Events in the 1960s

Table of Contents

The Sixties: Moments in Time

This timeline offers a sample of newsworthy happenings from the 1960s. The events used in this interactive timeline were chosen on the basis of importance at the time, and continuing significance for American culture at the start of the 21st century.

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War & Peace

December, 1960

Viet Cong Emerge

An armed coalition of communists and insurgents emerge in South Vietnam.

December, 1961

U.S. Buildup Begins

White Paper advises increased U.S. presence in Vietnam.

February 14, 1962

U.S. Will Fire Back

Kennedy declares U.S. advisers in ‘Nam will defend themselves.

December 2, 1962

$2 Billion Wasted

Kennedy hears from Senate leader after Saigon trip to see outcome of U.S. aid.

November, 1963

U.S. Gets Tough

New in office, President Johnson pushes for stiffer policies on Vietnam.

January 30, 1964

Coup in Saigon

South Vietnam military sets up third government in three months.

August 2, 1964

Gulf of Tonkin

The USS Maddox is on spy patrol 30 miles off the coast of Vietnam when it reports an attack by three enemy vessels. Another U.S. ship reports an attack on Aug 4. (Later inquiries will cast doubt on both reports.) On Aug 7, Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, allowing Pres. Johnson to wage war against North Vietnam without a formal Declaration of War.

April-June, 1964

U.S. Navy Arrives

After North Vietnam goes into Laos, U.S. moves 2 carriers offshore.

March 2, 1965

Operation “Rolling Thunder” Begins

Johnson approves Rolling Thunder in February, believing that a program of limited bombing in North Vietnam will deter support for Vietcong. Rolling Thunder continues for three years and eight months, involving 305,380 raids and 634,000 tons of bombs. Results include: 818 pilots killed and hundreds more captured; 182,000 civilians killed in North Vietnam.

March 24, 1965

First Anti-Vietnam War Teach-In

Anti-war faculty members and the SDS publicize and protest U.S. involvement in Vietnam. About 3,000 attend.

June 8, 1965

U.S. Goes on the Offensive

U.S. troops in Vietnam get permission to go on the offensive.

December, 1966

Martin Luther King Opposes War

Breaking with the President, Martin Luther King announces his opposition to the war.

December 31, 1967

385,300 U.S. Troops in ‘Nam

More troops are on their way: 33,000 are stationed in Thailand; 60,000 sail offshore.

April 15, 1967

Protesters March to U.N.

400,000 march to U.N. building and hear speeches by Martin Luther King and Dr. Benjamin Spock.

October 21-22, 1967

March to Pentagon

Norman Mailer joins march to Pentagon; He recounts events in Armies of the Night for which he earns a Pulitzer.

November 29, 1967

Secretary of Defense Resigns

Robert McNamara is ousted following months of increasing conflict with the President and military leaders. McNamara’s removal is precipitated by private communications with the President, and public remarks questioning Johnson’s policies. Just weeks before, McNamara had testified in a Senate hearing that U.S. bombing raids against North Vietnam were not achieving their objectives, movement of supplies to South Vietnam had not been reduced, and that neither the economy nor the morale of the North Vietnamese had been broken.

January 30-31, 1968

Tet Offensive Launched by Vietcong

To the Vietnamese, Tet is a culturally important celebration of the Lunar New Year. U.S. planners and troops are unprepared when the North Vietnamese and Vietcong use festivities as cover, surging into Saigon and other key cities. Within days, U.S. forces retake most areas; an intense battle for Hue rages for 26 days. Retaking the area, U.S. troops discover mass graves containing the bodies of thousands of people who had been executed during the Communist occupation during and after Tet. The Offensive is a military disaster for the guerillas, with 37,000 dead. The U.S. lost 2,500 men, undermining public support for the war and giving the Vietcong a political victory.

February 27, 1968

Cronkite Urges Negotiations to End War

CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, known as America’s “most-trusted man,” files a special report from Vietnam. He experiences intensive combat in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive. Departing from accepted news style, Cronkite shares his personal feelings, telling viewers he is “more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.” Insiders see this as a key factor in Johnson’s decision to offer negotiations and not seek re-election in ’68.

March 16, 1968

My Lai Massacre

Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, is on a “search and destroy” mission in the hamlet of My Lai. Something goes horribly wrong, resulting in violent death for hundreds of unarmed civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. After one and a half years, the officer at My Lai, Lt. William Calley, is brought up on murder charges. News of atrocities at My Lai doesn’t reach public media until November 1969. In March 1971, Calley is convicted and sentenced to life; he is paroled in September 1975 after serving three and a half years.

September 24, 1969

Chicago 7 Trial Begins

Charges are tied to rioting at ’68 chicago convention. The defendants use the proceedings to put the War on trial.

October 15, 1969

Two Million Take Part in Peace Moratorium

A one-day nationwide action, the Peace Moratorium is the largest demonstration in U.S. history. Protestors include many first-time activists. Events include religious services, street rallies, public meetings, school seminars, and marches. Participants wear black armbands to signify opposition to the war and honor the dead. Washington, D.C., a natural focal point, draws 250,000 demonstrators.


May 1, 1960

U2 Plane Shot Down

Soviet Russia shoots down U.S. spy plane. Pilot Francis Gary Powers is detained for two years.

May 13, 1960

Students Protest HUAC Tactics

Students and teachers organize a protest the powerful (HUAC) in San Francisco. Police use fire hoses and clubs to remove demonstrators, injuring and arresting many.

September 26, 1960

First Televised Presidential Debate Airs

The debate between presidential candidates Kennedy and Nixon is broadcast nationally on all TV networks (only three networks exist in 1960), and on network radio. It is a Monday evening, and 70 million viewers are watching. On TV, Nixon is visibly pale and badly attired, while Kennedy appears tan and relaxed. Political campaigning is suddenly a new ballgame, and image can beat substance.

November 8, 1960

Kennedy Elected

John F. Kennedy wins presidency in tightest election since 1884.

April 16-25, 1961

Bay of Pigs: Failed Invasion of Cuba

CIA-backed Cuban exiles launch a failed attempt to remove Fidel Castro from power. An international embarrassment, the episode puts Kennedy’s leadership in question.

May 25, 1961

U.S. Denies Soviet Control of Space

The battle for technological superiority is a central theme in the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia — and space technology is especially valuable because of military applications such as nuclear missile systems. On April 12, 1961, the Soviets put the first man in space. In response, Kennedy delivers a televised speech on May 25, announcing a new vision for the U.S. in space. His goal is to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade, and before the Soviets do. NASA is under pressure to produce rapid progress in the space program. On February 20, 1962, NASA’s first effort, Friendship 7, carries astronaut John Glenn around Earth three times.

October 6, 1961

Kennedy Warns of Possible Nuclear Attack

President Kennedy advises citizens to be ready for nuclear attack, and build family bomb shelters.

October 29, 1961

USSR Tests Hydrogen Bomb

The Soviet Union fires a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb, the biggest explosion in history.

June, 1962

First SDS Convention

The convention yields a ’60s student manifesto, the Port Huron Statement: Agenda for a Generation.

