The events of 1967 made it a very unusual year of strange constellations of disparate events. Some of the things that happened more than 40 years ago still reverberate through our national culture. The summer of ‘67, (referred to in the annals of the Sexual Revolution as the “Summer of Love”) signaled that all America would have to reckon with a growing tide of social change. More than 100,000 teens and young adults converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco to inhale the psychedelic “hippie” culture. Back East, riots in Newark and Detroit that summer meant dozens killed, thousands arrested, and millions of dollars in property damage, even though after the traumatic results of the Watts Riots of 1965 government officials were quick to call in the National Guard. The multiple traumas of 1967 merely foreshadowed the national tumult and tragedy that lay ahead in 1968: the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and the riots that followed.
In 1967, Colorado legalized abortion in cases of rape, incest, or in pregnancies that would lead to permanent physical disability of the woman. Then California enacted its Therapeutic Abortion Act, which allowed a physicians’ committee to approve abortions where the pregnancy would gravely impair the physical or mental health of the woman. These state actions set precedents which were quickly imitated by a number of other states; thus began the march toward the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision and the ensuing blood bath that continues to this day.
On the foreign scene in 1967, as now, conditions in the Middle East were a powder keg which erupted in the Six-Day War during which Israel took full control of Jerusalem and captured the Golan Heights from Syria, significantly altering her political boundaries in ways that continue to impact relations there today. American intelligence was caught off guard and uninformed in 1967 when the North Vietnamese staged their forces and prepared to launch their disastrous surprise Tet Offensive which, though it was a massive military defeat, changed the American public’s assessment of the possibility of victory and caused President Lyndon Johnson to withdraw as a candidate for re-election.
In 1967, John McCain began over five years in captivity after being shot down and captured while flying a bombing mission over North Vietnam. That year, Barack Obama’s mother and new stepfather moved to Indonesia where he entered elementary school.