Events of 1963 - History

Events of 1963 - History



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1963 French veto Britain's Joining Common Maket The French vetoed the British bid to join the Common Market. The reason given by French President DeGaulle was Britain's lower food prices and cash subsidies to farmers.
1963 Diem Government overthrown in Vietnam The Vietnamese military, with the backing of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), overthrew the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. The US backed the action, since the Administration felt Diem was both corrupt and not pursuing the war against the Communists with enough vigor. US support for the action effectively deepened the US commitment to South Vietnam.
1963 Kenya Declares Independence On December 12, Great Britain granted Kenya independence within the British Commonwealth. Its first leader was Jomo Kenyatta.
1963 OAU Founded Representatives of 30 of the 32 independent nations of Africa met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). An outgrowth of the Pan-Africanist movement begun by W. E. B. Du Bois and other African-American intellectuals, the OAU was intended to foster unity among African nations. Headquarters were established in Addis Ababa. The organization stood for the eradication of colonialism, mutual defense and the promotion of the economic and social welfare of member states. The OAU was successful in mediating conflicts between Algeria and Morocco (1965), Somalia and Ethiopia and Somalia and Kenya (1965-67), but fared poorly in its dealings with the Nigerian-Biafra Civil War (1968-70). Repeated attempts in the 1970's and 1980's to move the continent toward greater economic integration also failed and, by the 1990's, the OAU spoke with a voice that rang with little authority.
1963 Nuclear Test Ban Planned The first test ban agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union was ratified by the Senate on October 10. The agreement banned the above-ground testing of nuclear weapons.
1963 Feminine Mystique Published Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963. The book issued a call to modern women to throw off their traditional roles, which were dependent on men, and establish independent identities.
1963 Universtiy of Alabama Integrated On June 11, 1963, two black students were admitted to the University of Alabama. This occured after an unsuccessful attempt by Governor George Wallace to block their admission. President Kennedy ordered the national guard federalized to insure their admittance, and gave an impassioned speech to the nation on the subject.
1963 Medgar Evers Slain On June 12, Medgar Evers, the NAACP field secretary for Mississippi, was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith. It took almost 33 years to bring the assassin to justice.
1963 March on Washington Two hundred thousand people participated in the largest non-violent demonstration ever held to support the passage of civil rights legislation. At the rally, Dr. Martin Luther King stated: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal."
1963 Kennedy visits Berlin President Kennedy made a truimphant visit to Europe. He visited West Germany and West Berlin, where he was met by a degree of enthusiasm usually reserved for a movie star. He also visited his ancestral home, Ireland. While in Rome, John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, was greeted by the Pope as President Kennedy, Head of State.
1963 President Kennedy Assassinated On November 22, while visiting Dallas, Texas, President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. The assassination shocked the world and marked the end of an era in American history.
1963 Vaccine Against Measles Approval was given for a vaccine against measles. John Enders developed the vaccine in 1963.
1963 USS Thresher Sinks In the worst post-war US submarine disaster, the USS Tresher sunk in the Altantic with all men aboard. None of the men were recovered.

United States and American History: 1963

Jan. 14 George Wallace, sworn in as governor of Alabama, pledged, "segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever."

Mar 20 The 1st large "Pop art" exhibition opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, featuring such artists as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns.

Spring Civil rights campaigns throughout the South started with a voter registration drive in Greenwood, Miss., and segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala., in April continued in May, in Birmingham, and 3 North Carolina cities, Jackson, Nashville, and Atlanta and spread in June to 6 major cities outside the South as well as 12 more in the South. Most of the protests were against segregation, but job discrimination and police brutality were often issues as well. Several thousand blacks and their white supporters were arrested.

From May 2 to 7 in Birmingham, 2,543 demonstrators were arrested, prompting Governor Wallace to say he was "beginning to tire of agitators, integrationists and others who seek to destroy law and order in Alabama." On May 9, black leaders and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce reached an agreement to desegregate public facilities in 90 days, hire blacks as clerks and salesmen in 60 days, and release demonstrators without bail in return for an end to the protests. Still, on May 11, 2 bombings of black organizers' homes provoked a riot of 2,500 blacks which ended with State troopers clubbing any blacks they could catch. In Cambridge, Md., the National Guard enforced martial law from June 14 to July 11 after several shooting incidents. In Detroit a peaceful antidiscrimination march of 125,000 was held with the support of the mayor and governor.

June 9 Cleopatra, the most expensive movie ever made ($40 million) with the highest paid star, Elizabeth Taylor ($1.725 million+10% of the gross over $7.5 million), opened in New York. Though critical and public reception was lukewarm, enough people paid at least $4 so that Warner Bros. could later claim that it had made money on the film after it had sold the TV rights for a substantial amount.

June 12 Medgar Evers, Mississippi civil rights leader, was shot in the back and killed late at night.

June 17-19 A U.S.S.R. woman astronaut, Valentina Tereshkova, orbited the earth 45 times.

Aug. 5 The U.S., the U.S.S.R., and Britain signed a treaty in Moscow banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater. Later, 113 other nations cosigned, but not France or China.

Aug. 28 Over 200,000 blacks and whites marched for civil rights in Washington and 10 black leaders met with President Kennedy. In his keynote speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaimed, "Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. No, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Aug. 3 A 24-hour "hot line" was installed between Washington and Moscow to insure emergency consultation which could prevent "accidental" nuclear war.

