June 27, 1977 – a day of contrasts throughout the world.
Beginning with news of a tragic fire in a Columbia Tennessee jail which took the lives of some 42 prisoners and visitors is what was described as the worst fire of its kind in Tennessee history . The fire, started in a cell by a 16 year-old Fugitive from a Mental Facility, quickly spread, trapping prisoners and visitors. A guard was under investigation after he had reportedly dropped his cell-door keys and didn’t pick them up for an approximate 12 minutes, in which time scores of screaming locked-in prisoners were overcome by smoke. Forensics experts and fire investigators were on the scene, this day after the blaze, combing through smoldering ruins, searching for answers.
In St. Louis this day – the annual gathering of the NAACP (National Association For The Advancement of Colored People) and the approval of a new President, with the retirement of 75 year-old Roy Wilkins and the selection and approval of his successor, Benjamin Hooks. The 10,000 delegates converged on the city to begin the 68th session of the NAACP Convention.
And Independence was in the air from Djibouti, the former French colony. Djibouti was bordered by Somalia on the Southeast, Eritrea and The Red Sea to the north and northeast and Ethiopia to the West and South and The Gulf Of Aden to the East. Under French rule since the late 1800s, a referendum vote was held in May of 1977 and the decision to break colonial ties to France was unanimously approved by the third vote on June 27th. And the wheels of independence for Djibouti were set in motion.
And that’s just a small slice of what happened in the world this day, June 27, 1977 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.