to stop them from going to class.

The Little Rock Nine were unable to go to class until President Dwight Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce the ruling. The students attending a previously all-white high school, despite the racial abuse they endured, proved to be a seminal moment in the civil rights movement.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. California
> Event: Gold Rush
> Year: 1849
> Location: Sutter’s Mill

When James Marshall, a transplanted carpenter from New Jersey, discovered bits of gold in the American River near Sutter’s Mill, he set off one of the greatest gold rushes of all time. Miners extracted about $2 billion worth of the metal during the California Gold Rush. California’s non-native population grew from about 800 in early 1848 to 100,000 by the end of 1849. The gold rush fast-tracked California’s admission to the Union, and it became a state in 1850.

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