Sept. Schools peacefully integrated throughout the South, except in Alabama where President Kennedy ordered the National Guard to keep schools open after Governor Wallace sent State troopers to close them.

Sept. 15 A black church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed, killing 4 girls. Two more blacks died in the riots that followed.


1963: the defining year of the civil rights movement

O n 28 August, in the shadow of Lincoln's monument, Martin Luther King announced to the March on Washington during his famous "I have a dream" speech that "1963 is not an end, but a beginning". For legal segregation, it would turn out to be the beginning of the end. The year started with Alabama governor George Wallace standing on the steps of the state capitol in hickory-striped trousers and a cutaway coat declaring: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation for ever." The civil rights leadership was ambivalent about the suggestion of a national march and President John F Kennedy was focused on foreign affairs. Within a few months Alabama would become internationally renowned as policemen turned dogs and high-pressure water hoses on children as young as six in Birmingham. Civil rights leaders were running to catch up with the militancy of their grassroots activists and the Democratic House majority leader told Kennedy: "[Civil rights] is overwhelming the whole programme".

This phase of civil rights activism did not start in 1963. Far from it. Until that point there had, of course, been many fearless acts by anti-racist protesters. On 1 February 1960, 17-year-old Franklin McCain and three black friends went to the whites-only counter at Woolworths in Greensboro, North Carolina, and took a seat. "We wanted to go beyond what our parents had done. The worst thing that could happen was that the Ku Klux Klan could kill us … but I had no concern for my personal safety. The day I sat at that counter I had the most tremendous feeling of elation and celebration," he told me.

But in 1963 the number who were prepared to commit such resistance reached a critical mass. "In three difficult years," wrote the late academic Manning Marable in Malcolm X, "the southern struggle had grown from a modest group of black students demonstrating at one lunch-counter to the largest mass movement for racial reform and civil rights in the 20th century".

The pace and trajectory of these changes were global. Two days after McCain's protest, British prime minister Harold Macmillan addressed the South African parliament in Cape Town with an ominous warning: "The wind of change is blowing through this continent," he said. "Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact." As the decade wore on, that wind became a gale. In the three years between Macmillan's and King's speeches, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Zaire, Somalia, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika and Jamaica all became independent. "The new sense of dignity and self-respect on the part of the Negro," King argued in a 1960 essay, The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness, was due in part to "the awareness that his struggle is a part of a worldwide struggle".

Civil rights protestors are attacked with a water cannon. Photograph: Getty Images

In the US in May, events in Birmingham were transformative. The New York Times published more stories about civil rights in those two weeks than it had in the previous two years. Televised scenes of children campaigning against rigid segregation, being bitten by Alsatians and knocked off their feet by water fired with enough power to rip bark off a tree caused international outrage. Before, only 4% of Americans thought civil rights was the country's most pressing issue afterwards it was 52%. According to the Justice Department, in the 10 weeks before King's "I have a dream" speech there were 758 demonstrations in 186 cities resulting in 14,733 arrests. "Birmingham became the moment of truth," argued Bayard Rustin, who organised the March on Washington. "Birmingham meant that tokenism is finished. The Negro masses are no longer prepared to wait for anybody … They are going to move. Nothing can stop them."

The march for jobs and freedom in Washington, which had aroused precious little interest just months before, now became the order of the day. It was a bold initiative. At the time marches in the capital were rare and this one was not particularly popular. A Gallup poll just a few weeks before the march revealed that 71% of Americans knew about it and of those only 23% were favourable while 42% were unfavourable, 18% thought it wouldn't accomplish anything and 7% thought it would end in violence. Kennedy, who was trying to get civil rights legislation through Congress, tried to talk them out of it. "We want success in Congress, not just a big show at the capitol," he said. Union organiser A Philip Randolph, who had called the march, told him: "The Negroes are already in the streets. It is very likely impossible to get them off."

Still, the march drew 250,000 people, roughly a quarter of whom were white and was deemed a great success by many. King's speech – which received no mention in the Washington Post the following day – would eventually become its most celebrated articulation of the period. "That day for a moment it almost seemed that we stood on a height," wrote James Baldwin in No Name in the Street. "And could see our inheritance perhaps we could make the kingdom real, perhaps the beloved community would not for ever remain that dream one dreamed in agony."

It did not take long for the realities of southern bigotry to deflate the mood. "There was no way we could have known then that that afternoon would represent the peak of such feelings, that the hope and optimism contained in King's words would dwindle in the coming years," wrote Congressman John Lewis "that in a matter of mere days after he stepped down from that stage a bomb blast in Birmingham would kill four little girls and usher in a season of darkness for the movement and for me."

Gary Younge's The Speech, The story behind Martin Luther King's Dream Speech, will be published in August


50 Years Ago: The World in 1963

A half century ago, much of the news in the United States was dominated by the actions of civil rights activists and those who opposed them. Our role in Vietnam was steadily growing, along with the costs of that involvement. It was the year Beatlemania began, and the year President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin and delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Push-button telephones were introduced, 1st class postage cost 5 cents, and the population of the world was 3.2 billion, less than half of what it is today. The final months of 1963 were punctuated by one of the most tragic events in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at the world as it was in 1963.