October 22-28, 1962

Cuban Missile Crisis

Photos by U.S. spy planes reveal the Soviets are positioning camouflaged nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy orders a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent delivery of more missiles. The world holds its breath during a week of tense negotiations to resolve the standoff. The crisis ends when Russia agrees to remove the Cuban missiles, in exchange for the U.S. removing similar missiles from Turkey. It was a week that brought the world to the brink of mutual nuclear annihilation, and spurred one of the greatest quotes of the Cold War, when Secretary of State Dean Rusk observed, “We were eyeball to eyeball, and the other guy just blinked.”

November 7, 1962

Nixon Loses Governor’s Race

Nixon blames his California defeat on the media, saying, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”

August 30, 1963

“Hot-Line” Phones Installed

A pari of “hot line” phones are installed in the Oval Office and Kremlin, a direct result of the prior year’s crisis in Cuba.

November 22, 1963

Kennedy Assassinated

President John F. Kennedy is shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Lyndon Johnson is quick sworn in as President.

Democrats Hire Ad Agency

Democrats hire a top-10 ad agency for the ’64 campaign. Agency produces a number of hard-hitting spots, including the “Daisy Ad”.

November 3, 1964

Johnson Defeats Goldwater

Receiving more than 60 percent of the popular vote, incumbent Democrat Lyndon Johnson easily defeats Republican Barry Goldwater. During the campaign, Goldwater is an overt hawk regarding the war in Vietnam, while Johnson takes a sharply contrasting stance, suggesting de-escalation. In fact, the war escalates dramatically during the next 4 years of Johnson’s administration.

July 30, 1965

Johnson Signs Medicare Bill

The legislation establishes a health program for the elderly.

August 6, 1965

Voting Rights Act

The legislation ends discrimination at the polls.

November 8, 1966

Edward Brook Elected

The Republican from Massachusetts becomes the first African American Senator in 85 years.

August 30, 1967

Thurgood Marshall Confirmed

The U.S. Senate confirms Thurgood Marshall to the becomes first African American to sit on the U.S. supreme court.

June 6, 1968

Robert Kennedy Asassinated

Senator Robert Kennedy dies of gunshot wounds in Los Angeles, a day after winning the California Presidential primary.

November 5, 1968

Shirley Chisholm Elected to Congress

Shirley Chisholm becomes first African American woman elected to Congress.

August 25-29, 1968

Violence Scars Convention in Chicago

Turmoil and Robert Kennedy’s death push the party toward chaos, while anti-war demonstrators are beaten by police. Prominent activists are charged with inciting the riots.

November 5, 1968

Richard Nixon Wins Presidency

Running on a platform of “law and order,” Republican Richard Nixon and running mate Spiro Agnew narrowly defeat incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Nixon receives 43.4% of the popular vote, just seven-tenths of 1% more than Humphrey. Third-party segregationist candidate George Wallace receives about 15 percent of the popular vote. Nixon wins a second term in 1972, and resigns from office in 1974.

November 17, 1969

SALT I Negotiations Begin

The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) begin negotiations to curb nuclear capabilities of U.S. and USSR.

Pop Culture

March 23, 1960

Elvis Leaves Army

Sergeant Elvis Presley receives honorable discharge after two years in the Army.

May 16, 1960

First LASER is Demonstrated

Physicist Theodore Maiman uses a core of man-made ruby to create the first successful LASER (an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation). The invention has an immediate effect on pop culture, heavily promoted in science fiction books and movies. Inspired by the laser, scientists immediately begin work on fiber-optics technology. Four decades later, lasers are used as precision surgical tools and measurement devices, and also appear in everyday objects such as laser printers, or compact disc and DVD players.

December, 1960

“The Pill” is Born

Here is the first drug developed for social rather than medicinal purposes. At first, the Pill is only available to married women, but American culture rapidly adopts the new contraceptive choice. By 1965, over five million American women are on the Pill, even though many states still have laws prohibiting prescriptions for unmarried women and minors. The Pill does not cause the sexual revolution, but certainly enables it. The Pill also brings contraception out of the bedroom and into the living room. It becomes a common theme of magazine articles and books – and even co-stars with David Niven and Deborah Kerr in a 1968 movie: Prudence and the Pill.

April 11, 1961

Dylan’s First Public Performance

Bob Dylan appears at Gerde’s Folk City in his first billed performance.

May 9, 1961

TV Called A “Vast Wasteland”

In a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, Newton Minow, head of the FCC, criticizes broadcasters for not doing more to serve the public interest.

Ken Kesey Publishes “Cuckoo’s Nest”

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a grim satire is set among the patients and workers in a mental institution.

August 5, 1962

Marilyn Monroe Dies

Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, 36, is found dead in her bedroom.

April 21, 1963

First Artificial Heart Implanted

Dr. Michael E. De Bakey implants artificial heart in human for first time at a Houston hospital. The Patient survives for only four days.

October 11, 1963

Vatican II Begins

Pope John XXIII opens Vatican II. The council holds four sessions and closes Dec. 8, 1965.

January 11, 1964

Smoking “Hazardous To Your Health”

The first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health is a landmark document, contradicting decades of tobacco advertising that suggest healthful benefits. The report contains powerful material, and intentionally leaves much to speculation. It is released on a Saturday morning to deter a knee-jerk reaction on Wall Street. Acting voluntarily, The New Yorker and other leading magazines start to refuse tobacco ads. Within months, Congress has passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965, requiring health warnings on packages and banning ads on broadcast media.

February 9 and 16, 1964

Beatles Appear on Sullivan Show

The Beatles make two appearances on Ed Sullivan Show. Over 70 million people watch each show.

Nader Examines Auto Industry

Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe At Any Speed, questions motives of the auto industry.

September 5, 1965

The “Hippie” Comes Into Being

Michael Fallen starts a series of stories for the San Francisco Examiner, introducing the word “hippie” to readers. Fallen’s articles describe the migration of beatniks from North Beach to Haight-Ashbury in search of cheaper rents, some popular hippie hangouts such as the notorious Blue Unicorn, and the generally bohemian lifestyle of the beatnik/hippie community. Fallen’s articles are widely read, but “hippie” doesn’t appear in mainstream language for two more years.

May 25, 1966

Cold War Satire Premiers

The film The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, tells the story of the comic chaos which ensues when a Soviet submarine runs aground near a small New England town.

September 8, 1966

Star Trek Debuts

For next three years, science fiction program goes where no TV series has gone before.

January 15, 1967

First Super Bowl

Forty million TV viewers watch the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

Summer, 1967

Summer of Love

Usually this description refers to 1967, in and around San Francisco when the “hippie movement” was in full flower. Particularly during the summer months, thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to the Haight-Ashbury to take part in a somewhat pale imitation of the true hippie experience. Many were drawn by the gentle lyrics of a song penned by John Phillips, member of The Mamas & the Papas. Phillips’ song San Francisco (written in anticipation of the Monterey Pop Festival in June) romanticizes the era and atmosphere. Scott McKenzie’s cover-version of the song is on the airwaves by May — just in time for summer vacation.
If you’re going to San Francisco,
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…
If you come to San Francisco,
Summertime will be a love-in there.

November 9, 1967

Rolling Stone Magazine Premiers

The first issue of Rolling Stone, a new magazine devoted to music and popular culture, debuts featuring John Lennon on the cover.

