The 1960's

Milk still came in bottles and doctors still made house calls. In Britain, the police were still called "bobbies" (and walked around instead of driving around in vans), and while TV may have been black & white, it was far more entertaining than most of what the TV stations churn out today.

With employment high and most enjoying a reasonable income, the 60s saw an increase in people spending money. Leisure time could be enjoyed by shopping, going to the cinema, watching television and travelling abroad. By mid-decade motoring had also become a pleasure affordable to most and everything was 'fab' and 'groovy' and discotheques were the chic places to go.

During the 60s there was a huge influx of Rock and Roll, beat and pop music from British bands, known in North America as the 'British Invasion'. Bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles became popular in countries such as Australia, America and Canada.

1967 was the year of Peace and Love. Flower Power became the message, manifesting itself in everything from psychedelic fabrics, flowers and flares.


In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks (an African-American seamstress) left work and boarded a bus for home. As the bus became crowded, the bus driver ordered Parks to give up her seat to a white passenger. Montgomery's buses were segregated, with the seats in the front reserved for "whites only." Blacks had to sit at the back of the bus. Rosa had had enough of such humiliation, and refused to give up her seat. "I felt I had a right to stay where I was," she said. The bus driver had her arrested.

Martin Luther King heard about Park’s brave defiance and launched a boycott of Montgomery buses. The 17,000 black residents of Montgomery pulled together and kept the boycott going for more than a year. Finally, the Supreme Court intervened and declared segregation on buses illegal. Rosa Parks and the boycotters defeated the racist system, and she became known as "the mother of the civil rights movement."

Martin Luther King became the leader of the civil rights movement and what made him so extraordinary was the way in which he led the movement. King encouraged non-violent resistance against unfair laws. Civil rights activists organized demonstrations, marches, boycotts, strikes, and voter-registration drives, and refused to obey laws that they knew were wrong and unjust. These peaceful forms of protest were often met with vicious threats, arrests, beatings, and worse. Martin Luther King Jr. made the speech, "I have a Dream" on August 28, 1963. More than 200,000 peaceful demonstrators came to Washington DC to demand equal rights for Black and Whites. Part of the speech was - "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character…"

The Civil Rights movement made great changes in society in the 1960's. The movement began peacefully, with Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael leading sit-ins and peaceful protests, joined by whites, particularly Jews. Malcolm X preached about Black Nationalism. After his assassination, the Black Panthers were formed to continue his mission. In 1965, the Watts riots broke out in Los Angeles. The term "blacks" became socially acceptable, replacing "Negroes." The number of Hispanic Americans tripled during the decade and became recognized as an oppressed minority. Cesar Chavez organized Hispanics in the United Farm Workers Association. American Indians, facing unemployment rates of 50% and a life expectancy only two-thirds that of whites began to assert themselves in the courts and in violent protests. The Presidential Commission of the Status of Women (1963) presented disturbing facts about women's place in our society. Betty Friedan, Pauli Murray and Gloria Steinem, (National Organization for Women) questioned the unequal treatment of women and created Women's Lib. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to include gender.



The 1960s were marked by several notable assassinations:
The assassination of John F. Kennedy was the first of a series of U.S. political assassinations in the 1960s. US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in his car during a parade.

Civil rights leader and social activist Martin Luther King Jr. was killed while standing on the balcony of a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Escaped convict James Earl Ray was tied to the crime by a bundle left nearby which included a rifle.

The brother of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, was killed by gunfire at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, after having just won the California Democratic Primary. Sirhan Sirhan was apprehended with a gun in his hand at the scene, and was later convicted of the murder.

Some other assassinations around the world in the 1960s include Ngo Dinh Diem (leader of South Vietnam), Rene Schneider (Chilean army leader general) and Benazir Bhutto (a member of Pakistan parliament).

# Kennedy, John F. (president of U.S.): Shot Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Tex., allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald; died same day. Injured was Gov. John B. Connally of Texas. Oswald was shot and killed two days later by Jack Ruby.
  1. Malcolm X, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (black activist): Shot and killed in a New York City auditorium, Feb. 21, 1965; his killer(s) were never positively identified.
  2. King, Martin Luther, Jr. (civil rights leader): Shot April 4, 1968, in Memphis by James Earl Ray; died same day.
  3. Kennedy, Robert F. (U.S. senator from New York): Shot June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan; died June 6.

The South Vietnamese government (backed by the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand) versus the National Liberation Front and Vietcong of North Vietnam. This war began with the aim to prevent Communist North Vietnam from taking over Nationalist South Vietnam.
Australia's military involvement in the Vietnam War was the longest in duration of any war in Australia's history.
The arrival of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) in South Vietnam during July and August 1962 was the beginning of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. Australia's participation in the war was formally declared at an end when the Governor-General issued a proclamation on 11 January 1973.
Australian support for South Vietnam in the early 1960s was in keeping with the policies of other nations, particularly the United States, to stem the spread of communism in Europe and Asia.
From the time of the arrival of the first members of the Team in 1962 some 50,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam; 520 died as a result of the war and almost 2,400 were wounded.


American Neil Armstrong has become the first man to walk on the Moon. The astronaut stepped onto the Moon's surface, in the Sea of Tranquility, nearly 20 minutes after first opening the hatch on the Eagle landing craft. Armstrong had earlier reported the lunar module's safe landing at 2017 GMT with the words: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." As he put his left foot down first Armstrong declared: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

He described the surface as being like powdered charcoal and the landing craft left a crater about a foot deep. Armstrong spent his first few minutes on the Moon taking photographs and soil samples in case the mission had to be aborted suddenly. He was joined by colleague Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and the two collected data and performed various exercises - including jumping across the landscape - before planting the American flag.

They also unveiled a plaque bearing President Nixon's signature and an inscription reading: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind." After filming their experience with a portable television camera the astronauts received a message from the US President. President Nixon, in the White House, spoke of the pride of the American people and said: "This certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made."