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|Centuries:||19th century - 20th century - 21st century|
|Decades:||1930s 1940s 1950s - 1960s - 1970s 1980s 1990s|
|Years:||1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969|
The 1960s decade refers to the years from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969, inclusive. Informally, it can also include a few years at the end of the preceding decade or the beginning of the following decade. The Sixties has also come to refer to the complex of inter-related cultural and political events which occurred in approximately that period, in Western countries, particularly Britain, France, the United States and West Germany. Social upheaval was not limited to just these nations, reaching large scale in nations such as Japan, Mexico and Canada as well. The term is used both nostalgically by those who participated in those events, and pejoratively by those who regard the time as a period whose harmful effects are still being felt today. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the libertine attitudes that emerged during this decade.
As with the Seventies, popular memory has conflated into the Sixties some events which did not actually occur during the period. For example, although some of the most dramatic events of the American civil rights movement occurred in the early-1960s, the movement had already begun in earnest during the 1950s. On the other hand, the rise of feminism and gay rights began in the 1960s and continued into the next few decades. Homosexual acts between consenting adults in private were legalised in England, Canada, and Wales in 1967. The "Sixties" has become synonymous with all the new, exciting, radical, subversive and/or dangerous (depending on one's viewpoint) events and trends of the period, which continued to develop in the 1970s, 1980s and beyond. In Africa the 60s were a period of radical change as countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers, only for this rule to be replaced in many cases by civil war or corrupt dictatorships.
Significant events that occurred around 1960 which would influence the course of history and character of the decade, include:
- The Beatles came to America in 1964, bringing the British Invasion.
- The Cuban Revolution ends in 1959.
- British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan delivers his Wind of Change speech in 1960.
- President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson take office in 1961; Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.
- Substantial American forces first arrive in Vietnam in 1961.
- Lyndon Johnson becomes president and presses civil rights legislation; college attendance soars.
- Pope John XXII calls the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church, continued by Pope Paul IV, which met from Oct. 11, 1962 until Dec. 8, 1965.
- President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on November 22, 1963
- Malcolm X is assassinated on February 21, 1965
Significant events that marked the passing of the decade include:
- U.S. President Richard Nixon is inaugurated in January 1969; promises "peace with honor" to end the Vietnam War; price inflation soars; Nixon imposes wage and price controls.
- Man walks on the Moon in July 1969, and Richard Nixon telephones the astronauts on the Moon, then later cuts the space program.
- The May 1968 student and worker uprisings in France
- The popular uprising in Czechoslovakia, known as Prague Spring, which was ended by a Soviet invasion
- The October 2, 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico City, of student protesters and uninvolved bystanders, by the Mexican military and police.
- The Woodstock Festival, and four months later, the Altamont Free Concert in 1969.
- The arrest and summary execution in 1967 of Ernesto "Che" Guevara by the Bolivian army when he tried to lead a guerrilla uprising
- The assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.
- The assassination of presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968.
 Major changes during the Sixties
- See also: Civil rights movement
 In the United States
The U.S. started a sustained program of math and science to counter the Soviet Union. This led to an expansion of the space program, with John Glenn orbiting the Earth and President Kennedy announcing the Apollo Program in 1961, which placed the first men on the Moon in July 1969.
Neil Armstrong went to the moon in 1969, on the Apollo 11 spacecraft. There they took pictures of the rocks and collected soil samples.
"That's one small step for a* man, one giant leap for Mankind."
("a" was lost in radio transmission)
The Civil Rights Movement successfully advocated equal rights for people of color. The movement began as a non-violent movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Gandhian figures. Later in the decade, Black Power movement and the Black Panther Party emerged as radical offshoots.
The decade starts with the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960, who promoted the space program, math and science education, tax cuts and the Peace Corps. It continued with president Lyndon Johnson's projects of the Great Society and the Civil Rights Acts (1964/1968). It is marked by tragedy with Kennedy's assassination in 1963, and by the assassinations of Malcolm X in 1965, King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. The decade ends with the collapse of Johnson's presidency due to public opposition to the Vietnam War and the election of Richard Nixon in 1969.
A mass movement began rising in opposition to the Vietnam War, ending in the massive Moratorium protests in 1969, and also the movement of resistance to conscription (“the Draft”) for the war. The antiwar movement was initially based on the older 1950s Peace movement heavily influenced by the Communist Party USA, but by the mid-1960s it outgrew this and became a broad-based mass movement centered on the universities and churches: one kind of protest was called a "sit-in." Other terms included Draft lottery, draft dodger, conscientious objector, and Vietnam vet. Voter age-limits were challenged by the phrase: "If you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough to vote."