September 7, 1968

Judi Ford is Crowned Miss America

Telecasts of the Miss America Pageant are among the most popular TV shows of the late ’60s, regularly capturing two-thirds of the audience. Feminists realize this popularity means access to national media. In 1968, feminist protestors demonstrate on the Boardwalk outside the Pageant, crown a sheep, and throw symbols of female restraint into a “Freedom Trash Can.” Media attention is immediate and generally positive, encouraging protestors to return in subsequent years. In the same city on the same day, the first Miss Black America Contest is held to protest the exclusively “white” Miss America Pageant. In the wake of these protests, Pepsi-Cola withdraws sponsorship of the Miss America Pageant, saying it no longer represents the values of American society.

June 22, 1969

Judy Garland Dies

The actress is killed by an overdose at age 47. Over 20,000 mourners attend her funeral.

July 20, 1969

One Small Step for Man

Along with Walter Cronkite, over half a billion people watch as the Apollo 11 lander settles on the lunar surface at 4:19 PM, EDT. News anchor Cronkite is almost speechless, exclaiming, “Man on the moon…oh, boy!” Six hours later, people are still riveted to the images from space as Neil Armstrong gently sets foot onto the powdery surface of the Moon at 10:56 PM. Buzz Aldrin also walks on the Moon, while the third member of the mission, Michael Collins, remains in orbit aboard the command module.

August 15-17, 1969

Woodstock: Three Days of Peace, Music & Love

An estimated audience of over 400,000 people gather for three days of music near Bethel, NY, swarming across the pastures of Max Yasgur’s dairy farm. The festival is the brainchild of four men under age 26 (including one with a multimillion-dollar trust fund). Only 186,000 tickets are sold, so around 200,000 people are expected – but the amazing lineup of bands and musicians draws many more. Fences are pushed over and tickets become pointless. On opening night, sponsors declare free admission to all, and the word spreads like wildfire. Police estimate a million more people trying to reach Woodstock are stuck in traffic jams up to 50 miles away. In rain and mud, thousands listen to Janis Joplin, The Who, Canned Heat, the Grateful Dead, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and Country Joe & The Fish. On the last morning, guitarist Jimi Hendrix wakes the crowd with a riveting solo version of the national anthem. The final cost is $2.4 million. A film of the concert is released the following year.

October 29, 1969

First E-mail Message

The first computer transmission is carried by ARPANET at 10:30 PM on October 29 from a host computer at UCLA to another host computer at Stanford.

November 10, 1969

Sesame Street Debuts

Program is first broadcast on NET, predecessor to PBS.


February 1, 1960

First Sit-In Protests

A group of students launch protests against segregation at a “Whites only” lunch counter of the Woolworth store in Greensboro, NC.

April 15-17, 1960

SNCC Founded

In Raleigh, N.C., African American college students create the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to give young blacks a stronger role in the civil rights movement.

May 4, 1961

“Freedom Riders” Leave D.C.

An interracial group of protesters board buses and travel to the South to test President Kennedy’s commitment to civil rights.

July, 1961

Ban-The-Bomb Protests

Anti-Nuclear Activists coordinate worldwide protests against nuclear weapons.

Silent Spring Published

Rachel Carson’s book makes case for the urgent need to protect the environment.

October 1, 1962

James Meredith Registers at “Ole Miss”

On Sept 20, with the support a Supreme Court ruling, James Meredith arrives at the Univ. of Mississippi in Oxford, intending to enroll as the school’s first black student. The state Governor physically blocks Meredith’s progress on Sept 20, and again Sept 25. Talks between the White House and the Governor fail to produce a solution. The Kennedy administration orders federal marshals to Oxford. On Sept 30, rioting kills two students, and wounds 160 marshals. The next morning, Meredith officially registers as a transfer student; he graduates in 1963. Bob Dylan writes Oxford Town about Meredith’s experiences.

The Feminine Mystique Published

Betty Friedan launches the modern feminist movement with her critique of the role of women in society.

June, 1963

Gloria Steinem Writes Playboy Bunny Article

As a freelancer for Show magazine, she writes an infamous undercover expose about harassment and injustices while pretending to be a Playboy bunny.

August 28, 1963

“I Have A Dream…”

During the Civil Rights March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. delivers one of his most impassioned and memorable speeches to an audience of 250,000. Speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial, King sets aside his prepared notes to describe his vision of an nation that will “rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.'” Later this year, King is named TIME’s Person of the Year.

June 22, 1964

Freedom Summer Begins With Murder

The SNCC organizes Freedom Summer to increase voter registration and build a grassroots political party in Mississippi. Three young activists disappear on June 22: Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney. Their bodies are found on August 4, buried in an earthen dam. Investigation results in 21 arrests, and conspiracy convictions of seven Ku Klux Klan members in October 1967. Exactly 41 years after the murders, on June 22, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen is convicted on three counts of manslaughter for masterminding the killings.

July 2, 1964

Civil Rights Act

Legislation outlaws discrimination on basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

October 14, 1964

MLK Awarded Nobel Prize

Martin Luther King Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

February 21, 1965

Malcolm X Assassinated

The Nation of Islam leader is killed during while delivering a speech in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom.

August 11-16, 1965

Watts Race Riots

Six days of rage and riots in Los Angeles leave 34 dead and $200 million in damages.

June 16, 1966

Stokely Carmichael Takes Over at SNCC

Soon after taking charge at the SNCC Carmichael rejects nonviolence and invokes “Black Power”.

June 30, 1966

NOW is Born

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is founded with the stated purpose of bringing “women into full participation in the mainstream of American society.”

October 15, 1966

Black Panther Party Founded

Bobby Seale and Huey Newton found the Black Panthers in Oakland, CA. In stark contrast to the nonviolence endorsed by civil rights activists, the militant Black Panthers approve the use of violence for defense. The Black Panthers gain notoriety for patrolling streets in black berets and jackets, heavily armed with weapons. Their doctrine of self-determination and strength initially draws thousands of converts.

April 4, 1968

Abbie Hoffman Protest at Stock Exchange

Abbie Hoffman creates chaos on floor of the New York Stock Exchange by tossing (fake) currency from the gallery.

November 6, 1968

SSFU Student Strike

Five-month student strike begins at San Francisco University. The protests result in the creation of the nation’s first ethnic studies program.

February, 1969

Wave of Campus Uprisings rolls over U.S.

Weeks of violent student uprisings begin with an extended student strike at U.C. Berkeley, and continue with takeovers and sit-ins at University of Massachusetts, Howard University, and Penn State.

June 27, 1969

Stonewall Riots

Judy Garland’s funeral attracts gay mourners to the Stonewall Tavern in New York. A melee with police breaks out when someone resists arrest, launching the Gay Liberation Movement.

November 20, 1969

Native Americans Occupy Alcatraz

The protesters fail to gain title to the island, but inspire a native movement.

  • The U. S. Senate acquits President Clinton of impeachment charges.
  • NATO air strikes move to Kosovo. In May, Serbs agree to pull troops out of Kosovo.
  • Two teenagers kill 15 students, including themselves, at Columbine Colorado High School.
  • Israeli prime minister Ehub Barak and PLO leader Yasir Arafat announce peace accord.
  • World population reaches 6 billion.
  • Tobacco companies admit that their products harm smokers.
  • The Y2K Scare raises the possibility that databases all over the world – including in U.S. military computers – would go haywire because they were designed to recognize only two digits in dates.
  • The Y2K Scare fizzles. Nothing blows up.
  • Palestinian and Israeli violence explodes into the “intifada.”
  • In one of the closest, contested elections on record, George W. Bush defeats Al Gore for President. Before it’s over, Florida begins a recount of ballots, but the Supreme Court halts the recount.
  • The human genome sequence is deciphered opening up new possibilities in medicine.
  • High prices for Internet company stocks tumble as the “Dot-Com Bubble” bursts.

