Demographics tell us that most of The DC Voice readers weren’t born in 1968 and may not truly understand the impact it had on the country and Washington, D.C. Some of our readers don’t recall the racial and social tension that raged throughout the sixties. Few can fathom hearing the daily count of killed, injured, and missing in Vietnam over dinner or knowing people in the neighborhood who would not return after being drafted. Or daily protests, locally and nationally, that were a part of growing up in D.C.
In fact, the African American community is just now recovering from the devastation of the riots, drugs, and politics of the past 50 years. If you weren’t alive and think the political unrest of today is new, take a look back and realize that the more things change…you know how that saying goes.
A good place to start locally is the “dc1968 project: 365 stories re washington dc in 1968”. And, from a national perspective, the Smithsonian’s “The Year that Shattered America” is a good point of reference.
So, before we close the books on the anniversary no one was running to celebrate, let’s remember the significant local and national events that shaped D.C. then and set the stage for the city and the nation today.
Everything changed in ’68; music, politics, concepts of war, news reporting, and most importantly, neighborhoods. The most iconic remembrance for this writer, were the riots that followed the assignation of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fire was billowing from H Street N.E. as the smell of smoke invaded everyone’s home, sirens wailed most of the night and we all woke up the next morning to M-16 equipped National Guard patrolling the remains of a neighborhood that suddenly resembled the war-torn images we saw on television every night.
I took some liberty to select 3 pictures that best represent 3 of the most critical events of 1968: the devastation of the riots to the H Street and 14th Street corridors (cover image), the brutal depiction of Vietnam that was shown on nightly news, and a poster that hung proudly on my basement wall and reflected the feelings of a lot of young African Americans and is still poignant today in light of the NFL protests. The more things change…
Obviously, there are hundreds of images, most notably, Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panther Party, Robert Kennedy, President Johnson, hippies, anti-war protests and others, that could easily have been chosen.
You can pick any number of images to represent the events of 1968 – like CNN’s 1968: The year in pictures. We’d like to hear any thoughts or remembrances from any of our readers who remember the turbulence and unrest of the sixties in general and 1968 in particular. A year that only recently has the District started to recover from.
Always Forward ®