The 1960s is the most important and a cultural decade in World History, American History, and in Rock Music History and Pop Culture. And a time with the Counterculture, with different styles, clothing, the music, different events, the political, different style of rock music including the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Hendrix, and even Woodstock, films and television, even different equality of Civil Rights, also the second wave feminism, the issues on the Cold War. Events on NASA in the Space Race, the protests against Vietnam War throughout the US, and Flower Power for peace and love. Our Presidents throughout this decade were John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon.
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.
Kennedy served at the height of the Cold War, and much of his presidency focused on managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented the state of Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate prior to becoming president.
Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Kennedy. A scion of the Kennedy family, he graduated from Harvard University in 1940 before joining the U.S. Naval Reserve the following year. During World War II, Kennedy commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service. After the war, Kennedy represented the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives from 1947 until 1953. He was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts from 1953 until 1960. While serving in the Senate, he published Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. In the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy narrowly defeated Republican opponent Richard Nixon, who was the incumbent Vice President. At age 43, he became the youngest elected president as well as the first and only Roman Catholic to occupy the office.
Kennedy’s time in office was marked by high tensions with communist states in the Cold War. He increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam by a factor of 18 over President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In April 1961, he authorized a failed joint-CIA attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He subsequently rejected Operation Northwoods plans by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to orchestrate false flag attacks on American soil in order to gain public approval for a war against Cuba. In October 1962, U.S. spy planes discovered that Soviet missile bases had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of tensions, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, nearly resulted in the breakout of a global thermonuclear conflict. Domestically, Kennedy presided over the establishment of the Peace Corps and supported the African-American Civil Rights Movement, but he was largely unsuccessful in passing his New Frontier domestic policies. Kennedy continues to rank highly in historians’ polls of U.S. presidents and with the general public. His average approval rating of 70% is the highest of any president in Gallup’s history of systematically measuring job approval.
On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the state crime, but he was never prosecuted due to his murder by Jack Ruby two days later. Pursuant to the Presidential Succession Act, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president later that day. The FBI and the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, but various groups challenged the findings of the Warren Report and believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy. After Kennedy’s death, Congress enacted many of his proposals, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Revenue Act of 1964.
Fidel Castro (1926-2016)
was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. Politically a Marxist–Leninist and Cuban patriot, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized, and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout the society.
Born in Birán, Oriente as the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. After a year’s imprisonment, Castro traveled to Mexico where he formed a revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl Castro and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Batista’s forces from the Sierra Maestra. After Batista’s overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba’s Prime Minister. The United States came to oppose Castro’s government and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic blockade and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro formed an alliance with the Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis — a defining incident of the Cold War — in 1962.
The 1960 U-2 incident occurred during the Cold War on 1 May 1960, during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the premiership of Nikita Khrushchev, when a United States U-2 spy plane was shot down while in Soviet airspace. The aircraft, flown by Central Intelligence Agency pilot Francis Gary Powers was performing photographic aerial reconnaissance when it was hit by an S-75 Dvina (SA-2 Guideline) surface-to-air missile and crashed near Sverdlovsk. Powers parachuted safely and was captured.
Initially the United States government tried to cover up the plane’s purpose and mission, but was forced to admit its military nature when the Soviet government came forward with the captured pilot and remains of the U-2 including spying technology that had survived the crash as well as photos of military bases in the Soviet Union taken by the aircraft.
Coming roughly two weeks before the scheduled opening of an east–west summit in Paris, the incident was a great embarrassment to the United States and prompted a marked deterioration in its relations with the Soviet Union.
Powers was convicted of espionage and sentenced to three years of imprisonment plus seven years of hard labor but would be released two years later on 10 February 1962 during a prisoner exchange for Soviet officer Rudolf Abel.
was a wave of sit-ins that followed the Greensboro sit-ins on February 1, 1960 in North Carolina. The sit-in movement employed the tactic of nonviolent direct action and was a pivotal event during the Civil Rights Movement.
The youth of the United States powered the sit-in movement across the country. Many students across the country followed by example, as sit-ins provided a powerful tool for students to use to attract attention. The students of Baltimore made use of this in 1960 where many used the efforts to desegregate department store restaurants, which proved to be successful lasting about three weeks. This was one small role Baltimore played in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The city facilitated social movements across the country as it saw bus and taxi companies hiring African-Americans in 1951-1952.