  • On September 11, terrorists attack the World Trade Center in New York. The twin towers are hit by two jet airliners and collapse. Over 3,000 are killed. Another plane hits the Pentagon, and a fourth crashes in Pennsylvania. President Bush declares a war on terror and begins bombing Afghanistan. Troops are deployed and the Taliban government collapses. Hamid Karzai is sworn in as Afghanistan’s leader.
  • Letters laced with the poison Anthrax are mailed to media and government offices. Several die after handling the letters.
  • The epidemic of foot and mouth disease in British livestock reaches crisis proportions.
  • The Kyoto Protocol global warming treaty is approved by 178 nations, but not by the U.S., one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
  • Enron Corporation, one of the world’s largest energy companies, files for bankruptcy.
  • Half of all Americans now use the Internet.
  • Apple’s iPod becomes the best selling MP3 player in the world.
  • Israeli tanks and warplanes attack West Bank towns in retaliation for 14 suicide bombing incidents.
  • WorldCom admits it falsified profit statements and files for bankruptcy.
  • A defrocked priest named John Geoghan in convicted of child molestation. The church’s role in covering up the crime sparks outrage. U.S. bishops adopt a zero tolerance policy for priests who abuse children. Boston archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law resigns over the scandal.
  • PC sales pass the one billion mark.
  • In his State of the Union address, President Bush announces he is ready to attack Iraq even without UN agreements. He does. In March, the U.S. and Britain launch war against Iraq. Within a month, Baghdad falls. By July, the war is costing $3.9 billion a month. Saddam Hussein’s sons are killed in a firefight, but their father remains at large. In December, Saddam Hussein himself is captured by American troops.
  • In May, Bush signs a 10-year, $350 billion tax cut, the third largest tax cut in U.S. history.
  • The space shuttle Columbia explodes killing all seven astronauts.
  • Israel retaliates for suicide bombings by killing top members of Hamas. Other militant Palestinian groups formally withdraw from a cease fire. Bush’s “road map” to peace collapses.
  • California governor Gray Davis is ousted in a recall vote. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected in his place.
  • Dan Brown releases his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code.
  • Iraq weapons investigator David Kay resigns saying there is no evidence that Iraq ever had weapons of mass destruction – one of the main reasons Bush put forward for invading. U.S. media release graphic photos of American soldiers abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Protests erupt all over the world. In June, the U.S. hands over power to an Iraqi interim government led by Iyad Allawi. The Senate intelligence committee criticizes the intelligence reports used to justify the war. A special commission criticizes the government’s handling of the September 11th terrorist attacks. In November, U.S. troops launch attacks on Falluja.
  • Spain is rocked by terrorist attacks, and al-Qaeda claims responsibility.
  • NATO formally admits seven new countries from the former Soviet block.
  • Sudanese rebels and the government reach accord to end the 21-year-old civil war. But in a separate war in western Darfur region, the killing continues. The UN Security Council demands the Sudanese government disarm militias in Darfur.
  • Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan admits he sold nuclear weapons designs to other countries, including North Korea, Iran and Libya.
  • UN weapons inspectors tell Iran to stop enriching uranium. Iran claims they are building only peaceful uses for nuclear power.
  • Enormous tsunami devastates Asia. At least 225,000 are killed.
  • George W. Bush is re-elected.
  • Social networking Web site Facebook takes off.
  • In Iraq, elections are held to select a 275-seat national assembly and a total of 8.5 million people vote, about 58 percent of those eligible to vote. Iraqi voters turn out again in October to ratify a new constitution. In December, 11 million – 70 percent of those registered – vote to elect their first permanent Parliament. In October, Saddam Hussein goes on trial for the killing of 143 civilians in the town of Dujail. The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq reaches 2,000.
  • In August, Hurricane Katrina destroys much of the Gulf Coast, flooding New Orleans. More than 1,000 die and hundred of thousands are left homeless. Americans are shaken not just by the magnitude of the damage but also by the ineptitude of government to alleviate the suffering.
  • The European Union abandons plans to ratify the proposed European constitution by 2006 after both France and the Netherlands vote against it.
  • Former Tehran mayor and hard-line conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is elected President of Iran. He defiantly pursues Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
  • London is hit by Islamic terrorist bombings, killing 52 people and wounding 700.
  • The Irish Republican Army announces it is officially ending its violent campaign for a unified Ireland and will instead pursue its goals through the political process.
  • President Bush signs CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
  • YouTube posts its first videos.
  • In January, President Bush announces he will send a “surge” of 20,000 more troops to Iraq in addition to the 130,000 already there. In Iraq, violence between different sects increases. The UN estimates that more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians are killed in 2006 alone as a result of the fighting. There were also 300 U.S. soldiers killed in 2006. In November, Saddam Hussein is found guilty of crimes against humanity. He is hanged at the end of the year.
  • Also in November, voters elect Democratic Party majorities in both the House and the Senate, largely due to opposition to the war in Iraq. A day after the elections, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld steps down. He is replaced by Robert Gates.
  • Iran removes United Nations’ seals from its uranium enrichment plant and production of the fuel is resumed. President Ahmadinejad insists the research is for peaceful purposes, but he also threatens to wipe Israel “off the map.” Sanctions are strengthened.
  • The Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus are set on fire in protest for a Danish newspaper’s cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam. Images of Mohammad are forbidden under Islamic tradition.
  • Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore releases the documentary An Inconvenient Truth chronicling the science and potential damages of climate change and global warming. Later the film wins the Academy Award for best documentary.
  • The Chinese government builds the “Great Firewall of China” to censor the Internet before it reaches its citizens.
  • On May 28, major league baseball player Barry Bonds hits his 715th home run, passing Babe Ruth and closing in on Hank Aaron. But the record is tainted because, two months earlier, a book alleged that Bonds had used performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball investigates.
  • The Rolling Stones end their “Bigger Bang” tour earning an estimated $138.5 million in 2006. It is the top-grossing tour to that point. Other stars, like Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, help push concert ticket sales to over $3.5 billion.

