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50 Years Ago: The World in 1963

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A half century ago, much of the news in the United States was dominated by the actions of civil rights activists and those who opposed them. Our role in Vietnam was steadily growing, along with the costs of that involvement. It was the year Beatlemania began, and the year President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin and delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Push-button telephones were introduced, 1st class postage cost 5 cents, and the population of the world was 3.2 billion, less than half of what it is today. The final months of 1963 were punctuated by one of the most tragic events in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Let me take you 50 years into the past now, for a look at the world as it was in 1963. [50 photos]

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Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C. during the "March on Washington," on August 28, 1963. King said the march was "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States." (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C. during the "March on Washington," on August 28, 1963. King said the march was "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States." (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A Helmeted U.S. Helicopter Crewchief watches ground movements of Vietnamese troops from above during a strike against Viet Cong Guerrillas in the Mekong Delta Area, on January 2, 1963. The communist Viet Cong claimed victory in the continuing struggle in Vietnam after they shot down five U.S. helicopters. An American officer was killed and three other American servicemen were injured in the action. By 1963, nearly 16,000 American military personnel were deployed in South Vietnam. (AP Photo) #
French Singer Yves Montand performs at a fund-raising evening of entertainment in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the second anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inauguration, on January 18, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Ronny Howard, center, who plays Opie on "The Andy Griffith Show," is joined by his real-life father Rance Howard and little brother Clint in an episode of the show, marking the first time that all three Howards had worked in a TV show together, in 1963. (AP Photo) #
A motorist's view of a street in Baghdad, Iraq, on February 12, 1963, where tanks stand by to prevent further outbreaks of fighting which followed a military coup and overthrow of Premier Abdel Karim Kassem's five-year-old regime by elements of the Ba'ath Party. (AP Photo/Jim Pringle) #
The use of small, portable TV sets in the U.S. had not quite caught on in 1963, but in Japan, where they were first developed, viewers were hooked on the miniaturized video machine. Owners of the sets, such as this patient in a Tokyo hospital, took them with them wherever they went. (AP Photo/Hideyuki Mihashi) #
Napalm air strikes raise clouds of smoke into gray monsoon skies as houseboats glide down the Perfume River toward Hue in Vietnam, on February 28, 1963, where the battle for control of the old Imperial City has ended with a Communist defeat. Firebombs were directed against a village on the outskirts of Hue. (AP Photo) #
Sixty five drivers run for their cars at start of International 12-hour endurance race at Sebring, Florida, on March 23, 1963. (AP Photo/James P.Kerlin) #
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy ride in a parade in Washington, D.C., on March 27, 1963. (National Archive/Newsmakers) #
Powered sledges break a trail through Maine's primitive Allagash Forest, on March 5, 1963. Twenty men, led by an expert on Arctic equipment, made an extended trip through the forest to test equipment. Robert Faylor, director of the Arctic Institute of North America, led the group. The sledges, called Polaris vehicles, are powered with engines about the size of an outboard motor and travel up to 8 or 10 miles an hour, depending on snow conditions. (AP Photo/Dan Grossi) #
After the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali, on March 26, 1963, most of the cabins have been destroyed in this village. On March 17, the volcano erupted, sending debris into the air and generating massive pyroclastic flows. These flows devastated numerous villages, killing approximately 1,500 people. (AP Photo) #
Diane Sawyer, 17, America's Junior Miss of 1963, takes a few snapshots of New York's skyline on March 18, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Admiral Richard Byrd's "Little America III" station, built in Antarctic in 1940, was spotted by a Navy icebreaker sticking out of the side of this floating iceberg in the Antarctic's Ross Sea, on March 13, 1963. The old outpost was buried beneath 25 feet of snow, 300 miles away from its original location. A helicopter pilot flew in close and reported cans and supplies still stacked neatly on shelves. (AP Photo/Official U.S. Navy Photo) #
Riders read their morning newspapers on New York's subway en route to work, on April 1, 1963 after the end of the city's 114-day newspaper strike. (AP Photo/Jacob Harris) #
