June 1981

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June 29, 1981: Hu Yaobang becomes new Chinese leader
June 7, 1981: Israeli surprise attack destroys Iraqi nuclear reactor
June 27, 1981: Mao Zedong's place in history re-evaluated by CCP

The following events occurred in June 1981:

June 1, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

June 2, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

June 3, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Wayne Williams, 23, was taken into custody by the FBI, at his home at 1817 Penelope Road N.W. in Atlanta.[6] Though not arrested, Williams was questioned for almost 12 hours by agents investigating the "Atlanta child murders" of 28 young persons, most of them children. Released the next morning, Williams was questioned by reporters and his name became known worldwide.[7] He remained free, though under surveillance, until his arrest on June 21, when he was charged with the murder of 27-year-old Nathaniel Cater.[8]
  • Died: Carleton S. Coon, 76, American anthropologist and archaeologist

June 4, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

  • James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King, was stabbed 22 times by four of his fellow inmates at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary near Petros, Tennessee.[9] Ray survived the murder attempt, and died on April 23, 1998, thirty years after the King assassination. Although Ray refused to identify the attackers, three African-American prisoners were later convicted of the attempt and had at least 20 years added to their prison sentences.[10]

June 5, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

The AIDS virus, HIV

June 6, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • Bihar train disaster: Seven cars of an overcrowded passenger train fell off the tracks into the Bagmati River near Bihar, India. Although initial estimates placed the death toll as high as 3,000 people,[12] the figure was later revised to about 800.[13] The train had been en route from Banmankhi to Samastipur, carrying passengers inside and on the roofs of its cars, and the engineer reported that he had stopped on the bridge after seeing a cow on the tracks. At the same time, heavy winds tipped the cars, five of which were swept downriver.[14]

June 7, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

June 8, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

President Banisadr
Ayatollah Khomeini
  • Iran's President, Abulhassan Banisadr made a speech at the Iranian Air Force base in Shiraz, exhorting officers and airmen to "resistance of dictatorship". The speech outraged Iran's de facto leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, who removed Banisadr from command of the armed forces two days later. Banisadr went into hiding on June 12 as opponents called for his execution, finally escaping to France on July 29. Many of his supporters were arrested and executed in the months that followed the critical speech.[18]
  • By a vote of 4-2, the council of the city of Morton Grove, Illinois, passed ordinance No. 81-11, prohibiting the possession of handguns within city limits, and for residents to turn in their weapons to police[19]

June 9, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

June 10, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Six-year-old Alfredo Rampi fell into an unprotected artesian well while playing on a neighbor's property in Frascati, Italy. Over the next three days, the nation, and later the world, followed the attempt to save the boy's life. At one point, a rescuer was within reach of Alfredo, but the boy slipped 100 feet further down the well.[21] By Saturday, Alfredo had died, and the property owner was arrested. The little boy's body was recovered on July 11.[22]
  • Died: Jenny Maxwell, 39, American film actress, murder victim

June 11, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

June 12, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

June 13, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • At the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London, 17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant fired six shots at Queen Elizabeth, who was riding on horseback. The gun was a cartridge pistol that fired blanks, and the Queen was able to bring her startled horse, "Burmese", under control, but the act demonstrated the vulnerability of Britain's reigning monarch.[26] Serjeant, who testified that he had been unable to obtain a real pistol prior to the event, was convicted under the Treason Act 1842, and spent three years in jail, before quietly being released in October 1984.[27] He subsequently changed his name and began a new life.[28]
  • Born Chris Evans, American film actor (Fantastic Four), in Sudbury, Massachusetts
  • Died: George Walsh, 92, American silent film leading man

June 14, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • California Medfly Crisis: A mistake was made in the implementation of sterile insect technique, a means of controlling insect populations by releasing sterile bugs to mix with fertile ones of the same species during breeding season, thereby lowering the number of new larvae. When an infestation of millions of the Mediterranean fruit flies began destroying crops throughout the state, the state agricultural department discovered that the flies released on June 14 weren't sterile, and that the effort to reduce the population had inadvertently increased it.[29]
  • Voters in Switzerland, where women were not allowed to vote in national elections until 1971, approved an equal rights amendment to that nation's Constitution.[30]