  • The subprime mortgage collapse begins as prices for homes collapse, banks try to foreclose and financial companies begin to file for bankruptcy. By November foreclosure filings are up 68 percent over the same month the previous year. Eventually the crisis will reach around the world.
  • The top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Patraeus, says the troop “surge” is working, reducing sectarian killings in Baghdad and across the nation.
  • At a hearing at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed confesses to planning the September 11 Al Qaeda attachs on the World Trade Center. He also claims responsibility for a number of other terrorist acts.
  • China executes its former State Food and Drug Administration chief following his conviction of accepting bribes to approve substandard medicine. China has become the world’s biggest exporter, but a rash of defective products have hurt its reputation and business.
  • Former Vice President Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change.”
  • At the end of June, Apple Computer releases the “iPhone.” The device can surf the Web, take pictures, play back music using iTunes, send and receive e-mail and … make calls. In just over two months, 1 million iPhones are sold.
  • The seventh, and final, Harry Potter novel is released with an initial press run of 12 million copies in the U.S. alone.
  • In January, predominantly white, Democratic citizens in a rural state, Iowa, vote to nominate a black man, Sen. Barack Obama as their party’s candidate for president. Through a long series of primaries, he wins the nomination over Hilary Clinton and a host of others. Obama chooses Sen. Joe Biden as his VP candidate. The Republicans nominate Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin. Obama wins and becomes the first African-American chief executive in U.S. history. In addition, the Democrats win control of both houses of Congress.
  • While American troops are concentrated in Iraq, violence in Afghanistan is on the rise with the resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
  • In May, the California State Supreme Court strikes down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional. A month later, the state begins issuing marriage licenses, the second state to do so, after Massachusetts. However, in November voters pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriages.
  • In August, fighting erupts between Russia and its neighbor Georgia, an American ally and former member of the Soviet Union. The possibility of a new Cold War is raised.
  • In September, Wall Street experiences what many experts label as the biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression. It’s fueled by an ongoing, multi-billion-dollar mortgage crisis. Lehman Brothers collapses. AIG, American International Group, the country’s largest insurance company, files for bankruptcy despite a $85 billion bailout. Washington Mutual is sold to JP Morgan Chase. In October, President Bush signs a $700 billion rescue plan for the banks.
  • In December, Bush signs a $17.4 billion rescue package for ailing auto makers General Motors and Chrysler. The Big Three CEOs blame their problems on the growing global economic crisis, but critics charge they were too slow to produce fuel-efficient cars.
  • On October 3 – exactly 13 years after he was acquitted of murder – O. J. Simpson is found guilty of 12 charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping. His conviction came after he and five other men broke into a Las Vegas hotel room to steal thousands of dollars worth of sports memorabilia that Simpson claimed was his. He is sentenced to nine years in prison.
  • Activists in Egypt use Facebook to rally for democracy.
  • The movie “WALL-E” is released by Pixar with an ecological message.

Written by Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First published in 2009. A partial bibliography of sources is here.

Farming in the 70s – Today

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At the beginning of the 1960s, many Americans believed they were standing at the dawn of a golden age. On January 20, 1961, the handsome and charismatic John F. Kennedy became president of the United States. His confidence that, as one historian put it, “the government possessed big answers to big problems” seemed to set the tone for the rest of the decade. However, that golden age never materialized. On the contrary, by the end of the 1960s it seemed that the nation was falling apart.

The Great Society

During his presidential campaign in 1960, John F. Kennedy had promised the most ambitious domestic agenda since the New Deal: the “New Frontier,” a package of laws and reforms that sought to eliminate injustice and inequality in the United States. But the New Frontier ran into problems right away: The Democrats’ Congressional majority depended on a group of Southerners who loathed the plan’s interventionist liberalism and did all they could to block it.

It was not until 1964, after Kennedy was shot, that President Lyndon B. Johnson could muster the political capital to enact his own expansive program of reforms. That year, Johnson declared that he would make the United States into a “Great Society” in which poverty and racial injustice had no place. He developed a set of programs that would give poor people “a hand up, not a handout.” These included Medicare and Medicaid, which helped elderly and low-income people pay for health care; Head Start, which prepared young children for school; and a Job Corps that trained unskilled workers for jobs in the deindustrializing economy. Meanwhile, Johnson’s Office of Economic Opportunity encouraged disadvantaged people to participate in the design and implementation of the government’s programs on their behalf, while his Model Cities program offered federal subsidies for urban redevelopment and community projects.

Evidence From the JFK Assassination Case

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The War in Vietnam

Unfortunately, the War on Poverty was expensive–too expensive, especially as the war in Vietnam became the government’s top priority. There was simply not enough money to pay for the War on Poverty and the war in Vietnam. Conflict in Southeast Asia had been going on since the 1950s, and President Johnson had inherited a substantial American commitment to anti-communist South Vietnam. Soon after he took office, he escalated that commitment into a full-scale war. In 1964, Congress authorized the president to take “all necessary measures” to protect American soldiers and their allies from the communist Viet Cong. Within days, the draft began.

The war dragged on, and it divided the nation. Some young people took to the streets in protest, while others fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Meanwhile, many of their parents and peers formed a “silent majority” in support of the war.

The Fight for Civil Rights

The struggle for civil rights had defined the ‘60s ever since four black students sat down at a whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, in February 1960 and refused to leave. Their movement spread: Hundreds of demonstrators went back to that lunch counter every day, and tens of thousands clogged segregated restaurants and shops across the upper South. The protesters drew the nation’s attention to the injustice, brutality and capriciousness that characterized Jim Crow.

In general, the federal government stayed out of the civil rights struggle until 1964, when President Johnson pushed a Civil Rights Act through Congress that prohibited discrimination in public places, gave the Justice Department permission to sue states that discriminated against women and minorities and promised equal opportunities in the workplace to all. The next year, the Voting Rights Act eliminated poll taxes, literacy requirements and other tools that southern whites had traditionally used to keep blacks from voting.

But these laws did not solve the problems facing African Americans: They did not eliminate racism or poverty and they did not improve the conditions in many black urban neighborhoods. Many black leaders began to rethink their goals, and some embraced a more militant ideology of separatism and self-defense.

The Radical ’60s

Just as black power became the new focus of the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, other groups were growing similarly impatient with incremental reforms. Student activists grew more radical. They took over college campuses, organized massive antiwar demonstrations and occupied parks and other public places. Some even made bombs and set campus buildings on fire. At the same time, young women who had read The Feminine Mystique, celebrated the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act and joined the moderate National Organization for Women were also increasingly annoyed with the slow progress of reform. They too became more militant.

The counterculture also seemed to grow more outlandish as the decade wore on. Some young people “dropped out” of political life altogether. These “hippies” grew their hair long and practiced “free love.” Some moved to communes, away from the turbulence that had come to define everyday life in the 1960s.

The Summer of Love

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The Death of the 1960s

The optimistic ‘60s went sour in 1968. That year, the brutal North Vietnamese Tet Offensive convinced many people that the Vietnam War would be impossible to win. The Democratic Party split, and at the end of March, Johnson went on television to announce that he was ending his reelection campaign. (Richard Nixon, chief spokesman for the silent majority, won the election that fall.) Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, the two most visible leftists in American politics, were assassinated. Police used tear gas and billy clubs to break up protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Furious antiwar protestors took over Columbia University in New York as well as the Sorbonne in Paris and the Free University in Berlin. And the urban riots that had erupted across the country every summer since 1964 continued and intensified.

Shreds of the hopeful ‘60s remained. In the summer of 1969, for example, more than 400,000 young people trooped to the Woodstock music festival in upstate New York, a harmonious three days that seemed to represent the best of the peace-and-love generation. By the end of the decade, however, community and consensus lay in tatters. The era’s legacy remains mixed–it brought us empowerment and polarization, resentment and liberation–but it has certainly become a permanent part of our political and cultural lives.

