1968 was marked by war and protest, tragedy and revolution—a year around which a whole era of political turmoil, cultural change, and social unrest turned. So much happened in one year, including:
- The Tet Offensive and the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.
- The “Prague Spring” liberalizations in Czechoslovakia, followed by the Soviet invasion.
- The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, sparking rage and grief around the country.
- Two months later, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles.
- The Poor Peoples’ Campaign.
- In France and Senegal, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist student demonstrations.
- In Rio de Janeiro, the March of the One Hundred Thousand against the Brazilian military dictatorship.
- African-American crusades for racial pride and a more Afrocentric curriculum—and against police violence and endemic poverty.
- The publication of A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Leguin; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick; The Double Helix, by James Watson; The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe; House Made of Dawn, by N. Scott Momaday; Myra Breckenridge, by Gore Vidal; Soul on Ice, by Eldridge Cleaver; and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire.
- The release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rosemary’s Baby, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Night of the Living Dead, Prelude, Planet of the Apes, The Boys of Paul Street, and Funny Girl.
- In Atlantic City, a feminist rally against the Miss America pageant.
- The Catonsville Nine and other anti-war actions around the world.
- The launch of the Apollo 7 mission, the first to carry a crew into space.
- The disastrous collapse of the Consol No. 9 coal mine in Farmington, West Virginia.
- The beginning of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
- The election of President Richard Nixon.
- Shoot-outs between police and Black Power activists in Oakland and Cleveland.
- On Star Trek, the first nationally televised interracial kiss.
The Spirit of ’68, an exhibition on M-level of the Eisenhower Library and B-level of the Brody Learning Commons, examines some of the many explosive events of 1968 and the period around this pivotal year. The artifacts and documents on display focus on King’s assassination and the “Holy Week Uprisings” in Baltimore; student activism on the Johns Hopkins campus; Vietnam War propaganda and protest; the “Mai 1968” unrest in France; the Black Power and Black Arts movements; and the emergence of what would become known as Gay Liberation.
Do you have memories of 1968? Have you studied some of these events–and if so, what have you learned? What do these struggles and achievements look like to you, fifty years later? What is the legacy of 1968 in 2018? Please share your responses to the exhibit and thoughts about 1968 in the comments below.
One thought on “The Spirit of ’68”
The Tlatelolco massacre of students in Mexico City on October 2nd is a remarkable event of that year that is missing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tlatelolco_massacre