Stimulated by this movement, but growing beyond it, were large numbers of student-age youth, beginning with the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964, peaking in the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and reaching a climax with the shootings at Kent State University in 1970, which some claimed as proof that "police brutality" was rampant. The terms were: "The Establishment" referring to traditional management/government, and "fascist pigs" referring to police using excessive force. Marijuana and other drugs were also popular in the 1960s.
The rapid rise of a "New Left" employed the rhetoric of Marxism but had little organizational connection with older Marxist organizations such as the Communist Party, and even less connection with the supposed focus of Marxist politics, the organized labor movement, and consisting of ephemeral campus-based Trotskyist, Maoist and anarchist groups, some of which by the end of the 1960s had turned to terrorism.
The overlapping, but somewhat different, movement of youth cultural radicalism was manifested by the hippies and the counter-culture, whose emblematic moments were the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967 and the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
The breakdown among young people of conventional sexual morality led to the flourishing of the sexual revolution. The era heralded the rejection and a reformation by hippies of traditional Christian notions on spirituality, leading to the widespread introduction of Eastern and ethnic religious thinking to western values and concepts concerning ones religious and spiritual development.
Popular music entered an era of "all hits" as numerous singers released recordings, beginning in the 1950s, as 45-rpm "singles" (with another on the flip side), and radio stations tended to play only the most popular of the wide variety of records being made. Also, bands tended to record only the best of their songs as a chance to become a hit record. The developments of the Motown Sound, "folk rock" and the British Invasion of bands from the U.K. (The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, and so on), are major examples of American listeners expanding from the folksinger, doo-wop and saxophone sounds of the 1950s and evolving to include psychedelia music.
The rise of an alternative culture among affluent youth, creating a huge market for rock and blues music produced by drug-culture, influenced bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Doors, and also for radical music in the folk tradition pioneered by Bob Dylan.
Also the first Superbowl occured in the 1960's
 In other Western countries
The peak of the student and New Left protests in 1968 coincided with political upheavals in a number of other countries. Although these events often sprung from completely different causes, they were influenced by reports and images of what was happening in the United States and France. Students in Mexico City, for example, protested against the corrupt regime of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz: in the resulting Tlatelolco massacre hundreds were killed.
University students protested in their hundreds of thousands in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, huge crowds protested against the Vietnam War in Australia and New Zealand (both of which had committed troops to the war).
An important difference between the United States and Western Europe, however, was the existence of a mass socialist or Communist movement in most European countries (particularly France and Italy), with which the student-based new left was able to forge a connection. The most spectacular manifestation of this was the May student revolt of 1968 in Paris that linked up with a general strike of ten million workers called by the trade unions—and for a few days seemed capable of overthrowing the government of Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle went off to visit French troops in Germany to check on their loyalty. Major concessions were won for trade union rights, higher minimum wages and better working conditions. 1960s music was very influential in the United States and Canada at the time.
 In non-Western countries
In Eastern Europe students also drew inspiration from the protests in the West. In Poland and Yugoslavia they protested against restrictions on free speech by Communist regimes. In Czechoslovakia 1968 was the year of Alexander Dubček’s Prague Spring, a source of inspiration to many Western leftists who admired Dubček's "socialism with a human face". The Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August ended these hopes and also fatally damaged the chances of the orthodox communist parties drawing many recruits from the student protest movement.
In the People's Republic of China the mid-1960s were also a time of massive upheaval and the Red Guard rampages of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution had some superficial resemblances to the student protests in the West. The Maoist groups that briefly flourished in the West in this period saw in Chinese Communism a more revolutionary, less bureaucratic, model of socialism. Most of them were rapidly disillusioned when Mao welcomed Richard Nixon to China in 1972. People in China, however, saw the Nixon visit as a victory in that they believed the United States would concede that Mao Zedong-thought was superior to capitalism (this was the Party stance on the visit in late-1971 and early-1972).
The Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara travelled to Africa and then Bolivia in his campaigning to spread worldwide revolution. He was killed in 1968 by Bolivian government forces, but in the process became an iconic figure for the student left.
