United States and American History: Late 1966

About the history of the United States in 1966, the Civil Rights struggle continues, Charles Whitman shoots from the tower, riots break out, Vietnam continues.


June 6 James Meredith, who had integrated the University of Mississippi, began a march around Mississippi to encourage the State's 450,000 unregistered blacks to use their voting right. He was ambushed and shot. Though Meredith said later he would never "knowingly expose" himself unarmed again in Mississippi, his march was taken up by SNCC, SCLC, and other groups. Attacked several times, the march was completed June 26 with a 15,000-person rally in Jackson at which Meredith, Carmichael, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared the podium.

July Nine blacks died in riots in Cleveland, Chicago, and Brooklyn. There were also smaller riots in 5 other large cities.

July 7 Despite his conviction for taking $250,000 in union funds and his status on bail pending appeal, Jimmy Hoffa was reelected to a 5-year term as Teamsters President by acclamation.

July 10 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., kicked off his campaign to make Chicago an "open city" by ending job and housing discrimination with a 40,000-person rally. On August 5, after 4,000 whites attacked 600 black marchers and he himself was injured, King said he had "never seen such hate--not in Mississippi or Alabama--as I see here in Chicago." On August 26, civil rights groups reached a 10-point accord with city government, church leaders, and the Real Estate Board for "open occupancy" in Chicago neighborhoods. More militant blacks considered the August 26 agreement a "sellout," and on September 3 CORE led a march into Cicero, Ill., that was attacked by teen-age gangs despite National Guard protection.

July 14 Robert Speck, an itinerant worker, bound and killed, one-by-one, 8 student nurses in their Chicago dormitory room.

Aug. 1 Charles Whitman, Boy Scout leader and ex-marine, terrorized students, teachers, passersby, at the University of Texas in Austin. Located at the top of the clocktower for 80 minutes, he shot 44 people, killing 14, before he himself was killed. Earlier in the day he had killed his wife and his mother.

Aug. 5 Beatle John Lennon said The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, leading many U.S. radio stations to take Beatles' songs off the air.

Sept. U.S. troops in Vietnam reached 300,000 and suffered a record 970 casualties, 145 dead, in one week. The Treasury Dept. reported the Vietnam War was now costing the U.S. $1.2 billion a month.

--The National Guard was called out during black riots in Dayton and San Francisco. In Atlanta, disturbances led to the arrest of Chairman Carmichael of SNCC for "inciting to riot." In Grenada, Miss., 200 whites beat with pipes, chains, and ax handles 30 black students and parents integrating the high school.

Sept. 16 The Metropolitan Opera opened the world's largest opera house--$45 million, 3,788 seats--in New York's Lincoln Center.

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