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  • An earthquake in Iran kills 12,000. Drought in the north African Sahel region kills 500,000.
  • At the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos give the Black Power salute on the medal stand. They are suspended from the team. Earlier, the Mexican Army massacred student protesters at the Plaza of Three Cultures.
  • Student rebellions in Paris lead to reform of the French educational system.
  • Pope Paul VI issues a encyclical against all artificial means of contraception. In 1970, he declares that priestly celibacy is fundamental to the Roman Catholic Church.
    • The Soviets begin Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with U.S. President Nixon.
    • The U.S. troop strength in Vietnam hits 543,000 but they begin the policy of Vietnamization, turning more of the war over to the Vietnamese Army.
    • In Woodstock, NY, 300,000 rock-and-roll fans attend three days of music, “peace and love.”
    • Apollo 11 lands on the moon. More than 100 million people watch on television around the world as U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong steps onto the surface.
    • In computer technology, the microprocessor is invented. This miniature set of integrated circuits makes possible the computer revolution. Also, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) goes online. This decentralized computer communications network is the forerunner of the Internet.
    • The Concorde, the world’s first supersonic passenger jet, makes its maiden flight. The plane become too costly to continue in 2003.

    Written by Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First published in 2007. A partial bibliography of sources is here.

    Living through a Cold War & Two Hot Ones

    The protests continued to intensify in 1967, as the number of American troops in Vietnam peaked at 450,000. A Catholic priest named Philip Berrigan made his point about the war by pouring blood (mostly from ducks, some of his own) on draft records in a Selective Service office in Baltimore. One activist confronted Johnson with a sign that read: “LBJ, Pull Out Like Your Father Should Have Done!” Student protesters would taunt the president by chanting “Hey, hey, LBJ how many kids did you kill today?”

    When Democrats convened at their party convention in Chicago in August 1968, thousands of protesters gathered in Grant Park to make their voices heard by party leaders and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had become the nominee after Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection. The protesters were not tame. The activists who arrived in Chicago, as one later recalled, “were the children of the Democratic Party … We expected nothing from Republicans. We expected everything from Democrats.” The Youth International Party, one of the groups heading the protests, announced that they would nominate a pig, the epithet often applied to police and politicians, to run against Humphrey. The Yippies threatened to dump LSD into the city water and used the most outlandish language possible when speaking to reporters about the leaders of the Democratic Party. After the police violently attacked the protesters under the direction of Democratic Mayor Richard Daley, some marched with Humphrey’s initials—HHH—fashioned into a logo that looked like barbed wire. The protesters had nothing nice to say about Johnson.

    During the fall, students continually heckled Humphrey at almost every appearance. Humphrey believed that they would cost him the election. When one demonstrator in Seattle shouted at him in the middle of a speech that he should be brought before a United National Court to be on trial for having supported the war, an angry Humphrey lashed back: “Now you have had equal time—shut up!” Another yelled out “Racist! Racist!” The nominee even went so far as to tell the CBS reporter Roger Mudd that the violence in Chicago had been the fault of the protesters, not the police: “The obscenity, the profanity, the filth that was uttered night after night in front of the hotels was an insult to every woman, every mother, every daughter, indeed every human being, the kind of language that no one would tolerate at all.” (Realizing the comment was a mistake, Humphrey walked it back within 24 hours). Although their focus remained on the Democratic ticket, who these leftist activists believed betrayed them, they also showed up at Republican events and at rallies for third-party candidate George Wallace.

    The students did not let up after Richard Nixon was president. Although the president began the process of Vietnamization, pulling U.S. troops out of the conflict, he undertook a massive bombing campaign and a secret invasion of Cambodia. It seemed the war would never end. When the National Guard killed four students in a protest at Kent State University in May 1970, protests erupted all around the nation. “The very fabric of government was falling apart,” then-National-Security Adviser Henry Kissinger lamented. “The Executive Branch is shell-shocked. After all, their children and their friends’ children took part in the demonstrations.” Almost one year after the Kent State massacre, there were two solid weeks of anti-war protests, including student sit-ins and die-ins at government offices like the Justice Department and Selective Service Administration. Twenty-five thousand people calling themselves the Mayday Tribe later attempted to bring the entire government to a halt. “If the government doesn’t stop the war, we will stop the government,” their posters warned. The plan was to peacefully use their bodies to block government employees and their automobiles, preventing workers from getting to their jobs. Having obtained advance knowledge of the plan, the Nixon administration, with the help of the National Guard as well as Army and Marine troops, was able to crack down on the protests before they had much effect.

    A Decade of Change:

    A 60’s timeline of events

    One of the things that I would like to do is offer a bit of timeline history on the glorious decade of the sixties. It’s funny how I can remember certain events and when I became aware of them. That distinct awareness deceives me into believing that I have a referential timeline as to when things were invented, or introduced. For example, I can recall being remotely aware of zip codes in the late sixties, when in fact they were introduced much earlier.

    Here, history presents itself to our scrutinous eyes as we re-live world events that so makes up the chemistry and essence of our very Boomer being. The history is interesting, wierd, and fun. Most important however, is that we lived through it all, and were able to see some of the most significant, beautiful, tragic, and fascinating happenings of all time. These events, served up on a platter of memory, belong solely to us, the forever spawning “Generation X”, the “Baby Boomers”, the ambassadors of a new and exciting decade.

    This timeline is intended to be a fun reminder of just what happened when we were young and rocking this great planet of ours. So, with that all said and done, shall we go back in time? Let’s do.

    The 60’s Timeline: a brief overview of events

    1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969

    Information Sources:

