Forty Years Later: A Look Back

In this ongoing series, Democracy Now! looks back at the year 1968, perhaps the most pivotal year in late 20th century history of the United States and much of the world.

Forty Years Later, we remember the Vietnamese Tet Offensive, the Orangeburg Massacre, the Paris Riots, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the My Lai Massacre, the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico, and more.

May 14, 2008: 1968, 40 Years Later: Student, Worker Protests Sweep France, Leaving Indelible Mark on the Country and the World
May 1968 was a watershed month for France, when a wave of student and worker protests swept the country and changed French society forever. We speak to George Katsiaficas, author of numerous books, including The Imagination of the New Left: The Global Analysis of 1968.

April 25, 2008: Forty Years After Historic Columbia Strike, Four Leaders of 1968 Student Uprising Reflect
Forty years ago this week, hundreds of students at Columbia University started a revolt on campus. Students went on strike. They occupied five buildings, including the president’s office in Low Library, and barricaded themselves inside for days. The students were protesting Columbia’s ties to military research and plans to build a university gymnasium in a public park in Harlem. The 1968 Columbia uprising inspired student protests across the country. We spend the hour with four of the strike leaders: Gustin Reichbach is now a New York State Supreme Court Justice; William Sales is now a professor at Seton Hall University; Tom Hayden is a former California state senator; and Juan Gonzalez, our own Democracy Now! co-host.

April 14, 2008: Forty Years After Founding Seattle Black Panther Chapter, Aaron Dixon Still at Forefront of Struggle for Racial Equality
Forty years ago this month, the Black Panther Party formed one of its first chapters outside of its Oakland headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Aaron Dixon was just 19 at the time and he became the captain of the Seattle chapter for its first four years. Today, Dixon is a well-known community and civil rights activist. Dixon joins us as we broadcast from Seattle for a conversation on the struggle for racial equality then and now.

April 10, 2008: Report: 40 Years After King, Little Progress in Closing Economic Inequality Gap Between African Americans and Whites
In the late 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King recognized that the next phase in the quest for civil rights and equality would focus on the economic divide. A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled “40 Years Later: The Unrealized American Dream” lays out key elements of the inequality that African Americans still experience in the United States around education, employment and wealth accumulation. We speak with the co-author of the report, Dedrick Muhammad.

April 04, 2008: Democracy Now! Special: Martin Luther King’s Life and Legacy 40 Years After His Assassination
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated forty years ago today. He was in Memphis, Tennessee to march with sanitation workers demanding a better wage. We spend the hour on his life and legacy. We hear from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with King at the Lorraine Motel, where he was killed; Harry Belafonte, who was with Coretta Scott King at the King home in Atlanta on April 4, 1968; Dr. Vincent Harding, a close friend and colleague of King’s who wrote King’s major antiwar speech, “Beyond Vietnam;” Taylor Rogers, a former sanitation worker in Memphis; Charles Cabbage, a longtime activist and community organizer in Memphis who met with King hours before he died; Jerry Williams, one of the only African American detectives in the Memphis Police Department in 1968; Judge D’Army Bailey, a circuit court judge in Memphis and co-founder of the National Civil Rights Museum; and we hear King in his own words, giving his major speech against the war in Vietnam and his last public address given the night before his death in Memphis, Tennessee.

April 03, 2008: 1968, Forty Years Later: A Look Back at the Orangeburg Massacre When SC Police Opened Fire on Black Students Protesting Segregation
On February 8, 1968, a crowd of black students gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University to protest segregation at Orangeburg’s only bowling alley. Dozens of police arrived on the scene, and the students lit a bonfire on a street in front of the campus. Tensions escalated, and police officers opened fire into the crowd. When the shooting stopped, three students were dead and twenty-seven wounded. We speak with the only person convicted of wrongdoing in what became known as the Orangeburg Massacre, Cleveland Sellers.

April 03, 2008: 1968, Forty Years Later: President Lyndon Johnson Announces No Second Term Amid Low Support for Vietnam War in Aftermath of Tet Offensive
Forty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson stunned the country when he announced he would not seek a second term as president. His popularity had reached an all-time low because of the Vietnam War. Two months earlier, North Vietnamese forces and the Viet Cong attacked the US embassy in Saigon and over a 100 other targets in South Vietnam in what became known as the Tet Offensive. We speak with Vietnam war historian, Marilyn Young.

March 31, 2008: Cesar Chavez Day: United Farm Workers Co-Founder Dolores Huerta Reflects on the Life and Legacy of the Legendary Labor Activist
Cesar Estrada Chavez, legendary labor activist, civil rights leader and founder of the first successful farm workers union, would have been eighty-one years old today. Events are planned across the country to honor his life and legacy. Thousands marched in his memory over the weekend, and nine states recognize March 31st as an official holiday. We speak with Dolores Huerta.

March 17, 2008: 1968, Forty Years Later: My Lai Massacre Remembered by Survivors, Victims’ Families and US War Vets
This weekend marked the fortieth anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, when US troops killed more than 500 men, women and children in Vietnam. We speak with investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the killings and the cover-up.

March 11, 2008: Fmr. Presidential Candidate George McGovern on the 2008 Race and How He Helped Transform the Democratic Nominating Process senator and 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern joins us in our firehouse studio to talk about the 2008 presidential race, superdelegates and the commission he chaired in 1968 that helped transform how the Democratic Party chooses its presidential nominee.

February 28, 2008: Ex-Speechwriter, Confidante Dr. Vincent Harding on Dr. Martin Luther King’s Courageous—and Overlooked—Antiwar and Economic Justice Activism
On the fortieth year since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, we speak to Dr. King’s close associate and former speechwriter, Dr. Vincent Harding. Dr. Harding drafted King’s historic April 1967 antiwar speech “Beyond Vietnam.” He is the author of many books including Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero.

January 21, 2008: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. He was born January 15, 1929. If he lived, he would have turned seventy-nine years old. In the early 1960s, King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, where police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods were used against Southern blacks seeking the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter. After passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, King began challenging the nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without “human rights,” including economic rights.