1968, key events in “The Year That Changed America”

Robert F. Kennedy's coffin is carried out of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York

Washington (AFP) – The year 1968 featured a series of tumultuous events in the United States.

Here are some of the most notable occurrences during the year:

– January 23 –

North Korea captures the USS Pueblo, claiming the US Navy intelligence vessel violated its territorial waters. One member of the Pueblo’s crew was killed in the attack and the other 82 held for 11 months before being released.

– January 30 –

North Vietnamese troops launch the Tet Offensive, with tens of thousands of troops attacking dozens of towns and cities across South Vietnam, including the capital Saigon. The military defeat helped turn the US public against the war.

– March 31 –

In a surprise announcement, President Lyndon B. Johnson says he is not running for re-election.

– April 4 –

Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 39, is assassinated by a white supremacist, James Earl Ray, in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots break out in dozens of US cities despite appeals for calm.

– April 11 –

President Johnson signs the Fair Housing Act, also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which bans discrimination in housing based on race.

– April 23 –

Students at Columbia University opposed to the Vietnam War seize several buildings on the New York campus. More than 130 students are injured and 700 arrested when police crack down on the protest a week later.

– June 4 –

Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, 42, is assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  

– August 28 –

Anti-war protesters are beaten up and teargassed by police and members of the National Guard at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey wins the Democratic presidential nomination the next day.

– October 16 –

To protest racial injustice, black sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, winners respectively of the gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter dash at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, raise black-gloved fists in the air as the American national anthem is played during the medal ceremony.

– November 5 –

Republican Richard Nixon defeats Humphrey in the presidential election.

– December 21 –

Apollo 8, carrying three astronauts — Jim Lovell, Bill Anders and Frank Borman — takes off from the Kennedy Space Center and becomes the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon and return to Earth.