The Sixties: The Times They Are a-Changin'

Establishment up Against the Ivied Wall

Never Trust Anyone Over 30

By 1968, enormous numbers of college students had lost faith in the ability of government to solve national problems. Dissatisfied with the world they encountered and "the establishment's" resistance to change, students used university campuses as political arenas to voice their dissent. "Teach-ins" and "be-ins" evolved from speech-making to confrontation.

Photograph of The Sixties exhibit.

Hey Hey LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?

Crowded rallies protesting the Vietnam War and the military draft were met with weapons and tear gas. At South Carolina State , three young demonstrators were the first to be killed by riot control troops. Students also turned violent. At Columbia University in New York City , 600 radicals seized school buildings, effectively shutting down the university for the semester.

Some protestors also jeered Vietnam veterans returning home from duty, spitting their frustrations against militarism onto individual soldiers. By 1968, counterculture hippies and radicals had so alarmed "the silent majority" that America had stopped listening.


War Dominates 1968 Presidential Campaign


LBJ Shocks the Nation

Anti-war protests and chants of "ABJ" ("Anybody But Johnson") grew louder. On March 31 at the close of a nationally televised speech, Johnson made a surprise announcement: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

Contenders Face the Issues

The door opened to Democratic Party hopefuls. Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Senators Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy vied for the nomination. One of them would face Republican favorite Richard Nixon, over governors Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan.

Humphrey campaigned on the continuance of Great Society programs. McCarthy's strong support from anti-war voters contributed to LBJ's decision not to run. Kennedy criticized both the inadequacies of the Great Society and the conduct of the Vietnam war. Nixon championed a strict law and order theme for Republicans. Complicating an already complicated race, Alabama governor George Wallace formed the American Independent Party to put forth his anti-Black segregation policies.

Photograph of The Sixties exhibit.


Dual Tragedies Left Nation in Mourning, Again

King - April 4, 1968

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. stepped onto the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis , Tennessee . A single shot fatally wounded King, who died within the hour. The fingerprints of James Earl Ray, an escaped convict and avowed racist, were on a rifle found close to the crime scene. Ray was arrested in England two months later. He initially pled guilty but later recanted his confession, and maintained his innocence until his death in prison in 1998.

Kennedy - June 4, 1968

After winning the strategic California primary, Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles . Robert Kennedy died 25 hours later. The gunman was Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian immigrant who claimed no memory of the events. Eyewitness accounts led to a guilty verdict and the death sentence, but in 1972, California abolished the death penalty. Sirhan's fate reverted to life in prison where he remains, still proclaiming his innocence.

Photograph of The Sixties exhibit.

Tales of Camelot
The Cold War Warms Up
Racing To The Moon
Civil Rights On The March
Teen Angels
The Swinging Sixties
Sun 'n' Surf Meets London Turf
The Awakening of America
Camelot Finale

Something's Happenin' Here
Vietnam : A Young Man's Hell
Black Power
Rat Race Refugees
Talkin' 'Bout My Generation
Establishment Up Against the Ivied Wall
The Nixon Era Begins
To the Moon
The Legacy

back arrow Return to Sixties main page
return to Hoover Museum main page Return to Hoover Library-Museum virtual exhibits page 
return to Hoover Museum main page Return to Hoover Library-Museum main index page