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Celebrities, Entertainment
& Events in the 1960s

this section is divided into 2 parts:

In The News
The top events and news stories

Celebrities, Entertainment & Sports
Sports figures, newsmakers,
showbiz icons and
entertainment trends


In The News

social activism

Young people were willing to fight for causes they believed in. These included civil rights, equality for women, preserving the environment and peace between nations.

In 1968, the modern women's liberation movement was born when approximately 100 women gathered to protest outside the Miss America Pageant.

Robert Altman Photography: the 60's
What Was Accomplished In The 60s
xxxx--by Abbie Hoffman
The Sixties Project: Political Posters & Buttons
Demonstrators Protest At Nixon's Inauguration
No More Miss America!

campus protests & rallies
Our universities are "circus tents or psychiatric centers for overpriveledged, underdisciplined, irresponsible children of well-to-do blase permissivists."
--Spiro Agnew, 1968

College students held anti-war rallies, formed student organizations and protested against outdated and unfair school policies. Above all, they fought for the right to assemble and speak their minds. At Berkeley, the 1964 Free Speech Movement was a turning point in their crusade for the right to join political causes.

Students For A Democratic Society was a nationwide student activist organization formed at the University of Michigan in 1960. By 1968, there were over 250 chapters at campuses across the country.

University Of Washington Protests
Berkeley Free Speech Movement
Free Speech Movement Archives
Student Protest In The 1960s
A Time To Question
Students For A Democratic Society

radical groups
While students and hippies held peaceful demonstrations, radical groups like the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground used violence in their attempts to bring about social change.

Four Radical Groups
Weather Underground


More than anything, students and young adults were opposed to America's participation in the Vietnam war. Anti-war rallies and demonstrations were held all across the country, especially on college campuses.

Burning draft cards

Rather than fight in a war they did not believe in, many men of military age either burned their draft cards or moved to Canada to evade the draft.

Say NO to war!

National Vietnam Moratorium Day
October 15, 1969 was National Vietnam Moratorium Day. All across the country, in the largest cities and the smallest towns, people gathered to hear speakers and to protest the war. 250,000 people attended a rally in Washington D.C. and many colleges cancelled classes.

The Moratorium sent a message that politicians couldn't ignore. Protesting the war was no longer something that only radical hippies did. Middle America had taken up the cause.

1969 Vietnam Moratorium Photos
Colleges Celebrate Vietnam Moratorium Day


1963: Kennedy assassination
For many people, the assassination of President Kennedy was a turning point. The "Camelot" years of the 1950s and early 1960s were over, and the turmoil of the late 1960s was just beginning.

According to the Warren Commission, Lee Harvey Oswald was the only assassin, and this has proved to be a very controversial finding. Two things are certain, however: everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news, and the photo of little John-John bravely saluting his father's coffin is probably one of the saddest images we'll see for a long time.

JFK Assassination Research Materials
Documents From The Warren Commission

the space race
That's one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.
--Apollo 11 puts a man on the moon!

In the space race, Russia was always a year ahead of the United States. They were the first to launch a man-made object (Sputnik, 1957) and a man (1961) into orbit.

America launched its own satellite in 1958, and Alan Shepherd became the first American in space when he piloted a 15-minute sub-orbital flight in 1961. Project Mercury sent the first American (John Glenn) into full orbit in 1962.

President Kennedy decided to focus heavily on the U.S. space program. He wanted the United States to be the first to achieve the ultimate goal...putting a man on the moon. This would be known as Project Apollo, and a target date of 1970 was established.

As we all know, we conquered the moon a year ahead of schedule!

Greatest Space Events Of The 60s
John Glenn 40th Anniversary
NASA Apollo 11


the Great Society
During the 1964 election campaign, the great society was President Johnson's idealistic vision for America. Sweeping reforms on all levels, from civil rights to a "war on poverty," would make the United States a great society, indeed.

President Johnson's "Great Society" Speech
The Great Society


the war in Vietnam

In the 1940s and 1950s, Vietnam was a French colony torn apart by the threat of communism. Ho Chi Minh's communist guerillas, known as the Viet Minh, were rapidly gaining power in the northern half. In the south, America provided aid to the French government in the form of military advisors.

By 1961, the French had been ousted, the Geneva Accords had divided the country into North and South Vietnam, and the Viet Minh had a new name: the Viet Cong ("Vietnamese communists"). There were approximately 700 American military advisors in South Vietnam, which was ruled by the oppressive and dictatorial regime of Ngo Dinh Diem.

1969 Vietnam Photos
Vietnam War Overview

Vietnam Nurses: Women Who Went To War
Women In Vietnam
Hell's Half Acre: The Combat Soldier In Vietnam

1972: Hanoi Jane
Actress Jane Fonda made a trip to North Vietnam, where she spouted pro-communist slogans, had her photo taken behind enemy lines and recorded propaganda messages for the Viet Cong. Even today, the hatred that was felt for her has yet to be dispelled.

