If the 20th century was the most change-filled century in the history of humankind, the 1960s were shorthand for just how quickly societies could transform. And within the ‘60s, no year was quite so striking as 1968. It is often called “the year that changed history,” packed with major political events that made headlines with violence, bloodshed, suffering, and chaos. In this battered and bruised quiz, what will you remember about 1968?
You can’t mention 1968 without touching on the political eruptions that happened all around the world. The Vietnam War was becoming more savage and brutal, and journalists were there to capture some of the worst moments, spreading the news far and wide … and drastically impacting public perceptions of the conflict. What do you know about the war that just wouldn’t end?
In America, the Civil Rights movement was finally seeing the fruits of its efforts. Federal civil rights legislation was signed into law, and minorities celebrated their gains. In the same breath, they gasped in horror at the killing of their leader, Martin Luther King Jr. What do you know about the racial conflicts, triumphs and failures that occurred in 1968?
But 1968 wasn’t all terrible. Technological and artistic boundaries were stretched. The first ATM opened in Philadelphia. Heart transplant procedures improved. Airbags for cars were invented (but wouldn’t become common for decades), and NASA was poised for its most famous mission ever. What do you know about the topsy-turvy year that was 1968?
De Gaulle was president of France in the late 1960s, reigning over a chaotic era of serious domestic discontent. At one point, he fled the country to dodge protests.
In 1968, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Johnson was a supporter of the Civil Rights movement and worked to level the social and economic playing field in America.
In 1968, U.S. soldiers in Vietnam tortured, assaulted, and murdered hundreds of civilians in the My Lai massacre. Shockingly, there were no real repercussions for the men who were involved.
In 1968, McDonald’s began clogging Americans’ arteries with gusto thanks to the Big Mac. It went on to become the chain’s most iconic "food" product.
The 1968 Winter Olympics took place in France. It was the first Olympics to be broadcast in color.
On January 30, 1968, the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive against South Vietnam and the United States. The offensive was a military failure but added to American discontent against the war.
In December 1968, America’s Apollo 8 became the first manned craft to orbit the moon. It set the stage for a much, much larger accomplishment the following year — the first moon landing.
In California, the Zodiac serial killer began sending mocking letters to the police in reference to his gruesome killings. He has never been caught.
In the 1960s, UCLA had a run of domination unlike any other in the history of college basketball. Houston’s Elvis Hayes and company ended the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak in the first-ever regular season prime-time college game to be broadcast on television.
In November 1968, the Beatles released an untitled double album known as the "White Album." The record was weirdly experimental and a testament to the band’s artistic powers.
King, the celebrated civil rights activist, was shot in Memphis on April 4, 1968. His death was yet another shocking event in the cataclysmic 1960s.
Cities erupted in furious riots after King’s murder. Civil rights leaders called for peace ... but to no avail.
North Korea claimed that the USS Pueblo was in its waters and captured the American ship. It tortured the prisoners for months and prompted a major escalation in the Cold War.
Just two months after Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles. It seemed the entire world had gone mad.
Smith and Carlos raised their fists on the medal stand during the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, an act of protest about human rights injustices in America. The men were derided by many people who thought they were grandstanding.
Smith and Carlos laced all sorts of symbolism into their protests, but they notably went barefoot, meant to portray black poverty.
Assassin James Earl Ray evaded capture and made it all the way to England. He was finally apprehended two months later and died in prison in 1998.
The 1960s saw the rise of the birth control pill ... and Pope Paul VI wanted no part of it. He banned Catholics from taking the drug.
In 1968, the 911 emergency system was introduced. For the first time ever, Americans could dial a number and explain their emergency, and then wait 30 minutes to three hours for help.
In 1968, Boeing launched its 747, the biggest passenger airliner in history. It helped fuel the boom in civilian air travel.
The 747 is nearly six stories tall and carries about 350 passengers, or what feels like 900 passengers given today’s cramped cabins that feel more like sardine cans than airplanes.
Sirhan Sirhan is the man who murdered Robert Kennedy because Kennedy supported Israel — Sirhan Sirhan is Palestinian, and is serving a life sentence in prison for his crime.
It was a perspective that humans had never before witnessed. "Earthrise" is a photo taken by astronauts as the Earth broke the horizon of the moon. It is one of NASA’s most famous images.
In August 1968, the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia following political turmoil that threatened to create democracy there. Soviet troops put the kibosh on all that, ensuring that communism was safe ... for a while, anyway.
“Star Trek" was going where no man (or woman) had ever gone before, all right — the show aired the first interracial kiss ever on TV. Captain Kirk laid a good one on Lt. Uhura, and you know that making out with subordinates was totally breaking Starfleet policy but Kirk got away with everything, so there you have it!
Shatner loved the idea of the kiss and reportedly ruined every alternate take of the scene — on purpose — so that the kiss would have to be included no matter who tried to censor the display of affection.
Sirhan Sirhan wanted to be executed ... to be a martyr for the Palestinian cause. The judge refused his guilty plea, and the assassin is still in prison for the murder he committed decades ago.
In 1968, Redwood National Park was created in northern California. The park helps to conserve Giant Redwood trees that rank as some of the biggest and oldest living things on Earth.
Intel opened its doors in 1968, eventually becoming one of the most important computer hardware manufacturers in the world.
In 1968, Surveyor 7 mission landed on the moon, capturing important images and analyzing the moon’s soil. The mission was an important forerunner to the manned moon landing.