Thursday, May 21, 2015


Our years at Western, 1961-1965, were turbulent and productive for the United States. As high school students, we were at a very formative stage of our lives, and these events helped determine who we would be and what we would do.  Here is a brief summary of highlights of those years, lest we forget.

Writing this was a very intense, personal experience for me, sometimes fun, sometimes painful. I have lived through these events, and the memories are inside me, waiting to be kindled and burst into flame. I've found that remembering the past helps me understand myself and the present. I hope that you will appreciate this journey back in time.

Pauline Sheplan Lerner, Western High School Class of '65


Jan. 20
John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the nation's 44th President. He was the youngest man and the first Catholic to become an American President. At the inauguration, Robert Frost read one of his own poems, and Kennedy delivered an address later deemed the best inaugural address of any President. Some finest excerpts from Kennedy's address are "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" and "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

March 1
President Kennedy established the Peace Corps.

April 11
The trial of Adolf Eichmann, Nazi war criminal responsible for the deaths of millions, began in Israel. Eichmann never denied his crimes. His defense was that he was "just following orders." He was convicted of all accounts and sentenced to death. The  trial dramatically increased the world's awareness of Nazi atrocities.

April 12
Ray Charles won four Grammy awards: The Genius of Ray Charles (now a classic album), Georgia on My Mind (song, two awards), and Let the Good Times Roll (song).

April 17
The Bay of Pigs (Cuba) invasion began when a group of about 1400 CIA-financed and -trained Cuban refugees invaded the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to topple Castro's Communist government. The invasion was such a disaster that the CIA itself dubbed it "The Perfect Failure." 

May 1
Harper Lee was awarded the Pulitzer prize for her book To Kill A Mockingbird.

May 4
The Freedom Riders began their first ride from Washington DC, starting a years-long movement. Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode integrated buses into the segregated South in protest of the non-enforcement of the Supreme Court ruling that segregated buses were unconstitutional. The Freedom Riders were routinely met in the South with violence by white residents, including Ku Klux Klansmen, who were backed by law enforcement bodies and elected officials. The Freedom Rides increased awareness by Americans of all races of the need for more Civil Rights actions.

Oct. 6
President Kennedy advises Americans to build fallout shelters in their homes as havens of relative safety because of intense fear of a nuclear war with the USSR.

President Kennedy announced that the US would expand its troop commitment in South Vietnam, but these troops would be military advisers, not combat troops.


Bishop Burke of Buffalo Catholic dioceses declared that Chubby Checker's "Twist"was impure and banned it from all Catholic schools.

Feb. 20
John Glenn became the first American, after two Russians, to orbit the earth from space. He made three orbits, radioing back to earth excited descriptions of the beauty of the earth as seen from space. His successful trip precipitated a frenzy of patriotic enthusiasm.

Glenn shows Pres. Kennedy the Mercury 7 capsule in which he orbited earth from space.

July 2
First Walmart opened in Rogers, Arkansas.

James Meredith became the first African-American student to enter the university of Mississippi after a series of hard fought battles. First, Mr. Meredith, with the NAACP, went to court, and eventually to the Supreme Court, to get affirmation of his right to enroll. Then Mississippi quickly passed some state laws to prevent Meredith from entering Ole Miss, but the federal government intervened and prevented enforcement of these new laws. Then US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Mississippi State Governor Barnett negotiated on the phone. Gov. Barnett agreed to let Meredith enter the University and Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy committed 500 U.S. Marshalls to accompany Meredith. President John Kennedy issued a proclamation saying that he would lawfully use militia or Armed Forces to prevent domestic violence or insurrection. On September 29, a riot broke out in Mississippi and President Kennedy was compelled to call out the nationalized Mississippi National Guard and federal troops, and violent clashes, in which two men were killed, followed. On Oct.1, James Meredith finally became the first African-American to enter the University of Mississippi.

Oct. 14-28
It was the height of the Cold War between the US, representing the free world, and the USSR, representing the Communist world. Many people believed, with justification, that the two superpowers were on the brink of nuclear war. On Oct. 14, the pilot of an American U-2 spy plane flew over Cuba and photographed Soviet ballistic missiles within striking distance of the US. Until this time, the US had long range missiles with nuclear warheads in Italy and Turkey, within striking range of Moscow, but the Soviets had no missiles within striking range of the US. The Kennedy administration faced the challenge of persuading the USSR to remove their missiles from Cuba without precipitating a wider conflict -- and possibly a nuclear war. President Kennedy decided to use US Naval ships to establish a military blockade of Cuba and to deliver an ultimatum to the Soviet government to remove the missiles.

