1968: A Pivotal Year

Posted on January 6, 2008
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In a wonderful Op-Ed piece in the Los Angeles Timess on January 5, Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and the author of many books on politics, culture and communications, refers to 1968 as a year of tumult:

The coming year will be chock full of 1968 commemorations. Deservedly so, because that was a pivotal year in which the convulsions of a decade converged and the country slouched over the edge of a precipice.

It was, after all, the year of the Tet offensive in Vietnam, Walter Cronkite’s televised farewell to victory in that wretched war, the My Lai massacre (unknown until the next year), Eugene McCarthy’s presidential run, Columbia University’s uprising, President Johnson’s decision not to run for a second full term, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, scores of subsequent riots, Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Chicago Democratic Convention riots, the Miss America protest in Atlantic City, Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” and election, and, for good measure, the first manned voyages in the Apollo program — not to mention Prague Spring, the French student uprising, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and, in Mexico City, the massacre of protesting students and the black power salutes of Olympic athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith.

To commemorate that pivotal year, Dreamsville will post weekly timelines of important events , both from the front pages of newspapers to the annals of popular culture.

January 1: Evel Knievel fails in his attempt to jump Caesar’s Palace Fountain.

January 2: Dr. Christian Bernard completes the world’s second heart transplant in South Africa.

January 2: Cuba Gooding Jr. born in the Bronx, N.Y.

January 3: The Byrds release “The Notorious Byrd Brothers.”

magical.jpgJanuary 5: Dr. Benjamin Spock; William Sloan Coffin, the chaplain of Yale University; novelist Mitchell Goodman; Michael Ferber, a graduate student at Harvard; and Marcus Raskin, a peace activist are indicted on charges of conspiring to violate the draft law.

January 5: Alexander Dubcek elected First Secretary of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia.

January 6: The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” album hits #1.


The Whole World Was Watching: An oral history of 1968. A joint project between South Kingstown High School and Brown University’s Scholarly Technology Group
Timelines of History
Timeline 1968
Rock Timeline


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