1968 News and Interesting History Tidbits


Czechoslovakia "Prague Spring"
Following Anti-Communist protests in Czechoslovakia in what is called "Prague Spring", Soviet troops intervene to crush the protests and restore order.


The period of the "Prague Spring" began in January 5, 1968 when Alexander Dubček came to power, with reformist policies for the country of Czechoslovakia.

1. Grant additional rights to the citizens.

2. Loosening of restrictions on the media and allowing free speech.

3. Partial decentralization of the economy and democratization.



Due to many of these reforms taking the country in a direction in opposition to Communist Ideology the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the country to take back power and halt the reforms.












Martin Luther King Jr Assassination
Following threats to his life Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "mountaintop" speech to a rally of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., less than 24 hours before he was assassinated.
Dr King was shot dead in the southern US city of Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a march of sanitation workers protesting against low wages and poor working conditions.
Following the murder there were early signs of rioting in Memphis and 4,000 members of the National Guard were drafted into the city, a number of riots in over 100 US cities did occur and President Lyndon Johnson appealed for calm asking every citizen to reject the blind violence that has taken Dr King.
James Earl Ray was arrested in London Airport on 8th June and is deported to the United States to face charges of conspiracy and murder in connection with the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
James Earl Ray was convicted of his murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison.










Civil Rights Act of 1968
President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. President Johnson, voicing outrage at the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King and the violence that followed it, has signed an historic open-housing bill, The new law will prohibit discrimination in 80 per cent of all housing sales and rentals by 1970.







Vietnam War 1968

Vietnam War Casualties
Figures released show that more Americans were killed during the first six months of 1968 than in all of 1967 and were a direct result of the communist Tet Offensive. Combined with heavy U.S. casualties and disillusionment with President Johnson's conduct of the Vietnam war his popularity with the people continued to decrease.

U.S. Troops Massacre
U.S. troops massacre South Vietnamese between 200 and 500 unarmed villagers at My Lai 4, a cluster of hamlets in the coastal lowlands of the northernmost region of South Vietnam. During the ensuing massacre, several old men were bayoneted; some women and children praying outside the local temple were shot in the back of the head; and at least one girl was raped before being killed. Others were systematically rounded up and led to a nearby ditch where they were executed.

In some ways this single story that came out changed the views of many American citizens who were beginning to question why the US was involved in Vietnam and was later proved to be true, this was an isolated case of US forces brutality which reflected wrongly on all US forces in Vietnam.

Anti Vietnam War Demonstrators
10,000 Anti Vietnam war demonstrators rally at Trafalgar square peacefully but when the demonstration moves outside the United States embassy in London, the demonstration turns violent with 130 injured, fifty taken to hospital including up to 25 police officers. These protesters were a small part of a much larger peaceful march against US involvement in Vietnam in London and the United States during the late 60's.

President Johnson Announces He Will Not Run
President Johnson announces on nationwide television he would not run for another term of office saying "I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party as your President.".








Peace Corps Venezuela
Fifty-five Peace Corps members would be sent to Venezuela to improve public services at local levels. California State College was training them and the group was made up of architects, engineers, and lawyers.






Alec Rose Arrives Home on 'Lively Lady'
Alec Rose on his 36ft ketch 'Lively Lady' receives a hero's welcome as he sailed into Portsmouth Harbour after his 354-day round-the-world trip.
Unlike many of the earlier and later solo trips around the world Alec Rose did not have large corporate sponsors and had truly sailed round the world on his own. He was knighted the next day to become Sir Alec Rose for his achievement.






Pope Paul VI bans Use Of the Pill
The growth of the use of the Pill by women around the world causes the head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Paul VI to ban Catholics from the use of the contraceptive pill, as well as all other artificial means of birth control.









The Poor Peoples March On Washington DC.
50,000 people participated in " The Poor Peoples March " organised by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to address issues of economic justice. The campaign culminated in Washington, D.C. to demand economic aid be given to the poorest communities in the United States.
Unlike many of Martin Luther King Jr's campaigns The Poor People’s Campaign did not focus on just poor blacks but addressed all poor regardless of race creed or color.



As well as a march on Washington " The Poor Peoples March " organizers decided to organize a "Live In" and "Resurrection City" a small city of shanty's as temporary shelters made from boxes and whatever else they could find is built at the Mall in Washington. The authorities closed down "Resurrection City" after just 5 days forcing the protesters to disperse.








Equatorial Guinea Gains Independence
Equatorial Guinea in Africa Gains Independence from Spain in 1968








Manchester United win European Cup
Manchester United beat Portuguese side Benfica 4-1 to become the first English club to win the European Cup . The Manchester United team include the legendary George Best, who was named European Footballer of the Year








U.S. Submarine Scorpion Lost At Sea
The nuclear-powered U.S. submarine Scorpion while heading back to Naval Base Norfolk from the Azores sinks and her crew of 99 was officially declared lost on June 5, 1968.








French General Strike
800,000 teachers, workers and student protesters marched through the French capital during a one day general strike demanding the fall of the government under Charles DE Gaulle and to protest police brutality during the riots of the past few days.