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, District of Columbia, during the "March on Washington," on August 28, 1963. King said the march was "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States." #

A Helmeted U.S. Helicopter Crewchief watches ground movements of Vietnamese troops from above during a strike against Viet Cong Guerrillas in the Mekong Delta Area, on January 2, 1963. The communist Viet Cong claimed victory in the continuing struggle in Vietnam after they shot down five U.S. helicopters. An American officer was killed and three other American servicemen were injured in the action. By 1963, nearly 16,000 American military personnel were deployed in South Vietnam. #

French Singer Yves Montand performs at a fund-raising evening of entertainment in Washington, District of Columbia, to celebrate the second anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration, on January 18, 1963. #

Ronny Howard, center, who plays Opie on "The Andy Griffith Show," is joined by his real-life father Rance Howard and little brother Clint in an episode of the show, marking the first time that all three Howards had worked in a TV show together, in 1963. #

A motorist's view of a street in Baghdad, Iraq, on February 12, 1963, where tanks stand by to prevent further outbreaks of fighting which followed a military coup and overthrow of Premier Abdel Karim Kassem's five-year-old regime by elements of the Ba'ath Party. #

The use of small, portable TV sets in the U.S. had not quite caught on in 1963, but in Japan, where they were first developed, viewers were hooked on the miniaturized video machine. Owners of the sets, such as this patient in a Tokyo hospital, took them with them wherever they went. #

Napalm air strikes raise clouds of smoke into gray monsoon skies as houseboats glide down the Perfume River toward Hue in Vietnam, on February 28, 1963, where the battle for control of the old Imperial City has ended with a Communist defeat. Firebombs were directed against a village on the outskirts of Hue. #

Sixty five drivers run for their cars at start of International 12-hour endurance race at Sebring, Florida, on March 23, 1963. #

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy ride in a parade in Washington, District of Columbia, on March 27, 1963. #

Powered sledges break a trail through Maine's primitive Allagash Forest, on March 5, 1963. Twenty men, led by an expert on Arctic equipment, made an extended trip through the forest to test equipment. Robert Faylor, director of the Arctic Institute of North America, led the group. The sledges, called Polaris vehicles, are powered with engines about the size of an outboard motor and travel up to 8 or 10 miles an hour, depending on snow conditions. #

After the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali, on March 26, 1963, most of the cabins have been destroyed in this village. On March 17, the volcano erupted, sending debris into the air and generating massive pyroclastic flows. These flows devastated numerous villages, killing approximately 1,500 people. #

Diane Sawyer, 17, America's Junior Miss of 1963, takes a few snapshots of New York's skyline on March 18, 1963. #

Admiral Richard Byrd's "Little America III" station, built in Antarctic in 1940, was spotted by a Navy icebreaker sticking out of the side of this floating iceberg in the Antarctic's Ross Sea, on March 13, 1963. The old outpost was buried beneath 25 feet of snow, 300 miles away from its original location. A helicopter pilot flew in close and reported cans and supplies still stacked neatly on shelves. #

Riders read their morning newspapers on New York's subway en route to work, on April 1, 1963 after the end of the city's 114-day newspaper strike. #

Black college student Dorothy Bell, 19, of Birmingham, Alabama, waits at a downtown Birmingham lunch counter for service that never came, April 4, 1963. She was later arrested with 20 others in sit-in attempts. #

Rev. Ralph Abernathy, left, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., are removed by a policeman as they led a line of demonstrators into the business section of Birmingham, Alabama, on April 12, 1963. #

Bluebird, the 5,000 horsepower car in which Donald Campbell hopes to break the world land speed record, pictured during its first run, with Campbell at the controls, during preliminary tests on the specially prepared track at Lake Eyre, South Australia on May 2, 1963. Torrential rains flooded the lake, postponing his run until the following year, when he set a record of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h). #

The launch of the Mercury Atlas 9 rocket with astronaut Gordon Cooper on board from Launch Pad 14 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1963. Mercury Atlas 9 was the final manned space mission of the U.S. Mercury program, successfully completing 22 Earth orbits before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. #

A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator, defying an anti-parade ordinance in Birmingham, Alabama, is attacked by a police dog on May 3, 1963. On the afternoon of May 4, 1963, during a meeting at the White House with members of a political group, President Kennedy discussed this photo, which had appeared on the front page of that day's New York Times. #

A young black woman, soaked by a fireman's hose as an anti-segregation march is broken up by police, in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 8, 1963. In the background is a police riot wagon. #

French explorer and oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau near his "diving saucer" during an undersea exploration in the Red Sea, in June of 1963. Together with Jean Mollard, he created the SP-350, a two-man submarine that could reach a depth of 350 m below the ocean's surface. #

A cheering crowd, estimated by police at more than a quarter of a million, fills the area beneath the podium at West Berlin's City Hall, where U.S. President John F. Kennedy stands. His address to the City Hall crowd was one of the highlights of his career. #

A picketer in front of a Gadsden, Alabama, drugstore turns to answer a heckler during a demonstration, on June 10, 1963. About two dozen black youths picketed several stores and two theaters. There were no arrests and no violence. #

26-year-old Valentina Tereshkova, who became the first woman to travel in space, as seen in a television transmission from her spacecraft, Vostok 6, on June 16, 1963. #

