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1968 Defined In 16 Iconic Images

Looking back 45 years at one of the most turbulent years in modern history. (Warning: graphic images)

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Eddie Adams/AP Photo

Photojournalist Eddie Adams took one of the most iconic images of the Vietnam War on Feb. 1. The photo captured police chief Gen. Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Vietcong prisoner, Nguyễn Văn Lém.

The photo helped create a turning point in the war and became a prominent image for the anti-war movement.

Adams won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for this image.


CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Feb. 27, Walter Cronkite reported on his recent trip to Vietnam in his CBS News special Report from Vietnam: Who, What, When, Where, Why? Cronkite’s highly critical and pessimistic view of the war changed Americans' perception of what was really going on in Vietnam.


Universal History Archive/Getty Images

On March 16, the men of Charlie Company murdered between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians; the victims include women, children, and infants. Some of the women's bodies were found to show signs of being gang-raped.

The event, known as the My Lai Massacre, marked one of the darkest chapters in the Vietnam War. It would not become public knowledge until 1969.


Art Shay/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

April 8, following the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, and Coretta Scott King with her children, lead a three-mile procession in Atlanta, Ga.


Pictorial Parade/Getty Images

The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. sparked five days of rioting in various cities across the country. The largest riots taking place in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Louisville, Detroit, Kansas City, and Chicago.

Across the country 46 deaths are blamed on the riots.



On April 11, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The 1968 act expanded on on Civil Rights Act of 1964 and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin.


Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On April 23, students at Columbia University started a weeklong occupation of the Low Library to protest the school’s ties with the Institute for Defense Analysis, a non-profit corporation that supported the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.


CSU / Everett / Rex USA

Shortly after midnight on June 5, after winning the California primary, Robert Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

The 42-year-old Kennedy dies in the early morning of June 6.


Via Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Anti-Vietnam War demonstrators (called Yippies) clash with police outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The convention, held from Aug. 26–29, was marked by serious violence.


Bill Ray//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

On Aug. 20, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia with over 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 2,000 tanks, crushing the Prague Spring (which was a brief eight-month period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia).


John Dominis/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

On Oct. 16, four days after the start of the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, two African American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, cause an uproar after they give the black power salute during the "Star-Spangled Banner" at their medal ceremony.

Smith said of the event, "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.”



Dec. 24, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders became the first humans to orbit the Moon. The astronauts held a live Christmas Eve broadcast, during which they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon as seen from their spacecraft.

Americans/the world saw the first photo ever of the Earth rising above the Moon’s surface. As well as the first photo ever taken by human of the whole Earth.