1968 was the 97th year after the founding of the City of Birmingham.
- 1 Events
- 2 Individuals
- 3 Works
- 4 Gallery
- 5 Context
- January 5: The final episode of Bozo the Clown aired on WBRC 6. Ward McIntyre played the title role.
- January 30: Tuscaloosa's Memorial Coliseum opened its doors for a performance of "The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd".
- February 16: The nation's first 911 call was taken at the Haleyville police station.
- March 16: A WVOK Shower of Stars concert featured The Young Rascals, The Lemon Pipers, The Union Gap, Roy Head, Billy Joe Royal, The Rockin' Rebellions, The Brotherhood, and Gene & Debbie.
- March 29: James Earl Ray used an alias to purchase a .243 caliber hunting rifle and scope at Aeromarine on Airport Highway.
- March 30: Ray exchanged the rifle from the previous day for a .30-06 caliber Remington Model 760 Gamemaster.
- April 4: Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated by Ray in Memphis, Tennessee with the Birmingham-purchased rifle.
- May 8: A caravan from Birmingham to Washington D.C. for the SCLC's "Poor People's Campaign" was scheduled.
- July 27: A Shower of Stars concert featured The Troggs, Herman's Hermits, The Buckinghams, The Ohio Express, Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, Roy Head, and Four Jacks & a Jill.
- August 3: A Shower of Stars concert featured Paul Revere and the Raiders, Lou Christie, Billy Joe Royal, George Fame, The People, The Magistrates, and Mitch Ryder & His Revue.
- November 16: The Holiday Balloon Parade was held downtown.
- November 30: A Shower of Stars concert featured Davy Jones, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, The Buckinghams, Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, The Grass Roots, Billy Joe Royal, Andy Kim, and Four Jacks & a Jill.
- Birmingham voters approved $400,000 in bonds for the purchase of land to expand the Birmingham Museum of Art.
- The Birmingham Festival of Arts held the Salute to Greece.
- Branchville was incorporated.
- Green Valley elected to incorporate but was struck down after challenged by nearby Hoover.
- Construction of I-59/20 severed Norwood from downtown.
- Margaret Walker founded the Institute for the Study of History, Life, and Culture of Black People.
- August: A new Bruno's location opened in Dora.
- Andy Straynar, Charlie Lawrence, and another investor purchase Bogue's restaurant from the Bogues.
- Buck Creek Industries sold Buck Creek Mill to Reeves Brothers.
- The Chukker founder Bill Thompson sold the bar to Earl Hilyer.
- Mercy Home was renamed Gateway.
- Golden Flake became a publicly traded company.
- Greg's Cookies was bought by Bud Cason, nephew of the company's founders.
- Ollie's Barbecue relocated a few blocks west on 8th Avenue South from its original location due to construction of Interstate 65.
- Southern Natural Gas Resources expanded into forestry with its Southern Forest Products division and into real estate through the Southern Natural Realty Corporation.
- SMI Steel merged with CMC Steel Alabama.
- A. E. Burgess Co., Inc. became Burgess Mining & Construction.
- April 22: Christian radio station WDJC-FM debuted.
- July: South Central Bell was founded as a split from Southern Bell.
- Arlington Properties was founded.
- BASS was founded by Ray Scott in Montgomery.
- Big B Drugs began operation as part of Bruno's Supermarkets.
- Cinema West opened.
- Sol's Sandwich Shop opened on the bottom floor of the John A. Hand Building.
- Sikes & Youngs Shoe Company opened in Vestavia Hills.
- Thunderbird Drive-In opened.
- Sidney Ford opened Mr Sid's Coiffures in Five Points South.
- Wilkerson Heating & Cooling was founded.
- June: Mountain Brook High School's first graduation ceremony was held.
- July 1: The Alabama High School Athletic Association was integrated under court order by merging with the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association.
- September: Wenonah Area Vocational School opened to students.
- John Blackburn was promoted to dean for student development at the University of Alabama.
- Helen Fuller succeeded Estelle McNutt as principal of Edgewood Elementary School.
- Gardendale High School held its first graduation ceremony.
- Jack Granata became chair of the University of Alabama art department.
- Revis Hall succeeded Kermit Johnson has Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.
- Robert F. Henry succeeded Howard M. Phillips as president of Birmingham-Southern College.
- Henry and Suzanne Herzing purchased the Electronics Computer Programming Institute.
- Kermit Johnson succeeded Delos P. Culp as president of the University of Montevallo.
