1963: A Pivotal Year


Your Turn (San Antonio Express/News)

1963:  A Pivotal Year

America started waking up five decades ago this year. 1963 celebrated a lot of firsts.

African American students began to be admitted to universities like Clemson in South Carolina and the University of Alabama. President Kennedy asked Congress to enact the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his letter from a Birmingham jail and later spoke at the Lincoln Memorial of his dream. American woke up to race relations.

Betty Friedan published “The Feminine Mystique.” She didn't believe women were satisfied with the role of housewife or mother. The Equal Pay Act was passed by Congress. The country began to be aware of women's rights.

The first James Bond movie opened in the U.S. “Dr. No” fueled the appetite for more Ian Fleming novels. The Beatles sang “Please Please Me,” and the British Invasion was begun. America woke up to international awareness.

The U.S., the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. They hoped to limit the effect of nuclear testing on the Earth and atmosphere. America began to awaken to the notion of environmental consciousness.

Cambridge, Mass., erupted in rioting after black youths threw rocks at white-owned businesses. The Ku Klux Klan bombed a church in Birmingham, killing four black girls.

Kennedy was assassinated. America woke up to the idea that violence is the solution.

Our country still struggles with the notion of violence. We still have a long way to go to stop the destruction of the environment. We are still waking up.


Don Mathis