Morgan State College students saw the success of the sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina, and wanted to utilize this tactic in the department store restaurants. There were massive amounts of support from the community for the students’ efforts, but more importantly, white involvement and support grew in favor of desegregation of department store restaurants.
Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971)
was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. Khrushchev’s party colleagues removed him from power in 1964, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier.
Khrushchev was born in 1894 in the village of Kalinovka, which is close to the present-day border between Russia and Ukraine. He was employed as a metal worker during his youth, and he was a political commissar during the Russian Civil War. With the help of Lazar Kaganovich, he worked his way up the Soviet hierarchy. He supported Joseph Stalin’s purges, and approved thousands of arrests. In 1938, Stalin sent him to govern Ukraine, and he continued the purges there. During what was known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War (Eastern Front of World War II), Khrushchev was again a commissar, serving as an intermediary between Stalin and his generals. Khrushchev was present at the bloody defense of Stalingrad, a fact he took great pride in throughout his life. After the war, he returned to Ukraine before being recalled to Moscow as one of Stalin’s close advisers.
Stalin’s death in 1953 triggered a power struggle, from which Khrushchev ultimately emerged victorious. On 25 February 1956, at the 20th Party Congress, he delivered the “Secret Speech”, which denounced Stalin’s purges and ushered in a less repressive era in the Soviet Union. His domestic policies, aimed at bettering the lives of ordinary citizens, were often ineffective, especially in agriculture. Hoping eventually to rely on missiles for national defense, Khrushchev ordered major cuts in conventional forces. Despite the cuts, Khrushchev’s rule saw the most tense years of the Cold War, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Khruschev’s popularity was eroded by flaws in his policies. This emboldened his potential opponents, who quietly rose in strength and deposed the Premier in October 1964. However, he did not suffer the deadly fate of previous Soviet power struggles, and was pensioned off with an apartment in Moscow and a dacha in the countryside. His lengthy memoirs were smuggled to the West and published in part in 1970. Khrushchev died in 1971 of heart disease.
1960 Presidential Election
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 8, 1960. In a closely contested election, Democrat John F. Kennedy defeated incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican Party nominee. This was the first election in which all fifty states participated, as well as the first election in which an incumbent president was ineligible to run for another term due to the Twenty-second Amendment.
Nixon faced little opposition in the Republican race to succeed popular incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kennedy, a Senator from Massachusetts, established himself as the Democratic front-runner with his strong performance in the 1960 Democratic primaries, including a key victory in West Virginia over Senator Hubert Humphrey. He defeated Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson on the first presidential ballot of the 1960 Democratic National Convention, and asked Johnson to serve as his running mate. The issue of the Cold War dominated the election, as tensions were high between United States and the Soviet Union.
Kennedy won a 303 to 219 Electoral College victory, and is generally considered to have won the national popular vote by 112,827, a margin of 0.17%. The issue of the popular vote is complicated by the presence of several unpledged electors in the Deep South. Fourteen unpledged electors from Mississippi and Alabama cast their vote for Senator Harry F. Byrd, as did a faithless elector from Oklahoma. The 1960 presidential election was the closest election since 1916, and this closeness can be explained by a number of factors. Kennedy benefited from the economic recession of 1957–58, which hurt the standing of the incumbent Republican Party, and he had the advantage of 17 million more registered Democrats than Republicans. Furthermore, the new votes that Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president, gained among Catholics almost neutralized the new votes Nixon gained among Protestants. Kennedy’s campaigning skills decisively outmatched Nixon’s, and Nixon’s emphasis on his experience carried little weight for most voters. Kennedy used his large, well-funded campaign organization to win the nomination, secure endorsements, and, with the aid of the big-city bosses, get out the vote in the big cities. Kennedy relied on Johnson to hold the South, and used television effectively
The key turning point of the campaign came with the four Kennedy-Nixon debates; they were the first presidential debates ever (The Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858 had been the first for senators from Illinois), also the first held on television, and thus attracted enormous publicity. Nixon insisted on campaigning until just a few hours before the first debate started. He had not completely recovered from his hospital stay and thus looked pale, sickly, underweight, and tired. His eyes moved across the room during the debate, and at various moments sweat was visible on his face. He also refused makeup for the first debate, and as a result his beard stubble showed prominently on the era’s black-and-white TV screens. Furthermore, the debate set appeared darker once the paint dried up, causing Nixon’s suit color to blend in with the background which reduced his stature. Nixon’s poor appearance on television in the first debate is reflected by the fact that his mother called him immediately following the debate to ask if he was sick. Kennedy, by contrast, rested and prepared extensively beforehand, appearing tanned confident, and relaxed during the debate. An estimated 70 million viewers watched the first debate.
