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50 Years After 1968

March 09, 2018

events of 1968

The year that rocked the world and changed the United States forever, 1968 is remembered as a time of societal divisions and cultural shifts. Following on the heels of the Summer of Love, the year began with the capture of a U.S. ship by North Koreans and American losses from the Tet Offensive campaign, an unexpectedly large and well-coordinated North Vietnamese action against the South Vietnamese allied forces. Then the country was roiled by the assassinations of first Martin Luther King, Jr., then Robert F. Kennedy. Throughout the year, workers' strikes and protests in the streets and at the Olympics kept the nation's attention on the war and the battle for civil rights. A contentious presidential election was marked by Johnson's decision not to seek reelection, riots at the Democratic convention, and George Wallace's divisive Independent Party campaign. For all the discord and tribulation that 1968 brought, however, there were spots of light. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, otherwise known as the Fair Housing Act, was signed into law, protecting Americans from discrimination in the purchase or rental of homes. The musical creativity of the 1960s was in full force, with groundbreaking album releases from the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, and the Rolling Stones. And the year ended with an awe-inspiring achievement as Apollo 8 took the first human beings out of Earth's orbit and around its moon. Over the coming months, the Roper Center will use its rich historical collection of opinion polls to explore how the public responded to these events of fifty years ago. Watch this space for highlights from the dataset collection and iPOLL-based reviews of public opinion from the year that changed everything.