Fifty years later, the aftermath of the tumultuous events of 1968 is still being felt throughout American politics and culture. From the Vietnam War to Nixon’s presidential win, here is a brief timeline of the events of 1968:

  • January 30—The Tet Offensive

The surprise Tet Offensive is launched by the North Vietnamese against the United States and its allies. As one of the largest military campaigns in the Vietnam War, it stuns the American public and support for the war declines.

  • March 16—My Lai Massacre

U.S. troops kill hundreds of Vietnamese civilians. The incident incurs outrage one year later when the journalist Seymour Hersh breaks the story of the episode.

  • March 31—LBJ Announces He Won’t Seek Reelection

Facing intensified public opposition to the Vietnam War, President Lyndon B. Johnson pulls out of the race and pledges to spend the remainder of his presidency focusing on ending the war.

  • April 4—Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

King is fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. His murder incites riots in over 100 cities, some lasting several days. Some of the largest riots took place in Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

(BJ / AP)
  • April 11—Civil Rights Act of 1968

The civil unrest that ensued after King’s assassination pushes a seminal piece of civil rights legislation into law. Also known as the Fair Housing Act, the law affords equal housing opportunities regardless of race, religion or national origin.

  • April 22-30—Student Protests at Columbia University

Anti-war protesters effectively shut down the university. After occupying several university buildings, student protestors are forcibly and violently removed by the NYPD. The protest receives national attention.

  • June 5—Assassination of Robert Kennedy

The former U.S. attorney general and incumbent senator from New York is assassinated in a Los Angeles hotel shortly after giving his victory speech in the California Democratic primary. He was a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

  • August 22-30—Chaos at the Democratic Convention

Police engage with anti-war protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and spray demonstrators with tear gas. The clash is broadcast on live television for 17 minutes.

(RHS / AP)
  • September 7—Miss America protest

Over 100 women in Atlantic City protest the Miss America pageant in one of the first large demonstrations of Second Wave Feminism.

  • November 5—Nixon Wins

Richard Nixon wins the presidential election against Hubert Humphrey. Independent candidate and the segregationist governor of Alabama George Wallace wins five states.


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