Photo Essay

  • This Week In History: Pablo Picasso, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, is born in Malaga, Spain on October 25, 1881. Here, Picasso is photographed watching a bullfight in Nîmes, Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France in 1957 by legendary Magnum photographer René Burri who passed away on October 20, 2014.
  • This Week In History: On October 16, 1934 China’s Red Army began its “Long March.” The march was itself a retreat, occurring after Communist forces were pushed out of their stronghold in the southeast Jianxi region by Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang army. After a year-long journey, spanning more than 3,000 miles, the Red Army joined other Communists in the northwest region of Shaanxi. The march allowed Mao Zedong, pictured here in 1934, to consolidate his leadership in the Communist Party of China, which eventually rose to power in Mainland China in 1949 and continues to this day.
  • This Week in History: The German Democratic Republic, more commonly known as East Germany, formally became a state on Oct. 7, 1949. Comprised of territory occupied by Soviet forces following Germany’s defeat in World War II (excluding parts of Berlin) the GDR was ostensibly a Soviet satellite state. Its economy lagged compared to West Germany (which received aid from the US, UK and France) and the mass emigration of citizens resulted in the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, which stood until 1989. Germany was reunified shortly after the Wall’s demolition. Pictured here, East German soldiers in 1959.
  • This Week in History: On Oct. 2, 1869, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born. Gandhi led the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India, and used nonviolent civil disobedience to lead India to independence, while inspiring movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific “Mahatma” (Sanskrit for “high-souled” and “venerable”) was applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa, and is now used worldwide. Pictured here, Gandhi at his spinning wheel aboard a ship enroute to London, in 1935. 
  • This Week In History:  On Sept. 24, 1906, Devil’s Tower, pictured here in 1956, was designated by President Theodore Roosevelt as the nation’s first National Monument.  Jutting more than 1,200 feet from the Black Hills region in Wyoming, the rock formation has held deep importance to Native American tribes in the region for centuries and may also be remembered as a backdrop for the 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
  • This Week in History: On Sept. 20, 2011, the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy was repealed. From 1993 until 2011, the policy prohibited military personnel from from disclosing his or her sexual orientation, while barring openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons from military service. Prior to 1993, the United States Military excluded all gay and lesbian persons from military service. Pictured here, photographs of Melvin Dwork, taken in 1943 when he was in the navy, are seen at his home in New York. In 2011, Nearly 70 years after Dwork was expelled from the Navy for being gay, the military changed his discharge from “undesirable” to “honorable,” marking what was believed to be the first time the Pentagon had taken such a step on behalf of a World War II veteran since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
  • The Week In History: On Sept. 11, 2001, members of the terrorist group al-Qaida carried out the most devastating attack on American soil. Hijacked airliners crashed into locations in New York City, Arlington, Va. and Shanksville, Pa. resulting in nearly 3,000 deaths. Pictured here, firefighters rest during rescue efforts at “Ground Zero”, or the wreckage of the Twin Towers in New York City. More than 300 New York City firefighters and other first responders lost their lives responding to the attacks.
  • This Week in History: “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.” 113 years ago these words were spoken by Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, at the time serving as Vice President, during a famous speech on foreign policy at the Minnesota State Fair on Sept. 2, 1901. Four days later, President William McKinley was shot and mortally wounded by an anarchist named Leon Czolgosz. This event would push Roosevelt into the presidency, a seat he would hold until 1909. Pictured here, Teddy Roosevelt looks out from a balcony, circa 1911.
  • This Week in History: Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005.  The Category 3 storm, the worst natural disaster in US history, caused massive destruction across the Gulf Coast, in particular New Orleans, which largely sits below sea level and relies on levees to keep water levels at bay.  Hurricane Katrina claimed more than 1,800 lives, most of them from within New Orleans.  Pictured here, two men inspect a flooded home following the storm in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward.
  • This Week in History: On August 18, 1963, James H. Meredith became the first African-American to graduate from the University of Mississippi. Pictured here, Meredith, center, is escorted by federal marshals as he arrives for registration at the all-white University of Mississippi, in Oxford, Miss., on September 30, 1962.
  • This Week in History:  The legendary Woodstock Music and Arts Fair kicked off 45 years ago on August 15, 1969 in Bethel, New York.  A quintessential moment of the 1960s counterculture, the “3 Days of Peace & Music”, featured acts like Jimi Hendrix, The Band, and Joan Baez performing for roughly 400,000 fans on a dairy farm in upstate New York.  In this photo, concert-goers climb scaffolding for a view of the performances.
 