The strike spread all across France until around 10 million workers had downed tools and paralysed the nation for nearly two weeks.

Following concerns by the government Charles De Gaulle called an election for the end of June resulting in his party winning by a huge majority.








UK Thalidomide Victims
Damages for children born with deformities, caused by mothers taking the drug thalidomide during pregnancy are set by the high court. ( The Thalidomide drug was available in the UK from 1958 to late 1961 ) and in many cases children born with deformities were confirmed. In 1973 a much larger settlement was agreed following the discovery that more than 400 children were affected








Olympic Games 1968
The Summer Olympic Games of the XIX Olympiad are held in Mexico City, Mexico

Possibly one of the most controversial games in modern history

Even before the games controversy occurred when 300 University students are killed by army troops when a college campus protest turned into a riot.

Black American Athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who finished 1-3 in the 200-meter run, bowed their heads and gave the Black Power salute during the national anthem as a protest against racism in the U.S. This was seen live world wide on the news and was the first time politics played such a prominent role in the Olympics.

Due to the thin air caused by the extremely high altitude of the games records were broken in every men's and women's race up to 1,500 meters and the U.S. long jumper Bob Beamon's gold medal leap of 29 feet, 21/2 inches beat the existing world mark by nearly two feet.

The Fosbury Flop technique developed by Dick Fosbury wins the gold medal in the high jump, which is now the dominant technique in High Jump.








First Men To Orbit The Moon
The first men ever to circle the moon and visit the dark side of the moon are Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders when Apollo 8 orbits the Moon, becoming the first manned space mission to achieve the feat.








first 911 emergency telephone system
The first 911 emergency telephone system is inaugurated in Haleyville, Ala. but due to problems with telephone service boundaries and electromechanical switching equipment which could not recognize the 911 number it is not until the mid 80's that 911 works countrywide








The Kray Twins Arrested
The Kray twins, Reginald and Ronnie and their 41-year-old brother Charlie are arrested and charged and later convicted for the murders of George Cornell and Jack 'The Hat' McVitie, members of the London underworld.







Enoch Powell's so-called "Rivers of Blood" speech
The Conservative right winger, Enoch Powell, ( MP for Wolverhampton South West )makes a hard-hitting speech saying Britain had to be mad to allow in 50,000 dependents of immigrants each year and calling for an immediate reduction in immigration attacking the government's immigration policy at a Conservative association meeting in Birmingham.



Enoch Powell's so-called "Rivers of Blood" speech led to him being sacked from the shadow cabinet, but made him very popular with tabloids and thousands of workers who staged strikes and marches in support of his views and touched a nerve ending for many who thought the current Immigration laws should be tightened up.








Ferry Disaster New Zealand
The ferry the "TEV Wahine" capsizes in Wellington Harbour, New Zealand after running aground during one of the worst storms ever to ever hit New Zealand. The final death toll exceeds 50 with most due to drowning.








Andy Warhol Shot
Andy Warhol the American pop art artist is shot and wounded in his New York film studio, The Factory, by actress Valerie Solanas who founded the "group" called S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting up Men).








Senator Robert Kennedy Assassinated
Senator Robert Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California presidential primary.








New 5p and 10p coins introduced in England
Decimal coins were introduced as part of decimalisation with


New 5p coin replacing 1 shilling ( 12 old pence )


New 10p coin replacing 2 shillings Florin ( 24 old pence )


The current system of pounds, shillings and pence will be replaced by Decimal currency on 15 February 1971.








UK Race Relations Act
A new wide ranging race relations act comes into force, making it illegal to refuse housing, employment or public services to people because of their ethnic background.








Elvis Becomes a Dad
Elvis Presley and his wife Priscilla Presley became the proud parents of a little girl 6-pound, 15 ounce Lisa Marie Presley








Student Occupation Columbia University
Students at Columbia University in New York City begin a week long occupation of several campus buildings protesting the Universities affiliation with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a weapons research think-tank affiliated with the U.S. Department of Defense.








Soviet Union Imports Vodka From US
Russia has long been known for its Vodka. However, during this time in history it had turned to the U.S., requesting for supplies of this alcohol to cover its shortage. The embarrassing thing was that Soviet Premier Krushechev (a.k.a. Krushchev) had not too long ago boasted about how much Russia’s Vodka is better. However, the fact that Russia ran out of Vodka had more to do with grain and potatoes to produce food, which was a priority over strong drink during this time.








Jackie Kennedy Marries Onassis
Jackie Kennedy marries Greek multimillionaire Aristotle Onassis on his privately owned island paradise part of the Greek Islands.








Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Pierre Elliott Trudeau becomes the fifteenth Prime Minister of Canada serving from 20 April 1968 to 4 June 1979, and later from 3 March 1980 to 30 June 1984.








World Champion Jim Clark
Motor racing world champion Jim Clark is killed in a car crash during a Formula Two race at Hockenheim, Germany.








B-52 Bomber with H-Bombs Crashes
A radiation alert is issued following B-52 bomber armed with four hydrogen bombs crashes near the Arctic air base of Thule in Greenland. After the bombs were found it took nine months to remove all the contaminated material including snow from the crash site.












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