World History 1968

About the history of the world in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy assassinated, riots at the Democratic National Convention.



Jan. 23 North Korean gunboats boarded and hauled to port the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo in or near North Korean waters. Crew members were released 11 months later after signing a forced confession of guilt. In a strange ceremony, preceding the release of the prisoners, U.S. Gen. Woodward signed a written apology which he verbally repudiated at the same time.

Mar. Nairobi officials began to "Africanize" Kenya by deporting Asian merchants by the thousands.

Mar. 12 Mauritius, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean, gained its independence from Great Britain.

Apr. 4 Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was gunned down in Memphis, Tenn. Escaped convict James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the shooting but has since renounced that plea.

May Sorbonne Rector Jean Roche called in Paris police to break up a small, noisy student meeting on campus and thereby precipitated violent student protests throughout the French capital, which spread to a general strike and very nearly brought down the De Gaulle government. Overnight the Latin Quarter erupted in a flurry of rocks and nightsticks, and police sealed off the Sorbonne. Waves of students poured onto the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, there to squelch the perpetual flame guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The students demanded the reopening of the Sorbonne and amnesty for arrested students. They got both. In the bargain, De Gaulle appealed to the French people to renounce further anarchy, promising in return to call new elections and to push for educational and economic reforms. French voters handed him an overwhelming vote of confidence.

June 5 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated just after making his victory speech on the night of the crucial California primary. A young Jordanian immigrant, Sirhan Sirhan, was found guilty of the crime. However, the Los Angeles Coroner's Office has presented physical evidence that the fatal shots were actually fired by a second gunman. (See The People's Almanac #1, "Assassinations--Successful and Unsuccessful: Robert Francis Kennedy.")

Aug. 20--21 Soviet tanks under the cover of Russian air support rumbled into Czechoslovakia to put down recent ripples of liberal reforms in that country.

Aug. 25--29 Violence broke out at the U.S. Democratic National Convention, and an estimated 60 million TV viewers watched Chicago police club into submission a crowd of 5,000 demonstrating youths and a few reporters. A commission later looking into the melee blamed the excessive violence on the overreaction of Chicago police.

Oct. Sen. Richard Russell (D-Ga.): "If we have to start over again with another Adam and Eve, I want them to be Americans and not Russians."

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