Attorney General Robert Kennedy uses a bullhorn to address black demonstrators at the Justice Department, on June 14, 1963. The demonstrators marched to the White House, then to the District Building, and wound up at the Justice Department. #

Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, burns himself to death on a Saigon street to protest alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government, on June 11, 1963. #

Alabama's governor George Wallace (left) faces General Henry Graham, in Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama, on June 12, 1963. Wallace blocked the enrollment of two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Despite an order of the federal court, Governor George Wallace appointed himself the temporary University registrar and stood in the doorway of the administration building to prevent the students from registering. In response, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard. One hundred guardsman escorted the students to campus and their commander, General Henry Graham, ordered George Wallace to "step aside." Thus were the students registered. Kennedy addressed the public in a June 11 speech that cleared his position on civil rights. The bill that he submitted to Congress was ultimately passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. #

Mourners file past the open casket of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 15, 1963. On June 12, Evers was shot and killed outside his home by by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council. #

Dr. Michael Debakey installs an artificial pump to assist a patient's damaged heart in Houston, on July 19, 1963. #

Allison Turaj, 25, of Washington, District of Columbia, blood running down her cheek, was cut over her right eye by a thrown rock in a mass demonstration at a privately owned, segregated amusement park in suburban Woodlawn in Baltimore, on July 7, 1963. #

Robert Fahsenfeldt, owner of a segregated lunchroom in the racially tense Eastern Shore community of Cambridge, Maryland, douses a white integrationist with water, on July 8, 1963. The integrationist, Edward Dickerson, was among three white and eight African American protesters who knelt on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant to sing freedom songs. A raw egg, which Fahsenfeldt had broken over Dickerson's head moments earlier, still is visible on the back of Dickerson's head. The protesters were later arrested. #

Firefighters turn their hoses full force on civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 15, 1963. #

Mrs. Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, pushes a National Guardsman's bayonet aside as she moves among a crowd of African Americans to convince them to disperse, in Cambridge, Maryland, on July 21, 1963. #

Chicago police move in to knock down a burning cross in front of a home, after an African-American family moved into a previously all white neighborhood, on the 6th consecutive night of disturbances, on August 3, 1963. #

The statue of Abraham Lincoln is illuminated during a civil rights rally, on August 28, 1963 in Washington, District of Columbia, #

Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during a civil rights rally on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. #

White students in Birmingham, Alabama, drag an African American effigy past West End High School, on September 12, 1963. Two African American girls attended the desegregated school and a majority of the white students were staying away from classes. Police stopped this car in a segregationist caravan in front of the school to caution them about fast driving and blowing auto horns in front of a school. #

A civil defense worker and firemen walk through debris from an explosion which struck the 16th street Baptist Church, killing four girls and injuring 22 others, in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. The open doorway at right is where the girls are believed to have died. The horrific attack rallied public support to the cause of civil rights. Four men, members a Ku Klux Klan group, were responsible for planting a box of dynamite under the steps of the church. Three of the four were eventually tried and convicted. #

One trooper sprawls in the flooded swamp as other Vietnamese Government Soldiers walk through the water after landing from U.S. army Helicopters near CA Mau Peninsula in South Vietnam on September 15, 1963. The Soldiers were landed to pursue communist Viet Cong Guerrillas who had attacked a Vietnamese outpost. #

A young Swedish fan hugs George Harrison as The Beatles play at a pop festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 26, 1963. Paul McCartney, left, sings with Harrison. #

President John F. Kennedy greets a crowd at a political rally in Fort Worth, Texas in this November 22, 1963 photo by White House photographer Cecil Stoughton. #

At 12:30 pm, just seconds after President John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were shot in Dallas, Texas, the limousine carrying mortally wounded president races toward the hospital, on November 22, 1963. With secret service agent Clinton Hill riding on the back of the car, Mrs. John Connally, wife of the Texas governor, bends over her wounded husband, and Mrs. Kennedy leans over the president. #

Lee Harvey Oswald sits in police custody shortly after being arrested for the assassination President John F. Kennedy, and the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit, in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. #

Flanked by Jacqueline Kennedy (right) and his wife Lady Bird Johnson (2nd left), U.S Vice President Lyndon Johnson is administered the oath of office by Federal Judge Sarah Hughes, as he assumed the presidency of the United States, on November 22, 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas #

Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is placed on a stretcher after moments after being shot in the stomach in Dallas, Texas, on November 24, 1963. Nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald as the prisoner was being transferred through the underground garage of Dallas police headquarters. #

Jackie Kennedy kisses the casket of her late husband, President John F. Kennedy while her daughter Caroline touches it in rotunda of U.S> Capitol, on November 24, 1963. #

With the illuminated U.S. Capitol in the background, mourners form an endless line which lasted through the night, to pay their respects to the slain President John F. Kennedy, in Washington, District of Columbia, on November 24, 1963. #

Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father's casket in Washington in this November 25, 1963 photo, three days after the president was assassinated in Dallas. Widow Jacqueline Kennedy, center, and daughter Caroline Kennedy are accompanied by the late president's brothers Senator Edward Kennedy, left, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. #

Picture released on December 2, 1963 of the formation of Surtsey, a new volcanic island off the southern coast of Iceland forged from volcanic eruptions. #

New York's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, linking Brooklyn to Staten Island, under construction, on December 4, 1963. The bridge, with a span of 4,260 feet, opened to traffic on November 21, 1964. #

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Timeline: 1963

Feb 8 Iraq's ruler, General Kassem, is overthrown in a coup led by members of his military and the Ba'ath party. After a quick trial he is shot. Kassem had suppressed the Communist Party in Iraq, and now the killing of Communists, other leftist intellectuals and trade unionists begins. Saddam Hussein, a junior member and former hit man for the Ba'ath Party, returns to Iraq.

