The year was 1964. Between Beatles Mania, Freedom Summer, the Free Speech Movement, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the birth of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, 1964 was a pivotal year in American history for social movements, popular culture, and race relations. For many, it felt as if the world was experiencing a musical renaissance and discovering a new way of living antithetical to the conformist clutches of the Cold War in the 1950s. Enjoy exploring the 40 major things to know about the history of this amazing year in United States History.
1) January 16, 1964: Hello, Dolly! opened in New York City at the St. James Theatre.
2) February 7 1963: In Jackson, Mississippi the jury announced they are unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers while trying Byron De La Beck. It ended in a mistrial. Edgars was assassinated in 1963 outside of his family home.
3) February 9, 1964: The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show watched by 73 million viewers.
4) February 25, 1964: Muhammad Ali became the Heavy Weight Champion of the World after beating Sonny Liston in Miami Beach, Florida.
5) March 4 1964: Malcolm X was suspended from the Nation of Islam.
6) March 10, 1964: Simon and Garfunkel recorded Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. which included the song “Sound of Silence.”
7) March 14, 1964: Jack Ruby was found guilty in Dallas, Texas of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
8. ) April 12, 1964: Malcolm X delivered his famous speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” in Detroit, Michigan.
9) April 13, 1964: During the 36th Academy Awards held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hosted by Jack Lemmon, Sidney Poitier won Best Actor in a Leading Role for Lilies of the Field.
10) April 16, 1964: The Rolling Stones self-titled album The Rolling Stones debuted in the United States
11) April 20, 1964: Nelson Mandela gave his “I Am Prepared to Die” speech at the opening of the Rivonia Trial where he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
12) June 19, 1964: U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy was gravely injured in a plane crash the night of the Democratic convention.
13) June 21, 1964: Three Civil Rights workers (Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney) were murdered outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi by members of the KKK including policemen and the local sheriff during the infamous Freedom Summer.
14) July 2, 1964: President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
15) July 10, 1964: The Beatles released the studio album A Hard Day’s Night
16) July 16, 1964: Barry Goldwater was confirmed at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco (yes…an RNC in SF) as the U.S. Presidential nominee:
17) August 1, 1964: The Animal’s “House of the Rising Sun” was released in the United States and hit number 1 on the record charts.
18) August 5, 1964: The Gulf of Tonkin in the Vietnam War.
19) August 8, 1964: Bob Dylan released his fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, including the song “It’ Ain’t Me Babe” (covered below in 1965 by his partner Joan Baez)
20) August 22, 1964: Motown Artists The Supremes earned their first of five successive number one hits with, “Where Did Our Love Go?”
21) August 22, 1964 Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and Vice Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party addressed the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention, in protestation of the all-white Mississippi delegation.
Film Clip from the DNC hearings including Speech by Fannie Lou Hamer before Johnson had her shut down from national television:
Full Speech in Audio Format:
Further Audio Archives from Fannie Lou Hamer
22) August 24-27, 1964: Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City nominated President Lyndon B. Johnson for United States President
23) August 27, 1964: World Premiere of Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews. Mary Poppins would win five Academy Awards, including Best Actress.
Father: Just a minute, Marry Poppins. Will you explain this?
Mary Poppins: I don’t explain anything!
24) September 17, 1964 Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery premiered on national television.
25) September 22, 1964: Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway.
26) September 24, 1964: The Warren Commission Report was officially released and published as the first official investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
27) The Official Warren Commission Report on NBC TV Special in 1964 claimed Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President John F. Kennedy.
28) October 1, 1964: Three thousand student activists at the University of California, Berkeley (GO BEARS!) blocked in a police car in Sproul Plaza to prevent a CORE and SLATE volunteer from being arrested for not showing his ID to policeman. The sit in lead to an impromptu series of lectures and speeches that lasted well into the night.
29) October 2, 1964: The Kinks released their first album, The Kinks.
30) October 10-24, 1964: The 1964 Summer Olympics were held in Tokyo.
31) October 14, 1964: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize due to his doctrine of non-violent resistance. Below is his acceptance speech in December 1964.
32) October 15, 1964: The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series against the New York Yankees in 7 games.
33) October 21, 1964: My Fair Lady was released in New York City staring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
34) October 31, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson unveiled his “Great Society” campaign at Madison Square Gardens.
Paid Political Announcement from 1964 for The Great Society:
Short documentary “The Great Society” created by the DNC in Honor of President Johnson
35) October 31, 1964: The Supremes earned their second number one song with “Baby Love”
36) November 3, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson defeats Republican Barry Goldwater with over 60% of the popular vote in the Presidential Election after a very aggressive television campaign.
37) December 2, 1964 Mario Savio gave his famous speech at the Sproul Hall Steps at University of California, Berkeley at the height of the Free Speech Movement.
38) December 3, 1964: 800 students were arrested at the University of California, Berkeley after taking over the Sproul Hall administration building.
39) December 21, 1964: Goldfinger was released in the United States.
40) December 9, 1964: John Coltrane began recording his studio album A Love Supreme. It was released the following year in 1965.