On Oct. 22, in a television broadcast carried around the world, Kennedy discussed the missile installation and made it clear that the US was prepared to use military force if necessary to remove the missiles. On Oct.24, additional Soviet ships with nuclear missiles bound for Cuba stopped at the US Naval blockade without firing any missiles. It was a close call. Kennedy then readied an invasion force in Florida. US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said, "I thought it was the last Saturday I'd ever see."

On Oct. 26, Soviet leader Khrushchev sent a message to Kennedy saying that he would remove the missiles provided that the US would promise not to invade Cuba. The following day, Khrushchev set another condition for removal of the missiles: the US would have to remove their missile installations from Turkey. Kennedy accepted both conditions, but required that the one regarding Turkey not be made public. Kennedy had to save face.


This film, made by the US Navy, tells the story complete with photos of missiles, ships, planes, and tanks. The fear is palpable.

Dec. 10
The Nobel Prize ceremony was held in Stockholm. Prizes were awarded to:
  • Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins, the Prize for Physiology or Medicine, for their discoveries on the structure of nucleic acids (DNA) and their roles in information transfer in living material
  • Linus Pauling, the Peace Prize, for "his campaign against nuclear weapons testing"
  • John Steinbeck, the Literature Prize, for his writings "containing sympathetic humor and keen social perception"

Popular Music in 1962


This page is dedicated to the memory of two great men who dominated the news in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy.

CBS News said that 1963 was the year that everything happened, and they were right -- at least until 1968.

Jan. 7
The price of a first class postage stamp went from 4 cents to 5 cents.


The Beatles recorded their debut album, "Please, Please Me," with 14 songs in a single day, remarkably quickly because of their energy, enthusiasm, and talent. Their producer, George Martin, said “I don't know how they do it. We've been recording all day but the longer we go on the better they get.”

Feb. 19
Betty Friedan's book "The Feminist Mystique" was published. It is now widely regarded as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century, sparking a second wave of feminism in the United States. In 1957, Ms. Friedan had conducted a survey of her fellow alumnae from Smith College for their 15th year reunion, and she found that most of them were unhappy in spite of marriage, children, and financial comfort. Their housework did not make them feel fulfilled. Ms. Friedan promoted education and meaningful work as ways for women to avoid being trapped in the "feminine mystique" of that era.

April 8
Lawrence of Arabia, later deemed one of the best and most influential movies ever made, won the Oscar for best picture. The movie is a portrayal of the complex character of Lawrence and the story of the Arabs, united and led by Lawrence, rebelling successfully against the Turkish empire in World War I.

May 1
Coca Cola releases its first diet soda, Tab.

May 2 - May 5
The Children's Crusade in Birmingham, Ala., gave school children the opportunity to participate in nonviolent protests against segregation. This movement was part of a larger one started in April by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. On the second day of the Children's Crusade, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor ordered police to spray the children with powerful water hoses, hit them with batons, and threaten them with police dogs. This harsh treatment did not stop the children from marching. News photos of the police violence against the children aroused sympathy and support for the protesters among people everywhere, strengthening the Civil Rights Movement.

(To see these events through the eyes of the participating children, watch the video at

May 8
The South Vietnamese army shot local, unarmed Buddhists for defying a ban on flying the Buddhist flag, starting the Buddhist crisis, a period of intense political and religious repression. Although 70 - 90% of the South Vietnamese population was Buddhist, President Diem and other powerful people and institutions were Catholic. During the Buddhist crisis, government, military, and Catholic forces carried out repressive and sometimes brutal actions against the Buddhists, who responded with civil resistance. The crisis led to a coup later that year.

May 15
Peter, Paul, and Mary won their first Grammy for "If I Had a Hammer."

May 27
"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," Dylan's most influential studio album, which started with "Blowin' in the Wind," was released.

June 10
President Kennedy signed into law a bill requiring equal pay for equal work for men and women.

June 11 (1)
Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood in the door of the University of Alabama to block the attendance of two black students, adhering to the promise he made at his inauguration earlier that year, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever." President Kennedy federalized the National Guard, who confronted Wallace, and the Governor stepped away from the school house door.

June 11 (2)
Several hours after the showdown with Governor Wallace about integration, President Kennedy went on national TV and announced his plans to draft legislation for civil rights, which he considered "a moral issue." His proposed legislation would include provisions for (1) the rights of all Americans to be served in facilities which are open to the public (hotels, restaurants, theatres, etc.), (2) strengthening the federal government's role in integration of the public schools, and (3) greater protection for the right to vote.

