Saturday, September 12, 2009

The 1960s

So in the last two days, I've watched two different movies about events that took place in the 1960s. I guess I always knew that the 60s had a lot of problems, but I don't think I ever really thought about, or even really acknowledged just how difficult it must have been to be alive during that decade.

As a kid, I used to love the music of the 60s (I still do as an adult) and would dream of going back in a time machine to experience the 60s for myself. As a child, I never really knew how scary and stressful it must have been to go through all the major events of that decade.

I am going to go through some of the major events of the 60s and share my thoughts and opinions of some. It' my blog... I can do whatever I want!!  :)

  • Started off with the Greensboro Lunch Counter sit-in at Woolworths... here in NC. I teach my 4th graders about this. This event happened February 1st, 1960 and started similar sit-ins throughout the south.
  • May 6th, 1960-- Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960
  • November- JFK is elected President over Nixon
  • March 1st, 1961- Kennedy announces the creation of the Peace Corps, and initiates 17 billion dollar nuclear missle program.
  • April 25th, 1961- The US invades Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and the mission is a failure
  • May 4th, 2961- The "Freedom Riders" begin to enforce integrated transportation in the south
  • August 13th, 1961- The Berlin Wall begins to be constructed as a way to separate East and West Germany
  • September 15th, 1961- The US begins underground nuclear testing
  • October 6th, 1961- Kennedy begins to ask American families to build fallout shelters. I cannot imagine how scary this must have been for all Americans. I'd freak out if Obama came on the television and encouraged me to build one for protection against nuclear war.
  • October 22nd, 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis: Soviets establish missile bases in Cuba, Kennedy orders a naval blockade to divert any missiles from arriving in Cuba.
  • November, George Wallace is elected as Governor of Alabama. This is starting to get scary...
  • January 1963- Wallace gives his inaugration speech and talks about, "Segregation forever."
  • April 3, 1963- Sit-ins and mass protests happen in Birmingham, Alabama
  • April 12, 1963- Martin Luther King Jr. is arrested for his part in the protests in Birmingham
  • June 11th, 1963- JFK propses the Civil Rights Bill
  • June 12th, 1963- Jackson Mississippi, the NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers is assassinated inside his home- Beckwith (the assassin) is tried twice and both resulted in a hung-jury
  • August 28th, 1963 the March on Washington takes place with MLK's I Have A Dream speech being delivered
  • September 15 - Four Black girls are murdered attending Sunday school in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. A target because it was where there was regular civil rights meetings. As a result Riots erupt in Birmingham, and two more black youths are killed in the violence.
  • November 22 - President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • November 24 - President Johnson escalates American's military involvement in the Vietnam War. Things are only going to get worse from here folks.
  • January 8 - President Johnson declares a "War on Poverty" in the State of the Union address thus initiating plans for his Great Society.
  • February 9 - The Beatles first appear on Ed Sullivan Show, performing with 74 million people watching them, the largest audience in the history of television. Yay!! The Beatles are here!!  :)
  • July 2 - President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making segregation in public facilities and discrimination in employment illegal.
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives President Johnson authority to prosecute an unlimited war in Vietnam unchecked by Congress. Not sure of the date, but this just seems crazy to me.
  • July 18 - There is a Race riot in Harlem, NY
  • August 5 - Three civil rights volunteers working to register voters are murdered by southern whites. They first go missing on June 21, but only officially declared missing on August 5. The three voluteers were James E. Cheney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 21; and Michael Schwerner, 24. They been arrested arrested, incarcerated, and then released on speeding charges. Their murdered bodies are found after President Johnson sends military personnel to join the search party. It is later revealed that the police released the three men to the Ku Klux Klan who killed them.
  • August 28 - There are Race riots in Philadelphia
  • February - Martin Luther King Jr. and 770 other protesters arrested in Selma, Alabama for picketing county courthouse to end discrim voting rights.
  • February 8 - U.S. starts bombing North Vietnam. It's officially becoming a "HOT MESS"
  • March 6 - First American soldier officially sets foot on Vietnam battlefields, First U.S. combat troops begin fighting in South Vietnam.
  • March 7 - In Selma, Alabama, SCLC and SNCC lead marches for voting rights. Blacks begin a march to Montgomery in support of voting rights but are stopped at the Pettus Bridge by a police blockade. Fifty marchers are hospitalized after police use tear gas, whips, and clubs against them. The incident is dubbed "Bloody Sunday" by the media.
  • March 16 - Police break-up a Civil Rights demonstration of 600 in Montgomery, Alabama
  • March 21 - Martin Luther King Jr. leads march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama joined by 25,000 marchers.
  • March 24 - SDS organizes first Vietnam War teach-in at Univ. of Michigan 3000 show up. Teach-ins against the war begin.
  • March 25 - Civil rights worker shot and killed by KKK in Alabama
  • April - 25,000 U.S. troops stationed in Vietnam
  • April 17 - SDS leads first anti-Vietwar march in Washington. 25,000 attend including Phil Ochs, Joan Baez and Judy Collins In Washington, D.C., SDS stages the first large national demonstration against the war.
  • July 8 - Chicago school integration protests
  • August 10 - Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests and other such requirements that tended to restrict black voting become illegal.
  • August 11 - Insurrection in Watts section of Los Angeles Major race riot (6 days) in Watts, leaves 35 dead.
  • August 13 - National Guard enters the Watts riots in L.A. in an attempt to stop the riots.
  • August 31 - Burning draft cards becomes an illegal and punishable act. Burning draft cards had become a popular protest method against the war. I think my dad had a draft card. In fact, I think he still knows his draft number.
This might just be the one year that wasn't too crazy... but get ready for the rest of the 60s...