June 15, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • The State of Oklahoma forgot to execute convicted murderer James William White, who had been sentenced to die by lethal injection, in what would have been the first use in the United States of that form of capital punishment. A reporter from the UPI made a phone call to Oklahoma's Court of Criminal Appeals the next day to inquire about White's status. The Court discovered that nobody had filed an appeal required by state law, and that the state corrections department had incorrectly listed White's sentence as 999 years rather than death.[31]
  • In an 8-1 decision, the United States Supreme Court held in the case of Rhodes v. Chapman (452 U.S. 337) that the placing of two prison inmates in a cell designed for one was not a violation of the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment, as long as overall conditions at the prison were adequate. The Court reversed rulings at the district and appellate court level in a class action lawsuit brought by inmates of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.[32]

June 16, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

President Marcos

June 17, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

USS Ohio
  • The largest submarine ever built up to that time, the 560 foot long USS Ohio, began its first sea trials, departing from the shipyards of Groton, Connecticut shortly before 5:00 am. Built at a cost of $1.2 billion, and capable of carrying 24 of the Trident missiles, which could each deliver five nuclear warheads, the sub was immediately shadowed by the Soviet surveillance ship Ekvator, which had anchored outside of U.S. territorial waters, 12 nautical miles off of the coast of Long Island.[36]
  • Born Amrita Rao, Indian film actress, in Mumbai
  • Died:

June 18, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]


June 19, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

  • Celine Dion made her debut at age 13, on a local Montreal talk show, the Michel Jasmin Show, in conjunction with her first single, Ce n'était qu'un rêve (literally, "It Was Just a Dream")[42]
  • In what was described as "a make-or-break proposition"[43] for the European Space Agency and its efforts to have its own space program, the third launch of an Ariane rocket was successful (the 1979 mission reached orbit, but a 1980 launch failed). Lifting off from French Guiana, the 155 foot tall rocket carried into orbit the Meteostat 2 weather satellite, and India's first geostationary satellite, the APPLE (Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment).[44]
  • Superman II premiered in the United States, more than 7 months after its world premiere in Australia on December 4, 1980. Prior to its American debut, it had been seen in seven European nations, as well as Argentina and Japan.[45]
  • Died:

June 20, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • In Tehran, demonstrations by the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) against the dismissal of Iran's President Banisadr became violent, and a wave of arrests and executions of PMOI members followed. According to some accounts, the Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the Islamic Revolutionary Guards to fire into the crowd and more than 100 demonstrators were killed.[46] In another account, the PMOI battled with the Guards, with 15 dead on each side.[47] In the first three weeks after the demonstration, 195 of Banisadr's supporters had been tried and executed.[48] By year's end, the government had announced a total of 1,656 executions before a firing squad.[49]
  • Boxer Alexis Arguello, who had previously been featherweight world champion (1974–77) and junior lightweight champion (1978–80) became lightweight world champion, beating Jim Watt in a 15-round bout in London.[50]
  • Born Alisan Porter, American film actress (Curly Sue), in Worcester, Massachusetts

June 21, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

  • French legislative election, 1981: France's Socialist Party won control of the 491 member Assemblée nationale, more than doubling its number of seats from 117 to 285 for a majority. After 23 years in power, the coalition of Conservative parties dropped its share from 274 to 147. Pierre Mauroy, who had formed an interim government while elections were being held, was appointed Prime Minister of France by President François Mitterrand.[51]
  • In the deadliest accident to ever happen at Washington State's Mount Rainier National Park, 10 mountain climbers and their guide were killed when tons of ice fell without warning, sweeping them into a 100 foot deep crevasse, and burying them under 70 feet of ice. That afternoon, in the worst accident to ever happen at Oregon's Mount Hood, five mountain climbers were killed when a group of 16, linked by ropes for safety during their descent, fell 2,500 feet down the side of the mountain.[52]
  • The South African police claimed to have arrested eight leaders of the South African Youth Revolutionary Council.[53]
  • Born: Simon Delestre, French equestrian ranked thirty-sixth on the FEI Rolex Ranking List, in Metz.

June 22, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • On the opening day of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, American John McEnroe, ranked #2 in the world, stunned the crowd with an unprecedented display of temper. Beginning with the 12th game his first-round match against Tom Gullikson, McEnroe began berating the umpire, Edward James, when calls went against him. In the 9th game of the second set, McEnroe shouted to James "You can't be serious! You are an incompetent fool, an offense against the world!" [54] McEnroe's antics continued all the way to his victory in the championship match.
  • One day after Iran's Parliament, the Majlis, voted 177–1 in favor of a resolution finding President Abolhassan Banisadr incompetent to hold office, the Ayatollah Khomeini, de facto leader of Iran, dismissed him. "I did not want today to happen," Khomeini wrote in a published declaration addressed to Banisadr, "but you did not listen to my advice. You did not stop your interest in these corrupt and criminal groups and they drew you to your destruction..." The President was replaced by a triumvirate consisting of Ayatollahs Mohammed Beheshti and Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Rajai.[55]