The tide had turned.

June 12
Just a few hours after Kennedy's speech, there was another martyr in the battle for civil rights, Medgar Evers, a well known activist who had worked for boycotts of segregated stores, voter registration, and school integration. He had been the subject of death threats and attempted murders for years before he was finally gunned down and killed in his own driveway. Popular outrage was enormous, as expressed in many songs and films and by a burial with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery, attended by thousands. Evars's murderer, Byron de la Beckwith, was tried for murder and not convicted twice that year. Thirty years later, in 1994, he was tried again, convicted, and imprisoned for life.

June 17
The Supreme Court ruled that mandatory Bible reading and mandatory recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public schools were unconstitutional.

July 23 - July 26
Newport Folk Festival. Lineup included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Jose Feliciano, Pete Seeger, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Phil Ochs, Sleepy John Estes, Frank Proffitt, Rodriguez Brothers, Johnny Cash, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and others.

Singing We Shall Overcome

August 21
The Buddhist crisis in South Vietnam escalated as the autocratic, despotic President Ngo Dinh Diem had his police force vandalize Buddhist temples and arrest and kill Buddhist monks en masse. The Kennedy administration authorized the US embassy in South Vietnam to explore alternatives for Vietnamese leadership, paving the way for a CIA- backed coup against President Diem later that year.

August 28
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, aka the Civil Rights March, a completely nonviolent demonstration with a record crowd of about 250,000 took place on the National Mall in Washington DC. The major goals of the March were a ban on employment discrimination in the public and private sectors, a massive federal jobs program for the unemployed at decent wages, and an increase in the minimum wage to $2.00/hr.  The march was planned jointly by leaders of six different civil rights groups with common goals but different approaches. Disagreements on civil disobedience and on the moderate vs radical approach were resolved at the very last minute. President Kennedy was involved in the planning. He warned the organizers that a very hard line approach would lose them popular support, and he gave his Administration's support to the March. People came by bus, train, plane, and car from all over the nation. About 75% of the marchers were black and 25% were white.

The March was an unprecedented success. It was a demonstration of the possibility and power of large scale nonviolent resistance. The mood was joyous as the participants listened to speeches and songs delivered by politicians, clergy, civil rights leaders, and singers. The singers, who sang old gospel and new protest songs, included Mahalia Jackson ("How I Got Over"), Marion Anderson ("He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"), Peter, Paul, and Mary ("If I Had a Hammer"), The Freedom Singers ("We Shall Not Be Moved"), Bob Dylan ("When the Ship Comes In"), and Joan Baez ("We Shall Overcome"). (A compilation of all the video performances is online at Years later, Joan Baez wrote, " of the medals which hangs over my own heart I awarded to myself for having been asked to sing that day... I led 350,000 people in "We Shall Overcome,"and I was near my beloved Dr. King when he put aside his prepared speech and let the breath of God thunder through him, and up over my head I saw freedom, and all around me I heard it ring."

The March is largely remembered for Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Not many people know that this was not part of his prepared speech, not even written down in advance. Part of the way through his prepared remarks, Mahalia Jackson shouted out, "Tell them abut the dream, Martin," referring to a speech he had given about two months earlier in Detroit. King then departed from his prepared remarks and gave his now famous, respected "I Have a Dream" speech. (This video shows that Martin Luther King stopped looking at his prepared remarks when he started, "I have a dream...")

September 15 
One of the most brutal acts of hatred committed by Southern white supremacists against innocent African Americans took place in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. A white man dynamited the church, killing four black girls about to go to their Sunday school classes and injuring many others. The church was not a surprising target because it had been the headquarters of many civil rights actions earlier. Neither was the timing surprising. The Birmingham public schools had been desegregated just recently by federal government intervention. The day after the bombing, violence erupted in the streets of Birmingham. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. wired President Kennedy to tell him that he was going to Birmingham to try to convince the blacks there to be nonviolent. He added that unless "immediate federal steps were taken" there would be "the worst racial holocaust this Nation has ever seen." President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered their chief civil rights trouble shooter Burke Marshall and at least 21 FBI agents, including bomb experts, from Washington to Birmingham, and the "worst racial holocaust" was averted. Later Dr. King delivered a eulogy for the girls murdered in the church. He said, in part, "The Holy Scripture says, 'A little child shall lead them.' The death of these little children may lead the whole Southland from the low road of man's inhumanity to man to the high road of peace and brotherhood." The bombing became a pivotal event in the civil rights movement because it provoked so much wrath against the whites and so much sympathy for the blacks.

