Senator Robert Kennedy had just won the 1968 California Democratic Primary, and headed to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles to make his victory speech.
Kennedy thanked various supporters, volunteers and even his dog, Freckles. Sounding tired from the long day, Kennedy assured the crowd he wasn’t giving his gratitude in order of importance, before thanking his wife, Ethel. The crowd roared and called for Ethel to speak; she politely thanked them but declined to take the mic. “Let Freckles say a word!” someone yelled. “Freckles has gone home to bed,” Kennedy answered. “He thought very early that we were going to win, so he retired.”
Kennedy told the audience:
“What I think is quite clear is that we can work together in the last analysis and that what has been going on within the United States over the period of that last three years, the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions, whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups or on the war in Vietnam, that we can start to work together. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country.”
After finishing his speech and making his way through the crowd, Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan and died 26 hours later.
This nearly hour-long Pacifica Radio recording of the events from that evening includes a speech from then-Speaker of the California State Assembly, Jesse Unruh, Kennedy’s speech, the shooting and eyewitness accounts. (via the Internet Archive)
Los Angeles Times front page June 5, 1968 (via the Internet Archive)
Hope - along with scantily clad girls and whatever other stars he and the United Service Organizations (USO) could arrange (that’s actress Ann-Margret in the mini-dress and go-go boots) - began scheduling their trips for the holiday season beginning in 1948.
In his opening gag at the top, he’s referencing a number of riots that had rocked America, in 1965, 1967 the wave of civil disturbances across the country after the April 4th, 1968, assassination of Martin Luther, King, Jr., and during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that summer.
Richard Nixon appeals to American youth in this 1968 presidential campaign ad:
"American youth today has its fringes, but that’s part of the greatness of our country. I have great faith in American youth.
The youth of today can change the world. And if they understand that, I think that we’re going to go forward to a great age, not just for Americans, but for peace and progress for all the people in the world.”
President-Elect John Kennedy and President Dwight Eisenhower arrive at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. for Kennedy’s inauguration, January 20, 1961.
Before the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago, the Youth International Party (aka the Yippies, who included Dennis Dalrymple, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and folk-singer Phil Ochs) nominated their own candidate, a 145-pound pig they called Pigasus.
As Jerry Rubin was reading the pig’s acceptance speech, Chicago police arrested the Yippies for disorderly conduct and seized Pigasus, effectively ending his brief political career.
The Yippies played a large part in the protests and demonstrations, largely related to the Vietnam War, that surrounded the convention. Rubin, Hoffman and five other protesters - the Chicago Seven - were charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot for their actions. Pacifica Radio Archives (housed in the Internet Archive) has a couple of great related broadcasts from that week: “Convention Coverage in Chicago" and "A Night In Chicago.”
This short film, created by the Yippies as a rebuttal to “What Trees Did They Plant?,” a program from the city and Mayor Richard Daley intended to discredit the protesters (“Those protesters, what trees did they plant?”), is a wild mash-up of old film clips with footage of the riots and police brutality, and, of course, Pigasus. It’s worth watching for the “You’re a Grand Old Pig” song-and-dance number at around 11:37 alone. (via the Internet Archive)
1968 Democratic presidential Hubert Humphrey, from Humphrey Campaign (1968). (via the Internet Archive)
It’s my week as the Internet Archive’s Tumblr resident! Each week this year, a different person will create a blog and curate material to be hosted on the Archive’s Tumblr. You can follow along here as the posts unfold: internetarchive.tumblr.com, or you can go to its permanent URL to see all of them now: theyear1968.tumblr.com
For my project, I wanted to see how much of the story of 1968 in America – what people might have seen, heard and experienced – I could tell using just content found in the Internet Archive. There are some posts where I give a bit of back story, but for the most part, I tried to present it as-is, kind of like a 1968 digital scrapbook. I feel like the yearbooks I found were especially helpful in giving at least a glimpse of what life was like then for young people. 1968 was such a tumultuous and tragic year, but there was inspiration, creativity, fun and hope for the future at the same time.
And mostly I wanted to highlight the breadth of material in the Archive. I think it’s so important to support the work they’re doing, along with all the librarians and archivists around the world who are scanning, digitizing, collecting, cataloging and preserving our history for us.
Please check it out here this week: internetarchive.tumblr.com, or at its permanent URL: theyear1968.tumblr.com. I’ll be reblogging some of the politically themed posts here this week as well.
Oh, and another little note: you all helped the Retro Campaigns Tumblr pass 100,000 followers this week :) I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy putting it together.
Archie Roosevelt with pet badger, Josiah. Apparently badgers don’t make very good pets …
"Teddy Roosevelt was visiting Sharon Springs, Kansas when he was asked by a little girl if he would like a baby badger that she and her brother had just caught. He didn’t just accept, he was beside himself with joy. He bottle-fed the badger and kept it in the front platform of his presidential train on the long ride back to the White House. Along the way, he stopped at various other cities where he showcased the animal to young schoolchildren and accepted other animals as gifts, including two bears, a lizard, a horned toad, and a horse. When he finally arrived home, he filed down the teeth of the badger and set it loose throughout the White House. It apparently hissed and spat and when a person would casually walk past it on their way to another part of the house, it would charge and nibble on their ankles. Eventually everyone was tired of being hunted, and they donated it to the Bronx Zoo."