A Sixties Chronology

Wednesday, 28 August 1963: Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his "I Have A Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The speech is televised nationally.

Sunday, 15 September 1963: A bomb explodes at Birmingham, Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four black schoolchildren. Two black schoolboys die later this day in the rioting that ensues.

Wednesday, 23 October 1963: Bob Dylan records the first takes of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in New York City.

Saturday, 2 November 1963: President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam is ousted and assassinated by a military coup.

Friday, 22 November 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. Later that day Lyndon Baines Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.

Saturday, 1 February 1964: The song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the British rock and roll group The Beatles reaches number one on the U.S. Billboard chart.

Friday, 7 February 1964: The Beatles arrive in the U.S. at Kennedy Airport in New York City. They are greeted by screaming mobs.

Tuesday, 25 February 1964: Cassius Clay wins the world heavyweight championship of boxing by scoring a technical knockout against Sonny Liston in the seventh round of their fight in Miami Beach, Florida. Shortly after the fight he would change his name to Muhammad Ali and announce his faith in Islam. The white press corps would continue to refer to him as "Cassius Clay" for several years.

Sunday, 2 August 1964: North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attack the U.S. destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam. Five days later Congress passes the Tonkin Gulf Resolution granting President Johnson broad powers to wage an undeclared war.

Sunday, 27 September 1964: The final report of the Warren Commission declares that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin in the death of President Kennedy.

Tuesday, 3 November 1964: Lyndon Baines Johnson is elected to a full term as president.

Wednesday, 20 January 1965: Lyndon Baines Johnson is sworn in to a full term as president.

Sunday, 21 February 1965: Malcolm X is shot and killed in New York City.

Monday, 29 August 1966: The Beatles perform their last live public performance at Candelstick Park in San Francisco, California.

Saturday, 15 October 1966: Huey Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in Oakland, California. The planks in their platform range from the sensible ("We want full employment for our people") to the impractical ("We want freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county, and city prisons and jails").

Friday, 27 January 1967: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee are killed when the Apollo command module they are testing erupts in flames.

Saturday, 1 April 1967: Muhammad Ali receives his Army induction notice. He refuses induction on religious and moral grounds; as a consequence he loses all his state boxing licenses and is stripped of his heavyweight title. Later he would be convicted of draft evasion, fined $10,000, and sentenced to five years in jail. His lawyers appeal the conviction.

Tuesday, 30 January 1968: North Vietnamese and Vietcong troops attack approximately 30 South Vietnamese cities and take control of a large part of the country. The Tet Offensive would deal the U.S. a blow from which it never recovered.

Saturday, 16 March 1968: U.S. troops enter the Vietnamese village of My Lai and open fire on the civilian population. At least 150 and possibly as many as 400 die, many of them women, children, and the elderly.

Thursday, 4 April 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. is shot and killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots breaks out in over 100 cities.

Wednesday, 5 June 1968: Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles, California, minutes after his victory speech in the California primary.

Thursday, 29 August 1968: Hundreds, including children and the elderly, are injured when Chicago police charge a peaceful anti-Vietnamese war march near the Democratic Party convention center. Millions witness the violence on television.

Tuesday, 5 November 1968: Richard M. Nixon is narrowly elected President of the United States.

Monday, 20 January 1969: Richard M. Nixon is sworn in as the 37th president.

Thursday, 24 July 1969: The command module Columbia splashes down in the Pacific ocean as the crew of Apollo 11 (Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins) successfully complete the first lunar surface mission. On Sunday, 20 July, Aldrin and Armstrong had become the first humans to walk on the moon.

Saturday, 9 August 1969: The followers of Charles Manson (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) slaughter five people in a wealthy neighborhood near Bevery Hills, California. The next day they would kill two more in Los Feliz.

Friday, 15 August 1969: The counterculture festival known as Woodstock begins in Bethel, New York.

Saturday, 6 December 1969: A black man is killed by members of the Hells Angels, who were hired to provide security, at the Altamont free concert in central California.

Friday, 17 April 1970: Paul McCartney officially announces the dissolution of the Beatles.

Monday, 4 May 1970: National Guardsmen open fire on student protestors at Kent State University in Ohio, killing 4 and wounding 11.

Monday, 26 October 1970: Free while his conviction is being appealed, Muhammad Ali returns to the boxing ring to fight top contender Jerry Quarry in Atlanta. Fighting for the first time in over three and one half years after persuading Georgia to grant him a boxing license, he scores a technical knockout against Quarry in the third round.

Monday, 8 March 1971: Muhammad Ali fights heavyweight champion Smokin' Joe Frazier in New York City in an attempt to regain his title. Ali suffers the first defeat of his professional career in a fifteen round unanimous decision. Ali would eventually regain his title on Wednedsday, 30 October 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire, when he would score an eighth round technical knockout against George Foreman in what is arguably the biggest upset in boxing history.

Monday, 29 March 1971: Charles Manson and two of his followers are found guilty of seven counts of first degree murder. A third follower is found guilty of two counts of first degree murder. All four receive the death penalty.

Monday, 28 June 1971: Muhammad Ali's draft evasion conviction is reversed by the Supreme Court in an 8-0 vote (Justice Thurgood Marshall recusing himself) when they rule that Ali is sincere in his religious and moral objections to the Vietnamese war.

Wednesday, 30 June 1971: The 26th Amendment to the Constitution goes into effect, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.

Monday, 21 February 1972: Richard M. Nixon becomes the first president to visit communist China.

Saturday, 17 June 1972: Five men are arrested after breaking into the Democratic party's national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, 29 June 1972: The Supreme Court rules that the death penalty as it now exists violates the Eighth Amendment. The ruling will vacate the death sentence of approximately 600 persons nationwide, commuting their sentence to life imprisonment.

Sunday, 3 September 1972: American Bobby Fischer wins the world chess championship match by defeating the previous champion, Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union, by a score of 12½ to 8½. Fischer becomes the first American to win the official championship and ends years of Soviet domination of the title.

Tuesday, 7 November 1972: Richard M. Nixon is reelected president in one of the biggest landslides in history.

Saturday, 20 January 1973: Richard M. Nixon is sworn in for his second term as president.

Monday, 22 January 1973: The Supreme Court rules that antiabortion laws are unconstitutional.

Thursday, 29 March 1973: The last U.S. ground troops leave Vietnam. Saigon would fall to North Vietnam on Wednesday, 30 April 1975. The war cost the U.S. 56,000 lives and 141 billion dollars.

Wednesday, 10 October 1973: Vice president Spiro Agnew resigns while facing charges of income tax evasion, which he would later plead nolo contendre to. Within ten months the United States would change presidents and vice presidents without an intervening election.

Thursday, 18 October 1973: Walt Kelly, author of the brilliant comic strip Pogo, dies in Hollywood, California, of complications from diabetes. He was 60 years old.

Monday, 8 April 1974: Hank Aaron hits his 715th career home run to break the all-time record previously held by Babe Ruth. Aaron, a black man, receives numerous death threats as he nears the record.

Wednesday, 24 July 1974: The Supreme Court, by an 8-0 vote (Justice Rehnquist abstaining), orders President Nixon to turn over 64 White House tape recordings.

Friday, 9 August 1974: President Richard M. Nixon resigns.