November 2
Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam, was murdered during a coup by his own generals. He had been a despotic, brutal, autocrat, and most of the people in South Vietnam rejoiced when he was gone. The American involvement in the coup was not publicly known at that time. President Kennedy was aware of the coup since its planning, and he had stated that the US policy was not to interfere. The CIA was directly involved in the planning and even gave financial support. After a new government was established in South Vietnam, American participation in the war increased dramatically.

November 22
This is a day strongly remembered with the deepest emotions by most of the American people: the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. People were shocked and horrified. There had been nothing like this event since the assassination of President Lincoln a century before. The depths of sorrow and grief were huge.

President and Mrs. Kennedy were riding in an open car in a motorcade in Dallas when the President was struck by two bullets, one in the neck / throat and one in the top of the head. The second bullet burst his head open and nothing could be done to save his life. Shortly afterwards, the police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a mentally unstable man with a self-proclaimed admiration of the Soviet Union, for the crime. Two days later, while Oswald was being transferred from the Dallas Police Headquarters to the Dallas County Jail, he was shot and mortally wounded by Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner. This murder was watched on nationwide TV by millions as it happened.

Deep sympathy and grief were expressed by people in the U.S. and abroad.While President Kennedy's body was being flown to Washington on Air Force One, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President by Judge Sarah Hughes, a graduate of Western H.S. in Balto. MD. Kennedy's casket was moved from the White House to the Capitol on a caisson drawn by six gray horses, accompanied by one riderless black horse. This cortege and other ceremonial details were modeled on the funeral of Abraham Lincoln at the request of Mrs. Kennedy. President Kennedy's body lay in state at the Capitol while 250,000 people filed by to pay their last respects, many waiting outside in the rain until the wee hours of the morning to do so. On Monday, November 25, President Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The funeral was attended by heads of state from more than 100 countries, while millions watched on TV. Afterwards, Mrs. Kennedy and President Kennedy's brothers, Robert and Edward, lit an eternal flame by the graveside. A very famous and moving photograph, which was taken just after the funeral service at the church, shows Robert and Edward Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy in widow's attire, and the President's two small children, Caroline, six years old, and John F., Jr., on his third birthday, with his hand raised in salute.

Who really killed President Kennedy? Although the initial answer was Leo Harvey Oswald acting alone, the evidence has been re-examined many times with many different conclusions. Several governmental bodies, starting with the Warren Commission, reviewed the issues, and each contradicted the findings of the previous ones. There were many other detailed investigations by various individuals and groups over the succeeding years and continuing today. Some people and groups believe that Oswald did not act alone but as part of a conspiracy, possibly involving the CIA.

President John F. Kennedy: In Memoriam
The Kennedy family leaving the church after the service for President Kennedy
Right, top to bottom:
The eternal flame at Arlington National Cemetery
President Kennedy's flag-draped casket lying in state in the Capitol with honor guard
The funeral procession with crowds lining the streets as seen from Arlington National Cemetery


Jan. 8
President L.B. Johnson introduced legislation for the War on Poverty. It encompassed a host of new social welfare initiatives including the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, expansion of Social Security benefits, the Job Corps, VISTA, the Office of Economic Opportunity, subsidization of school districts with a large share of impoverished students, Head Start, Legal Services, and GED programs. Congress passed the laws for these programs in 1964 and 1965.

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released the first Report on Smoking and Health, which concluded that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer and many other medical conditions.

Jan. 29
Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove, satirizing cold war politics, premiered.

Feb. 9
The Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, ushering Beatlemania into the US.

April 13
Sidney Poitier became the first African American man to win an Oscar for his role in Lilies of the Field. 

June 21, Freedom Summer
Volunteers, mainly white college students from the north, came to Mississippi to work with local blacks for civil rights. Hatred, violence, and fear dominated everyone’s mind. Three civil rights workers, Schwerner and Chaney (both white) and Goodman (black), returning from one of the many black churches which had been burned by the Ku Klux Klan, were arrested for speeding by the Philadelphia, Mississippi Sheriff’s deputy Price, who was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and put in jail. Price then contacted local KKK members and arranged to release the three prisoners and turn them over to the Klan. The Klan savagely beat Chaney, shot and killed all three men, and buried their bodies in an earthen dam. Their murder was described as “the first interracial lynching in the US.”

