Timeline of 1960s World Events

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21 March
South African police kill 69 black protestors in the Sharpeville massacre

30 June 
Independence from Belgium starts a long civil war in the Congo

31 July
Malayan government declares the state of emergency is over, as the communist forces are defeated

26 September
The first of four televised Nixon V Kennedy presidential debates

8 November
US voters choose John F. Kennedy, youngest elected president in history



15 March
South Africa withdraws from the Commonwealth

12 April
Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person in space and to orbit the earth

17 April
CIA-funded invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs fails

5 May
Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel in space

13 August
Construction of Berlin Wall begins



19 March
Bob Dylan releases his first album, Bob Dylan, in the US

3 July
France recognises Algerian independence

10 July
Launch of Telstar, the world’s first communications satellite, enables live TV pictures to be transmitted from the USA to France

5 August
Marilyn Monroe found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills

5 August
Nelson Mandela arrested

1 October
Escorted by federal marshalls, James Meredith becomes the first black student to register at the University of Mississippi

14 October
Cuban missile crisis begins



19 February
Publication of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, a milestone in the US Women’s Movement

21 June 
Pope Paul VI succeeds Pope John XXIII

8 August
England’s Great Train Robbery

28 August
Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream speech’, a defining moment in the US Civil Rights movement

Formation of the Federation of Malaysia ignites the Indonesia/Malaysia Confrontation

22 November
President Kennedy assassinated

23 November
First episode of Doctor Who is screen on BBC TV



25 February
Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) defeats Sonny Liston to become world heavyweight boxing champion

19 June
US Senate passes President Johnson’s Civil Rights Bill

The Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which the North Vietnamese are provoked into firing upon the American destroyer Maddox, leads to the escalation of American military commitment in Vietnam

5 August
President Johnson orders the US Air Force to bomb North Vietnam, after reports that the Maddox and Turner Joyhave been attacked

10 October
The 18th Olympic Games begin in Tokyo

15 October
Martin Luther King awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign of racial equality

15 October
Harold Wilson’s Labour Party elected to government in UK

15 October
Nikita Kruschev’s fall from power in USSR

3 November
Johnson defeats Goldwater in US presidential election



24 January
Death of Sir Winston Churchill

8 March
President Johnson sends the first US ground troops to Vietnam, starting a dramatic increase in US troop commitment

8 July
Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs escapes from London’s Wandsworth Prison

28 July
President Johnson announces an increase in American troops in Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000

9 August
Singapore officially withdraws from the Federation of Malaysia

11 August
Race riots in the predominantly black Los Angeles neighbourhood of Watts; after six days at least 34 people are dead

9 November
Power failure blacks out New York, parts of New England and Canada

11 November
Ian Smith, head of the white minority government in Rhodesia, makes a unilateral declaration of independence from Britain, provoking economic sanctions



19 January
Indira Gandhi elected Prime Minister of India

31 March
UK general election sees Harold Wilson’s Labour Party returned with an increased majority

29 April
US troops in Vietnam total 250,000

Mao’s Cultural Revolution begins in China; millions will be persecuted as he asserts his authority

29 July
Bob Dylan injured in a motorcycle accident; ceases touring for eight years

15 October
Huey Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther Party in USA



14 January
Hippies attend the first ‘Human Be-In’ at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

4 March
South Africa rejects the idea of a cricket series against the West Indies because it would involve ‘non-whites’

24 April
Muhammad Ali is stripped of the world heavyweight boxing title for refusing to enter the US army

5 June
Israel attacks Egypt to start the Six Day War

16-18 June
Monterey Pop Festival in California

6 July
Civil war breaks out in Nigeria

23 July
Detroit race riot begins; after four days 43 people are dead

9 October
Che Guevara killed in Bolivia

9 November
Rolling Stone magazine first published in San Francisco

2 December
Launch of full colour TV service on Britain’s BBC2

3 December
Dr Christian Barnaard conducts world’s first heart transplant operation in Capetown

10 December
Death of soul singer Otis Redding in a plane crash



22 January
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In brings topical humour to TV screens

16 March
My Lai massacre in Vietnam

4 April
Assassination of Martin Luther King

Student protests and general strike in France

6 June
Assassination of US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy

20 August
Czechoslovakia’s experiments in democracy end as Soviet tanks enter

26-29 August
Riots outside Democratic Party convention in Chicago

5 November
Election of President Nixon in USA



2 January
Rupert Murdoch buys Britain’s largest selling Sunday newspaper, News of the World

4 February
Yasser Arafat becomes leader of Palestine Liberation Organisation

17 March
Golda Meir becomes first female Prime Minister of Israel

20 April
British troops arrive in Northern Ireland

15 June
Georges Pompidou elected president of France

28 June
Stonewall riots in New York mark the beginning of the Gay Rights movement

4 July
Release of John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ by his Plastic Ono Band

21 July
Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong walks on the moon

15-18 August
Woodstock music festival in New York state

20 September
John Lennon tells the other Beatles he is leaving the group

5 October
Monty Python’s Flying Circus first screened on BBC TV

21 October
Willy Brandt becomes chancellor of West Germany

6 December
Violence at Rolling Stones Altamont concert symbolises the end of the 1960s



10 April
Paul McCartney announces his departure from The Beatles

29 April
US invades Cambodia

4 May
Four students are shot dead by the National Guard at Kent State University in Ohio

18 June
Election of Edward Heath’s Conservative government in UK

31 December
Paul McCartney files a suit for the dissolution of The Beatles’ contractual partnership