    • Murderer/Writer Caryl Chessman is executed.
    • Sprite is introduced by Coca-Cola.
    • In Greensboro, North Carolina, four black students begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter. Although they are refused service, they are allowed to stay at the counter. The event triggers many similar nonviolent protests throughout the Southern United States, and 6 months later the original 4 protesters are served lunch at the same counter.
    • Joanne Woodward receives the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
    • After a two-year stint, Elvis Presley returns from Germany.
    • President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1960 into law.
    • The Beatles begin a forty-eight night engagement at the Indra Club in Hamburg, West Germany.
    • Cold War trivia: Nikita Khrushchev pounds his shoe on a table at a United Nations General Assembly meeting, protesting discussion of Soviet Union policy toward Eastern Europe.
    • The Polaris missile is test-launched.
    • “The Flintstones” who were often compared to “The Honeymooners” air on television.
    • France tests its first A Bomb in the Sahara desert.
    • President Kennedy advises all “prudent families” to have a bomb shelter.
    • The DNA genetic code is broken.
    • The IBM Selectric typewriter is introduced.
    • The United States launches its first test of the Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile.
    • Construction of the Berlin Wall begins, restricting movement between East Berlin and West Berlin and forming a clear boundary between West Germany and East Germany, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.
    • The Vietnam War officially begins, as the first American helicopters arrive in Saigon along with 400 U.S. personnel.
    • “Barbie” gets a boyfriend when the “Ken” doll is introduced.
    • Russians send the first man into space.
    • John F. Kennedy becomes the 35th President of the United States.
    • President of the United States John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.
    • The longrunning soap opera General Hospital debuted on ABC.
    • Baseball player Roger Maris of the New York Yankees hits his 61st home run in the last game of the season, against the Boston Red Sox, beating the 34-year-old record held by Babe Ruth.
    • Adolf Eichmann is pronounced guilty of crimes against humanity by a panel of 3 Israeli judges.
    • The Beatles’ first record, “My Bonnie” with Tony Sheridan, is released by Polydor.
    • Adolf Eichmann is hanged in Israel.
    • The Rolling Stones make their debut at London’s Marquee Club, Number 165 Oxford Street,
    • John Lennon secretly marries Cynthia Powell.
    • Dr. No, the first James Bond film, premiers in UK theaters.
    • October 12 – The infamous Columbus Day Storm strikes the U. S. Pacific Northwest with wind
    • gusts up to 170 mph (270 km/h); 46 dead, 11 billion board feet of timber is
    • blown down, with $230 million U.S. in damages.
    • October 14 – Cuban Missile Crisis begins: A U-2 flight over Cuba takes photos of Soviet
    • nuclear weapons being installed. A stand-off then ensues the next day between the United
    • States and the Soviet Union, threatening the world with nuclear war.
    • October 22 – In a televised address, U.S. President John F. Kennedy announces to the nation the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
    • October 28 – Cuban Missile Crisis: Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev announces that he has ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.
    • The term “Personal computer” is first mentioned by the media.
    • The films “American Graffiti” and “Animal House” are set in 1962.
    • American Broadcasting Company (ABC) begins color telecast for 3.5 hours a week.
    • Diet Rite is the first sugar-free soda introduced.
    • Pull tabs on cans are introduced.
    • President Kennedy is assasinated. Stores and businesses shut down for the entire weekend and Monday, in tribute.
    • Congress enacts “equal pay for equal work” legislature for women.
    • Two thirds of the world’s automobiles are in the United States.
    • Film goddess Marilyn Monroe is found dead of an apparent overdose. It becomes the most controversial death on record.
    • The Whisky a Go Go night club in Los Angeles, California, the first disco in the United States, is opened.
    • A large cloud that some say resembles the face of Jesus is seen on Sunset Mountain, Arizona.
    • In Camden, Tennessee, Country superstar Patsy Cline (Virginia Patterson Hensley) is killed in a plane crash along with fellow performers Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas and Cline’s manager and pilot Randy Hughes while returning from a benefit performance in Kansas City, KS for country radio disc jockey “Cactus” Jack Call.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. issues his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.
    • The Coca-Cola Company debuts its first diet drink, TaB cola.
    • Dr. No, the first James Bond film, was shown in US theaters.
    • In Saigon, Buddhist monk Thich Quong Doc commits self-immolation to protest the oppression of Buddhists by the Ngo Dinh Diem administration.
    • ZIP Codes are introduced in the U.S.
    • The first episode of the BBC television series Doctor Who is broadcast in the United Kingdom.
    • I Want to Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There are released in the U.S., marking the beginning of full-scale Beatlemania.
    • Ford Motors introduces the “Mustang”.
    • Studebaker-Packard introduce seat belts as standard equipment.
    • Plans to build the New York World Trade Center are announced.
    • The Beatles vault to the #1 spot on the U.S. singles charts for the first time, with “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” forever changing the way rock-and-roll music sounds.The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, marking their first live performance on American television. Seen by an estimated 73 million viewers, the appearance becomes the catalyst for the mid-1960s “British Invasion” of American popular music.
    • Malcolm X, suspended from the Nation of Islam, says in New York City that he is forming a black nationalist party.
    • The Beatles hold the top 5 positions in the Billboard Top 40 singles in America, an unprecedented achievement. Due mostly to the explosive growth, fragmentation, and marketing of popular music since, this is certain to never happen again. The top songs in America as listed on April 4, in order, are: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “Please Please Me.”
    • From Russia With Love was shown in US theaters.
    • Country singer Jim Reeves (40) is killed when his private plane crashes in thunderstorm near Nashville Tennessee.
    • 3.5 billion dollars worth of vending machine sales.

    • Medicare bill passes.
    • 34 people die in Watts ghetto riot.
    • 190,000 troops are in Vietnam.
    • 32,000 people make 54-mile “freedom march” from Selma to Montgomery.
    • Malcolm X is assassinated on the first day of National Brotherhood Week, at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, allegedly by Black Muslims.
    • In Cold Blood killers Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, convicted of murdering 4 members of the Herbert Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, are executed by hanging at the Kansas State
    • Bob Dylan elicits controversy among folk purists by “going electric” at the Newport Folk Festival.
    • Jefferson Airplane debuts at the Matrix in San Francisco, California and begins to appear there regularly.
    • The Beatles performed the first stadium concert in the history of rock, playing at Shea Stadium in New York.
    • At the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, 66 ex-SS personnel receive life sentences, 15 others smaller ones.
    • Rock musician Bob Dylan releases his influential album Highway 61 Revisited, featuring the song “Like a Rolling Stone.”
    • The soap opera Days of our Lives debuts on NBC.
    • A Charlie Brown Christmas, the first Peanuts television special, debuts on CBS.
    • Taster’s Choice freeze dried coffee is introduced.
    • The fourth of four lost H Bombs is found off the Spanish coast.
    • U.S. troop strength in Vietnam is 400,000. U.S. deaths: 6,358. Enemy deaths: 77,115.
    • The first Acid Test is conducted at the Fillmore, San Francisco.
    • The Beatles: In an interview published in The London Evening Standard, John Lennon comments, “We’re more popular than Jesus now,” eventually sparking a controversy in the United States.
    • United States president Lyndon Johnson signs the 1966 Uniform Time Act act dealing with Daylight Saving Time.
    • The Church of Satan is formed by Anton Szandor LaVey in San Francisco.
    • The final new episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show airs.
    • Bob Dylan breaks his neck and nearly dies in a motorcycle accident near Woodstock, New York. He isn’t seen in public for over a year.
    • The Beatles play their very last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.
    • Star Trek, the classic science fiction television series, debuts with its first episode, titled “The Man Trap.”
    • Grace Slick performs live for the first time with Jefferson Airplane.
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas, narrated by Boris Karloff, is shown for the first time on CBS. It will become an annual Christmas tradition, and the best-loved film ever based on a Dr. Seuss book.
    • Rolling Stone Magazine is founded.
    • Communist China announces the H Bomb.
    • Dr. Christian Barnard performs the first heart transplant.
    • Albert DeSalvo, the “Boston Strangler”, is convicted of numerous crimes and sentenced to life in prison.
    • Human Be-In takes place in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; event sets the stage for the Summer of Love.
    • The Doors’ first album is released.
    • In Houston, Texas, boxer Muhammad Ali refuses military service.
    • Jimmy Hoffa begins his 8-year sentence for attempting to bribe a jury.
    • Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu are married in Las Vegas.
    • The album Are You Experienced is released by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in the United Kingdom.
    • Pink Floyd releases their debut album “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.”
    • Jim Morrison and The Doors defy CBS censors on The Ed Sullivan Show, when Morrison sings the word “higher” from their #1 hit Light My Fire, despite having been asked not to.
    • Love Is a Many Splendored Thing debuts on U.S. daytime television and is the first soap opera to deal with an interracial relationship. CBS censors find it too controversial and ask for it to be stopped, causing show creator Irna Phillips to quit.
    • Walt Disney’s full-length animated feature The Jungle Book, the last animated film personally supervised by Disney, is released and becomes an enormous box office and critical success. On a double bill with the film is the (now) much less well-known True-Life Adventure, Charlie the Lonesome Cougar.
    • LSD declared an illegal by the United States government.
    • Richard Nixon is elected President.
    • The 1st class postage stamp raises to 6 cents.
    • Robert Kennedy is assasinated in California. Sirhan Sirhan is apprehended on the spot.
    • Johnny Cash records “Live at Folsom Prison”.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots erupt in major American cities for several days afterward.
    • The musical Hair officially opens on Broadway.
    • The soap opera One Life to Live premieres on ABC. The show featured Tommy Lee Jones and Lawrence Fishburne.
    • Saddam Hussein becomes Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Council in Iraq after a coup d’état.
    • The White Album is released by The Beatles.
    • The film Oliver!, based on the hit London and Broadway musical, opens in the U.S. after being released first in England. It will go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
    • The Zodiac Killer is believed to have shot Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday on Lake Herman Road, Benicia, San Francisco Bay, California.
    • Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.
    • 624 pairs of panty hose are produced.
    • After 147 years, the last issue of The Saturday Evening Post is published.
    • The Woodstock Music and Art Fair is held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm near Bethel, N.Y. August 15th- 18th. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors in front of 500,000 concert-goers
    • At the Academy Awards ceremony for films released in 1968, a tie between Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand results in the 2 sharing the Best Actress Oscar; Hepburn also becomes the only actress to win 3 Best Actress Oscars. The film version of Oliver! wins Best Picture.
    • The film Easy Rider premieres.
    • Project Apollo: The Eagle lands on the lunar surface. The world watches in awe as Neil Armstrong takes his historic first steps on the Moon and erects first flagpoles in outer space to fly the American flag
    • Members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder Sharon Tate, (who was 8 months pregnant), and her friends Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Jay Sebring at Tate and husband Roman Polanski’s home in Los Angeles, California. Steven Parent, leaving from a visit to the Polanskis’ caretaker, is also killed. More than 100 stab wounds are found on the victims, except for Parent, who had been shot almost as soon as the Manson Family entered the property.
    • The Manson Family kills Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, wealthy businesspeople who live in another section of Los Angeles.
    • Monty Python’s Flying Circus airs its first episode on the BBC.
    • The pilot episode of The Brady Bunch, starring Robert Reed and Florence Henderson, airs on United States TV.
    • Wal-Mart incorporates as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
    • The Children’s Television Workshop’s educational television program Sesame Street is premiered in the United States.
    • John Lennon returns his OBE to protest the British government’s support of the U.S. war in Vietnam.
    • The Manson family “hippie cult” is charged with the Tate-LaBianca murders.
    • The Altamont Free Concert is held at the Altamont Speedway in northern California. Hosted by the Rolling Stones, it is an attempt at a “Woodstock West” and is best known for the uproar of violence that occurred. It is viewed by many as the “end of the sixties.”

