The Year Was 1964

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. 

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. 

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. 

Beatlemania was spreading around the world as the first Beatles 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 “British Invasion” continued when the Rolling Stones appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in October of 1964. It was their first American appearance.

And this last one is for my husband who sighs wistfully every time he sees a Ford Mustang.  The famous “muscle car” was introduced in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair.

Were you around in 1964? Share your memories and family stories in the comments section below.

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6 thoughts on “The Year Was 1964

  1. In 1964 I was 11. My sister was 10 and our baby brother was a year old. I remember when my Dad called me into the front room one night to watch something on the Ed Sullivan Show. He said, “Come in here and look at this.” All the girls in the audience are screaming. It was the Beatles on the T.V. I saw these guys with pointed toe shoes, suits, and gasp! Look at that hair! I watched for a few minutes and lost all interest and went back to my room. The next day at school though, all the kids were talking about them. It was ‘ho hum’ to me though. I did learn to enjoy their music on my very own transistor radio!

  2. 1964 was an interesting year for my family. We moved from away from the town our Grandmother lived in to another town about 30 miles away. 1964 was the year I met my first boyfriend while we were in 5th grade (he was my boyfriend until 7th grade). My sisters started kindergarten and first grade that year and, unbeknownst to us, our mother gave birth to another sister of ours that she had to give up for adoption. We just found out about Georgia K. and we are still looking. I always thought that 1964 was the worst year of my life for some reason – know I know why!

  3. It’s amazing all these events happened in one year. Beatlemania started in February 1964 when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

    Another event that year was the 1964 Election which Lyndon Johnson won.

  4. In 1964 my father passed on and I was 16 1/2 years old. We all knew and loved him as Jimmie M. Hicks. His given name was Quitman M. Hicks. I lost track of his family for a long time butgot connected with some living in Ca. later on. Now as I am older I feel I need a conection with my Missouri branch. Too much happened for me in 1964.

  5. A week after I graduated from high school I received a telegram from the Navy Dept in Washington DC telling me to report for civilian duty as a stenographer the following Tuesday. I had 5 days in which to get ready! My parents and one of my sisters accompanied me to DC – it was a long 12 hour drive. When they left to return home two days later there wasn’t a dry eye amongst us. I would have to say that 1964 is still one of the best years of my life.

  6. Our first child graduated from high school in 1964. She was the first of five to do this. We, her parents grew up in the depression and ww2 years. It was our dream to see our children get the education that we had none been able to get. This was our dream and she was our first. I remember
    1964 for a lot of good memories.

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