How Well Do You Know This Decade in History: 1960-1969

By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: RT America

About This Quiz

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Those words were the real takeaway from John F. Kennedy’s presidential inaugural address in 1961. They marked a can-do spirit and hopefulness of the early years of this famous decade. But just a couple of years later, that optimism was replaced with despair. In our tie-dyed quiz, what do you know about the crazy up-and-down decade that was the 1960s?

The Sixties were a strange and beautiful time in the history of the human race. People worked together to make the world a better place — and they also tried to kill each other in droves. Protesters marched in peace, while oppressive governments menaced them with guns and fire hoses. What do you know about the chaos and tumult that gripped America and the world during this decade?

The Vietnam War became a depressing fixture on the nightly news during the ‘60s. Counterculture elements did, too, with hippies sporting long hair, bell bottoms, and casting off social norms by using drugs and exploring a sexual revolution. Do you know really know how cultural and political elements clashed in the Sixties?

The Cold War peaked in the early ‘60s, terrifying Americans with its threats of a nuclear holocaust. Assassinations shredded high-level U.S. politics. The world, it seemed, was upside down. Take our tough ‘60s quiz and see you really understand the history of this amazing decade!

What was the mood of America like at the beginning of the 1960s?

At the beginning of the ‘60s, America was mostly a happy place, with a solid economny and a snappy young president in office. It was a good time to be alive.


During the ‘60s, the U.S. was embroiled in a scary political mess with which nation?

After WWII, the Communists of the USSR settled into a decades-long Cold War with the democracy of the United States. The Cold War sparked some truly terrifying moments in the 20th century.


What did the phrase "civil disobedience" mean during the ‘60s?

Minority groups took up civil disobedience to highlight social injustices, breaking laws in nonviolent ways and often getting arrested for their cause.


The "Fab Four" was a nickname for what?

By 1964, the Beatles weren’t just a music group anymore — they were a cultural movement. The "Fab Four" were one of the strongest musical influences of the entire century.


What did Yuri Gagarin do in 1961?

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Garagin became the first person ever in space. Americans feared that the Communists were leaping ahead of them in the Space Race.


The Stonewall riots had a major impact on which issue?

In June 1969, a police raid on a gay club in New York ultimately ended in a riot. The uproar sparked a long-lasting social movement that completely changed gay rights in America.


Which country initiated a "Great Leap Forward" in the ‘60s?

In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, the Communists in China started the Great Leap Forward, which was meant to propel the country from an agrarian society to a more modern one. The plan backfired, causing a famine that killed tens of millions of people.


The Gulf of Tonkin incident had which impact?

In August 1964, North Vietnamese ships reportedly fired on U.S. Navy ships. The event, which may have been completely fabricated, gave the American government a reason to escalate U.S. troop levels in Vietnam.


On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated by a gunman. Where did the murder occur?

On that fateful Friday in 1963, JFK’s motorcade was slowly winding through downtown Dallas when shots rang out. The president’s murder was an abrupt and violent turn in American history.


After JFK’s assassination, who took control of the Oval Office?

Immediately after Kennedy died from his wounds, Vice President Lyndon Johnson took the oath of the presidency. Overnight, America turned into a very different place.


What was the purpose of "draft-card burning"?

Young men took to burning their draft (conscription) cards to protest the Vietnam War. Of course, they also did so because they really didn’t want to die in a bloody jungle quagmire.


In August 1965, the Watts riots shook which city?

In August 1965, racial tensions with police exploded into the Watts riots in Los Angeles. For six days, arson and looting took place, killing dozens of people and causing tens of millions of dollars in damages.


The Voting Rights Act had a major impact on which part of the U.S. population?

The Voting Rights Act is sometimes called the most important bit of federal legislation ever created. It eliminated poll taxes and other barriers that were traditionally used to keep minorities from casting their votes.


What was the "Great Society"?

President Johnson set out to improve the U.S. through his "Great Society" agenda, which was meant to erase injustice and inequality throughout the land. It was a bold and ambitious move.


What was a phrase used to describe President Johnson’s "Great Society"?

The Great Society’s architects were careful to frame their programs not as welfare, but as simply good policy. The projects of the Great Society were "a hand up, not a handout."


In August 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a famous speech in Washington, D.C. What was the name of that speech?

In Washington, D.C., King gave his rousing "I Have a Dream" speech, in which he decried injustice and called his fellow Americans to stand up for what was right. It is still one of the most powerful speeches in American history.


“Jim Crow" referred to which issue?

“Jim Crow" laws were common in the South during the ‘60s, segregating whites from blacks and perpetuating racial inequality. In order for real justice to exist, those Jim Crow laws would have to be dissolved.


In July 1969, two U.S. astronauts landed on the moon. Which man touched the moon first?

Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the commander of the Apollo 11 mission. He was also the one who made that "giant leap for mankind" when he became the first person ever to touch the moon.


What happened at the 1968 Democratic National Convention?

A few miles from the Convention in Chicago, thousands of Vietnam War protesters gathered — and the police cracked down on them using violence. The debacle became another sign of ‘60s chaos.


In 1961, a wall was built in which area?

In 1961, the Berlin Wall split this German city in two. It became a stark symbol of Communist oppression verus democractic freedom.


The Bay of Pigs invasion was an ill-fated attempt by the _____ to overthrow Fidel Castro.

In 1961, the CIA sent Cuban exiles back to their country in hopes of dethroning Fidel Castro, a hardcore Communist. The plan was an eye-rolling failure, one that gave the Kennedy administration a huge public relations mess.


“Head Start" was part of the Great Society. What was it?

President Johnson’s Great Society started Head Start, a program that prepares young children for school. Head Start is often credited with improving the academic performance of kids around the country.


In 1968, which man was elected president of the United States?

In 1968, Nixon won the presidency by defeating Hubert Humphrey in the election. Nixon, of course, would ultimately see his administration go down in flames.


The Cuban Missile Crisis involved the United States and _____.

In 1962, the U.S. learned that the USSR was shipping missiles to Cuba, meaning America had a major military threat right off its coast. The Cuban Missile Crisis saw President Kennedy staring down Soviet leaders, narrowly averting a military confrontation.


True or false, were the Beatles the best-selling artists ever in the United States?

The Beatles are still the best-selling artists ever to release music in the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.S. alone, they sold nearly 180 million units ... and their albums still sell at a good pace.


Who launched the Tet Offensive?

In late January 1968, the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive, a major push against South Vietnam and the U.S. From a numbers perspective, the offensive was a failure, but it had the desired political effect in America, turning citizens even more against the war.


Che Guevara was a major political figure in which country?

In the ‘60s, Marxist revolutionary "Che" Guevara was a major leader during the Cuban Revolution. He attempted to spread his ideas throughout Latin America, upsetting established powers -- and then he was captured and executed.


In May 1968, major protests broke out and brought life in ____ to a standstill.

The U.S. was hardly the only place suffering from societal turmoil in the ‘60s. The May 1968 protests in France stopped the country in its tracks and caused its president to temporarily flee for his own safety.


“The Troubles" began in which country in the ‘60s?

In the ‘60s, the Northern Ireland civil rights movement began ... and the violence of The Troubles started, too. The conflict dragged on until the ‘90s.


At the start of the ‘60s, America felt like life was good. How did things feel by the end of the decade?

Forget all that happiness and contentment at the start of the ‘60s — by the end of the decade, it felt like America and the world at large was falling apart at the seams.


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