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Year of Upheaval: America in 1968

Updated on December 29, 2017
Patrick Patrick profile image

Patrick has been working as a freelance writer for the past 3 years

1968

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About the the year

1968 has been described as the year of upheaval in the United States. This is to say that it is regarded as one of the most turbulent and pivotal years in the history of the country having experienced a variety of social, political and cultural events the 1960s is remembered for. Here, I will highlight some of the major events that made the label particularly apt.

Tet offensive


The Tet offensive was a military campaign that was launched by the people's army of Vietnam on the 30th of January 1968 following the Tet holidays. Given that this was a period in which cease- fire had been customary, the attack was unprecedented and well coordinated throughout the country where well over 80, 000 communist troops went on to launch attacks against at least 100 towns and capitals. The attack, which was against the United States and their allies as well as the republic of Vietnam, was meant to launch a surprise attack and establish control over the major centers across South Vietnam. The war that ensued marked 1968 as the deadliest year for American forces, resulting in the death of about 16,592 soldiers

Vietnam

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The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr.


The assassination of Dr. King is one of the other significant incidents of 1968. On the 4th of April 1968, king was assassinated at a Lorraine motel in Memphis, where he had gone to lead a protest against poor wages and working conditions that Memphis sanitation workers experienced. Up until that point, King had been a strong civil rights activist, who vehemently fought to ensure that African Americans were treated equally. The assassination of King outraged millions, and incited riots and civil unrest in well over 100 cities across the United States, with Chicago, Baltimore and Washington being the most affected. James Earl Ray, who was arrested for the murder of 39 year old King was arrested on the 10th of June the same year and charged with the murder.

King

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The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy


Robert F. Kennedy, the younger brother of the former president John F. Kennedy went on to become an attorney general (1925- 1968) and then a democratic senator from the city of New York (1961- 1964). As a senator, Kennedy became actively involved in a variety of civil rights and social justice issues both within the United States and in other countries such as South Africa, where he promoted advancement of human rights. With an impressive career, Kennedy was encouraged to run for the position of the president of the United States in 1968 being an antiwar and socially progressive. After an energetic campaign that resulted in him winning in the California primary in June of 1968, Kennedy was assassinated on the 5th the same month in Los Angeles. This assassination was carried out by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24 year old Palestinian, who shot the hopeful president in a crowded kitchen passage way. Kennedy died the next day of the gun shot while Sirham was imprisoned for life.

Kennedy

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Together, these three major events heavily affected the cultural, economic and social changes in the united states. Do you agree?

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