What’s Happening in 1964?

Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts in non-violent resistance and civil disobedience against the racial prejudice and segregation of the United States.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is signed, the segregating Jim Crow laws disappear, but the nations prejudice doesn’t. The Civil Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race, religion, sex, national origin, or the color of their skin.

President Kennedy, beloved by many, was assassinated a year prior. The Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was released to the public in the Fall of 1964. The results proved to be somewhat controversial as there was some conflicting evidence and many people believed in different conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.

Before his assassination in 1963 President Kennedy had sent 16,000 troops to Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson would increase that number to 21,000 in 1964.  The Tonkin Gulf Resolution (officially, Asia Resolution, Public Law 88-408) passed by United States Congress in 1964. This gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of conventional military force in Southeast Asia.

The Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) is announced by Pope XXIII in January 1959. Between 1962 and 1965 Roman Catholic religious leaders convene for a 3-year assembly to evaluate the church’s role and appearance in a changing world (Pope, 2012).

A number of other events in 1964 reflected social and psychological changes that were occurring. Events, discoveries and activities by State players throughout the globe were a preview of the World to come:

  1. Bob Dylan releases “The Times They Are a-Changin” many consider a 1960s classic as it captured the changes happening in society.
  2. Sidney Poitier becomes the first black actor to win the “best actor” Oscar.
  3. Hasbro launch G.I. Joe an action figure for boys to join the Barbie Doll for girls.
  4. The first pirate radio station, Radio Caroline, is established
  5. Nelson Mandela and seven others are sentenced on June 12th to life imprisonment in South Africa. South Africa is subsequently  barred from the Olympic Games in Tokyo that year due to their Apartheid Policies. Meanwhile, in the US, Race Riots occurred Harlem NY, Elizabeth, NJ, Paterson, NJ, Jersey City, NJ, Rochester, NY, Chicago, Ill,  and Philadelphia, PA.
  6. The PLO Palestinian Liberation Organization, is established.
  7. The abolition of the death penalty in UK.
  8. China explodes its first Nuclear bomb.
  9. A riot during a soccer match between Peru and Argentina ends with 300 fans dead.
  10. The British and French Governments announce commitment to build a tunnel under the English Channel as the Verrazano Narrows Bridge opens, joining Staten Island and Brooklyn
  11. The computer mouse, BASIC computer language, The IBM 360 computer (famous for raised floors and huge tape drives), the Ford Mustang and Bubble Wrap were all invented/ introduced during those iconic twelve months.

And finally, the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history (magnitude 9.2) struck South Central Alaska . This earth-shaking event,  anthropomorphized to many the tectonic shifts in social, political, and religious arenas in the world of 1964.