 World leaders
- Prime Minister Robert Menzies (Australia)
- Prime Minister Harold Holt (Australia)
- Prime Minister John McEwen (Australia)
- Prime Minister John Gorton (Australia)
- Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (Canada)
- Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson (Canada)
- Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Canada)
- Chairman Mao Zedong (People's Republic of China)
- President Chiang Kai-shek (Republic of China on Taiwan)
- President Gamal Abdel Nasser (Egypt)
- Emperor Haile Selassie I (Ethiopia)
- President Urho Kekkonen (Finland)
- President Charles de Gaulle (France)
- Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (India)
- Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri (India)
- Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (India)
- Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (Israel)
- Prime Minister Levi Eshkol (Israel)
- Emperor Hirohito (Japan)
- Pope John XXIII
- Pope Paul VI
- Prime Minister Walter Nash (New Zealand)
- Prime Minister Keith Holyoake (New Zealand)
- Prime Minister Basil Brooke (Northern Ireland)
- Prime Minister Terence O'Neill (Northern Ireland)
- Prime Minister James Chichester-Clark (Northern Ireland)
- Governor Luis A. Ferré (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico)
- Taoiseach Sean Lemass (Republic of Ireland)
- Taoiseach Jack Lynch (Republic of Ireland)
- Nikita Khrushchev (Soviet Union)
- Leonid Brezhnev (Soviet Union)
- Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel (Turkey)
- Queen Elizabeth II (United Kingdom)
- Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (United Kingdom)
- Prime Minister Harold Wilson (United Kingdom)
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower (United States)
- President John F. Kennedy (United States)
- President Lyndon Johnson (United States)
- President Richard Nixon (United States)
- Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (West Germany)
- Chancellor Ludwig Erhard (West Germany)
- Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger (West Germany)
- President for Life Josip Broz Tito (Yugoslavia)
- Prime Minister Fidel Castro Ruz (Cuba)
 Writers, artists and intellectuals
- Isaac Asimov
- J. G. Ballard
- Amiri Baraka
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- Syd Barrett
- Basil Bunting
- William S. Burroughs
- Truman Capote
- Andy Capp
- Rachel Carson
- Noam Chomsky
- Arthur C. Clarke
- R. Crumb
- Philip K. Dick
- Bob Dylan
- Irving Fiske
- Louise Fitzhugh
- Betty Friedan
- Milton Friedman
- Jerry Garcia
- Allen Ginsberg
- George Harrison
- Seamus Heaney
- Robert A. Heinlein
- Joseph Heller
- Jimi Hendrix
- Frank Herbert
- Abbie Hoffman
- Jane Jacobs
- Ken Kesey
- John Knowles
- Philip Larkin
- Timothy Leary
- John Lennon
- Phil Lesh
- Roy Lichtenstein
- Norman Mailer
- Yseult Mantelli
- Paul McCartney
- Marshall McLuhan
- Joni Mitchell
- Jim Morrison
- Michael Novak
- Thomas Pynchon
- Lou Reed
- Dick Rivers (French singer)
- Bertrand Russell
- Jean Rhys
- Carl Sagan
- Jean-Paul Sartre
- Charles Schulz
- Dr. Seuss
- Jean Shepherd
- Ringo Starr
- John Steinbeck
- Gloria Steinem
- Tom Stoppard
- Hunter S. Thompson
- Gore Vidal
- Peter Vincent
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Andy Warhol
- Alan Watts
- Bob Weir
- Brian Wilson
- Tom Wolfe
There were six Olympics held during the decade. These were:
1960 XVII Summer Olympics - Rome, Italy
1960 VIII Winter Olympics - Squaw Valley, USA
1964 XVIII Summer Olympics - Tokyo, Japan
1964 IX Winter Olympics - Innsbruck, Austria
1968 XIX Summer Olympics - Mexico City, Mexico
1968 X Winter Olympics - Grenoble, France
There were two FIFA World Cups during the decade:
The ten Formula One World Championship Winners were:
 External links
- The 1960s: A Bibliography
- h2g2 article on the 1960s
- American Cultural History 1960 - 1969
- CBC Digital Archives - 1960s a GoGo
- San Francisco - diary of the 1960s by Peter Vincent
- The Sixties Project
- The Zone Radio Station - The 60's Show & more
- The Baby Boomer Years - Reminisce with other UK baby boomers.
- The Psychedelic 60's: Literary Tradition and Social Change, exhibit at the University of Virginia, Library, Special Collections.
- Elliott Landy's Photographs of the 1960s