Saturday, January 03, 2009


I watched a documentary tonight called 1968. I was browsing the library yesterday in Hoover and the movie caught my eye. I guess because 1968 was the year I graduated from high school and in my mind, it was a pivotal time in America.
The music was new and powerful. The footage from San Francisco of the counter-culture movement looked much more appealing to me it did to my parents. We had the war in Vietnam that was growing more unpopular by the day. The civil rights movement was gaining strength. Martin Luther King who had found found his voice was advocating a non-violent approach to change. But Dr. King was murdered in Memphis on April 4, 1968 and all bets were off as people of color vented their rage with weeks of riots and looting in many American cities.
It was an election year and all the various movement were on a collision course with the "establishment." Eugene McCarthy was the candidate of choice of the anti-war movement but when Bobby Kennedy threw his hat into the ring it changed the dynamics of the race. A lot of people, including me, were swept up and came to believe that things could change for the better. Those dreams were dashed when Bobby was shot on June 5th 1968.
The Democratic Presidential Convention took place in Chicago during the month of August. Protesters from around the country descended upon the city and the rage spilled into the streets.
Humphrey captured the democratic nomination but the struggle from within the party and from the streets seem to take the spark out of his campaign which allowed Richard Nixon to win the election in November.
The highlight of the year, besides me getting my diploma, was that NASA sent three astronauts to the moon. And for the first time, they captured pictures of earth rising above the lunar landscape.
Looking back at 1968 tonight brought back strong emotions. I lost a friend in Vietnam that year. I watched the TV news from the relative safety of small town Alabama as terrifying events unfolded. Deep down I knew that our country was changing and would never be the same again.

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