Monday, March 12, 2018

Early 1968 Events

The year of 1968 dealt with the issues of civil rights, gender equality, the Vietnam War, environmental issues, student movements, technology including the space race, and the counterculture.  By January 14, 1968, the Green Bay Packers won Super II. The coach of the Packers was the well-known progressive Vince Lombardi. By January 15, 1968, Jeannette Rankin led anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. She was a Congresswoman from Montana. The motto as it relates to this movement involved “Sisterhood is Powerful.” She worked with women among many colors, political differences, class differences, etc. to seek an end to the Vietnam War. On January 17, 1968, LBJ called for the non-conversation of the U.S. dollar. 2 days later, Eartha Kitt was at a White House conference. It talked about crime and the recent rebellions that came about. Eartha Kitt was not having a token discussion on crime. She courageously spoke up and opposed the Vietnam War. She said that people are suffering in the world and the Vietnam War must be addressed. Eartha Kitt wanted black and poor children to be respected of their dignity without exploitation. She said these words to the First Lady whose name was Lady Bird Johnson. Immediately, the FBI and the CIA monitored her and she was shunned by the establishment via a slander campaign for years. Eartha Kitt suffered unjustly, but she was a strong black woman who overcame the adversity. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the rest of the UCLA team played against Elvin Hayes and his University of Houston players on January 20, 1968.

The game was very significant in the history of basketball. The University of Houston won 71-69 in the first NCAA basketball game to be televised in a national audience. This was before March Madness. The Battle of Khe Sanh started on January 21, 1968 and it lasted to July 9, 1968 (when U.S. forces withdrew from the battle area). The battle was indecisive as both sides claimed victory (because Americans claimed that they just withdraw from the Khe Sanh base to destroy it as it wasn’t militarily necessary to defend, and the Vietnamese claimed that it ruled the area after the Americans left). It occurred on the area of northwestern Quang Tri Province in Southern Vietnam. U.S. forces defended Khe Sanh Combat Base by the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force. Many South Vietnamese Army forces or the ARVN fought in the battle too. Rown & Martin’s Laugh-In debuted on NBC on January 22, 1968. North Korea on the next day seized the USS Pueblo claiming that the ship violated its territorial waters while spying. This was an international incident. It had a crew of 83 people. One person from America was killed. This came a more than a week after President Lyndon Johnson gave his State of the Union address to the United States Congress. The crew of the Pueblo was taken to Wonsan and moved twice to POW or prisoner of war camps. The crew said that they were starved and tortured while in North Korean custody. There were negotiations for their release. The U.S. talked with South Koreans involving negotiations too.

South Koreans were angry at being left out in the negotiations. The crew were released after the U.S. apologized, admitted it was spying via the Pueblo, and the promise that the U.S. won’t spying the future. This was done so the people could be released. LBJ refused to attack North Korea since he feared that the crew would be killed if he would have done that. They were released by December 23, 1968 (in Panmunjom at the DMZ). The Soviets opposed North Korea’s actions while the Chinese supported it. On February 11, 1968, Madison Square Garden in New York City opened. By February 13, 1968, civil rights events happened at University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. February 27, 1968 was when Walter Cronkite said that the war was a stalemate and the U.S. must withdrawal in a negotiated settlement. From March 1-8, 1968, about 15,000 Latino students walk outside of LA schools in demanding for better education. The government of Czechoslovakia banned censorship on March 5, 1968. 500 New York University students picket a university sponsored recruiting event for Dow Chemical Company on March 6. Dow manufactured napalm which has burned the flesh of Vietnamese men, women, and children. There are pictures showing Vietnamese children running away from napalm bombings.

On March 11, 1968, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson mandated that all computers purchases by the federal government support the ASCII character encoding. The New Hampshire primary of March 12, 1968 was historic. LBJ on won by a small margin to the antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy (Nixon won 78 percent of the in the GOP New Hampshire primary). McCarthy had 42 percent of the Democratic vote. This showed the divisions in the country and in the Democratic Party over Vietnam. McCarthy first ran the race against Johnson on the issue of opposing the Vietnam War. The My Lai Massacre took place on March 16, 1968. It was about some American troops killing scores of Vietnamese civilians. It would only be made public by November in 1969. On March 16, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced publicly his candidacy for the race of the Democratic Party Presidential nomination. He won on the platform of ending the Vietnam War via a negotiation settlement, anti-pollution, gun control, decentralization of power, and racial plus social justice. There was a demonstration in London’s Grosvenor Square against the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. There was violence there as 91 people were injured and 200 demonstrators were arrested. The Congress ended the requirement for a gold reserve to back U.S. currency on March 18. Students at Howard University fight for black studies from March 19-23, 1968. They promoted a new era of student activism on college campuses. Students staged rallies, protests, and there was a 5 day sit in. They were at the administration building and shut down the university in protest over its ROTC program and the Vietnam War. They wanted a more progressive, Afrocentric curriculum. The movement in Howard University influenced the promotion of Black Studies, women’s studies, and other forms of studies nationwide to this very day. On March 31, 1968, one of the most shocking news of 1968 transpired.

That was when President Lyndon Baines Johnson announced that he will not seek re-election. This happened because of divisions in America, pressure from his advisors (as some of them wanted LBJ to change course and end the bombing of the Vietnamese territories), his health (as doctors said that his smoking would cause his longevity to end very soon), and the risk of defeat during the Democratic primary. Afterwards, he would be more apt to negotiate for some settlement after years of brutal imperialism. On April 2, 1968, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered in Washington, D.C. It was a movie about an American traveling into a space station and being monitored by Hal or an artificial intelligence computer. It showed ahead of its times graphics, themes, and it was one of the greatest science fiction films in history. It was directed by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick was the producer of the movie too.  On April 3, 1968, about 1,000 men return their draft cards to the government offices from across America. The anti-war movement accelerated. On April 4, 1968, one of the most tragic events in American history would happen. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis and he fought for the right to march without an injunction from the judge. He gathered allies on that day to discuss a future nonviolence march after his previous night’s I Have Been to the Mountaintop speech (which he prophetically said that he may not get to the Promised Land, but black people will get there in the future). He came outside of the balcony of the Lorraine Motel and talked with Jesse Jackson and other people like Andrew Young. Later, he is shot from a rifle to his jaw. He is killed soon afterwards. This changed America and the world forever.

By Timothy

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