Feb 8 President Kennedy makes travel to Cuba and financial and commercials transactions with Cuba illegal for US citizens.

Feb 27 The leftist former professor, Juan Bosch, takes office as President of the Dominican Republic.

Mar 22 In Britain a leading Conservative Party leader and Minister of War, John Profumo, denies to the House of Commons that back in 1961 he had been involved with Christine Keeler, who is known to have been involved with a Soviet attaché.

Mar 31 The last of the streetcars disappear in Los Angeles.

Apr 1 In Dallas, at his second job since returning from the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald has been rude with his fellow workers and inefficient at his job &ndash as a photoprint trainee. A supervisor finds him on his lunch break reading the Soviet Union's satirical magazine Krokodil &ndash available in the United States as part of a cultural exchange agreement between the US and the Soviet union. Oswald is fired.

Apr 8 US advisors complain that Diem's forces in the Mekong Delta are hampering the war effort by their reluctance to take casualties.

Apr 10 In Dallas, Oswald fires his rifle into the home of the former general and outspoken anti-Communist, Edwin Walker, barely missing Walker. Oswald returns home with his rifle, undetected.

Apr 20 President Sukarno of Indonesia endorses Beijing's foreign policies in exchange for Beijing's support for Sukarno's opposition to the formation of the new state of Malaysia.

May 1 The UN hands control over what had been Dutch New Guinea to Indonesia.

May 8 In Vietnam, Buddha's birthday is being celebrated. President Diem, a Roman Catholic, has a law against Buddhists displaying their flag. The Buddhists are aware of Papal flags having been flown, and they line streets defiantly flying their flag. Diem sends troops in armored vehicles against them. Nine Buddhists are killed. Diem accuses the Buddhists of sympathizing with the Communists.

May 11 In a television interview, Fidel Castro, recently returned from red carpet treatment in the Soviet Union, says that the United States has "taken some steps in the way of peace" in its relations with Cuba and that these might be the basis of better relations.

May 22 In Greece, a popular member of parliament, Grigoris Lambrakis, is intentionally run down by a truck.

May 27 Lambrakis dies. Unrest follows, with the government castigated as a moral accomplice in the death of Lambrakis.

Jun 5 John Profumo confesses that he misled the House of Commons back in March. He resigns.

Jun 10 In a speech at American University in West Virginia, President Kennedy says, "Some say that it is useless to speak of peace or world law or world disarmament – and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it . I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concepts of universal peace and goodwill of which some fantasies and fanatics dream . No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue . Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war."

Jun 12 The Field Director of the NAACP in Mississippi, Medgar Evers, is shot and killed in front of his home.

Jun 11 At a busy intersection in Saigon, a Buddhist Monk sets himself on fire &ndash a scene televised across the world. President Diem's sister in law, Madam Nhu, acting first lady of Diem's regime, says she would "clap hands at seeing another monk barbecue show."

Jun 11 In Alabama, federal troops force Governor George Wallace to allow black students to enter the University of Alabama.

Jun 16 The Soviet Union sends the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, into space.

Jun 17 The US Supreme Court rules 8-1 to strike down rules requiring the recitation of the Lord's Prayer or reading of Biblical verses in public schools.

Jun 20 The United States and Soviet Union agree to a communications hot line between the two powers and sign a treaty limiting nuclear testing.

Jun 21 In California, the Board of Regents who govern the state's university system abolishes the speaker ban by a vote of 15 to 2 with one abstention. One of those opposed, Regent Jerd F. Sullivan Jr, expresses his opposition: " . to allow an agent of the Communist Party to peddle his wares to students of an impressionable age is just as wrong, in my estimation as it would be to allow Satan himself to use the pulpit of one of our best cathedrals for the purpose of trying to proselyte new members. Communism . is a foreign ideology a subversive conspiracy dedicated to the overthrow of our form of government, by force if necessary. Their sales ability has been well demonstrated by the strides they have made in many parts of the world. Therefore, if we as a country feel that our ideology is superior, why leave our youth open to the narcotic influence of that salesmanship."

July 19 Since May, Lee Harvey Oswald has been working at the Reilly Coffee Company. He is fired from this third job since having returned from the Soviet Union.

Aug 3 Madam Nhu accuses Buddhist leaders of treason, murder and describes them as "so-called holy men who use Communist tactics."

Aug 4 In Vietnam another Buddhist priest burns himself to death.

Aug 9 Buddhist leaders, fearing more suicide demonstrations, prohibit suicide by fire.

Aug 11 US intelligence becomes aware of "deep and smoldering" resentment against Diem in his army.

Aug 12 President Betancourt of Venezuela wants the former dictator Perez Jiminez back in Venezuela to face charges of embezzling 13 million dollars. After careful legal study the Kennedy administration extradites him.

