Timeline: 1960-1963


1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963

Timeline: Major Events of the 1960s



  • The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is founded.
  • The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) is founded.
  • The Young American for Freedom issue the Sharon Statement.
  • February 1 – 4 black college students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina and refused to leave, they are then allowed to stay at the counter, but are refused service. The sit-in captured the media attention and soon spread all over the south.
  • March 15 – The sit-ins spread to 15 cities in 5 southern states.
  • April 16-17 – Young black activists and students then go on to found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). (Raleigh, N.C.) The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded at Shaw University, providing young blacks with a place in the civil rights movement. The SNCC later grows into a more radical organization, especially under the leadership of Stokely Carmichael, 1966 through 1967.
  • May 6 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1960.
  • Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative is published.
  • March-July – At Harvard University, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert begin experimenting with psychedelic drugs.
  • November – John F. Kennedy narrowly wins the Presidential election over Vice-President Richard Nixon, Kennedy is the first Catholic to ascend to the Presidency. Lyndon Baines Johnson is elected Vice-President.
  • December – the Food and Drug Administration approves the first birth control pill for sale.


  • March 1 President Kennedy initiates 17 billion dollar nuclear missile program, increases military aid to Indochina and announces the creation of the Peace Corps.
  • April 25 – the Unites States invades Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and the mission is a failure.
  • April 12 – Yuri Gagarin of the USSR becomes the first man in space.
  • May 4 – the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) begins sending student volunteers on bus trips to test the implementation of new laws prohibiting segregation in interstate travel facilities. One of the first two groups of “freedom riders,” encounters its first problem two weeks later, when a mob in Alabama sets the riders’ bus on fire. The program continues and by the end of the summer 1,000 volunteers, black and white, have participated. The Freedom Riders force integration of Interstate and Travel facilities in the South.
  • August 13 – East German border guards begin construction of Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall physically separated Communist East Germany and Democratic West Germany.
  • Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 is published.
  • September 15 – the United States starts underground nuclear testing.
  • October 6 – President Kennedy advises Americans to build fallout shelters.


  • SDS issues and adopts the Port Huron Statement.
  • February 16 – Boston SANE & fledgling SDS hold first anti-nuclear march on Washington with 4000-8000 protesters
  • The Supreme Court, in the case of Engel v. Viatle, rules aginst prayer in public schools.
  • John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the earth. Sept – Timothy Leary founds International Foundation for Internal Freedom (IFIF) to promote LSD research as well as publish The Psychedelic Review.
  • October 22 – Cuban Missile Crisis: Soviets establish missile bases in Cuba, Kennedy orders a naval blockade to divert any missiles from arriving in Cuba.
  • November – George C. Wallace is elected Governor of Alabama.
  • British pop group the Beatles attain their first number one of the British charts with Love Me Do.
  • Folk singer Bob Dylan releases his first album.


  • January – Alabama Governor Wallace’s “Segregation Forever” speech is given at his inauguration.
  • The U.S. and U.S.S.R. sign a treaty banning any atmospheric nuclear tests.
  • The Battle of Ap Bac in South Vietnam
  • April 3 – SCLC and volunteers stage sit-ins and mass protests in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • April 12 – Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy are arrested and go to jail in Birmingham during the protests, King then writes his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
  • Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is published.
  • June 11 – President Kennedy proposes the Civil Rights Bill.
  • June 12 – In Jackson,Mississippi, the state’s NAACP field secretary, 37-year-old Medgar Evers is assassinated outside his home. Byron De La Beckwith is tried twice in 1964, both trials resulted in hung juries. Only thirty years later is he convicted for murdering Evers.
  • July 26-28 – Newport Folk Festival, includes popular folk singers Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger.
  • August 28 – The March for Jobs and Freedom or more commonly known as the March on Washington attracts over 200,000 people to Washington, D.C. With the people concentrated around the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gives his I Have a Dream
  • September 15 – Four Black girls are murdered attending Sunday school in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. A target because it was where there was regular civil rights meetings. As a result Riots erupt in Birmingham, and two more black youths are killed in the violence.
  • Septmber 24 – Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is ratified by Senate.
  • September – Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and other Harvard alumni LSD researchers move to the Hitchcock’s estate in Millbrook, New York to continue their research into psychedelics.
  • October 10 – Nuclear Test Ban Treaty takes effect.
  • Fall and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon, South Vietnam. This assassination was planned by the Kennedy Administration.
  • November 22 – President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald. Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as President on Air Force One with First Lady Jackie Kennedy present.
  • November 24 – President Johnson escalates American’s military involvement in the Vietnam War.
  • November 29 – The Beatles release “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” which becomes a huge hit and a success in America.

Content c2004
The Sixties: A Journey Through Politics and Culture.
Web design and content by Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

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