Black college student Dorothy Bell, 19, of Birmingham, Alabama, waits at a downtown Birmingham lunch counter for service that never came, April 4, 1963. She was later arrested with 20 others in sit-in attempts. (AP Photo) #
Rev. Ralph Abernathy, left, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., are removed by a policeman as they led a line of demonstrators into the business section of Birmingham, Alabama, on April 12, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Bluebird, the 5,000 horsepower car in which Donald Campbell hopes to break the world land speed record, pictured during its first run, with Campbell at the controls, during preliminary tests on the specially prepared track at Lake Eyre, South Australia on May 2, 1963. Torrential rains flooded the lake, postponing his run until the following year, when he set a record of 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h). (AP Photo/HO) #
The launch of the Mercury Atlas 9 rocket with astronaut Gordon Cooper on board from Launch Pad 14 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 5, 1963. Mercury Atlas 9 was the final manned space mission of the U.S. Mercury program, successfully completing 22 Earth orbits before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. (NASA) #
A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator, defying an anti-parade ordinance in Birmingham, Alabama, is attacked by a police dog on May 3, 1963. On the afternoon of May 4, 1963, during a meeting at the White House with members of a political group, President Kennedy discussed this photo, which had appeared on the front page of that day's New York Times. (AP Photo/Bill Hudson) #
A young black woman, soaked by a fireman's hose as an anti-segregation march is broken up by police, in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 8, 1963. In the background is a police riot wagon. (AP Photo) #
French explorer and oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau near his "diving saucer" during an undersea exploration in the Red Sea, in June of 1963. Together with Jean Mollard, he created the SP-350, a two-man submarine that could reach a depth of 350 m below the ocean's surface. (OFF/AFP/Getty Images) #
A cheering crowd, estimated by police at more than a quarter of a million, fills the area beneath the podium at West Berlin's City Hall, where U.S. President John F. Kennedy stands. His address to the City Hall crowd was one of the highlights of his career. (AP Photo) #
A picketer in front of a Gadsden, Alabama, drugstore turns to answer a heckler during a demonstration, on June 10, 1963. About two dozen black youths picketed several stores and two theaters. There were no arrests and no violence. (AP Photo) #
26-year-old Valentina Tereshkova, who became the first woman to travel in space, as seen in a television transmission from her spacecraft, Vostok 6, on June 16, 1963. (AP photo/Tass) #
Attorney General Robert Kennedy uses a bullhorn to address black demonstrators at the Justice Department, on June 14, 1963. The demonstrators marched to the White House, then to the District Building, and wound up at the Justice Department. (AP Photo/stf) #
Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, burns himself to death on a Saigon street to protest alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government, on June 11, 1963. (AP Photo/Malcolm Browne) #
Alabama's governor George Wallace (left) faces General Henry Graham, in Tuscaloosa, at the University of Alabama, on June 12, 1963. Wallace blocked the enrollment of two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. Despite an order of the federal court, Governor George Wallace appointed himself the temporary University registrar and stood in the doorway of the administration building to prevent the students from registering. In response, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard. One hundred guardsman escorted the students to campus and their commander, General Henry Graham, ordered George Wallace to "step aside." Thus were the students registered. Kennedy addressed the public in a June 11 speech that cleared his position on civil rights. The bill that he submitted to Congress was ultimately passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (OFF/AFP/Getty Images) #
Mourners file past the open casket of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 15, 1963. On June 12, Evers was shot and killed outside his home by by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council. (AP Photo/stf) #
Dr. Michael Debakey installs an artificial pump to assist a patient's damaged heart in Houston, on July 19, 1963. (AFP/Getty Images) #
Allison Turaj, 25, of Washington, D.C., blood running down her cheek, was cut over her right eye by a thrown rock in a mass demonstration at a privately owned, segregated amusement park in suburban Woodlawn in Baltimore, on July 7, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Robert Fahsenfeldt, owner of a segregated lunchroom in the racially tense Eastern Shore community of Cambridge, Maryland, douses a white integrationist with water, on July 8, 1963. The integrationist, Edward Dickerson, was among three white and eight African American protesters who knelt on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant to sing freedom songs. A raw egg, which Fahsenfeldt had broken over Dickerson's head moments earlier, still is visible on the back of Dickerson's head. The protesters were later arrested. (AP Photo/William A. Smith) #
