Major Events And People Of The 1960’s Era And Their Significance In Defining The Era


The 1960’s are reminiscent of a wide array of events and personalities who molded not only their countries, but the rest of the world. Perhaps the only other periods in history with such string personalities as the 1960’s era are the Renaissance of the Dark Ages, where a handful of men and women defined the course of the world by their actions or inactions in equal measure. It is also an era that easily remembered for its development and contributing to various aspects of society. Contributions in fields such as politics, medicine, culture as well as technology are just but a few that witnessed development in leaps and bounds. The world awakened to new realities and recognized the need to act in either precaution or in advancement of certain ideals, long ignored or propagated with equal zeal.

In this paper, I choose to focus on five facets of society which in my opinion form the very basis of significance in defining the 1960’s era. It is not only events that shall be looked at but also personalities that were so dominant during the period that they warrant consideration as due to their actions, they left an indelible mark in the course of history such that even two hundred years from today, they shall still be remembered and saluted for their activity and contribution to mankind as a race.


The Major Events and People Of The 1960’s Era & Their Significance in Defining the Era

Upon the crash of the space capsule, I was called in as an expert in the field of Archaeology. The following five items were found in the capsule.

An Audio Recording of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962

The recording was read on the 27th of October 1962 a day after the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis ceased. The reporter read that, in May of 1962, the then Soviet leader Nikita Khruschevconceived the idea of placing medium-range nuclear range missiles in Cuba. This was in a bid to counter the lead taken by the USA in the development and deployment of strategic missiles, especially in Turkey. In furtherance of this, he packaged the endeavor as a way of protecting Cuba more so after the failed American invasion of Cuba in 1961 at the Bay of Pigs. This was an idea that was quickly bought into by then Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Plans to set up the installations began in earnest (Khruschev, 1962). American President John F. Kennedy wasinformed of this in October 16th of 1962 from a reconnaissance of photos. The American President in response held closed doormeetings with his security advisors, the result of which was a pacific blockade around Cuba in what was termed by the American President as a naval quarantine to prevent the transportation of Soviet supplies to continue with the installations. A series of communications were conveyed between the two Presidents both formal and ‘back-channel’. The whole situation lasted for about 13 tense days. In the end, on October 26th, the Soviet leader proposed to dismantle the installations and personally ensure their removal in return for the American withdrawal of its missile installation in Turkey; a deal thwarted by the USA (Kennedy, 1962).


A print out of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Speech, “I Have a Dream” of 1963

The now infamous speech of the civil rights icon was the second item we found in the capsule. It had been kept as a memento by one of the leading Universities of the1960’s. The speech was believed to be the original version, as it was written by Dr. King himself. It was reminiscent of the period or black segregation and oppression; where civil rights activists rallied together in one voice to advocate for equal rights for the minority black population. At this time, the black population faced massive oppression ranging from arbitrary arrest to having dogs let loose upon them during their marches in demonstration.

A Photograph of Neil Armstrong Landing on the Moon in 1969

The photograph of the first man to land on the moon was the third item found in the capsule. Although it was quite worn out and difficult to decipher, it was evident that the man in the photo was clad in American Astronaut gear wielding the American flag. At the back, the photo was dated 1969 and inscribed, “America Conquers the Universe.” The photo was in black and white format and the paper used was quite delicate.

A Newspaper Article titled,”EUREKA! The First Successful Heart Transplant” on Dec 3rd1967

Despite the fact that the patient, Louis Washkansky passed away due to complications after surgery, Surgeon Christian Barnard had led a surgical team of 30. Louis suffered from diabetes and incurable heart disease necessitating the transplant. The heart used belonged to Denise Darvall who was taken out of life support after an automobile accident rendered her brain dead. The transplant was performed in Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital. The transplant was successful due in part to a suppression of Louis’ weakened immune system using immunosuppressive drugs to prevent his system from rejecting the heart. The counter effect was that the drugs weakened his immune system so much that he contracted pneumonia 18 days after the transplant (Long, 2007).

A Video Tape of the First James Bond flick in 1962

The 007 series of movies, showcasing British expertise in matters intelligence and security saw its first installment released in 1962. Officially produced by EON Productions, the first James Bond was played by Bob Simmons as a stuntman. Sean Connery took up the role and played it for the next four years (Bond, 2004).

The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 was the culmination of the cold war that had persisted from the end of the 2nd world war. Upon the conclusion of WW2, the fall of Germany due to the combined efforts of the allies created a power vacuum in the global plane. The allies themselves each individually sought world dominance. Both the USA and the Soviet Union were head to head in the battle for world dominance. The fragmentation of the Soviet Union did not aid the cause of the union’s leadership. This whole episode is reminiscent of one of the age old ideals of this world; the struggle for political dominance which leads to intense economic as well as military development in a bid to attain global supremacy and the benefits thereof. This was crucial in defining an era as it was an exemplification of the establishment of a new world order and at the helm sat the supreme and mighty United States of America.

Dr King’s speech was the indication of an awakening of a people who has been oppressed for far too long. It was the culmination of the efforts of old in abolition of slavery as well as the voting rights for blacks and for women; the colonization of African nations and the realization by the oppressed that they should be treated fairly, that they deserved the right to self determination. Dr. King’s speech was a final warning to the “oppressors”, that they either oblige or they faced the wrath of a depressed lot: a warning that in contemporary times has led to the election of the 1st black President in the United States of America.

By landing on the moon and undertaking the first successful heart transplant, mankind shows its coming of age in technological advancements in medicine discovery. The discovery of a new existence outside earth and a successful manipulation of an extremely sensitive body organ required stealth and scientific genius unparalleled before, setting up the stage for a new scientific path for mankind.

The Bond movies showcase to this very day the undoubting development in government intelligence systems and the emerging risk in matters of both international and national security. The fragility of this fabric calls for stringent security mechanisms that leave nothing to chance. Such flicks are a symbol that no matter how large or intense the threats to world peace get, the forces of good will always emerge victorious.

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