June 23, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The Pawtucket Red Sox beat the Rochester Red Wings, 3-2, in the 33rd inning of a game that had started 67 days earlier. The game had been halted in the early morning of April 19, tied 2-2 after 32 innings and more than 8 hours of game time. The game ended 18 minutes after it resumed, with Dave Koza's single bringing in Cliff Speck for the game winner. Future MLB stars Cal Ripken and Wade Boggs participated for Rochester and Pawtucket, respectively.[56]
  • The first execution under the new criminal procedure law of the People's Republic of China took place at Nanjing. On June 10, rules were changed to allow death sentences to be approved by intermediate People's Courts, previously reserved to the nation's Supreme Court. A murderer named Luo, whose arrest, trial, conviction and appeal took place over an 8-day period, was publicly executed a rally attended by 10,000 people.[57]
  • Died: Zarah Leander, 74, Swedish-born actress in German film, described as "the greatest screen idol of the Third Reich" [58]

June 24, 1981 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Our Lady of Međugorje: Six young people in Yugoslavia claimed to have seen an apparition of The Virgin Mary. Ivanka Ivankovic, who allegedly saw it first, was joined by her sister Vicka Ivankovic, Mirjana and Ivan Dragicevic, Marija Pavlovic and Jakov Colo. Although the local Catholic bishop, Pavo Zanic, felt that the apparitions had been "a case of collective hallucination", Pope John Paul II approved pilgrimages to the area in 1986, and tens of thousands of believers have visited Međugorje (now part of Bosnia and Herzegovina) since then.[59]
  • Soldiers in the army of Uganda killed 86 people, mostly women and children, in a massacre at the city of Arua.[60]
  • Died: Paul Butler, 89, multimillionaire who founded Butler Aviation Company and who was largely responsible for the creation of Oak Brook, Illinois. Butler, whose net worth was estimated at between 50 and 125 million dollars, was struck by a car while standing in the street in front of his home to take photographs.[61]

June 25, 1981 (Thursday)[edit]

  • In a double-bout in Houston, WBC welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard made a technical knockout (TKO) of Ayub Kalule in the 9th round to win the WBA's junior middleweight boxing championship, and Thomas Hearns defended his title against challenger Pablo Baez. The double bill set up a September 16 bout between Leonard and Hearns[62]
  • Rostker v. Goldberg: In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women were exempt from draft registration[63]
  • Born Simon Ammann, Swiss ski jumper, in Grabs, four-time Olympic gold medalist (2002 and 2010)

June 26, 1981 (Friday)[edit]

June 27, 1981 (Saturday)[edit]

  • In a major break from the cult of personality that had been inspired by the late Chairman Mao Zedong, "Resolution on Certain Historical Issues of the Party Since the Founding of the PRC" was approved by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. A 119-page document faulted Mao for the Cultural Revolution that lasted from May 1966 until Mao's death in October 1976, described as "responsible for the most severe setback and heaviest losses suffered by the party, the state and the people", but added that "an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration... was the error of a great proletarian revolutionary."[65]
  • The "Banjul Charter, or the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, was adopted by the 51 members of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) at its meeting in the capital of The Gambia, to take effect October 21, 1986[66]

June 28, 1981 (Sunday)[edit]

Ayatollah Beheshti
  • The Tehran headquarters of the Iran's Islamic Republican Party was destroyed at 9:05 pm by a powerful bomb that killed 74 government leaders as they met in Tehran. The Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, Secretary-General of the party, Chief Justice, and second-in-command to the Ayatollah Khomeini, was speaking at the meeting when the bomb, hidden in a trash basket near the podium, exploded. The roof of the two story IRP hall collapsed, killing nearly all of the 90 people inside at the time. In addition to Beheshti, four cabinet ministers, six deputy ministers, and 27 members of parliament were killed.[67]
  • Giovanni Spadolini became the 65th Prime Minister of Italy. As leader of the Italian Republican Party (PRI), he was the first premier since 1945 to be from a party other than the Christian Democrats.[68]
  • Fifty members of the Lighthouse Gospel Tract Foundation in Arizona waited in vain for the Rapture, after predicting June 28, 1981 for the date of the return of Jesus. On July 10, the group's leader revised the new date to August 7, 1981.[69]
  • Born Mara Santangelo, Italian tennis player, in Latina
  • Died: Terry Fox, 22, Canadian athlete and cancer activist.

