Walt Whitman High School Class of 1968
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Walt Whitman High School Class of 1968 - 1968 in Review

Significant events of 1968

The impact of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the politics of the new left and the unrest on college campuses across the nation leads to a major eruption of events late in the decade. 1968 is a year of demonstrations and assassinations, marked by violent protests at Columbia University and the Chicago Democratic Convention and the untimely deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy. During this period, NYU is also experiencing some of its most volatile student activism stirred on by the Hatchett Affair and the Chi-Reston incident.

All of us who graduated together in 1968 lived through a tumultous and important time in American history. We should remember the times we grew up in and how different things were back then. Here then, are a number of events that happened during the time we were all so young and perhaps even naive to world events going on around us. It sure was a crazy time in history. Many young people today ask about the sixties; hell, we LIVED the sixties...

January 1968

TET Offensive Begins - In late January, Vietnamese Revolutionary Forces mount a concerted attack on South Vietnamese cities and towns. The U.S. Embassy in Saigon is penetrated by National Liberation Front (Vietcong) suicide squads on January 31, while the former imperial capital of Hue is captured by Communist forces and retaken by U.S. forces after three weeks of heavy fighting.

Netherlands gets color TV
Christian Barnard performs 2nd heart transplant
Beatles' 'Magical Mystery Tour,' album goes #1 and stays #1 for 8 weeks
1st class postage raised from 5 cents to 6 cents
'Great Balls of Fire' reaches #1
U.S. Female Figure Skating championship won by Peggy Fleming
'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In' premieres on NBC

March 1968

President Johnson Renounces Bid for Re-Election - One of the primary casualties of the Tet Offensive is President Lyndon Johnson. Having decided earlier in his term to escalate the war at the expense of his projected domestic reform projects (which he called 'The Great Society'), Johnson is now held accountable for a war which, by early 1968, has begun to resemble a prolonged military debacle. The first sign of LBJ’s vulnerability comes in the New Hampshire primary, where peace candidate Eugene McCarthy garners 40% of the Democratic vote. The near-upset of the incumbent is followed by Robert Kennedy’s entry into the Presidential race in mid-March as a candidate with potentially more widespread appeal than McCarthy or Johnson.
President Johnson's announcement –'I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party as your President'—comes as a complete surprise to most Americans, and a partial surprise to Johnson himself. Until the last minute, Johnson had actually prepared two speeches—one, that he gave, which renounced his Presidential bid, ordered a partial bombing halt of North Vietnam, and called for negotiation with the North Vietnamese. The other speech, never given, announced a further escalation of the war.

Robert Kennedy Announces Candidacy for President
Students Protest Against Dow Chemical Recruiters - On March 6, 1968, approximately 500 NYU students demonstrate the reappearance of Dow Chemical Company recruiters on campus. Dow Chemical was the principal manufacturer of napalm, the toxic chemical burning agent used against plant life and human beings by the U.S. military in Vietnam.

Joe Frazier TKOs Buster Mathis in 11 for heavyweight boxing title
Fillmore East opens
Beatles release 'Lady Madonna' in the UK
My Lai massacre occurs (Vietnam War); 450 die

April 1968

Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated - On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. is shot down while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray. Following the news of King's murder, racial violence breaks out in cities nationwide.

Marijuana Survey Taken - A survey taken by the Washington Square Journal finds that 75% of NYU students have tried marijuana at least once. The average marijuana user at NYU is described as 'a WSC [Washington Square College] student, usually male, 20 or 21 years old, living off-campus and majoring in the social sciences.'

June 1968

Robert Kennedy Assassinated - Just after announcing his victory in the California primary race, Robert Kennedy is shot down by Arab gunman Sirhan Sirhan.

Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull arrested for drug possession
Gary Puckett and Union Gap release 'Lady Will Power'
James Earl Ray, alleged assassin of Martin Luther King Jr, captured
Rolling Stones release 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'
Jim Hines becomes 1st person to run 100 meters in under 10 seconds
Deadline for redeeming silver certificate dollars for silver bullion

August 1968

Soviet Union Invades Czechoslovakia

Anti-War Protesters and Police Battle in Chicago During Democratic National Convention - From August 19 to August 25, confrontations occur between Chicago police and anti-war protesters during the Democratic National Convention.

100,000 attend Newport Pop Festival, Costa Mesa, California
Race riot in Miami, Chicago and Little Rock
Beatles launch 'Apple Records' label
Jimmy Ellis beats Floyd Patterson in 15 for heavyweight boxing title
650,000 Warsaw Pact troops invade Czechoslovakia
Cynthia Lennon sues John Lennon for divorce on adultry
Police and anti-war demonstrators clash at Chicago's Dem National Convention
Jerry Lewis' 3rd Muscular Dystrophy telethon

October 1968

General Strike - A general strike is called by the Radical Coalition and lasts for about 10 days in October. Tension between various students groups on campus becomes evident as they quarrel over the real issues behind the general strike. The strike eventually fizzles.

Apollo 7 (Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham) made 163 orbits in 260 hours
Billy Martin named manager of Twins
1st live telecast from a manned U.S. spacecraft (Apollo 7)
During Olympics Tommie Smith and John Carlos give black power salute
Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis

November 1968

Nixon Defeats Humphrey By the Thinnest Margin In History

President Johnson orders a halt to all bombing of North Vietnam
Nixon (R) beats VP Humphrey (D) and George C. Wallace for presidency
Cynthia Lennon is granted a divorce from John Lennon
John Lennon and Yoko Ono appear nude on cover of '2 Virgins' album
'National Turn in Your Draft Card Day' features draft card burning
Yale University announces it is going co-educational
Supremes and Temptations release 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me'

December 1968
President Nixon names Henry Kissinger security advisor
Arthur Ashe becomes 1st black to be ranked #1 in tennis
Apollo 8 (Borman, Lovell and Anders) 1st manned Moon voyage
David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash premiere together in California
Julie Nixon weds Dwight David Eisenhower
Borman, Lovell and Anders become 1st men to orbit Moon
Arab terrorists in Athens fire on El Al plane, kills 1
Beatles' 'Beatles-White Album,' goes #1 and stays #1 for 9 weeks
New York Jets win AFL championship

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