A Year In History: 1969

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With months to spare, the Apollo 11 astronauts fulfilled late President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Back on earth, 1969 was also the year of the Woodstock music festival, the Stonewall riots for gay rights and the Tate-LaBianca murders by followers of Charles Manson. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Love Bug" topped Hollywood box office, and a movie ticket cost about $1.50.

February 22

Barbara Jo Rubin becomes first female jockey to win a U.S. thoroughbred race

On February 22, 1969, 19-year-old Barbara Jo Rubin becomes the first female jockey to win a race at an American thoroughbred track when she rides Cohesion to a victory by a neck over Reely Beeg in the ninth race at Charles Town, West Virginia. That she raced at all was a testament to Rubin’s ability […]

April 3

Nixon administration vows to “Vietnamize” the war

Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces that the United States is moving to “Vietnamize” the war as rapidly as possible. By this, he meant that the responsibility for the fighting would be gradually transferred to the South Vietnamese as they became more combat capable. However, Laird emphasized that it would not serve the United States’ […]

April 9

“Chicago Eight” plead not guilty to federal conspiracy charges

The Chicago Eight, indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, plead not guilty. The defendants included David Dellinger of the National Mobilization Committee (NMC); Rennie Davis and Thomas Hayden of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, founders of the […]

April 14

Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tie for Best Actress Oscar

On April 14, 1969, during the first internationally televised Oscars ceremony, Ingrid Bergman exclaims “It’s a tie!” upon opening the Best Actress envelope—the first tie in a major acting category in three decades. The award went to both Katharine Hepburn, for her turn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter, and Barbra Streisand, […]

April 17

Architect of Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring forcibly resigns

Alexander Dubcek, the communist leader who launched a broad program of liberal reforms in Czechoslovakia, is forced to resign as first secretary by the Soviet forces occupying his country. The staunchly pro-Soviet Gustav Husak was appointed Czechoslovak leader in his place, reestablishing an authoritarian communist dictatorship in the Soviet satellite state. The trend toward liberalization […]

April 23

Sirhan Sirhan receives death penalty for assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

On April 23, 1969, Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to the death penalty after being convicted in the assassination of politician Robert F. Kennedy. In 1972, Sirhan’s sentence was commuted to life in prison after California abolished the death penalty. In the early morning hours of June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy, a U.S. senator from New […]

May 9

Reporter breaks news of secret bombing in Cambodia

William Beecher, military correspondent for the New York Times, publishes a front page dispatch from Washington, “Raids in Cambodia by U.S. Unprotested,” which accurately described the first of the secret B-52 bombing raids in Cambodia. Within hours, Henry Kissinger, presidential assistant for national security affairs, contacted J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, asking him […]