Aug 12 In Vietnam an 18-year-old Buddhist girl maims herself in protest against Diem's religious policies.

Aug 13 A 17-year-old Buddhist student priest burns himself to death.

Aug 15 A Buddhist nun, in her twenties, burns herself to death.

Aug 16 A 71-year-old Buddhist monk burns himself to death in the city of Hue.

Aug. 17 Forty-seven faculty members at the University of Hue resign to protest the Government's discharge of the Roman Catholic rector of the university and what they call government "indifference" toward settling a 14-week-old religious crisis.

Aug 18 At the Xa Loi pagoda in Saigon, about 15,000 Buddhists, most of them young people, sit-in and commit to a hunger strike.

Aug 21 Hundreds of heavily armed policemen and soldiers, firing pistols and using tear-gas bombs and hand grenades, swarm into the Xa Loi pagoda.

Aug 22 The US State Department criticizes Diem's government for violating its assurances that a reconciliation with Buddhists was being sought.

Aug 23 In Vietnam, David Halberstam of the New York Times reports growing anti-American feeling and student unrest.

Aug 25 In response to student unrest, Diem's regime announces the closure of all public and private secondary schools and Saigon's university.

Aug 28 At the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King makes his "I have a dream" speech.

Sep 6 Senator Barry Goldwater urges postponing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Sep 16 Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo are united into the Federation of Malaysia.

Sep 21 The government of Indonesia announces the takeover of all British Companies.

Sep 23 During an interview by Walter Cronkite, President Kennedy says that South Vietnam's Government cannot win its war against the Communists unless it recovers popular support. He also expresses a domino theory: that "if we withdrew from Vietnam, the Communists would control Vietnam. Pretty soon, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaya, would go. "

Sep 25 The US Senate, by a vote of 80 to 19, ratifies the treaty outlawing nuclear tests &ndash in the atmosphere, in space and in the waters of the earth. President Kennedy sets out on an eleven-state tour to plead for support for his domestic program.

Sep 26 President Sukarno says that the new federation of Malaysia was created "to corner Indonesia" and that Indonesia will need to "fight and destroy" it.

Sep 26 In the Dominican Republic, some are opposed to the reforms of Juan Bosch. In a pre-dawn military coup, the government of Juan Bosch is overthrown. Coup leaders describe Bosch's government as having been "corrupt and pro Communist."

Sep 27 The United States halts all economic aid to the Dominican Republic and suspends diplomatic relations.

Sep 27 Lee Harvey Oswald has taken a bus to Mexico City where he visits the Cuban consulate, hoping to move to Cuba, which he believes has a socialism superior to that of the Soviet Union.

Sep 27 Madam Nhu announces that a number of Junior officers are plotting against her brother-in-law's government.

Oct 2 President Kennedy sends a message to Ambassador Lodge in Vietnam, declaring that "no initiative should now be taken to give any encouragement to a coup" against Diem but that Lodge should "identify and build contacts with possible leadership as and when it appears."

Oct 5 The rebel generals, led by Duong Van "Big" Minh, have asked for assurance that US aid to South Vietnam will continue after Diem's removal from office and assurance that the US will not interfere with their coup. President Kennedy gives his approval and the CIA passes it on to the rebel generals.

Oct 7 President Kennedy ratifies a limited nuclear test ban treaty with Britain and the Soviet Union. Nuclear testing is outlawed in the atmosphere, underwater and in outer space.

Oct 9 Madam Nhu's father, Tran Van Chuong, who recently resigned as South Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States, has joined those opposed to the Diem regime. He calls for a selective cut in American aid to his country.

Oct 11 The US has 16,300 members of the military in Vietnam, increased from 800 by President Kennedy. Kennedy issues an order for the withdrawal from Vietnam of 1,000 military personnel by the end of 1963. According to Kennedy's Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, to be stated in the early 21st century, Kennedy is considering pulling US troops out of Vietnam after the 1964 election.

Oct 14 Madam Nhu accuses Washington of going soft on Communism and of basing its policies toward Vietnam on domestic political concerns.

Oct 15 Oswald is back from Mexico after having been denied a visa by Cuba. He has acquired a job at the Texas School Book Depository at $1.25 per hour filling customer orders for books.

Oct 16 In South Korea the leader of the ruling junta, Major General Park Chung-hee, is elected President.

Oct 18 In Britain the government of Harold Macmillan has lost credibility because of the Profumo affair, and Macmillan is suffering ill-health. He resigns.

Oct 24 This is U.N. Day, and the U.N. Ambassador, Adlai Stevenson, is in Dallas Texas, where he is jeered, pushed, hit by a sign and spat upon.

Oct 25 Ambassador Lodge reports a coup is "imminent." The White House tells Lodge to postpone the coup. Lodge says that the coup can be stopped only by betraying the conspirators to Diem.

Nov 1 The Diem regime is overthrown. Diem and his younger brother, Madam Nhu's husband, are said to have committed suicide. In fact they were assassinated. People in Saigon bedeck army tanks with flowers and parade joyously through the streets.

Nov 2 Madam Nhu accuses the United States of having stabbed the Diem government in the back.

Nov 4 In elections in Greece, former Premier George Papandreou and his Center Union party win over former Premier Constantine Caramanlis and his rightist National Radical Union.

