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Almost 60 years ago, modern American history was in the making.
From John F Kennedy's assassination, to Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech, 1963 was a pivotal year in United States history. 1963 was a year of great change in America and was a time of tension and unrest, as the country struggled to come to terms with the new realities of the civil rights movement and unexpected casualties.
However, it was also a year of progress and innovation, as American leaders and people continued to pursue the effort to build on the foundation laid by previous generations and tried to come up with ways better suited to leading a life free from war and conflict, especially because of the ongoing Cold War between the US and Soviet Union.
In this article, read to find out more about some interesting facts related to American history in 1963, including key events of this time.
The 1963 Civil Rights Movement was a pivotal point in American history. African-Americans fought for their right to equality, making significant progress over the course of the year.
In 1963, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, gaining momentum throughout the country.
Racial tensions were high and protests were common, as African-Americans fought for their right to equality.
One of the most famous moments of the Civil Rights Movement came on August 28, 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his 'I Have a Dream' speech to more than 250,000 people, standing at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
1963 also saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
On January 28, Harvey Gantt, an African-American student, entered the premises of Clemson University, in South Carolina. It became the last US state to hold bans against racial integration.
On April 12, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., along with Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, and others, was arrested by police in Birmingham, Alabama, for parading without obtaining a legitimate permit from the authorities.
Four days later, on April 16, Martin Luther King Jr. issued his famous 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'.
Upon posting his bail and getting out of prison on April 20, he further started planning for more demonstrations and rallies.
In May 1963, several African-Americans, including children, were arrested while protesting against racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, and later police dogs and fire hoses were unleashed on them upon the order of Public Safety Commissioner, Eugene Connor.
In June, Alabama Governor, George Wallace, physically stood at the University of Alabama's entrance to prevent racial integration. He stepped down after a while, letting two African-American students enroll.
The 1963 Freedom Ballet was organized from November 2-4, in Mississippi, to protest against the disenfranchisement of black people.
On November 10, 1963, Malcolm X delivered his famous 'Message to the Grass Roots' address in Detroit.
1963 was a year of civil rights struggle in American history. It was marked by some major events, some of which shocked and surprised people because of their unexpected occurrence.
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers, a prominent African-American civil rights activist in the U.S., and NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) leader, was shot and killed by a Ku Klux Klan member named De La Beckwith.
Most notably, the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. (CST), in Dallas, Texas, was the event that shook the entire nation as well as the world, and also raised questions regarding the presidential security arrangements by the US Secret Service.
This event in particular led to a restructuring of all security arrangements and protocols for the president at the White House in Washington as well as while they are on tour within the country or outside.
John F. Kennedy served as the 35th President of the United States, along with Lyndon B. Johnson as his Vice-President, residing in the White House, Washington, from January 20, 1961, to November 22, 1963.
President Kennedy was a graduate of Harvard University and subsequently served in the US Naval Reserve; he then became a member of Congress, representing Massachusetts both in the US House of Representatives (1947-53) and US Senate (1953-60).
President Kennedy was on a presidential tour in Texas, visiting from Washington D.C. when he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, a US Marine veteran, while riding in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas.
The death of President John F. Kennedy was mourned by the entire nation, with all news channels and news posts covering the assassination of President Kennedy as breaking news.
Governor of Texas, John Connally, was also shot in the back while riding in the car with President Kennedy and suffered severe wounds, from which he would later recover.
Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin, immediately after executing the assassination by firing shots from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, tried to flee and a few moments later ended up killing police officer J.D. Tippit.
He was subsequently shot and assassinated by a local nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, on live TV inside the Dallas Police Headquarters as an act of revenge for the murder of President John F. Kennedy.
Compared to today, things used to cost a lot less back in 1963. The prices of commodities, such as daily use products and gas, were significantly less, but were in some ways affected due to economic sanctions and disturbances in trade because of the ongoing Cold War.
To begin with, particularly in the United States, the average total cost of building a new house was approximately $19,300.
A gallon of gasoline cost only $0.30 and a gallon of milk cost $0.49.
In 1963, especially in heavily populated towns and cities like Dallas, Texas, and Washington, the prices of daily use items, such as a loaf of bread, were priced at only $0.22, and regular grocery items, like a pound of chicken, cost around $0.29, which is quite a lot less than today's $1.54 per pound rate.
While a new car today will cost around $30,000 on average, in 1963 it would have cost about $2,600.
Sending a letter through the mail costed $0.04, but increased to $0.05 in January 1963.
Before President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, Congress approved $54.56 billion to the US military, which was 8.83% of GDP that year.
This congress approved budget included the spending on internal military expenditure as well as funding of external operations of the US military, including defending the freedom of America and other allies in the world.
Other daily essentials, such as a TV set, was averagely priced at $179, a dozen eggs at $0.55, a pack of cigarettes at $8.32, an air conditioner at $150, and one year of college tuition was $1,450, all of which have increased dramatically since then.
The average income of an individual as well as a family in 1963 was monumentally different than today's figures. Let's take a look at the statistics representing the situation at this time in the United States.
On an annual basis, the median salary of all families in the US combined, was around $6,200, as per the US Government records.
For the families in which the earner was a college graduate, the income went up to $9,700, establishing the difference in the quality of life of a college graduate compared to a non-graduate earner.
This displayed a significant rise in the average monthly income statistics in 1963, in an average American household, compared to those in the last two decades.
All of this represented a 5% or $290 rise in 1963 compared to the same in 1962.
The purchasing power, however, did not increase for the families because the product rates also hiked by around 1% during inflation in the market.
Even though, on an overall scale, the entire prospect of average monthly income only progressed in the United States after World War II, compared to other parts of the world, it still was not enough due to the hike in prices of commodities in the American market.
The increased prices severely limited the purchasing power of the public, consequently curbing their increment in quality of life.
Hence, ultimately, even the increased average monthly income in 1963 in the United States was not enough to help people uplift their standard of living, until much later.
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