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    The 1960s were by far one of the most iconic and memorable decades in American history. From hippies to miniskirts and go-go boots, many agree that the 60s witnessed everything from revolutionary movements to audacious fashion trends. Here are our favorite ten trends that marked this decade.


    Everyone, young and old, had an afro or at least aspired to grow one. The “fro” was by far the hairdo of choice back then for both men and women. The bigger the afro, the better!

    Barbie Dolls

    The sixties witnessed the birth of the Barbie sensation. Sales of Barbie merchandise reached a whopping $100,000,000 by 1965. Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie dolls, was inspired to make a 3-dimensional doll after watching her daughter play with her paper dolls. She named them after her daughter Barbara.


    Derived from Navy uniforms, bell-bottoms were the fashion statement for hippies, and a trademark of the sixties era. Worn by Elvis Presley as well as Sonny and Cher, these wide-legged pants became very popular with the younger generations.


    The British rock group, the Beatles, was a massive hit with kids and teens. Crazed fans would faint at their concerts. Beatlemania was so extreme that some rabid fans would even pass out just from watching them perform on TV!

    Go-go boots

    The go-go boots were created by the leading French fashion designer Andre Courreges, in 1965. They were an instant hit, worn by women at nightclubs all the way from New York to Los Angeles.

    Lava lamps

    Invented in the mid-60s, lava lamps were definitely a decorative novelty in this already colorful era (and perhaps still are, somewhere in the world). People were fascinated with how this lamp made of an illuminated glass cylinder filled with a colorful, wax-like substance, glowed like lava when heated. Lava lamps surely lit up the 60s!


    Following the conservative 50s, miniskirts were part of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s. These short dresses reached their peak of popularity in 1967 when they became a sign of rebellion more than just a sassy fashion statement. “Showing it all” was the new trend and the past demure days went flying out of the door.

    Smiley faces

    You would expect the maker of the “smiley face” to have made a six-figure profit for his drawing. Ironically, however, Harvey Ross Ball was only paid $45 for drawing it in 1963, and never trademarked it either. Working for an advertising agency in Massachusetts at the time, Ball was hired by a client of the agency to come up with something that would comfort employees. Amazingly enough, the smiley face ended up soothing the entire world!

    Tie Dye T-Shirts

    The ancient art of tie dying was at its prime in the 60s, transforming dull white t-shirts to vibrantly colored and boldly designed shirts. With all the fads of the sixties, it is no wonder that hippies wanted to make the trends shine through their clothing. Tie dying still lives to this day.


    Worn by many high-profile celebrities like Johnny Carson, Senator Robert Kennedy, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, the turtleneck was at its climax. 1967 was named as the year of the turtle in reference to the turtleneck sweater.

    For those who were lucky enough to witness them, the sixties will always stay in our hearts. Hopefully, we might see the return of some of these trends, someday. And if we are lucky enough, others will remain in the sixties, to be remembered and sometimes even laughed about.

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    POP CULTURE: The Way We Were

    Pop culture is that loose blend of books, music, fashion and other daily ephemera that contributes to the identity of a society at a particular point in time. In essence, pop culture is a self-portrait created through purchasing power. In the ’60s, radio, film, television, and books carry the essence of American pop culture.

    In 1960, nearly half of America’s population is under 18 years old. It’s a young society, and the most affluent generation in U.S. history. American teenagers have $22 billion a year at their disposal (a sum equivalent to $140 billion in 2005 dollars).

    1960… to …1969
    average house $16,500 $27,900
    postage stamp
    of gas
    31¢ 35¢
    57¢ 62¢
    of milk
    49¢ $1.10

    The best-selling books often reflect a society’s most pressing concerns. Definitive reads of the decade include To Kill a Mockingbird and Valley of the Dolls. But evenings spent with a good book are on the way out: TV is the new centerpiece. Color TV arrives in the early ’60s and is embraced far more rapidly than the old black-and-white sets. By the end of the decade, 95 percent of homes have at least one TV.

    The Beatles are heard everywhere: pocket-sized transistor radios, eight-track stereos in cars, and portable record players. Everyone with a radio can sing along to the thrilling quality of stereo FM broadcasts. Although Elvis works hard to keep up, music is changing for good. The brightest stars are linked to the British Invasion, and the Motown and San Francisco sounds.

    The advent of color TV has a direct and immediate impact on drive-in movie theaters. In ’62, there are 6,000 drive-ins in the U.S.; a year later there are 3,550. Walk-in theaters also feel the change as more people choose to stay home and watch the three networks fight for ratings. The movie industry peaks in 1964 with the release of 502 films. Box office sales will continue to increase with ticket prices, but the selection of films is never again so varied.

    Mainstream religion is on the wane, except in growing evangelicalism and the new kind of relaxed non-denominational churches. In ’66, the TIME cover story will actually ask “Is God Dead?” By the end of the decade, nearly 60 million people-a third of the population-have moved out of cities and into suburbs in search of a brighter, cleaner world.

    Explore More…

    • Play the Selling to the Boomers matching game.
    • Find out about important pop culture Newsmakers.
    • Read contemporary Reflections.
    • Explore the cultural legacy of the Baby Boomer generation.
    • Learn more from other Web sites in the Resource Library.