July 7

The Civil Rights Act, a landmark piece of legislation first proposed by President Kennedy, was signed into law by President Johnson. It outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and by facilities that served the general public

Passage of the bill in the Senate was very difficult because of opposition by a large number of very powerful conservative Southern Republican Senators, but they were outmaneuvered by Democrats. 

President LBJ signing Civil Rights Act with M.L. King, Rosa Parks, and others watching

June 12
Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for committing sabotage against South Africa's apartheid government.

August 7
In response to President Johnson’s statement that two US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin had been fired upon by North Vietnamese forces, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving Johnson broad powers to wage war in Vietnam. This resolution became the legal basis for the Johnson and Nixon administrations’ prosecution of the war in Vietnam. Later, the truth emerged: the American ships had not been fired on.

The third period of Vatican II started. Vatican II ran from Oct.11, 1962 to December 8, 1965. It brought major changes to the Roman Catholic church and to its relationships with Jews and other non-Catholics. It fit well into the spirit of the 60s. Old ways were re-examined and sometimes changed, and a spirit of commonality for many people on earth was enhanced.

Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality through nonviolence.

Oct. 14
Nikita Khruschev, head of the Soviet Union, "voluntarily resigned." In reality, he was ousted by Communist Party leaders. He was known for the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, backing the Soviet space program, and presiding over the Cold War.

President Johnson defeated Sen. Goldwater, an ultraconservative on national and international issues, by a landslide vote. Goldwater's campaign slogan, "In your heart you know he's right" was parodied as "In your guts you know he's nuts."


Jan. 4
In brief:
President Johnson, in his State of the Union address, discussed his Great Society, an extremely broad and liberal plan whose goals were the elimination of poverty and social injustice. He had begun working on the Great Society in 1964, following President Kennedy's start, and continued until the end of his presidency. The multitude of dramatic and sweeping accomplishments were possible because the Democrats held large majorities in both houses of Congress and because Johnson used his immense powers of persuasion with the legislators. Of Johnson's 252 major legislative requests, 226 were enacted into law in a four year period. The U.S. had not seen such broad liberal actions since President Roosevelt's New Deal. The program is best remembered for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Acts of 1965 and 1968 and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. During the Great Society, the proportion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2% to 12.6%. The corresponding figures for African Americans were even more dramatic.  The drop was from 55% to 27%. The Great Society started in 1964 under President Kennedy and continued through Johnson's presidency and a few years later.

A few of the other exceptional accomplishments of the Great Society (not all in 1965) included programs to overcome poverty with education and job training; the establishment of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps; Project Head Start for preschool education of poor children; significant increases in Social Security; increased funding for public education, including education for doctors and nurses who agreed to work with disadvantaged patients in clinics after graduation; creation of institutions for the arts; the passage of laws to protect the environment, endangered species, and air quality; special programs to combat rural poverty; minimum wage and fringe benefits; and many more.

Jan. 30
The state funeral of Winston Churchill, the largest state funeral at that time, was held in London. Churchill was the first civilian in the twentieth century to be given a state funeral, usually given only to royalty. A million people gathered before dawn along the cortege route, and another 350 million people watched on TV. Churchill had won a place in the heart of the British people and others around the world because he had guided his country through its darkest hour against the Nazi threat in World War II. Besides being a great military leader, he had kept up the spirits of the British people by his radio addresses, sometimes broadcast from a bunker to escape from bombing. His most famous lines were "We shall fight... and we shall never surrender." and "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour'."

Feb. 1-5

Martin Luther King and 500 school children were arrested in Selma AL. From jail, Dr. King wrote, "There are more Negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls."

Feb. 6

The #1 hit song was the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

Feb. 7
U.S. began regular bombing and strafing of Vietnam.

Feb. 13
Peggy Fleming won the US Female Figure Skating Championship.

Feb. 21
Malcolm X, a radical African American leader, was shot dead by Nation of Islam followers. He had broken with the Nation of Islam, a radical, anti-white, African American group, in March of 1964. Conflicts, threats, and his assassination by three members of the Nation of Islam followed.

March 7
Some of the most violent and brutal police responses to nonviolent protesters for voting rights occurred on this day, dubbed Bloody Sunday. The attempted march from Selma AL to Montgomery AL culminated years of work of a coalition of civil rights groups who had organized nonviolent protests in favor of voting rights. After assembling in Selma, the marchers went only about six blocks before being turned back by Alabama state troopers and local police called up by Gov. George Wallace. They were brutalized with billy clubs and high pressure hoses, as millions of people across the globe watched on TV. In fact, TV news coverage of Bloody Sunday interrupted a program about Nazi atrocities. Overwhelming public support for voting rights was generated, helping the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year. President Johnson was happy with the outcome, but the civil rights groups vowed not to stop until they marched from Selma to Montgomery.

