The year was 1964 and after seventy-five days of filibustering by Southern Democrats, the required two-thirds vote was secured in the U.S. Senate that shut down the debate of the Civil Rights Act. Every senator, including Senator Clair Engle (D-CA) who had suffered a stroke, was present to cast his or her vote. Senator Engle could not speak, but instead pointed to his eye to signal his “Aye” vote.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 2 July 1964. It bans discrimination on the basis of a person’s color, race, national origin, religion, or gender in regard to issues of public accommodation (e.g., buses, restaurants, theaters, etc.), schooling, employment, voting, and government programs.Â
More history was made in the Civil Rights movement as Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., becomes the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at age thirty-five in 1964.
Although the first U.S. regular combat troops would not arrive in Vietnam until March of 1965, by the end of 1964 there were more than 23,000 military advisors in place, and the CIA was running covert operations supported by U.S. Naval forces.
The public got a wake-up call in January of 1964 when the U.S. Surgeon General released a report stating that cigarette smoking gave smokers a 70 percent higher mortality rate than non-smokers and that smokers were at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers. At that time 44 percent of Americans were smokers.Â
Disaster struck on 27 March 1964 when a 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck South Central Alaska causing catastrophic damage in Anchorage. The energy released from the quake was 10 million times that of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and eighty times that of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. It also set off a tsunami that was responsible for 122 of the 131 casualties attributed to the quake.Â
Beatlemania was spreading around the world as the first BeatlesÂ album was released and sped to the top of the charts. On 6 April Beatles songs grabbed the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart.
The â€œBritish Invasionâ€ continued when the Rolling Stones appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in October of 1964. It was their first American appearance.
Were you around in 1964? Share your memories and family stories in the comments section below.