1949 – Ben Chifley makes the ‘Light on the Hill’ speech

Ben Chifley is probably most remembered for two things: his serious efforts to implement some of the more socialist ideals of the Australian Labor Party, and this speech. Both, ultimately, come from the same wellspring: Chifley’s compassionate idealism.

He is also the only Australian Prime Minister never to have lived at the Lodge, and the only Labor Prime Minister to have sent the troops in to break a strike – and one from a communist trade union, at that.

I haven’t talked much at all about the speech here, for one very simple reason: I think you should read it yourself.

Referenced in:
Neighbourhood Watch – My Friend The Chocolate Cake

1964 — Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life imprisonment

Nelson Mandela became one of the leaders of the African National Congress in 1961, and spent the next few months constantly on the move, hiding out from the South African police as he led a bombing campaign as part of the anti-apartheid movement.

In 1962, he and nine other leaders of the ANC were captured and brought to trial for their actions against the state. Convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of treason, he was later tried again on separate charges two years later in what is now called the Rivonia Trial. Here, on June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at Robben Island, where he would spend the next 18 years (of a total of 27 years he served).

Here, he became something of a martyr to his cause, and a cause celebre in other nations. His dignity and oratorical talent – along with his longevity and unimpeachable political credentials – made him the default leader of the ANC and his freedom became inextricable from the larger issues of political and racial freedom in South Africa. He was eventually pardoned and released in 1990, and later became President of South Africa in the post-apartheid era.

Referenced in:

Prophets of Rage — Public Enemy
Free Nelson Mandela — The Special AKA

1994 – Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are found murdered

Nicole Brown Simpson had been divorced from O.J. Simpson for two years at the time she was murdered. She and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered by a person or persons unknown in her own house, in Brentwood, Los Angeles. Suspicion immediately fell on her ex-husband, for a number of reasons: he had not contested her claims of spousal abuse in their divorce proceedings; he fled from police when they attempted to bring him in for questioning; his car contained what appeared to be preparations to flee the country; he made confused statements in court and to the media, some of which were interpreted as confessions.

He was eventually found not guilty of the murders, as he had pled at his arraignment. But that didn’t stop him from writing a bestseller entitled If I Did It some years later. Whether he is guilty of murder or not, he is at very least clearly guilty of colossal chutzpah.

Referenced in:
OJ — Young Jeezy
O.J. — 50 Cent