Nov 6 In Greece, King Paul gives Papandreou a mandate to form a new government.

Nov 12 The Kennedy administration has hopes for better relations with Cuba and is arranging a meeting with Castro's regime, a meeting Kennedy does not want leaked to the press.

Nov 14 In Greece hundreds of political prisoners are freed.

Nov 16 In the United States the touch-tone telephone is introduced.

Nov 20 In the United States a handbill is being prepared for distribution during President Kennedy's visit to Dallas. It blames Kennedy for betraying the Constitution, for " turning the sovereignty of the US over to the communist controlled United Nations," for endangering the security of the US with "deals" with the Soviet Union, for being "lax in enforcing Communist Registration laws", giving "support and encouragement to the Communist inspired racial riots, and having "consistently appointed Anti-Christians to Federal office."

Nov 22 In Dallas, President Kennedy rides in an open limousine on a route of public knowledge. It passes in front of the building where Oswald works. Oswald takes his rifle to work with him and shoots the President. Vice President Johnson becomes President.

Nov 24 Jack Ruby, owner of a girly bar and friend of Dallas policemen, kills Oswald.

Nov 24 After walking in the procession from the White House behind the Kennedy cortege, President Johnson meets with Secretary of State Rusk, Secretary of Defense McNamara, CIA Director McCone and Ambassador Lodge. He expresses doubts that getting rid of Diem was the right course. He declares that he will not "lose Vietnam." He tells Lodge to tell Duong Van Minh and the other generals who made up the ruling Military Revolutionary Council that bickering among them must stop.

Nov 29 President Johnson appoints Chief Justice Earl Warren as head of a commission to investigate the Kennedy assassination.

Nov 30 In Cyprus, quarrels have erupted between Greeks and the Turkish minority. President Makarios hopes for better cooperation between the two communities and proposes thirteen amendments to the Constitution for consideration by leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community.

Dec 1 In the US, Malcolm X, a spokesperson for Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, describes the assassination of Kennedy as "the chickens coming home to roost." This irritates Elijah Muhammad, who suspends Malcolm's right to speak for the movement for 90 days.

Dec 20 In a seventeen-day accord, East Germany allows West Berliners one-day to visit relatives in East Berlin.

Dec 21 In Cyprus, proposed constitutional amendments would eliminate most of the special rights of Turkish Cypriots in exchange for greater integration between the two communities, with some guarantees for Turkish rights. Among Turkish Cypriots, rioting erupts.


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1963: The most pivotal year in black history?

“There comes a time, there even comes a moment, in the affairs of men when they sense that their lives are being altered forever, that an old order is dying and a new one is being born,” proclaimed host Frank McGee to kick off NBC’s unprecedented Labor Day airing of a three-hour prime-time special on the turbulent civil rights activity in 1963.

Fifty years later, the old order no longer looks like it once did but, while the wounds have healed, the scars remain, especially for those who fought on the front lines of the battle.

For many, 1963, a hundred years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, is punctuated by the triumphant March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom held at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28. They recall Dr. King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech but not the nightmare that birthed it. 1963 was a year of bold action and heartbreaking consequences that rocked the nation.

Recently, the brutal murder of Mississippi native son and fierce civil rights activist Medgar Evers fifty years ago, outside his Jackson, Mississippi home with his wife Myrlie and children James, Reena and Darrell inside, has been front and center. Evers, a World War II veteran who served in France and England in the Red Ball Express, the important truck convoy that supplied Allied forces, was the NAACP’s first Mississippi field secretary and, with wife Myrlie, established the NAACP’s first Mississippi office. He applied and was rejected by the University of Mississippi Law School due to race before James Meredith’s historic enrollment as an undergrad there, which he also helped guide. Evers, who died on June 12, 1963, did not live to see Meredith receive his degree on August 18.

Despite Byron De La Beckwith being tried twice in 1964 for Evers’s murder, he was not convicted until 1994. Whoopi Goldberg played Myrlie Evers in the 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi about efforts to bring De La Beckwith to justice. But Evers’ murder was unfortunately part of a string of violence that erupted that year.

Birmingham was particularly volatile and was actually dubbed “Bombingham” for the level of violence directed towards civil rights participants there.

At the urging of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, the outspoken Alabama civil rights leader who co-founded and led the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, which took the place of the shut-down Alabama branch of the NAACP, Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Council, came to Birmingham and initiated what its executive director Wyatt Tee Walker termed “Project C,” with the “c” standing for confrontation. Activities got underway on April 3, 1963 and didn’t let up.

Three days later, on April 6, Rev. Shuttlesworth led a protest, followed up by Dr. King’s brother, Rev. A.D. King April 7 and then by Dr. King and Rev. Ralph David Abernathy on April 13, resulting in Dr. King’s arrest.

While being held in jail, King penned his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to his fellow clergyman in which he called them out for not supporting civil rights activity, especially in Birmingham. He also proclaimed that “[o]ppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.”

It is in Birmingham that Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene “Bull” Connor turned hoses and let the dogs loose as Birmingham’s children took to the streets on May 2 and were arrested in the hundreds during the historic Children’s March. These images that sparked global headlines are largely ones we see today. On May 10, a deal was struck to desegregate Birmingham’s downtown stores and release those arrested, but the violence did not end. Not even a month after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, four little girls — 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins — were killed during Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15 in Birmingham. Spike Lee’s 1997 Academy-Award-nominated documentary 4 Little Girls explores the bombing.

