Martin Luther King

54 Swinging Facts about the 1960s

No better song describes the 1960s as Bob Dylan’s “The times they are a-changing”:

“Come gather ’round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’…”

While listening to the song about the decade of change, here are some interesting facts about the 1960s that you might enjoy…

1. JFK came to prominence.

Democrat John F. Kennedy won the U.S. Presidential Election after defeating Republican Richard Nixon.

2. Many African nations seceded from European control.

Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, Chad, Benin, Mauritania, Senegal, and the Central African Republic gained independence from France.

3. Oil became even bigger business.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was created.

Vietnam War

Vietnam War – 1955 to 1975

4. It was the decade of the Vietnam War.

The United States decided to send 3,500 U.S. troops to Vietnam.

5. Castro was never unseated!

The Bay of Pigs invasion was an unsuccessful U.S. backed operation to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba.

The Cuban Missile Crisis had the world on the edge of another World War as the United States and USSR came close to launching nuclear attacks.

6. Huge leaps were made in civil rights.

James Meredith became the first African-American student to enrol at the University of Mississippi.

7. A division that would last two decades more.

Construction on the Berlin Wall began to separate East and West Berlin.

8. We sent satellites into orbit!

TIROS-1, the first weather satellite, was launched by the U.S.

9. The Space Race truly began.

Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. One month later, Alan Shepard became the first American in space.

A 1960s astronaut

10. Peter Parker debuted in the 60s.

The comic book character of Spider-Man made his debut in the Amazing Fantasy #15 comic.

11. The Fab Four emerged this decade, too.

The Beatles released their first single, “Love Me Do,” in the United Kingdom.

The Beatles moved through the late 1960s as favourites of the ‘flower power’ generation. Other teenagers preferred the music of the ‘Mods’ – ska music and The Who.

12. An easier way to listen to pop music.

The audio cassette was invented.

facts about the 1960s

The Beatles

13. The satellites keep launching!

The first geosynchronous communications satellite, Syncom 2, was launched.

14. VCRs changed the world.

Sony marketed the CV-2000, the first home videotape recorder.

15. TVs were now the norm.

Most homes had televisions by the end of the decade.

fun facts about the 60s

16. The longest-running soap opera of all time started at the head of the decade.

Coronation Street first aired in 1960.

17. Live broadcasts started taking shape.

Live trans-Atlantic satellite television via the Telstar satellite was made possible in 1962.

18. Let’s go time traveling!

The BBC broadcast the very first episode of the iconic television show “Doctor Who.”

Doctor Who's Tardis

Doctor Who’s Tardis

19. The British really took to the airwaves.

BBC 2 went on air in 1964 and was the first channel to have color in 1967.

20. They’re trying to replicate this – seriously!

England won the football World Cup.

21. Grocery shopping changed forever.

Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store in Arkansas.

The JFK Motorcade

22. Tragedy struck JFK.

United States President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.

23. Addresses changed forever, too.

The United States began to use Zip Codes.

24. An enduring speech and legacy.

Civil Rights Leader Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Martin Luther King Facts

25. The country would divide three decades later.

Yugoslavia became a socialist federal republic and President Josip Broz Tito was appointed as “President for Life.”

26. Civil rights were now part of the landscape.

United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

27. We saw space in photos for the first time.

NASA’s Mariner 4 space probe successfully approached Mars and became the first spacecraft to take images of a planet from deep space.

interesting facts about space

28. A huge milestone in cinema.

Sidney Poitier won the Academy Award for “Best Actor” becoming the first black actor to win that honour.

29. The computer age was dawning.

The computer coding language BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) was introduced.

30. Mustangs started rolling out.

The Ford Motor Company began to produce and sell the Ford Mustang.

facts about the ford mustang

31. However, there were plenty of other new wheels on the highway.

New cars of the ’60s included the Capri (1961), Consul Cortina (1963), and Ford Escort (1968), which replaced the Anglia.

32. Trains started becoming more efficient.

In 1966, the first intercity train was used, which could travel much quicker than old steam and diesel trains. Many trains now run using electricity, which is much quieter and cleaner.

33. More rights came into force.

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

34. Dr King continued to inspire a movement.

Martin Luther King, Jr. led a peaceful civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama.

35. Fashion evolved to new heights.

Mary Quant designed the mini-skirt in London that became a fashion craze.

36. Space exploration went from strength to strength.

Soviet Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov became the first person to perform a spacewalk.

astronaut on a space walk

37. Protests stirred amid Vietnam woes.

The Vietnam War escalated and opposition to it began to mount as anti-Vietnam protests become more common.

38. But science fact was just as interesting!

The Soviet Union’s Luna 9 unmanned spacecraft landed on the Moon.

39. It was a huge decade for popular sci-fi.

The first episode of the popular television show “Star Trek” aired.

Star Trek Figures

40. More African nations seceded from European ties.

Botswana and Lesotho gained independence from England.

41. Big changes occurred in the east.

Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India.

42. Canadian finances became more secure.

The Canada Pension Plan was in fact introduced in Canada.

43. It’s still rolling on…

Rolling Stone published its first magazine issue.

44. Football history was never quite the same.

The Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs played against each other in the first Super Bowl, with the Packers winning 35 to 10.

45. Pioneering treatments rolled out.

South African doctor Christiaan Barnard completed the first heart transplant operation.

facts about the 1960s

46. Big changes in US law continued to unfold.

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

47. Further civil landmarks emerged.

Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court.

48. Tragically, more leaders fell to the bullet.

Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

49. Technology was ramping up.

The first public demonstration of the computer mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, email, and hypertext happened in 1968.

Arpanet, the research-oriented prototype of the Internet, was introduced in 1969.

50. And it wouldn’t be the first time.

Richard Nixon won the United States presidential election.

President Richard Nixon

President Richard Nixon

51. Of course – we finally made it to the Moon.

The first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7, was launched by NASA. It was a trailblazer, of course, Apollo 11.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to arrive on the Moon during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission.

52. The music was wild.

The Woodstock music festival took place in New York and featured such acts as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and The Who.

53. Do you know the way?

The popular children’s television show “Sesame Street” debuted.

Sesame Street

54. Big changes occurred in British law, too.

The United Kingdom abolished the death penalty.

FAQs about the 1960s

What were popular in the 1960s?

The 1960s was a decade that was jam-packed with wild new fashions and styles. It was the decade of lava lamps, bell-bottoms, peace and love, and miniskirts.

What defined the 1960s?

The 1960s was a decade of big change and revolution - there was violence, however, there was major change with regard to civil rights.

What were some popular cars of the 1960s?

Popular vehicles in the 1960s included the VW Beetle, the Ford Mustang and the Shelby Cobra.

Do you know any fun facts about the 1960s? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on September 7, 2021. Suggest an edit

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