Featured photo for exhibit 1963


1963 was a year of change: change in leadership and social change. 1963 ran the gamut of human emotion and human endeavor. It was a year that began with high hopes for easing of international tensions, a year that sustained a terrible period of shock and mourning and ended with a nation and a world community coming to understand a new maturity in its ability to cope with sudden and enormously difficult circumstances.

An afternoon at a lunch counter. A thousand arms linked at the elbows. A firing line of water hoses. A pack of German Shepherds. A letter from a Birmingham Jail, A devastating explosion, The Dodgers win the works series. Beatlemania begins. John F. Kennedy is assassinated. A world that would never be the same.

As the year began, George C. Wallace was sworn in as governor of Alabama, and during his inauguration address he stated "segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever!". The year would continue: The Beatles release "Please Please Me"; the Birmingham police use dogs and cattle prods on peaceful demonstrators, and then there are Bomb attacks in Birmingham, and later, riots. President John F. Kennedy signs law for equal pay for equal work for men and women as Governor Wallace tries to prevent blacks registering at University of Alabama. Governor George C. Wallace later prevents the integration of Tuskegee High School as James Meredith is awarded a bachelor's degree by the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), becoming the first black man to graduate from the school, and John F. Kennedy says segregation is morally wrong and that it is "time to act". Just hours after President John F. Kennedy's speech, civil rights activist Medgar Evers pulled into his driveway after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers and was struck in the back with a bullet and killed. Also in 1963, President Kennedy visits West Berlin and delivers the "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner) speech; the Los Angeles Dodgers sweep New York Yankees in 60th World Series; "Cleopatra" premieres in New York City, and 1963 draws to a close with President Kennedy assassinated; and on December 26th the Beatles release "I Want To Hold Your Hand"/"I Saw Her Standing There.