There is not doubt 1963 was one of the most troubled years in the history of The United States of America.  1963 was culminated with the assassination of John Kennedy 50 years ago this week.  I was 12 years old.


January 14 – George C. Wallace becomes governor of Alabama. In his inaugural speech, he defiantly proclaims “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!”

January 28 – African American student Harvey Gantt enters Clemson University in South Carolina, the last U.S. state to hold out against racial integration.


February 11 – The CIA’s Domestic Operations Division is created.


March 21 – The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes; the last 27 prisoners are transferred elsewhere at the order of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.


April 3 – SCLC volunteers kick off the Birmingham campaign against segregation with a sit-in.

April 12 – Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth and others are arrested in a Birmingham protest for “parading without a permit”.

April 16 – Martin Luther King, Jr. issues his Letter from Birmingham Jail.


May 1 – The Coca-Cola Company debuts its first diet drink, TAB cola.

May 2 – Thousands of African Americans, many of them children, are arrested while protesting segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor later unleashes fire hoses and police dogs on the demonstrators.


June 11 – Alabama Governor George C. Wallace stands in the door of the University of Alabama to protest against integration, before stepping aside and allowing African Americans James Hood and Vivian Malone to enroll.

June 11 – President John F. Kennedy delivered a historic Civil Rights Address, in which he promises a Civil Rights Bill, and asks for “the kind of equality of treatment that we would want for ourselves.”

June 12 – Medgar Evers is assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. His killer, Byron De La Beckwith is convicted in 1994.

June 17 – Abington School District v. Schempp: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that state-mandated Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional.


July 1 – ZIP codes are introduced in the U.S.


August 18 – James Meredith becomes the first black person to graduate from the University of Mississippi.

August 28 – Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to an audience of at least 250,000, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


September 15 – The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, in Birmingham, Alabama, kills 4 and injures 22.


October 8 – Sam Cooke and his band were arrested after trying to register at a “whites only” motel in Louisiana. In the months following, he records “A Change Is Gonna Come”.


November 22 – John F. Kennedy assassination: In Dallas, Texas, United States President John F. Kennedy is shot to death, Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded, and Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson becomes the 36th President. All television coverage for the next three days is devoted to the assassination, its aftermath, the procession of the horsedrawn casket to the Capitol Rotunda, and the funeral of President Kennedy. Stores and businesses shut down for the entire weekend and Monday, in tribute.

November 24 – Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of John F. Kennedy, is shot dead by Jack Ruby in Dallas, Texas on live national television. Later that night, a hastily arranged program, A Tribute to John F. Kennedy from the Arts, featuring actors, opera singers, and noted writers, all performing dramatic readings and/or music, is telecast on ABC-TV.

November 25 – U.S. President Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Schools around the nation do not have class on that day, millions watch the funeral on live international television.


December 26 – I Want to Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There are released in the U.S., marking the beginning of full-scale Beatlemania.