- Ann Jordan succeeded Aleen Mitchell as principal of Hall-Kent Elementary School.
- Wenonah State Junior College was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
- James Pharris succeeded Benjamin McGhee as principal of Washington K-8 School.
- Roebuck Plaza Elementary School closed at the conclusion of the school year as part of school desegregation.
- Evan Zeiger, Sr was named vice-president for financial affairs of Samford University.
- May 7: Lieutenant Governor Albert Brewer became Governor of Alabama upon Lurleen Wallace's death.
- June: Attorney Arthur Shores became the first black Birmingham City Councilor after being appointed to fill the seat vacated upon the death of R. W. Douglas.
- James Allen was elected to the U.S. Senate.
- J. P. Campbell succeeded Wally Watson as Mayor of Hueytown.
- Bull Connor was re-elected as Alabama Public Service Commission director.
- Jack Courson succeeded James Bailey as Mayor of Leeds.
- Edward Ernest succeeded Don Watts as Mayor of Hoover.
- Afton Lee Sr was elected to the Homewood City Council.
- Sonny Penhale was elected Mayor of Helena, his first of 11 terms.
- Robert Waldrop succeeded E. G. Walker as Mayor of Homewood, his first of six terms.
- April: J. Peter Sheehan succeeded John Colreavy as pastor of St Anthony's Church.
- August: Wayne Wallace began working as a broadcaster at WDJC-FM.
- C. W. Box became pastor of First Baptist Church of Boldo.
- James Crutcher succeeded John Cross as pastor of 16th Street Baptist Church.
- Philip Silverstein became rabbi at Temple Beth-El.
- Sixth Avenue Baptist Church sold its property on Sixth Avenue South.
- Moshe Stern became rabbi of Knesseth Israel Congregation.
- February 24: NHL player Garry Unger began his record-setting string of 914 consecutive games.
- May 23: Groundbreaking was held for Talladega Superspeedway.
- August 23: The AFL's New York Jets defeated the NFL's Atlanta Falcons 27-12 in an inter-league exhibition game at Legion Field.
- September 22: The AFL's Boston Patriots defeated the New York Jets 47-31 in a regular season game played at Legion Field because Fenway Park was unavailable.
- December 3: Auburn lost to Alabama by a score of 24-16 in the 1968 Iron Bowl at Legion Field.
- The final NASCAR race was held at Birmingham International Raceway.
- Former Auburn Tigers football player Forrest Blue was selected 15th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL draft.
- Homer Brown competed in his first U.S. Open Table Tennis Championship.
- Paul Seitz returned to Birmingham to play baseball for the Birmingham A's.
- Alabama quarterback Kenny Stabler was drafted in the second round of the NFL draft.
- May 20: John Robertson was shot down while participating in a classified resupply mission flying into Laos on a Vietnamese helicopter crewed by Vietnamese soldiers.
- June 7: Lamar Johnson was a third round draft pick by the Chicago White Sox.
- October 20: Joseph Raya was appointed archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and All Galilee.
- Central Bank CEO Harry Brock Jr took control of the board of the State National Bank of Alabama.
- Wallace Cohen succeeded Karl B. Friedman as president of the Levite Jewish Community Center.
- Ralph Cook was admitted to the Alabama State Bar.
- Reverend Edward Gardner became president of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.
- Leonard and Bettie Lawley purchased the R. F. McKibbon residence in Montevallo.
- J. Gordon Melton was ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church.
- Robert Miller was ordained by the Episcopal Church.
- Don Morrison served as president of AIA Birmingham.
- William Noble became city attorney of Gardendale.
- Dave Roddy broke his back when he slipped while helping a stuck motorist at the Oporto National Guard Armory.
- Muzaffar I. Sheikh arrived in the United States for graduate study.
- Judge Robert Vance led the first racially mixed Alabama delegation to a Democratic National Convention.
- Marvin Warner was appointed a delegate to the 23rd General Assembly of the United Nations.
- U.S. Air Force officer James Woodward was promoted to Captain.