  • This Week in History: On August 9th, 1974, Former President Richard Nixon resigned from office following a series of revelations about his administration’s involvement in the Watergate scandal. Pictured here, a contact sheet showing the resignation declaration made by President Nixon as televised from the White House forty years ago. 
  • This Week in History: On August 1, 1944, Anne Frank wrote her last diary entry. On August 4th, 1944, following a tip from an anonymous informer, the German uniformed police stormed the annex where Anne Frank and her family had been hiding for two years. The family was arrested and sent to concentration camps, where Anne, her sister Margot, and their mother died. Their father, Otto, was the only family member to survive the war, and later published her diary. Pictured here, family photo of Anne and Margot Frank at the beach, c. 1935, the family went into hiding in 1942. 
  • This Week in History: On July 25th, 1953, New York City Transit Authority first issued the subway token. The fare for a ride on the subway from it’s inauguration in 1904 until 1948 was a nickel, in 1948 the fare increased to a dime, and has since been steadily rising. When the NYC Transit Authority was created in 1953, the fare was raised to 15 cents; from then until April 2004, riders paid the fair with tokens purchased from a station attendant. The last tokens were phased out in 2003 when the fare rose to $2. A single ride on the subway today costs $2.50. Pictured here, women ride the subway in New York in 1980.
  • This Week in History:  On July 16, 1969 the Apollo 11 crew blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, beginning their historic journey to the Moon.  Crowds gathered near the Florida coast to catch the momentous event in person, many camping overnight to watch liftoff, shortly after 9:30 the morning of the 16th.  4 days later, Americans and people around the world would gather around their television sets to watch astronaut Neil Armstrong, followed by Buzz Aldrin, set foot on the lunar surface. 
  • This Week in History: On July 13, 1977, a series of lightning strikes at a local New York City power plant caused a massive city-wide blackout that lasted for two days. The blackout occurred  during a nationwide economic downturn, and the city was facing a severe financial crisis. Looting and vandalism were widespread; in all, 1,616 stores were damaged in looting and rioting. A total of 1,037 fires were responded to, and 3,776 people were arrested in the largest mass arrest in New York City history. LaGuardia and Kennedy airports were closed down, automobile tunnels were closed because of lack of ventilation, and 4,000 people had to be evacuated from the subway system. A congressional study estimated that the cost of damages amounted to a little over $300 million. Pictured here, pedestrians walk across 34th St. in New York City during the outage. 
  • This Week in History: The Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964. The landmark law, which banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or national origin, was the result of years of organizing and action from countless leaders, politicians and volunteers.  Pictured here are civil rights activists in March of 1964, staging a hunger strike in the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, to implore the state’s legislators to act on the bill.
  • This Week in History: One year ago today, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. Pictured here, the plaintiff Edith Windsor and her spouse, Thea Spyer, sit together in a café in Holland during the 1970s. Edith and Thea were together for forty years, and married in Ontario in 2007. Spyer died in 2009 after a long battle with MS. After the IRS denied Windsor’s claim as Spyer’s legal spouse, and compelled her to pay over $350,000 in estate taxes, she began pursuing legal action. After a long battle, on June 26, 2013, DOMA was struck down in a landmark decision that continues to be celebrated as a major victory for gay couples. 
  • This Week In History: This week marks the 50th anniversary of the voter registration drive known as the Mississippi Summer Project, or Freedom Summer, in 1964. Hundreds of college students and volunteers, a majority of them white, worked side-by-side with local black activists to register disenfranchised voters, establish community organizing centers and teach political participation for the many who had been left isolated in the Jim Crow South. The campaign, a touchstone of the Civil Rights Movement, was not without opposition; in addition to the several who were tragically murdered, activists were targets of violence, intimidation and arrest. Later this month, leaders and activists will recognize the passing of this anniversary at a conference in Jackson, Mississippi. In this photo, demonstrators rally for voter registration in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1964.
  • Today in History: On June 12, 1931 Chicago gangster Al Capone was indicted for income tax evasion and various violations of the Volstead Act (prohibition). Here, he leaves a courtroom in Chicago in the custody of U.S. marshals where he was facing charges on Oct. 24, 1931.
  • This Week in History: A landing craft approaches Omaha Beach on D-Day, the beginning of the Allied invasion of German occupied Normandy, France on June 6, 1944.  The invasion, captured here in a hand-colored photo by U.S. Coast Guard photographer Robert F. Sargent, was one of the largest military operations in history and a defining point in World War II.
