1968: fifty years ago starting in January. The year we came close to full revolution – the year things started to come unhinged – the year a war had more opposed to it than for it. 1968; a year where cities faced decay and reckoning – where society in general was undergoing a transformation.
And it wasn’t just America going through this upheaval, Europe was in the midst of its own ordeals. France went on strike and a country was shut down. Czechoslovakia tried its hand at “Socialism with a Human Face“, only to be blown off at the knees.
Social norms were under fire – the issue of Women’s Equality started percolating. The youthful innocence of 1967 – Summer Of Love turned into The Death Of Hippy by the end of the year, because it was no longer about love and peace. People were dying for a war they didn’t believe in – Blacks were expected to fight a war overseas and come home to the same discrimination and racism.
And one by one, the heroes were cut down – Martin Luther King, leader of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent conscience of a struggle. Robert Kennedy, who fired the hopes of the country’s youth – who spoke for millions, shot and killed in a Hotel kitchen in Los Angeles.
It was a year many felt wasn’t going to end in any good way; the ball of revolution was rolling and it wasn’t likely to stop. It prompted the refusal of a President to seek re-election and in the end we began the odyssey of Richard Nixon, winning just narrowly over Hubert Humphrey and considered more of a protest to the protestors than a clearly decisive mandate.
It was the year everything turned upside down. Yet, we survived.
But on December 10, 1968, the date of the broadcast of this episode of NBC Radio’s Second Sunday series, we weren’t so sure.
Maybe the parallels between 1968 and 2018 are yet to be discovered – that will only be a matter of time.
Here is that one-hour documentary 1968: The Year Of Revolution, as a reminder that things work out – maybe not how we envisioned, but they word out.