Elvis Presley returned to civilian life in the U.S. after two years away in the U.S. Army. He resumes his musical career by recording “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” in March 1960.
is an American record company. The record company was founded by Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records on January 12, 1959, and was incorporated as Motown Record Corporation on April 14, 1960, in Detroit, Michigan. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, has also become a nickname for Detroit. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music as an African American-owned record label that achieved significant crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its subsidiary labels (including Tamla Motown, the brand used outside the US) were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as the Motown Sound, a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence. During the 1960s, Motown achieved spectacular success for a small record company: 79 records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 record chart between 1960 and 1969.
is an American rock n roll singer and dancer. He is widely known for popularising many dance styles including the twist dance style, with his 1960 hit cover of Hank Ballard’s R&B hit “The Twist” and the Pony with hit “Pony Time”. In September 2008 “The Twist” topped Billboard’s list of the most popular singles to have appeared in the Hot 100 since its debut in 1958, an honor it maintained for an August 2013 update of the list. He also popularized the “Limbo Rock” and its trademark limbo dance, as well as various dance styles such as The Fly.
The Andy Griffith Show
is an American situation comedy which aired on CBS from October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968, with a total of 249 half-hour episodes spanning over eight seasons, 159 in black and white and 90 in color, which partially originated from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show.
The show originally starred Andy Griffith in the role of Andy Taylor, the widowed sheriff of the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. Other major characters include Andy’s inept but well-meaning deputy, who is also his cousin originally, Barney Fife (Don Knotts); Andy’s spinster aunt and housekeeper, “Aunt” Bee Taylor (Frances Bavier), and Andy’s precocious young son, Opie (Ron Howard). Eccentric townspeople and temperamental girlfriends complete the cast.
is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo was based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast. It was inspired by the life story of the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, Spartacus, and the events of the Third Servile War.
The film starred Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, Laurence Olivier as the Roman general and politician Marcus Licinius Crassus, Peter Ustinov, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, as slave trader Lentulus Batiatus, John Gavin as Julius Caesar, Jean Simmons as Varinia, Charles Laughton as Sempronius Gracchus and Tony Curtis as Antoninus.
The film won four Academy Awards in all.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family, her neighbors and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was 10 years old. The story is told by the six-year-old Jean Louise Finch.
The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism
Inauguration of John F. Kennedy
as the 35th President of the United States was held on Friday, January 20, 1961 at the eastern portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The inauguration marked the commencement of John F. Kennedy’s only term as President and of Lyndon B. Johnson’s only term as Vice President. Kennedy was murdered 2 years, 306 days into this term, and Johnson succeeded to the presidency.
Kennedy took office following the November 1960 presidential election, in which he narrowly defeated Richard Nixon, the then–incumbent Vice President. He was the first Catholic to become President, and became the youngest person elected to the office.
His inaugural address encompassed the major themes of his campaign and would define his presidency during a time of economic prosperity, emerging social changes, and diplomatic challenges. This inauguration was the first in which a poet, Robert Frost, participated in the program.
Brill Building Pop
is a subgenre of pop music originating from the Brill Building in New York City, where numerous teams of professional songwriters penned material for girl groups and teen idols in the early 1960s.
The term has also become a catch-all for the period in which those songwriting teams flourished.
In actuality, most hits of the mid 1950s and early 1960s were written elsewhere.
Native to the Brill Building
- Jeff Barry
- Neil Diamond
- Gerry Goffin
- Howard Greenfield
- Ellie Greenwich
- Carole King
- Don Kirshner
- Connie Francis
- Barry Mann
- Shadow Morton
- Doc Pomus
- Neil Sedaka
- Cynthia Weil
- Roy Wood
Jackie Kennedy (1929-1994)
Was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and First Lady of the United States from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.
