EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World/National News

January 13, 2013

1963 at 50: A year's tumult echoes still

Editor's note: This is the first in an occasional series on the enduring impact of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago. This first story sets the young president's loss in the context of a tumultuous year, 1963.

A new year was just beginning — an extraordinary year, in which so much would change.

Half a century ago, on Jan. 14, 1963, George Wallace took the podium to give his inaugural address as governor of Alabama. His words framed a fiery rejoinder to a civil rights movement gathering strength.

"I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny," he thundered, "and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!"

Fifty years later, the words still have the power to shock. In college classes like "The Sixties in History and Memory," today's students recoil.

But turn the pages of their text to a day just seven months later, and there's another riveting oration. At the thronged Lincoln Memorial, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. offered a vision of a "day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!'"

The students shiver at the words and cadence of this speech — and at the contradictions and convulsions of 1963.

"We constantly make the point," notes Donald Spivey, who teaches "The Sixties" at the University of Miami, "that you're hit with all of these things at once."

What things?

Under the shadow of the Cold War's threat of "mutually assured destruction," 1963 was the year of dawning arms control between the U.S. and the Soviet Union; they signed a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In June, the adversaries agreed to set up a "hotline" communications link between the Kremlin and the White House to insure against a catastrophic mistake.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World/National News

Latest U.S. News
Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing Raw: Blast at Tennessee Ammunition Plant Kills 1 Raw: Urinator Causes Portland to Flush Reservoir Hoax Bomb Raises Anxiety in Boston New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Ex-California City Leader Gets 12 Year Sentence Obama, Biden Announce $600M for Job Grants Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Boston Officials: No Bags at Marathon Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing
Latest World News
Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Today in History for April 17th Egypt Clamps Down on Mosques to Control Message After Fukushima, Japan Eyes Solar Power Pope's Relic on Wheels Departs to Rome Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Combat Vehicles in East Ukraine Fly Russian Flag Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Today in History for April 16th India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination Today in History for April 15th Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' Prosecutor Presses Pistorius at Murder Trial Police: Blast in Nigerian Capital Kills 71
Photos of the Week