June 29, 1981 (Monday)[edit]

  • Hu Yaobang was elected as Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, to succeed Hua Guofeng. After the position of Chairman was abolished the following year, Hu continued as General Secretary, until he was dismissed on January 16, 1987, and replaced by Zhao Ziyang.[70]

June 30, 1981 (Tuesday)[edit]



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  2. ^ James F. Scotton and William A. Hachten, New Media for a New China (John Wiley and Sons, 2010) p185
  3. ^ "Settles' Death Investigated", Reading (Pa.) Eagle, June 4, 1981, p48
  4. ^ "Settles Didn't Kill Self- Jury", Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1981, pA1
  5. ^ "Suit Over football Player's Death in Coast Jail Settled for $1 Million", New York Times, January 14, 1983
  6. ^ Atlanta Child Murders and Wayne Williams: FBI Files (BACM Research) p110
  7. ^ "Atlanta suspect talks to reporters", Milwaukee Journal, June 4, 1981, p1
  8. ^ "Man held in Atlanta slay probe", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 22, 1981, p1
  9. ^ "James Earl Ray stabbed— Martin Luther King's killer attacked", Miami News, June 4, 1981, p1
  10. ^ "James Earl Ray, 70, Killer of Dr. King, Dies in Nashville", New York Times, April 24, 1998
  11. ^ "Pneumocystis Pneumonia - Los Angeles", Epidemiologic Notes and Reports, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Center for Disease Control (June 5, 1981)
  12. ^ "Indian Tram Toll May Reach 3,000", Montreal Gazette, June 9, 1981, p1
  13. ^ Stephen J. Spignesi, The 100 Greatest Disasters of All Time (Citadel Press, 2002)
  14. ^ "Hundreds drown in India as train plunges into river", Montreal Gazette, June 8, 1981, p1;
  15. ^ Facts on File Yearbook 1981 (Facts on File, Inc., 1982) p385-386; "Israel levels Iraqi reactor", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 9, 1981, p1
  16. ^ Barbara Sofer, Ilan Ramon: Israel's Space Hero (Lerner Publications, 2003); Iftach Spector, Loud and Clear: The Memoir of an Israeli Fighter Pilot (Zenith Imprint, 2009)
  17. ^ "Attack - and Fallout: Israel and Iraq", TIME Magazine, June 22, 1981
  18. ^ Edward Willett, Ayatollah Khomeini (The Rosen Publishing Group, 2004) p78; "Khomeini fires Bani-Sadr as military chief", Milwaukee Journal, June 11, 1981, p2
  19. ^ Geraldine Woods, Right to Bear Arms (Infobase Publishing, 2005) p56; "Handguns outlawed in suburb", Anchorage Daily News, June 10, 1981, p1
  20. ^ "Auto union to rejoin AFL-CIO", Chicago Tribune, June 10, 1981, p21
  21. ^ "Boy's Plight Grips Italy, Brings President To Tears", The Blade (Toledo, OH), June 12, 1981, p1
  22. ^ "Too deep", by Christopher P. Winner, The American In Italia, June 1, 2007
  23. ^ "Thousands feared dead as quake hits Iran", Glasgow Herald, June 12, 1981, p1; "Iran Sets Death Toll At 1,027 in Quake", Toledo Blade, June 16, 1981, p2
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  25. ^ "Talks Fail, baseball Strike Begins", Pittsburgh Press, June 12, 1981, p1
  26. ^ "Blank shots fired at queen", Milwaukee Journal, June 13, 1981, p1
  27. ^ "On This Day: June 13", BBC.co.UK
  28. ^ "Treason in the UK: recent cases", BBC News, August 8, 2005
  29. ^ "Peru flies 'caused medfly plague'", Modesto (CA) Bee, September 2, 1981, pB-9; "From Shoo-in to Scapegoat", TIME Magazine, September 14, 1981
  30. ^ Facts on File Yearbook 1981 (Facts on File, Inc., 1982) p414
  31. ^ "The Execution Got Forgotten!", Reading (Pa.) Eagle, June 17, 1981, p6
  32. ^ LAW: Prison Rights, TIME Magazine, June 29, 1981
  33. ^ "U.S. lifts arms ban on China", Montreal Gazette, June 16, 1981, p1
  34. ^ Isabelo T. Crisostomo, Cory—Profile of a President (Branden Books, 1987); "Marcos given 6 more years", Anchorage Daily News, June 16, 1981, p9
  35. ^ Bernard A. Cook, Europe Since 1945: An Encyclopedia, Volume 2 (Taylor & Francis, 2001) p1253
  36. ^ "Trident Begins Sea Trials Shadowed By Soviets", Toledo Blade, June 17, 1981, p8
