Members of the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African American church, in Birmingham, Alabama. The bomb was detonated just before a Sunday service, killing four young girls and injuring fourteen other people.
Black veteran James Meredith arrived to begin classes at the University of Mississippi. Thousands of whites rioted, resulting in two deaths and 160 injuries. US troops were sent in to suppress the violence. Despite threats on his life, Meredith graduated in 1963. He had originally been rejected from the university because of his race.
In Boynton v. Virginia, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s conviction of an African American man who refused to leave a whites-only bus terminal restaurant. The Court ruled that the arrest violated the Interstate Commerce Act, which “forbids any interstate common carrier by motor vehicle to subject any person to unjust discrimination.”
President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald while riding in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas. Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president upon Kennedy’s death.
Lyndon Johnson announced his “Great Society” plan in his first State of the Union message. The program called for a “war on poverty,” with social welfare legislation and increased federal support for education, health care, and voting rights.
The United States, in concert with twenty-two Latin American countries, established the Alliance for Progress. The program provided more than $20 billion in aid from the US and international and private sources in exchange for Latin American commitment to democracy, economic reforms, and education and standard-of-living improvements.