  • This Week in History: On May 29th, 1953, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (R) and mountaineer and beekeeper Edmund P. Hillary of New Zealand (L) became the first pair of climbers to reach the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest. Here, they show the kit they wore when conquering the world's highest peak. Norgay remains one of the most famous mountain climbers in history, and went on to receive the George Medal from Queen Elizabeth II for his efforts on the expedition. 
  • This Week in History: Well-wishers surround American aviator Amelia Earhart in Derry, Northern Ireland on May 21, 1932 after she completed the flight that made her the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic.
  • This Week in History: May 17 marks the 60th anniversary of  the landmark Civil Rights lawsuit 'Brown v. Board of Education,' that led to the beginning of integration in the US education system. Here, Nathaniel Steward, 17, recites his lesson at the Saint-Dominique school in Washington, where for the first time the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which outlaws segregation in state schools, is applied, May 21, 1954.
  • This Week in History: On May 5, 1961, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space after piloting the Freedom 7 spacecraft for a 15 minute sub-orbital flight which concluded with a splash landing in the Atlantic Ocean.  Shepard would return to space ten years later, at age 47, to pilot the Apollo 14 lunar mission, earning his distinction as the oldest person to walk on the Moon's surface.
  • This Week in History: On April 26, 1986, the world's worst nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl plant in the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire in the No. 4 reactor released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, spreading into much of the western USSR and Europe. The effort to contain the contamination and avoid greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers. During the accident itself at least 31 people were killed immediately, and long-term effects such as cancers and birth defects are still being accounted for.
Pictured here, two young men lie down on a grassy field in Prypiat, Ukraine in the early 1980's. This photo was among a collection of negatives found in an empty apartment within the abandoned city of Prypiat, during the winter of 2006, twenty years after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident. Despite their fragility, they have withstood the elements, which now includes radioactive dust clouds.
  • This Week in History: Cars of the Swiss Sky Ride move high over the New York World's Fair on Thursday, April 24, 1964.  The 1964 World's Fair opened 50 years ago this week and lasted until October 1965.  The fair offered an optimistic look at American life and technology, including visions of space exploration and automobiles of the future.  Over 51 million people visited the fairgrounds in Flushing Meadows, Queens to see the various exhibitions and the fair's centerpiece: the large stainless steel "Unisphere"
  • This Week in History: Fidel Castro on the beach at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs), the site of the unsuccessful invasion by US-backed forces on April 17, 1961. Approximately 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched the disastrous invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. The invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces. The failure strengthened the position of Castro's administration, who then openly proclaimed their plans to adopt socialism and strengthen ties with the Soviet Union, events which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
  • This Week in History: The Titanic departs Southampton, England on its maiden Atlantic voyage to New York City on April 10, 1912. The doomed ocean liner sank on April 15, 1912, just five days into maiden voyage, with more than a thousand people losing their lives.
  • This Week in History: U.S. President Ronald Reagan is shoved into the President's limousine by secret service agents after being shot and seriously injured by John Hinckley Jr. outside a Washington hotel on Monday, March 30, 1981. Hinckley shot Reagan in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity. Also wounded were White House news secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a District of Columbia police officer. James Brady, permanently disabled from his injuries, has since become an ardent supporter of gun control.
  • This Week in History: Martin Luther King Jr. led a march of 25,000 people to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the denial of voting rights to racial minorities, March 25, 1965. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law later that year by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • This Week in History: Smoke rises from the Trade Ministry in Baghdad on March 20, 2003 after it was hit by a missile during the US-led forces attack, marking the start of the invasion of Iraq. In the beginning, it all looked simple: topple Saddam Hussein, destroy his purported weapons of mass destruction and lay the foundation for a pro-Western government in the heart of the Arab world. In the end though nearly 4,500 Americans and an estimated 121,000 Iraqi civilian were killed during the US-led war on Iraq.
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MSNBC's Throwback Thursday

Updated
By msnbc staff

Take a look back at moments in history with MSNBC’s “Throwback Thursdays.” From politics to pop culture, and everything in between, we’ll share images that tell the story of our times. Every Thursday we’ll add something new, so join us each week as we reflect on some of the key events that have shaped our world. It’s the ultimate photo journey #TBT, MSNBC style.

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography