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1969

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1969 was an extremely important year in history for many reasons. It was the end of a decade. It was the first year man walked on the moon. It was a big year for music with the first releases of several popular bands. It was a significant year for the civil rights movement. It was also eventful year at SEMO.

1969 was a very successful year for the U.S. space program, four U.S. astronauts walked on the surface of the moon for the first time in the history of mankind. First, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin on Apollo 11. Also, Charles Conrad and Alan Bean on Apollo 12 (wikipedia). The Apollo 11 mission started at 9:32 AM on July 16. Approximately a million people came to Cape Kennedy, Florida, and hundreds of millions of television viewers around the world watched the Saturn 5 rocket take off (Americana, 21). The crew of Apollo 11 safely landed on the moon at 4:17 PM. Neil Armstrong was the first to exit the lunar module followed by Edwin Aldrin. They placed an American flag along with a plaque that said "Here men from the planet earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind" (Americana, 24). The crew lifted off the surface of the moon at 1:55 P.M. on July 21 returned safely to earth about 60 hours later (Americana, 26) This was a very substantial achievement for the United States and mankind. It took almost a whole decade of training and preparation for the Apollo 11 mission (Americana, 17). The United States repeated this achievement four months later with the Apollo 12 mission where astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean walked on the moon and returned safely home.

In 1969 a trend of mixing different types of music together became popular with combinations like jazz-rock, folk-rock, country-rock. One of the most popular jazz-rock groups of the year was Blood, Sweat & Tears. They mixed jazz improvisations, rock rhythms, and blues vocals (Americana 579). Some other popular groups such as Three Dog Night, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Led Zepplin had there first releases in 1969. These bands combined simple traditional blues songs with electronic distortion effects, high intensity volume, and loud bass rhythms (Americana 579). 1969 was also the year of the Beatles last live performance on the top of Apple Records. The concert was broken up by the police (Wikipedia). The Beatles also released their album Abbey Road in 1969. There were also rumors of the death of Paul McCartney (Americana 579). The Rolling Stones toured the U.S. in a highly publicized series of concerts late in the year. Also, Bob Dylan released his album Nashville Skyline, a collection of laid back, country style love songs which surprised his fans (Americana 580). Jim Morrison was arrested in 1969 for exposing himself at a show at Miami's Dinner Key Auditorium. He was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent behavior, open profanity and public drunkenness.

On March 10, 1969 James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King (Wikipedia). He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He later tried to obtain a new trial and sue his lawyers but was unsuccessful. Memphis, which was the place where the assassination took place, experienced racial tension throughout most of 1969 (Americana 676). By the end of the year frequent conflicts between the militant Black Panthers and many police departments had become a matter of national concern. Police raided Panther offices and apartments in many cities across the nation. The offices were usually destroyed and several members of the organization were killed and wounded in shoot outs (Americana 181). On December 4, Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois Panthers, and another member Mark Clark were shot to death (Wikipedia). The black ghettos of the central cities became inreasingly crowded in 1969 which made confrontations between rioters and police worse. In many large cities in the U.S. gun battles frequently took place between police and Black Panthers.

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