By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — We’ve been marking some of the key events of 1963 all this year (see related story), and the 50th anniversary of the John Kennedy assassination comes up next month.
But a new book wraps all of those events together into a portrait of a very influential year.
Ask someone about the most important year of the pivotal 1960s and it’ll probably come down to either 1963 or 1968. But Byron Williams has made his choice.
“The events of ’68 that are noteworthy are all negative — the assassination of King and Kennedy, Vietnam, the Democratic Convention,” he notes. “But in ’63 you had George Wallace, but then you had Martin Luther King in the Birmingham campaign. You had Kennedy elevating civil rights to a moral issue, but then you had Medgar Evers being killed.”
Williams, a minister and columnist, says his book, 1963: The Year of Hope and Hostility, picks up threads from years before, such as famous segregationist George Wallace becoming that way after losing an election in the ’50’s and later hardening his stance in an appeal for votes.