Firefighters turn their hoses full force on civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 15, 1963. (AP Photo/Bill Hudson) #
Mrs. Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, pushes a National Guardsman's bayonet aside as she moves among a crowd of African Americans to convince them to disperse, in Cambridge, Maryland, on July 21, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Chicago police move in to knock down a burning cross in front of a home, after an African-American family moved into a previously all white neighborhood, on the 6th consecutive night of disturbances, on August 3, 1963. (Library of Congress) #
The statue of Abraham Lincoln is illuminated during a civil rights rally, on August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. (National Archive/Newsmakers) #
Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during a civil rights rally on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. (Rowland Scherman/National Archive/Newsmakers) #
White students in Birmingham, Alabama, drag an African American effigy past West End High School, on September 12, 1963. Two African American girls attended the desegregated school and a majority of the white students were staying away from classes. Police stopped this car in a segregationist caravan in front of the school to caution them about fast driving and blowing auto horns in front of a school. (AP Photo) #
A civil defense worker and firemen walk through debris from an explosion which struck the 16th street Baptist Church, killing four girls and injuring 22 others, in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. The open doorway at right is where the girls are believed to have died. The horrific attack rallied public support to the cause of civil rights. Four men, members a Ku Klux Klan group, were responsible for planting a box of dynamite under the steps of the church. Three of the four were eventually tried and convicted. (AP Photo) #
One trooper sprawls in the flooded swamp as other Vietnamese Government Soldiers walk through the water after landing from U.S. army Helicopters near CA Mau Peninsula in South Vietnam on September 15, 1963. The Soldiers were landed to pursue communist Viet Cong Guerrillas who had attacked a Vietnamese outpost. (AP Photo/Horst Faas) #
A young Swedish fan hugs George Harrison as The Beatles play at a pop festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 26, 1963. Paul McCartney, left, sings with Harrison. (AP Photo) #
President John F. Kennedy greets a crowd at a political rally in Fort Worth, Texas in this November 22, 1963 photo by White House photographer Cecil Stoughton. (Reuters/JFK Library/The White House/Cecil Stoughton) #
At 12:30 pm, just seconds after President John F. Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were shot in Dallas, Texas, the limousine carrying mortally wounded president races toward the hospital, on November 22, 1963. With secret service agent Clinton Hill riding on the back of the car, Mrs. John Connally, wife of the Texas governor, bends over her wounded husband, and Mrs. Kennedy leans over the president. (AP Photo/Justin Newman) #
Lee Harvey Oswald sits in police custody shortly after being arrested for the assassination President John F. Kennedy, and the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit, in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Flanked by Jacqueline Kennedy (right) and his wife Lady Bird Johnson (2nd left), U.S Vice President Lyndon Johnson is administered the oath of office by Federal Judge Sarah Hughes, as he assumed the presidency of the United States, on November 22, 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas (Cecil Stoughton/AFP/Getty Images) #
Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is placed on a stretcher after moments after being shot in the stomach in Dallas, Texas, on November 24, 1963. Nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald as the prisoner was being transferred through the underground garage of Dallas police headquarters. (AP Photo) #
Jackie Kennedy kisses the casket of her late husband, President John F. Kennedy while her daughter Caroline touches it in rotunda of U.S> Capitol, on November 24, 1963. (AP Photo) #
With the illuminated U.S. Capitol in the background, mourners form an endless line which lasted through the night, to pay their respects to the slain President John F. Kennedy, in Washington, D.C., on November 24, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father's casket in Washington in this November 25, 1963 photo, three days after the president was assassinated in Dallas. Widow Jacqueline Kennedy, center, and daughter Caroline Kennedy are accompanied by the late president's brothers Senator Edward Kennedy, left, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. (AP Photo) #
Picture released on December 2, 1963 of the formation of Surtsey, a new volcanic island off the southern coast of Iceland forged from volcanic eruptions. (AFP/Getty Images) #
New York's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, linking Brooklyn to Staten Island, under construction, on December 4, 1963. The bridge, with a span of 4,260 feet, opened to traffic on November 21, 1964. (AP Photo/Museum of the City of New York) #

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