Here is a glance at this week in history and the events that have helped build the American popular culture:
On Oct. 3, 1995, 24 years ago, former NFL star O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the gruesome double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The highly-publicized trial lasted an unprecedented 252 days, one of the longest in California history, and captivated an estimated 140 million Americans nationwide who waited to hear the verdict’s delivery. Controversy in this case stemmed particularly from Simpson’s legal defense, the “Dream Team,” who convinced the jury of Simpson’s innocence, despite the lack of an alibi and the prosecution’s self-proclaimed “mountain of evidence.” The defense, led by Robert Shapiro, and later, Johnnie Cochran, argued that Simpson was a victim of the historically racist Los Angeles Police Department, while the prosecution presented DNA evidence, a new technology at the time, matching Simpson’s blood to samples taken at the crime scene. The case divided both the jury and the country, particularly over race. Polls showed that a majority of black viewers sympathized with Simpson and believed in his innocence, while white America was positive of his guilt. Critics regard this case as a carnival of the American judicial system and blame Judge Lance Ito for his loss of control over the courtroom. This case was deemed the “Trial of the Century,” and lives on in American pop culture almost a quarter of a century later.
Also on Oct. 3, 1863, 156 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln officially declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. Following the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln proclaimed that the United States would celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 26 of that year, and on the fourth Thursday of November every year after. This was originally proposed by President George Washington, however, and was countered by Thomas Jefferson, who saw it as an attack on the separation of church and state principle the United States was built upon. Despite this, Thanksgiving was established almost 70 years later and is now ingrained in American culture as a staple of our way of life. While we attribute the founding of Thanksgiving to the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Thanksgiving as we know it today was founded in large part by Sarah Josepha Hale, a New York magazine editor. Hale wrote often to President Lincoln, asking for the establishment of this national holiday, already celebrated by New York and much of New England. Once implemented, Thanksgiving was celebrated by only Northern families as the South was still fiercely against Lincoln’s governing. This soon changed as Thanksgiving is now one of the most celebrated American holidays, with 90% of Americans consuming turkey every November.
On Oct. 4, 1927, 92 years ago, work began on Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. While the monument was not completed until 1941, the granite colossus depicting Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt was designed to symbolize the power and longevity of the United States. Today, it remains one of the nation’s most popular attractions, with more than 3 million visitors annually.
Gino Giansanti is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.