Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults

Handout 3: The Year 1965

By any account, the year 1965 in the United States was one of upheaval and transformation.


Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City. Jazz pianist Nat King Cole died in Santa Monica, CA. His last album L-O-V-E rose to number 4 in the Billboard chart later that Spring.


The U.S. Justice Department ordered all schools to desegregate, threatening to withhold funds from those that refused to complete integration by fall of 1967. A Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama provoked state troopers to violence ("Bloody Sunday"), which fueled additional marches to Montgomery, Alabama. Also that month, U.S. Catholic churches began changing their worship services in response to Vatican II.


An estimated 51 tornados killed almost 300, and injured 1,500, in six Midwestern states.


Head Start welcomed its first class of children. In the same month, the first "teach in" took place on college campuses, opposing military action in Vietnam, and the first draft card burnings happened at the University of California in Berkeley.


Poet Robert Lowell refused an invitation to the White House because of his "dismay and distrust" of U.S. foreign policy. The United States Supreme Count struck down a Connecticut law that had been used to close and fine a Planned Parenthood birth control clinic.


The bill establishing Medicare and Medicaid was signed into law. President Johnson called the U.S. Army Reserves into service for the escalating conflict in Vietnam. Bob Dylan "plugged in," performing with an electric guitar for the first time at the Newport Folk Festival.


President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. The Watts Riot erupted in Los Angeles. The Beatles played the first stadium rock concert at Shea Stadium, New York City.


Bill Cosby, starring in I Spy, became the first African American to star in a television show.

Hurricane Betsy hits near New Orleans, Louisiana, causing more than one billion dollars in damages.


Ten thousand people marched in New York City in opposition to the Vietnam War.


Twenty-five thousand attended the March on Washington for Peace in Vietnam. A blackout cut power to nine Northeastern states, stranding 800,000 people in subways.

Also in 1965

The National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities were created.

The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Roman Polanski's Repulsion opened in movie theaters.

For the first time since the birth of the United States, mainline Protestant churches stopped growing or began to lose members.

By the end of the year, more than 200,000 American troops were fighting in Vietnam.