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Major Events of the Sixties

  • The first debate for a presidential election was televised. It was between Senator John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. Nixon seemed nervous, but Kennedy stood tall. The debate on TV changed many people's minds about Kennedy.
  • This year NASA sent up ECHO, the first communications satellite to be seen with the naked eye.
  • American "U2" spy plane shot down over the USSR.
  • The Olympic Games were held in Rome and Wilma Rudolf won three gold medals.


  • John F Kennedy moves into the White House. He gives his famous speech - "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
  • The soviets have sent the first man into space and the Americans need a man in space, too. The event came on May 5, 1961. Alan Shepard was sent to space in the "Freedom 7". On May 25, Kennedy wanted to have a man on the moon and back before the decade was over.


  • John Glenn became the first man to orbit the earth - 3 times. It was a five hour flight.
  • Rachel Carson, a scientist and writer, warned that our earth would die of pollution and chemicals. Especially chemicals that were developed to kill bad insects. DDT was a really bad chemical. It killed bad insects, along with good insects, along with plants, along with animals. She wrote the book Silent Spring with a warning. At least five states banned DDT.


  • Martin Luther King Jr. made the speech, "I have a Dream" on August 28, 1963. More than 200,000 peaceful demonstrators came to Washington DC to demand equal rights for Black and Whites. Part of the speech was - "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their characterů"
  • President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was never sent to trial. While being moved by police to a different jail, a man named Jack Ruby shot Oswald. Who killed President Kennedy nobody knows for sure.


  • The Beatles, a British rock and roll band became VERY popular. The "Fab Four", John, Paul, George, and Ringo, were played on radio stations all over the world. They were seen on the "Ed Sullivan Show". They performed concerts that were quickly sold out. All the frenzy over the group became known as "Beatlemania", which was only the beginning.
  • This was the first year the cigarette boxes had a warning printed on it "Smoking can be hazardous to your health". It had not occurred to the US government to give the warning that smoking lead to cancer and lung problems.
  • The first Civil Rights bill was passed to stop racial discrimination.


  • President Johnson ordered bombing raids on North Vietnam and Americans begin protesting the war.
  • The world's first roofed stadium was built, the Houston Astrodome.


  • Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse and a Pioneer of animated films, died of cancer on December 15, 1966, but his legend lives on.


  • The first heart transplant was performed by Dr. Christian Barnard in Cape Town, South Africa.


  • Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Two months later, Robert Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's brother was assassinated, too. Both were civil rights leaders.
  • On November 5, 1968, Shirley Chisholm was elected America's first black woman to Congress.


  • Nearly half a million people headed over to a 600 acre farm in New York for the Woodstock Festival. Many top rock musicians were there. It lasted three days, a weekend of music, love and peace.
  • July 20, 1969, 4:18 p.m., one of the biggest events of history happened. Apollo 11 landed on the moon, astronauts aboard. Neil Armstrong's famous speech for the historical steps "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."