  • January 27 - US, USSR, UK sign treaty banning nuclear weapons in space.
  • February - 25,000 US troops sent to the Cambodian border
  • April 10 - Vietnam Week starts. Draft card burnings and anti-draft demonstrations
  • Martin Luther King Jr. begins to speak out against the war in Vietnam. This is when the Civil Rights issues meets the Vietnam War issues... you can just see how it can only get worst from here.
  • May 19 - First U.S. air strike on Hanoi
  • June 30 - The number of US troops in Vietnam reaches 448,400
  • July - Rioting throughout the summer in the US. Blacks begin protesting in Chicago, Brooklyn, Cleveland and Baltimore.
  • July 11 - Large riots and insurrections in the black ghettos of Newark and Detroit.
  • July 24 - Riots in Detroit lead to 43 deaths.
  • Oct 20 - Seven KKK members are convicted of conspiracy in the 1964 murders of three civil rights worker.
  • October 21-22 - Anti-war protesters march on and storm the Pentagon. "Diggers" exorcise the Pentagon. Overall 35,000 demonstraters are at the pentagon, 647 are arrested.
  • December - The number of US troops in Vietnam reaches 486,000. 15,000 soldiers have been killed in the war thus far, the majority, 60% died in 1967.
1968 (In my opinion, one of the worst years in the 1960s)
  • January 31 - Viet Cong launch Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive throughout South Vietnam turns most Americans against Johnson's policy for war in Vietnam.
  • March 16 - Massacre of 200 - 500 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai.
  • March 16 - Robert F. Kennedy announces candidacy for President.
  • April 4 - Martin Luther King shot and killed in Memphis at the age 39. King was shot as he stood on the balcony outside his hotel room. Escaped convict James Earl Ray later pleads guilty to the crime. A moment that changed history forever. I can't imagine how helpless so many Americans must have felt when this happened. If the race war wasn't heated enough, this was sure to ignite the fire even more.
  • April - The week following Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder there is as a result black uprisings in 125 cities across the U.S.
  • April 6 - Oakland Police ambush Black Panthers. Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver arrested with a bullet-shattered leg, while Bobby Hutton is shot and killed.
  • April 11 - President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing.
  • April 15 - Start of Spring Mobilization against the Vietnam war.
  • June 5 - Robert Kennedy assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan moments after winning the California primary.
  • August 1 - There are 541,000 U.S. Troops in Vietnam.
  • August 25-29 - Antiwar demonstration clash with police at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. There were approximately 10,000 demonstrators vs. 11,000 Chicago police; 6,000 National Guard; 7,500 U.S. army troops; and 1,000 FBI, CIA and other services agents. Bystanders and press were also beaten by police in the cross fire.
  • November 5 - Richard Nixon narrowly elected President, with Spiro T. Agnew, as his Vice-President.
  • November 6 - Student Strike at San Francisco State
  • March 20 - James Earl Ray is sentenced to 99 years for Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder.
  • April - There is a peak amount of 543,000 US troops in Vietnam
  • April 23 - Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death for Robert Kennedy's murder .
  • April 24 - U.S. B-52s launch the biggest attack yet on North Vietnam. As a result there are protests ensuing around the country.
  • July 20 - The Unites States' Apollo 11 lands on the moon, and Neil Armstrong walks on the Moon. Could it be a moment of hope??
  • President Nison initiates "Vietnamization" of the war thus decreasing the number of U.S. troops in Indochina.
  • August 9 - Sharon Tate & LaBiancas found murdered by Charles Manson & Crew. So scary...
  • August 15 - 17 WOODSTOCK Festival 500,000 people gathered for three days of music and peace that changed the world. With so much craziness going on, no wonder everyone when crazy for the weekend. I think I would have too!!
  • September 3 - Ho Chi Min, leader of North Vietnam, dies
  • September 24 - Chicago Eight trial begins. Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin et al charged with conspiracy to incite riots at the Democratic National Convention.
  • October 15 - Declared Peace Day there are 500,000 protesters nationwide is the First Vietnam Moratorium
  • October 30 - The Supreme Court orders desegregation nationwide. FINALLY
  • November 25 - President Nixon orders all US germ warfare stockpiles destroyed.
  • December - The death and injury toll of US troops in Vietnam reaches over 100,000 US troops dead or injured in Vietnam.
  • December 1 - First draft lottery since W.W.II held in NYC
(All information found at

So, I watched Manson and Bobby this weekend. Both were excellent, but both really made me thankful that I wasn't alive during this time in history. My parents were, and I have a new appreciation for my mom and dad, and my aunts and uncles. I know the US has its problems now, but I don't know if my generation has really had to experience so much at once. On top of the race war, there was the hippie movement of love, peace, and drugs, and then the craziness of Vietnam, and then so many influential people assassinated. I just can't imagine.

Anyway-- hope you enjoyed the history lesson and my thoughts on the 1960s!!
Until next time...


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