Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Lawrence O’Donnell reflects on echoes of a historically tragic year

Courtesy of Penquin Press
Lawrence O'Donnell's "Playing With Fire"

Author and political commentator Lawrence O’Donnell was a teenager in 1968. He recalls the time in some detail. He was coming of age as someone drawn to politics and directly affected by the Vietnam War.

And it was personal: “I was in high school in 1968, and I never heard my brothers and their college-age friends talk about career planning.  They only talked about how to deal with the draft and Vietnam.”

O’Donnell’s cousin John was killed in Vietnam that September.

Historians look back on 1968 as one of the most pivotal years in modern United States history. Among the major events:

  • January: North Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive.
  • February: The Memphis Sanitation Strike began.
  • March: President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek re-election.
  • April: Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
  • June: Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.
  • August: Police clashed with Vietnam War protestors at the Democratic National Convention.
  • September: The Women’s Liberation Movement held major demonstrations.
  • October: Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested at the Mexico City Olympics.
  • November: Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey by less than 1% of the vote to become President.
  • December: The first manned spacecraft mission orbited the moon.

Lawrence O’Donnell hosts MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. He found numerous parallels between 1968 and 2016 in his new book , “Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics.”

He spoke at Seattle University’s Campion Ballroom on November 14. Town Hall Seattle presented the event, as part of their Civics series.  

Listen to the full version below:

Year started with KUOW: 2006