  37. ^ Paul Kengor and Patricia Clark Doerner, The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007)
  38. ^ "Girl's letter led Stewart to retire" Bangor (Maine) Daily News, June 19, 1981, p1
  39. ^ David B. Thurston, The World's Most Significant and Magnificent Aircraft: Evolution of the Modern Airplane (SAE, 2000) p213
  40. ^ Kenneth Hall and Myrtle Chuck-A-Sang, CARICOM Single Market and Economy: Genesis and Prognosis (Ian Randle Publishers, 2007) p389
  41. ^ "Block reveals disease 'breakthrough'", Modesto (CA) Bee, June 19, 1981, p1
  42. ^ Georges-Hébert Germain, Celine: The Authorized Biography of Celine Dion (Dundurn Press Ltd., 1998) p102
  43. ^ NASA, En Garde TIME Magazine, June 29, 1981
  44. ^ "Rocket Ariane boosts Europe's space plans", Anchorage Daily News, June 20, 1981, pA-14
  45. ^ imdb.com imdb.com
  46. ^ Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (Oxford University Press US, 1989) p146
  47. ^ Dilip Hiro The Iranian Labyrinth: Journeys through Theocratic Iran and Its Furies (Nation Books, 2005) p135
  48. ^ "23 executions bring Iran total to 195", Deseret News (Salt Lake City), July 13, 1981, p1
  49. ^ "Iranian Parliament Member Assassinated", Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald, December 29, 1981, p1
  50. ^ Peter Heller, "In this corner-- !": forty-two world champions tell their stories (Da Capo Press, 1994)
  51. ^ "French socialists get solid majority", Milwaukee Journal, June 22, 1981, p3
  52. ^ "16 feared dead in mountain tragedies - Rainier avalanche buries 11; 5 die in fall on Mount Hood", Eugene (OR) Register-Guard, June 22, 1981, p1
  53. ^ Kalley, Jacqueline A., Elna Schoeman, and Lydia E. Andor. Southern African Political History: A Chronology of Key Political Events from Independence to Mid-1997. Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Greenwood Press, 1999. p. 467
  54. ^ "McEnroe wins opener, loses Wimbledon crown", Milwaukee Sentinel, June 23, 1981, p 2-1
  55. ^ "Khomeini fires Bani-Sadr from presidency", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 9, 1981, p 2
  56. ^ "Pawtucket Makes Short Work of Longest Game", Toledo Blade, June 23, 1981, p23
  57. ^ Shao Chuan Leng and Hungdah Chiu, Criminal Justice in Post-Mao China: Analysis and Documents (SUNY Press, 1985) p134
  58. ^ Alice A. Kuzniar, The Queer German Cinema (Stanford University Press, 2000)p57
  59. ^ James P. Campbell, Mary and the Saints: Companions on the Journey (Loyola Press, 2001) p69
  60. ^ "Women, children massacred as terror stlaks Uganda again", Milwaukee Journal, July 3, 1981 p1
  61. ^ "Paul Butler Dead at 89; Top Aviation Executive", New York Times, June 26, 1981, pA-17
  62. ^ "Leonard and Hearns Victors by Knockouts", New York Times, June 26, 1981, p19
  63. ^ Lynne E. Ford, Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics (Infobase Publishing, 2008) p399
  64. ^ Maurice J. Meisner, Mao's China and after: a history of the People's Republic (Simon and Schuster, 1999) p444
  65. ^ Facts on File Yearbook 1981 (Facts on File, Inc., 1982) p450; Rebecca E. Karl, Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History (Duke University Press, 2010) p166
  66. ^ Tiyambe Zeleza and Philip J. McConnaughay, Human Rights, the Rule of Law, and Development in Africa (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) p87
  67. ^ Glenn E. Curtis, Iran: a country study (Government Printing Office, 2008) p63; "Bomb blast kills Iranian leader, 63 others", Anchorage Daily News, June 29, 1981, p1; "Iran: Lurching Bloodily Onward", Time magazine, July 13, 1981
  68. ^ "Italy Ends Era Of Christian Democracy", Daytona Beach Morning Journal, June 29, 1981, p8A
  69. ^ "New rapture date set", Milwaukee Journal, July 11, 1981 p2
  70. ^ Colin Mackerras, The New Cambridge Handbook of Contemporary China (Cambridge University Press, 2001) p89
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  72. ^ "8 Nazis convicted of war crimes", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 1, 1981, p2