1968 was a tumultuous year which shook the world on 5 of the 6 continents. From assassinations to student protests to large strikes, we saw it all happen right in front of eyes and on TV. Although tumultuous, it brought success in the market as the auto industry was booming and the race to the moon was making progress. Here are the top 10 events of 1968.
1. Protests of 1968:
Worldwide protests were organized by students and workers, many of whom were born in the Baby Boom era. Americans, for example, voice their disapproval of the Vietnam War, the longest war in US history. Social Movement riots were also organized worldwide, including in the United States, Italy, Germany and North Ireland. The most violent was the civil rights movement in the Southern States of the United States.
2. Prague Spring:
In the early 1960s Czechoslovakia endured an economic recession during the Soviet Union occupation. The president of the country, Antonin Novotny was required to make liberal reforms. In 1965 he introduced a policy of decentralization where companies would decide on prices and wages. On January 5, 1968, Alexander Dubček replaced Novotny and implemented more further liberal changes known as the Prague Sprng. He granted the citizens more rights and democratized society and policies as a result. The changes were short lived after an angry Soviet Union reoccupied Czechoslovakia on August 21st.
3. Tet Offensive:
On January 31, 1968, the Vietcong attacked South Vietnam. It aimed to strike military and civilian command centers. The offensive ran for two months and endured tremendous loses on both sides. President Johnson faced further criticism as the war was not seeing any end and no progress was being made.
4. Mai Lai Massacre:
The My Lai massacre took place on March 16th 1968. My Lai was a village of about 700 inhabitants. 3 Platoons of US soldiers landed into the village looking to search and destroy Viet Cong (Communists). When the troops from one of the Platoon moved through the village they started to fire at the villagers. Among the dead were mostly women, children and the elderly as the men were working at the time of the massacre. 347 of the 700 inhabitants died in the massacre. This spurred more criticism from anti-war movements.
5. Martin Luther King, Jr is assassinated:
The prominent civil rights leader in the United States and integral advocate for peace and desegregation was shot and killed on April 4, 1968. He was one of the main organizers of the civil rights demonstrations and marches in Selma, Alabama which resulted in the Bloody Sunday events. The police intervention mounted tensions. On April 4, 1968 he was scheduled to make a speech at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis with regard to sanitation for employees.
6. Civil Rights Act of 1968:
This act was signed by Lyndon Johnson on April 11, 1968. Expanding on previous acts, discrimination in housing was now outlawed. No one could be refused housing because of their gender, colour of their skin, religion and/or national origin. This act also made sure no had right to coerce, threaten and/or intimidate others in the housing process because of gender, color of their skin, religion and/or national origin.
7. Robert F. Kennedy Assassination:
The Kennedy curse continued as the Presidential hopeful, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated after addressing his supporters in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy’s support for Israel in the 1967 Seven Day war was cited as the reason for the assassination.
8. The 300 million yen robbery in Japan:
4 Japanese bank employees at the Kokubunj branch were carrying 300 million yens in metal boxes when they were stopped by an armed police officer. The police offer stated that the bank manager’s home was bombed and there was a bomb under the car. Employees left the van so that the officer could inspect the car. The police officer tricked the employees and ran off with the van and money. This is the biggest heist in Japanese history and is still unresolved.
9. Pierre Elliott Trudeau becomes Prime Minister of Canada:
He would become the first Prime Minister to bring home the constitution in 1982 and to revise the Constitutional Act since the Confederation in 1867.
10. Americans go around the moon:
Apollo 8 goes into orbit around the moon on Christmas Eve. This is the first time humans can see the far side of the moon and Earth in full.