- January 3: Thomas Rayam, football player and coach
- February: Thomas Robey, chef
- April 2: Shannon Ealy, former UAB senior associate athletic director
- April 6: Ron Crumpton, political activist
- April 6: Eric Major, politician
- April 17: Cary Allbritton, artist
- April 20: DeDee Nathan, Olympic heptathlete
- April 24: Todd Jones, baseball player
- May 6: Tyler Layton, actor
- May 27: Frank Thomas, baseball player
- June 14: Slade Blackwell, lobbyist
- June 28: Bill Clark, football coach
- August 6: Siran Stacy, football player
- August 20: Tonya West, chef, food stylist, and drummer
- August 24: Zeb Little, attorney and politician
- August 25: Jeremy Erdreich, architect
- August 27: Randy Sandford, UAB staffer
- September 6: Kevin Dudley, robber
- September 14: DeMond Winston, football player
- November 21: Candace Michelle Brown, Miss Alabama USA 1992
- Johnny Brown, Columbiana police chief
- Ann Hodges Goolsby, Maytown mayor
- Jeff Hager, Jefferson County CFO
- Vanessa Hirschowitz, architect and jewelry designer
- Julie Keith, magazine editor
- Shawn King, police officer
- Hoyt Sanders, Mayor of Pinson
- Ken Shaia, retailer
- Alexander Shunnarah, attorney
- Pam Siddall, newspaper publisher
- John Trobaugh, photographer
- Janet Awtrey earned her M.S. in nursing from UAB.
- Robert Bentley earned his M.D. from the University of Alabama School of Medicine.
- Nell Carter graduated from A. H. Parker High School.
- Howard Cruse earned a degree from Birmingham-Southern College.
- Chriss Doss earned a juris doctorate at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law.
- Bill Elder completed a master of divinity at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
- Mickey Gee earned bachelor's in marketing at the University of Alabama.
- Gail Godwin earned her M.A. in English from the University of Iowa.
- Hubert Green earned a degree in marketing from Florida State University.
- Literary scholar Barry Ivker completed his Ph.D at Indiana University.
- J. Gordon Melton earned his M. Div. at Garrett Theological Seminary.
- Richard North Patterson earned a degree from Ohio Wesleyan University.
- Martha Jane Patton graduated from Birmingham-Southern College.
- James Redfield graduated from Thompson High School.
- Carole Samuelson graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.
- Don Siegelman graduated from the University of Alabama.
- April 1: John Garrett became a traffic engineer for the City of Birmingham.
- September 6: Carlos May began his major league career with the Chicago White Sox.
- Charles E. Bugg and William Bridgers accepted positions at UAB.
- Artist and photographer William Christenberry began teaching at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C.
- Newton H. DeBardeleben succeeded John A. Hand as CEO of First National Bank of Birmingham.
- Don Drennen Jr became president of the Don Drennen Motor Company.
- Attorney D. Paul Jones joined the Balch & Bingham firm.
- Mac Parsons began serving as a bailiff for the Jefferson County Circuit Court.
- Jim Woodward transferred from the Bessemer Police Department to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
- Actress Elizabeth MacQueen married talent manager Raymond Gonzalez.
- Singer Linda Manning married baseball player, actor, and minister Mel Novak.
- Sonia Sanchez married poet Etheridge Knight.
- Actress Lili Gentle divorced Richard Zanuck.
- Female Vocalist of the Year (Country Music Association): Tammy Wynette
- Fogarty Award: George Turner
- Medal of Honor: Sgt. Matthew Leonard (post-houmous)
- Miss Alabama: Dellynne Catching
- Miss Alabama USA: Claudia Robinson
- Miss Samford: Linda Hughes Beck
- October 25: The first fourteen members of the Alabama Academy of Honor were announced.
- April 4: Martin Luther King Jr, Civil Rights Movement leader
- April 12: Victorine, gorilla
- April 30: Ron Parr, leader of The Hard Times, was killed in action in Viet Nam
- May 7: Lurleen Wallace, Governor of Alabama
- August 26: Lawrence Whitten, architect
- November 6: Chauncey Sparks, former Governor of Alabama
- December 12: Tallulah Bankhead, actress
- Martha Fort Anderson, printmaker
- Kenneth Forbes, businessman
- Billy Smith, businessman
- See also List of Birmingham homicides in 1968
- April 14 (Easter): A "pioneer homestead" opened in Noccalula Falls Park containing the reconstructed Gilliland Bridge, William Clayton's log-built blacksmith shop, and other historic structures.
- May 23: Ground was broken for the Talladega Superspeedway.
- July 30: Ground was broken for Lister Hill Library.
- Broadway Street was repaved, covering the disused rails of the Birmingham & Edgewood Electric Railway.
- Calder Building was renovated as Citizens Federal Savings Bank's headquarters.
- One floor was added to Children's Hospital.
- Green Acres Baptist Church education building was added to the campus.
- The former Parisian store was purchased by businessman A. G. Gaston for $1.5 million.
- Construction of the South Central Bell Building began.
