July 23, 1979 — Ayatollah Khomeini bans western music from Iran

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a decisive turn against Western influences, and a new, theocratic constitution that effectively made Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini dictator for life as part of a return to Islamic values. Among these was the banning of almost all Western culture, including most modern music. (With the exception of some music by Queen – the late great Freddie Mercury was of Persian descent, after all.)

Khomeini is gone now, but the bans remain in place.

July 25, 1967 — The 12th Street Riot takes place in Detroit

The second largest riot in United States history (eclipsed only the Los Angeles riots of 1992), the 12th Street Riot was begun with a police raid on an illegal seller of alcohol in the early hours of Sunday, July 23 of 1967. When resistance was encountered by the police, the raid swiftly spiralled out of control.

By sunrise on the 23rd, the riot was well underway and looting had begun throughout the neighbourhood. By the time the riot was finally quelled on the 27th, it had grown to such a point that the army had been called in, and the peace was enforced with guns and tanks. The death toll was 43 people, with another 467 injured. Police made more than 7000 arrests, and more than two thousand buildings were sufficiently damaged that they were either destroyed outright or needed demolition.

The riot remains a subject of some dispute today, with allegations made on both sides as to the conduct of the other side. The fact that the majority of deaths, injuries and arrests that took place were those of negroes has often been cited as evidence of racism on the part of the Detroit police and the US Army. There is even some question of whether this was a riot, or a rebellion that was put down very early in its progress. Certainly the aftermath of the riot was not good for Detroit. Nearly 200,000 whites moved out of the city in the following two and a half years, afraid of another black uprising, taking with them money, jobs and businesses, and crippling Detroit for many years thereafter.

July 23, 1892 — Haile Selassie I born

Born Tafari Makonnen, Haile Selassie I could trace his descent through the royal house of Ethiopia back the 13th century CE, and beyond that, to legendary claims of being the descendant of King Solomon of Israel and the Queen of Sheba. He ruled Ethiopia from 1916 until 1972 (as Regent until 1930, and as Emperor thereafter) and was one of the most respected statesman in the world – and also venerated as the Messiah by Rastafarians.

He was a staunch opponent of the Axis powers in World War Two, and was famously the first leader to return to his liberated nation after the invaders were repulsed. He led Ethiopia into the League of Nations and later the United Nations, and was a strong proponent of multilateralism and of the prosecution of war crimes.