James Earl Ray pleads guilty to Martin Luther King assassination in Memphis in 1969

By The Associated Press

Today is Sunday, March 10, the 69th day of 2019. There are 296 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On March 10, 1969, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty in Memphis, Tennessee (on his 41st birthday) to assassinating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (Ray later repudiated that plea, maintaining his innocence until his death.)

On this date: In 1496, Christopher Columbus concluded his second visit to the Western Hemisphere as he left Hispaniola for Spain.

In 1848, the U.S. Senate ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War.

In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln assigned Ulysses S. Grant, who had just received his commission as lieutenant-general, to the command of the Armies of the United States.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant, Thomas Watson, heard Bell say over his experimental telephone: “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you” from the next room of Bell’s Boston laboratory.

In 1913, former slave, abolitionist and Underground Railroad “conductor” Harriet Tubman died in Auburn, New York; she was in her 90s.

In 1933, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake centered off Long Beach, California, resulted in 120 deaths.

In 1965, Neil Simon’s play “The Odd Couple,” starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney, opened on Broadway.

In 1980, “Scarsdale Diet” author Dr. Herman Tarnower was shot to death at his home in Purchase, New York. (Tarnower’s former lover, Jean Harris, was convicted of his murder; she served nearly 12 years in prison before being released in January 1993.)

In 1985, Konstantin U. Chernenko, who was the Soviet Union’s leader for 13 months, died at age 73; he was succeeded by Mikhail Gorbachev.

In 1988, pop singer Andy Gibb died in Oxford, England, at age 30 of heart inflammation.

In 1993, Dr. David Gunn was shot to death outside a Pensacola, Florida, abortion clinic. (Shooter Michael Griffin is serving a life sentence.)

In 2003, shortly before the start of the Iraq war, Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, told a London audience: “Just so you know… we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” (Maines later apologized for the phrasing of her remark.)

Ten years ago: In his first major speech on education, President Barack Obama called for tying teachers’ pay to student performance and expanding innovative charter schools. A gunman, 28-year-old Michael McLendon, killed 10 people, including his mother, four other relatives and the wife and child of a local sheriff’s deputy across two rural Alabama counties before committing suicide.

Five years ago: Joe McGuiness, 71, the adventurous and news-making writer and reporter, died in Worcester, Massachusetts.

One year ago: Syrian government forces made their deepest push yet into the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus in a major blow to opposition fighters. Campaigning in western Pennsylvania for a Republican House candidate, President Donald Trump told a rally that his new tariffs were saving the steel industry.

Today’s Birthdays: Talk show host Ralph Emery is 86. Bluegrass/country singer-musician Norman Blake is 81. Actor Chuck Norris is 79. Playwright David Rabe is 79. Singer Dean Torrence (Jan and Dean) is 79. Actress Katharine Houghton (Film: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”) is 77. Actor Richard Gant is 75. Rock musician Tom Scholz (Boston) is 72. Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell is 72. TV personality/businesswoman Barbara Corcoran (TV: “Shark Tank”) is 70. Actress Aloma Wright is 69. Blues musician Ronnie Earl (Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters) is 66. Producer-director-writer Paul Haggis is 66.