September 20th in History

James Meredith, who desegregated the University of Mississippi, is escorted to class by US marshals (Photo: Marion S. Trikosko, US News and World Report, public domain by deed of gift to the Library of Congress, digital ID ppmsca.04292)

Today in History

  • The Prophet Muhammad and Abu Baker arrive in Medina (622)
  • Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem (1187)
  • Ferdinand Magellan sets sail on an expedition to circumnavigate the globe (1519)
  • American Civil War: The Battle of Chickamauga, the bloodiest two-day battle of the war, concludes (1863)
  • The first Cannes Film Festival is held (1946)
  • African-American James Meredith is barred from entering the University of Mississippi; he is later admitted by court order (1962)
  • Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match (1973)
  • The US military ends “don’t ask, don’t tell” (2011)


  • Upton Sinclair, author and political candidate (1878)
  • Maxwell Perkins, editor (1884)
  • Charles Williams, author (1886)
  • Red Auerbach, basketball coach (1917)
  • Jay Ward, animator (1920)
  • Anne Meara, actress (1929)
  • Sophia Loren, actress (1934)
  • Keith Roberts, author (1935)
  • George R. R. Martin, author and television producer (1948)
  • Gary Cole, actor (1956)
  • Gunnar and Matthew Nelson, singer-songwriters (1967)


  • Fletcher Christian, mutineer (1793)
  • Jacob Grimm, mythologist (1863)
  • Annie Besant, theosophist (1933)
  • Fiorello La Guardia, New York mayor (1947)
  • Jim Croche, singer-songwriter (1973)
  • Paul Erdös, mathematician (1996)
  • Gherman Titov, cosmonaut (2000)
  • Simon Wiesenthal, Holocaust survivor and human rights activist (2005)
  • Polly Bergen, actress (2014)

Holidays and Observances

  • Independence Day (South Ossetia, not fully recognized)
  • Constitution Day (Nepal)
  • Youth Day (Thailand)
  • Oil Workers’ Day (Azerbaijan)
  • Universal Children’s Day (Germany)

September 20 is the 263rd day of the year (264th in leap years). There are 102 days remaining until the end of the year.