What Made 1968 Such a Shocking Year in American History?

The year 1968 was a tumultuous time in American history, marked by significant events that changed the course of the nation. From political upheaval to social unrest and cultural revolutions, the year was a shock to the system and set the stage for decades to come.


One of the most shocking events of 1968 was the assassination of two prominent figures in American politics. First, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April, igniting riots and protests across the country. Just months later, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was also assassinated while campaigning for president, further deepening the sense of national despair.

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was at its peak in 1968, with over half a million American troops stationed overseas. The war had already been controversial for years, but 1968 saw some of its most violent and deadly battles. The Tet Offensive by North Vietnamese forces resulted in heavy casualties on both sides and further eroded public support for the war effort.

Protests and Riots

Civil rights and anti-war protests were common throughout 1968, with many turning violent or deadly. In addition to the riots sparked by King’s assassination, there were riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago as well as protests against police brutality and racism across the country.

Cultural Revolution

The counterculture movement of the 1960s reached its peak in 1968 with significant changes in music, fashion, and attitudes towards authority. The Beatles released their iconic White Album while films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” challenged traditional storytelling methods. The feminist movement also gained momentum with protests at beauty pageants and other events.


In conclusion, 1968 was a year that shocked America to its core. From assassinations and war to protests and cultural revolutions, the events of that year had a profound impact on the nation’s political, social, and cultural landscape. The effects of 1968 can still be felt today, as many of the issues and divisions that arose during that time continue to shape our society.