- 117 56th Street South, 8-unit apartment building
- Ellis Lake
- Gardendale Area Vocational School
- Higgins residence
- Inglenook Community Center
- Lawson Field
- Memorial Coliseum at the University of Alabama
- Tutwiler Hall at the University of Alabama
- Linger Longer Lodge and street Grace Way, for the Interstate 65 Shades Mountain cut.
- 6th Avenue Presbyterian Church was sold to South Central Bell.
- September: Early Days in Birmingham
- Paul Hemphill spent a year-long Niemen Fellowship at Harvard University working on his first book, The Nashville Sound.
Films and TV
- December 9: The Temptations and Diana Ross & the Supremes starred in musical revue television special called TCB.
- The Alabama Television Corporation, headed by John Jemison, was awarded the broadcast rights to UHF Channel 21 by the FCC.
- "The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant" featuring B. J. Baker.
- Dennis Edwards replaced David Ruffin as lead singer of The Temptations.
- "The Last Goodbye" by Dave Roddy.
- Looking at You and The Very Best of Sandy Posey by Sandy Posey were released.
- Samford Memorial Pipe Organ was constructed at Southside Baptist Church.
- Candi Staton launched her solo career as a Southern soul stylist.
- The Torquays disbanded.
1968 Lee Roy Jordan trading card by Topps
Birmingham Baptist Hospital from 1968 ad
1968 ad for Sneaky Pete's
In 1968, the Vietnam War continued and the Tet Offensive took place. A U.S. B-52 Stratofortress crashed in Greenland near Thule Air Base, discharging four nuclear bombs. The Winter Olympics were held in Grenoble, France. Madison Square Garden in New York City opened. Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, including the Fair Housing Act, became law. The musical Hair officially opened on Broadway. U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles, dying the next day.
Also in 1968, the semiconductor company Intel was founded. The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Chicago, Illinois. Swaziland became independent. Apollo 7, the first manned Apollo mission, launched. Mattel's Hot Wheels toy cars were introduced. The Summer Olympics were held in Mexico City, Mexico. Republican challenger Richard Nixon defeated the Democratic candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace in the presidential election. Apollo 8 orbited around the Moon.
Fiction published in 1968 included Eva Trout by Elizabeth Bowen, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, The Goblin Tower by L. Sprague de Camp, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, Airport by Arthur Hailey, and Colonel Sun by Robert Markham. Non-fiction included Soul On Ice by Eldridge Cleaver and The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron.
Top pop music hits in 1968 included "Love is Blue" by Paul Mauriat, "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro, "People Got to Be Free" by The Rascals, and "Hey Jude" by The Beatles. The top selling album was The Beatles (a.k.a. the White Album). The Grammy for Record of the Year went to "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel. Album of the Year was By the Time I Get to Phoenix by Glen Campbell. Song of the Year was "Little Green Apples" by O. C. Smith. The Best New Artist Grammy went to José Feliciano.
The top-grossing films in 1968 included 2001: A Space Odyssey, Funny Girl, The Love Bug, The Odd Couple, Bullitt, Romeo and Juliet, Oliver!, Rosemary's Baby, Planet of the Apes, and Night of the Living Dead. Oliver! took the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director (Carol Reed). Best Actor went to Cliff Robertson for Charly. Best Actress went to both Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl in the Best Actress award's only tie in history.
Television premieres in 1968 included Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, One Life to Live, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour, Adam-12, Here's Lucy, The Doris Day Show, The Mod Squad, Hawaii 5-O, and 60 Minutes. Series ending included The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lost in Space, The Lucy Show, Batman, The Monkees, and The Bell Telephone Hour.
Notable births in 1968 included actors Cuba Gooding Jr, Gary Coleman, Hugh Jackman, Owen Wilson, and Brendan Fraser, actresses Molly Ringwald, Ashley Judd, Debra Messing, and Lucy Liu, rappers and actors LL Cool J and Will Smith, gymnast Mary Lou Retton, singers Sarah McLachlan, Lisa Marie Presley, Lisa Loeb, Céline Dion, Macy Gray, and Ziggy Marley, skateboarder Tony Hawk, baseball players Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, and Sammy Sosa, television chef and host Rachael Ray, and comedian Margaret Cho. Notable deaths included singer Frankie Lymon, actor Bobby Driscoll, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, spokeswoman for the deaf and blind Helen Keller, politician Robert F. Kennedy, physicist George Gamow, artist Marcel Duchamp, and writer Upton Sinclair.
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