About 1956 – That Was The Year That Was

Rioting in Algeria – 1956 – It just would’t be a year on planet earth without violence.

1956: The Big Year – CBS Radio News Special – Dec. 29th 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Coming up on the end of another year. This one (2016) just seems a little worse for wear than the others; but as far as history goes, it is just as unpredictable.

In this year-end wrapup from CBS Radio, entitled The Big Year: 1956 – a look back at some of the major news stories of that year and how they influenced history for years, if not decades, to come.

1956 was a Presidential election year. President Eisenhower‘s health was a factor which may have cast doubt over a second run. The President had suffered a heart attack and there were concerns the stress of a campaign, coupled with the duties of the day-to-day could have disastrous results. But with a clean bill of health, Eisenhower announced he was good to go, and a re-election bid was underway. The big question was whether Eisenhower would continue with Richard Nixon as vice-President. There had been talk of Nixon being dropped from the ticket, replaced with a more liberal-leaning member of the GOP. But in the end, the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket prevailed. And once again, the Democratic opponent would be Adlai Stevenson. This time his running mate would be Estes Kefauver, a star-figure in the Senate Crime Committee hearings. And so 1956 was a year of campaigning for the White House.

1956 was also a year of continued upheaval in the Middle-East, as well as Algeria which was erupted into a war of Independence from France. The Cold War was still front-and-center, with continued antagonism between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over Germany and Eastern Europe an almost daily occurrence.

Back home there was the Civil Rights Movement, which was gaining momentum. The Montgomery Alabama bus boycott, which started in 1955, was still going strong in 1956. KKK activity would increase, as would bombings of predominately Black churches throughout the south. And the de-segregation of schools in the South was starting to take shape, but not without considerable resistance.

And that’s just a small sample of what went on during 1956; 60 years ago. And as a reminder that there are no uneventful years in history, here is that one-hour special from CBS Radio News.

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