By the time President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22 in Dallas at age 46, it was already official that 1963 was one of the bloodiest of the civil rights era. Although it is generally believed Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s act was not motivated by Kennedy’s increasingly vocal involvement in the civil rights activism of the time, there is no denying that his death was a huge blow.

Reportedly, Evers’s assassin De La Beckwith was motivated by the president’s televised address on June 11 regarding his decision to send the U.S. National Guard to the University of Alabama on June 10 to ensure the enrollment of African-Americans Vivian Malone (Attorney General Holder’s sister-in-law) and James A. Hood.

In his inaugural address earlier in the year, Alabama governor George Wallace had promised “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” and, thus, personally blocked the doors to prevent Malone’s and Hood’s enrollment. Interestingly, when he attempted to block the desegregation of a public high school in Huntsville that September, Kennedy again responded with a federalized National Guard.

During his June address known as the civil rights address or announcement, Kennedy said, “One hundred years have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”

So, as the nation gears up for the silver anniversary of the March on Washington in August, the sad commemoration of the violent deaths of “four little girls” in September and the reliving of the shocking assassination of President Kennedy in November, there is no disputing that 1963 was a critical one for black America. It tested not only the mettle of those committed to freedom and civil rights, proving that “we shall not be moved” even under the most unimaginable circumstances, but also established that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

That 50 years later an African-American president would sit in the White House during his second term is indeed vindication.

While our union has yet to become “perfect,” even with today’s challenge of the Trayvon Martins, senseless killings by African-Americans themselves in such urban centers as Chicago, not to mention the poor educational system and lingering economic discrimination, it is better than whence we’ve come.

Fifty years later, we should be inspired more than ever to keep up the fight until the day victory is truly won.


Events of 1963 - History

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In the spring of 1963, activists in Birmingham, Alabama launched one of the most influential campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement: Project C, better known as The Birmingham Campaign. It would be the beginning of a series of lunch counter sit-ins, marches on City Hall and boycotts on downtown merchants to protest segregation laws in the city.

Over the next couple months, the peaceful demonstrations would be met with violent attacks using high-pressure fire hoses and police dogs on men, women and children alike -- producing some of the most iconic and troubling images of the Civil Rights Movement. President John F. Kennedy would later say, "The events in Birmingham. have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them." It is considered one of the major turning points in the Civil Rights Movement and the "beginning of the end" of a centuries-long struggle for freedom.

Project “C” for Confrontation

Revisit the Birmingham Campaign through photos, music and clips from Eyes on the Prize.


The assassination

On November 21, 1963, President Kennedy—accompanied by his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Vice President Johnson—undertook a two-day, five-city fund-raising trip to Texas. The trip was also likely intended as an attempt to help bring together a feuding Democratic Party in a state that was vital to Kennedy’s chances for reelection in 1964. Although Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a liberal icon, had been confronted by highly agitated protesters a month earlier during a visit to Dallas—a city with a right-leaning press and the locus of much anti-Kennedy feeling—the president was warmly welcomed at his first two stops, San Antonio and Houston, as well as at Fort Worth, where the presidential party spent the night of November 21.

The next morning, after making a speech in a parking lot in front of the hotel in which he had stayed and then speaking again at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Kennedy and his party made a short flight to Dallas’s Love Field airport. (After Dallas, the final stop on the trip was scheduled to be Austin.) At the airport the president and first lady shook hands with members of a hospitable crowd before boarding the backseat of a customized open convertible to ride with Democratic Texas Gov. John Connally and his wife (who sat in jump seats in front of the Kennedys) to the president’s next stop, the Trade Mart, where Kennedy was scheduled to deliver another speech. An estimated 200,000 people lined the roughly 10-mile (16-km) route to the Trade Mart.

As the motorcade turned southwest on Elm Street and began traveling through Dealey Plaza on the edge of downtown Dallas, the president’s convertible passed the multistory Texas School Book Depository building. Moments later, at about 12:30 pm , shots rang out. A bullet pierced the base of the neck of the president, exited through his throat, and then likely (according to the Warren Report) passed through Governor Connally’s shoulder and wrist, ultimately hitting his thigh. Another bullet struck Kennedy in the back of the head. The motorcade rushed to nearby Parkland Memorial Hospital, reaching it quickly however, doctors’ efforts were futile. Kennedy was officially declared dead at 1:00 pm . Connally survived his wounds.


Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963

This website is based on an exhibition that was on view at the National Museum of American History from December 14, 2012 to September 7, 2014.

There are moments in our nation’s history when individuals unite and take courageous steps to fulfill the promise of democracy. One hundred years separate the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington. Yet, these two events are profoundly linked together in a larger story of liberty and the American experience. Both were the result of people demanding justice. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization, and vision. In both, we take inspiration from those who marched toward freedom.

United States population: 31,443,321
African American population: 4,441,830 (enslaved 3,953,760)
All states restricted the rights of African Americans and slavery was legal in 15 states

United States population: 179,323,175
African American population: 18,871,831
Racial segregation was legal in all states


Watch the video: Civil Rights Events 1960-1963