Bouvier was the elder daughter of Wall Street stockbroker John Vernou Bouvier III and socialite Janet Lee Bouvier. In 1951, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature from George Washington University and went on to work for the Washington Times-Herald as an inquiring photographer.
In 1952, Bouvier met Congressman John F. Kennedy at a dinner party. In November of that year, he was elected as a United States Senator from Massachusetts, and the couple married in 1953. They had four children, two of whom died in infancy. As First Lady, she was known for her highly publicized restoration of the White House and her emphasis on arts and culture. On November 22, 1963, she was riding with the President in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, when he was assassinated. After his funeral, she and her children withdrew from public view. She married Aristotle Onassis, one of the world’s richest and most famous men, in 1968.
Following her second husband’s death in 1975, she had a career as a book editor for the final two decades of her life. She is remembered for her lifelong contributions to the arts and preservation of historic architecture, as well as for her style, elegance, and grace. She was a fashion icon, and her famous ensemble of pink Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat has become a symbol of her husband’s assassination. She ranks as one of the most popular First Ladies and was named in 1999 on Gallup’s list of Most Admired Men and Women in 20th-century America.
is an American singer-songwriter, author, and painter, who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became a reluctant “voice of a generation” with songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin'” that became anthems for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement. In 1965, he controversially abandoned his early fan-base in the American folk music revival, recording a six-minute single, “Like a Rolling Stone”, which enlarged the scope of popular music.
Dylan’s lyrics incorporate a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. They defied existing pop-music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture. Initially inspired by the performances of Little Richard and the songwriting of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, Dylan has amplified and personalized musical genres. In his recording career, Dylan has explored many of the traditions in American song—from folk, blues, and country to gospel, and rock and roll, and from rockabilly to English, Scottish, and Irish folk music, embracing even jazz and the Great American Songbook. Dylan performs on guitar, keyboards, and harmonica. Backed by a changing lineup of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed “the Never Ending Tour”. His accomplishments as a recording artist and performer have been central to his career, but his songwriting is considered his greatest contribution.
Following his self-titled debut album in 1962, Dylan made his breakthrough with the release of the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, featuring “Blowin’ in the Wind” and the thematically complex composition “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” alongside several other enduring songs of the era. Dylan went on to release the politically charged The Times They Are a-Changin’ and the more abstract, emotionally driven Another Side of Bob Dylan in 1964. In the space of 18 months he recorded three of the most important and influential albums of the 1960s, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. In 1966, Dylan withdrew from touring after being injured in a motorcycle accident. During this period he recorded a large body of songs with members of The Band, who had previously backed Dylan on tour; these were eventually released as the collaborative album The Basement Tapes in 1975. In the late 1960s and early 70s, Dylan explored country music and rural themes in John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and New Morning. In 1975 Dylan released his career-defining album Blood on the Tracks followed by the critically and commercially successful Desire the following year. In the late 1970s, Dylan became a born-again Christian and released a series of albums of contemporary gospel music, notably Slow Train Coming, before returning to his more familiar rock-based idiom with Infidels. Dylan’s major works during his later career include Time Out of Mind, “Love and Theft” and Tempest. His most recent recordings have comprised versions of traditional American standards, especially songs recorded by Frank Sinatra.
May 5, 1961
Mercury program: At 9:34 am, Alan Shepard became the first American in space as Freedom 7 lifted off from Cape Canaveral. Shepard’s rocket reached an altitude of 115 miles without achieving orbit, and was recovered 19 minutes later by the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain.
is a volunteer program run by the United States government. The stated mission of the Peace Corps includes providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand American culture, and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries. The work is generally related to social and economic development. Each program participant, a Peace Corps Volunteer, is an American citizen, typically with a college degree, who works abroad for a period of two years after three months of training. The program was established by Executive Order 10924, issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961, announced by televised broadcast March 2, 1961, and authorized by Congress on September 21, 1961.
Bay of Pigs
was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. A counter-revolutionary military group (made up of mostly Cuban exiles who traveled to the United States after Castro’s takeover, but also of some US military personnel), trained and funded by the CIA, Brigade 2506 fronted the armed wing of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (DRF) and intended to overthrow the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro. Launched from Guatemala and Nicaragua, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under the direct command of Castro.