March 8
The first US combat troops (3500 Marines) arrived in North Vietnam. US military involvement in the war escalated rapidly. By the end of 1965, there were 180,000 American troops in Vietnam.

March 9
Dr. M.L. King led a symbolic march starting in Selma. He was seeking protection from a federal court,  and while waiting, he led the marchers only to the point where they were confronted by police and then led them back to their point of origin. That night a mob of white people beat and murdered James Reeb, a white Unitarian Universalist minister and marcher. Public outrage grew.

March 21

Having received federal court protection, Dr. King finally led the marchers on a successful, nonviolent march from Selma to Montgomery. About 3200 people started on the march, and they were joined en route by others, so that 25,000 people arrived in Montgomery. The marchers who started from Selma walked about 12 miles a day and slept at prearrranged campsites in fields owned by black people. They were protected by 2000 US army soldiers and 1900 members of the Alabama National Guard, which President Johnson had federalized for the event. The march is widely credited with arousing pro-voting rights sentiments, leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

After the march, the differences between the two major organizing groups, SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Dr. King's group) and SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), strained their alliance. Some members of SNCC were dissatisfied with SCLC's nonviolence and non-aggressive stance, which they believed brought progress too slowly. Some members of SNCC broke off from the group and eventually formed the more radical Black Panther Party, which attracted many radicalized members of the young generation. 

April 6
Academy Awards (Oscars) were awarded to Rex Harrison for best actor in My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews for best actress in Mary Poppins, and My Fair Lady for best picture.

April 13
The Seventh Grammy Awards were given to The Girl from Ipanema (best record), the Beatles (best new artist), Hello Dolly (song of the year), and A Hard Day's Night by the Beatles (best performance by a vocal group).

April 28
US Marines invaded Dominican Republic.

May 5
First large scale US army units arrived in South Vietnam.

May 25
Muhammed Ali KO’d Sonny Liston 
in the first round of a much publicized world heavyweight boxing championship rematch. Muhammed Ali (formerly Cassius Clay) was flamboyant, arrogant, and highly self publicized. Sonny Liston, a long time world heavyweight champion not expected to give up easily, had a criminal history and ties with the Mafia. The actions of the timekeepers and referees during the fight were highly unusual. Congress was investigating corruption and organized crime in boxing at the time of the fight. The fight itself was strongly opposed by the World Boxing Association. Many people believed that the match, which was more a spectacle than a fight, was rigged.

June 6
Rolling Stones released Satisfaction as a single.

June 6
 The Ku Klux Klan rallied dressed in white robes and hats around a 50 ft high burning cross as about 2500 people watched near Trenton NC.

June 8
US troops were ordered to fight offensively in Vietnam, shifting the primary responsibility of the fight from S. Vietnam to the US. This change was the result of a plan by Gen. Westmoreland, who predicted that the result would be the end of the war by late 1967. Gen. Westmoreland was later named Man of the Year by Time Magazine. Johnson, although escalating the number of troops in Vietnam dramatically, did not inform the press or the American people of this major change in strategy.

June 12
The Beatles were awarded MBEs. They didn't even know what MBEs are. The MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is a prestigious award given by the Queen of England to a very limited number of her subjects.

July 25
Dylan Goes electric. At the traditionally acoustic Newport Folk Festival, Bob Dylan played a few of his songs with an electric backup band. Some parts of the audience booed with fervor, and Pete Seeger said "If I had an axe, I'd chop the microphone cable right now."

July 30
President Johnson signed the Medicare Act into law. (See Jan. 4.)

August 6
President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination against minorities in voting, into law.

August 11
A 6-day long riot erupted in Watts, Los Angeles after years of segregation and severe mistreatment. The riot was violent and destructive.

Oct. 6
The Supremes released "I Hear a Symphony."   

Nov. 9
New York City and large parts of the northeastern US and Canada experienced a 13 hour long electrical blackout. In New York City, there was a surge of babies born 9 months later.

Nov. 14
US sent 90,000 soldiers to Vietnam.

Nov. 27
Approximately 15,000 to 25,000 protestors demonstrated in Washington DC against the Vietnam War. As time went by, there were many similar and larger protests against the War.