Hanoi Jane

"You know, we only went into Vietnam as advisors. Last week, we dropped over 40,000 tons of advice."
--Dan Rowan, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In

things heat up
In 1963, President Diem was overthrown and assassinated. The strength of the Viet Cong and the instability of the South Vietnam government caused the conflict to escalate.

There were no American combat troops present in Vietnam at this point, and the government assured us that none of our boys would die for "their war." However, the number of advisors in South Vietnam continued to increase. In 1964, there were 23,000 advisors training South Vietnamese soldiers and assisting them with their missions.

The turning point came in 1964, when an American warship, the USS Maddox, was fired on by the Viet Cong in the Gulf of Tonkin. President Johnson was given permission to stop this conflict "by any means neccessary." He responded by ordering the bombing of North Vietnam. 85 percent of all Americans approved of his actions.

America gets involved
In 1965, the first U.S. combat troops arrived in South Vietnam. 185,000 troops were present by the end of the year. We were officially in the war.

In 1966, the number of American troops in South Vietnam rose to 400,000. Unlike conventional wars, taking land was not a goal in Vietnam...killing the enemy was. Sadly, this resulted in many civilian deaths, and it was this fact that began to sway public opinion against the war and against the soldiers fighting in it.

My Lai massacre
In 1968, as many as 500 South Vietnamese civilians were killed when a "search and destroy" mission went terribly wrong. The members of Charlie Company, led by Lt. William Calley, participated in the brutal slaying of the My Lai villagers, and the subsequent cover-up caused a scandal. At his trial, Calley was depicted as "a good boy turned into a murderer by the military." He was sentenced to life in prison, but this decision was overturned.

not going well
By 1969, the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam topped 600,000. The American death toll that year reached 34,000. The Viet Cong proved to be a formidable enemy: they transported supplies and men along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, disappeared effortlessly into the jungle foliage, and disregarded a holiday cease-fire when they launched the surprise Tet Offensive. Although casualties increased, very little progress was made on either side.

a light at the end of the tunnel
After taking office in 1969, President Nixon began to pull troops out of Vietnam. In Paris, Henry Kissinger met with Vietnamese leaders in an attempt to organize a peace agreement. The numbers were 1971, only 156,800 troops remained. By 1972, only 16,000 advisors were left. In 1973, a treaty was signed, the draft came to an end and the first POWs were released.

the fall of Saigon
Despite the treaty, fighting continued for two more years. The war officially ended when the Viet Cong invaded Saigon in 1975. The last remaining Americans and any South Vietnamese citizens who could board the helicopters were evacuated out of the city. It was all over, and communism had won.

The My Lai Trial
Battle Hymn Of Lt. Calley
Vietnam Online: The My Lai Massacre
The My Lai Massacre

"baby killers!"
"make love, not war!"
"give peace a chance!"
Back home, an anti-war sentiment was taking over. Young people protested against the war, and returning vets were pelted with rocks and insults. The winner of the 1968 Presidential election would be the candidate who could make the most convincing anti-war promises.

The Fall Of Saigon

bring them home!
Over 2,000 soldiers were still unaccounted for when the Vietnam war ended. Three decades later, that number was still over 1,800. These men fall into two categories: POW (Prisoner Of War) and MIA (Missing In Action).

Life Was Simple Then
Southeast Asia POW & MIA
POW/MIA Families


civil rights

In 1960, America was still segregated, especially in the South. The non-violent tactics of Martin Luther King Jr. were used to fight discrimination. These included boycotts, sit-ins and marches.

major events:
*1960 lunch counter sit-ins: black and white students occupied "whites only" lunch counters until store owners were forced to integrate them

*1960 formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which helped organize the lunch counter sit-ins and the 1963 March On Washington

*1961 Freedom Riders: fighting segregation at bus terminals and on interstate bus lines

*1963 march in Birmingham, Alabama: black children led the protests, which created negative publicity for the city when they were attacked and arrested

*1963 Birmingham church bombing: four black girls aged 11 to 14 were killed when a bomb was tossed into their church basement

*1963 March On Washington: 200,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear speeches and to rally for equality

*1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act

*1964 Freedom Summer: young people traveled throughout the South, holding rallies and registering black voters

*1964 murder of three civil rights workers, who were participating in Freedom Summer as members of CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality)

Olympic medalists give the
black power salute at
the 1968 Olympics

Change was slow in coming, however, and radical groups like the Black Panthers were formed. These groups used violence to bring about social change. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 only added fuel to the fire.

Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-Ins
Jackson Sit-Ins

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
CORE: Congress Of Racial Equality

1961 Freedom Bus Rides
1963 March In Birmingham
1963 Birmingham Church Bombing
Freedom Summer
1964 Murder Of Three Civil Rights Workers

March On Washington

Official Program
"I Have A Dream"

Kennedy's Speech On Civil Rights
1964 Civil Rights Act

The Black Panthers
Free The Panther 21
The Black Power Salute


More Top Stories

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