1968: The Extraordinary Events of a Memorable Year

Leonard Steinhorn
Leonard Steinhorn
American University

Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University, where he has twice been named Faculty Member of the Year. He currently serves as a political analyst for CBS News in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy, and co-author of By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race, books that have generated widespread discussion and debate. Professor Steinhorn’s writings have been featured in several publications, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Politico, and Huffington Post, and he has served as an on-air historian for documentaries on CNN and The History Channel.

 

 

Overview

What Happened In 1968?

The Sixties. It was a decade of hope — and disillusionment. A time of promise — and backlash. An era animated by youthful idealism — and frustrated by political disappointment. We entered the decade inspired by a president, stirred by a dream, and dancing innocently to “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” We ended the decade still clinging to those hopes and ideals, but sobered by the realities of a brutal war, bloodied protesters, burning cities, and a nation and culture coming apart.

 

1968 Events

No other year better encapsulates the narrative of the Sixties than 1968. It was a year when young people went Clean for Gene in the New Hampshire primary — and then got tear gassed in Chicago. When the country looked to larger-than-life leaders to guide us out of war and division — and then saw them felled by assassins’ bullets. When many hoped that a Kennedy would return to the White House — and instead we got a Nixon. In 1968, we saw a political party that represented the common folk get torn asunder by cultural and racial hostilities. We saw no light at the end of the tunnel in Vietnam. We saw Black Power meet law and order. We saw an America barely anyone would have recognized just a few years back. 1968 was like an electrical storm that hit our country, one that hot-wired every interaction, conversation, and event. And it put a charge in the emerging culture war that would define American politics and culture for decades to come. To understand the Sixties generation — and who we are as a nation — it is essential to journey through 1968 and see how that seminal year shaped and influenced our history.

Learn More About 1968 History

Learn more about 1968 history and other topics by checking out other great videos at OneDayU, including ‘A Jewish Founding Father: Alexander Hamilton’s Hidden Life, ‘6000 Years Of Religion’ & ‘The Psychology Of Courage’ all on-demand now.

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