The Reality of 1968 Sets In

On March 12, sitting Democratic President Lyndon Johnson barely defeated Democratic anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary. Senator McCarthy’s support signaled divisions within the Democratic Party and within the American public over the Vietnam War.

Then, on March 16 Senator Robert F. Kennedy, former Attorney-General under President John F. Kennedy, announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

On March 31, in a stunning turn of events, Johnson announced to the American people that he would seek re-nomination. His exact words are stunning and shocking. He said, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my Party for another term as your President.” With that he was out of the race. Within 5 years Lyndon Johnson had passed away, the war in Vietnam still raging.

 

 

Meanwhile, Poland was dealing with a crisis of its own. In March students and intellectuals railed against the Communist Party. Polish authorities struck back violently with riot squads and secret police raids. Within a month nearly 3 000 Poles had been arrested and the Ministry of Public Security reached 450 000 members a decade later, putting to rest any chance of a political change. The Poles who wished for change were met with the threat of violence, and more violence if necessary.

 

The world showed no signs of slowing down or of becoming more comfortable. Rather events escalated. In April of 1968 German terrorism rose, and Martin Luther King Jr., the spokesman for peaceful resistance was shot down in Memphis. In his place went Black Power, the Black Panthers and the belief amongst disgruntled African-Americans that violence was the only way to solve the injustice they faced on a daily basis.

 

 

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