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In Context: A Brief Guide to 1972

Don't remember 1972? Get your 70s on here. Learn more about this tumultuous time in American history with this helpful backgrounder.


Jan. 4 Austrian Kurt Waldheim
becomes Secretary-General
of the United Nations.
Jan. 5 Nixon orders
development of
space shuttle program.
Jan. 11 Following a bloody civil war,
East Pakistan gains independence
and is renamed Bangladesh.
Jan. 25 Shirley Chisholm button Shirley Chisholm announces her candidacy for the presidency at Brooklyn's Concord Baptist Church.
Feb. 4 NASA scientists unveil the first close-up photos of Mars, sent by Mariner 9.
Feb. 21-27 President Nixon and Chairman MaoPresident Nixon becomes the first president to visit China, establishing a new working relationship between China and the United States.
Mar. 8 Goodyear BlimpThe Goodyear blimp flies for the first time.
Mar. 22 Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment.
Mar. 22 The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Eisenstadt v. Baird that the right to privacy means single people are entitled to contraceptives.
Apr. 16 The fifth American mission to the moon, Apollo 16, launches.
Apr. 17 Women are allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon for the first time. Nina Kuscsik is the first winner.
May 2 J. Edgar Hoover, longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, dies.
May 15 Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace is shot and paralyzed by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Maryland.
May 26 Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sign the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) in Moscow.
Jun. 4 Chisholm '72 - Timeline, Angela DavisBlack activist Angela Davis found not guilty of murder in California.
Jun. 23 Title IX passes, prohibiting sex discrimination in sports funding in schools receiving federal money.
Jun. 29 In a 5-4 ruling in Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
Jul. 1 Ms. Magazine first issue coverFirst issue of Ms. Magazine published.
Jul. 10 Democratic National Convention opens in Miami Beach.
Aug. 12 The last American ground forces are withdrawn from Vietnam.
Sep. 5-6 Eleven Israeli athletes murdered by terrorist group at Munich Olympics.
Sep. 17 First episode of MASH is aired.
Oct. 25 The FBI hires its first female agents.
Nov. 5 American Indian Movement activists occupy Bureau of Indian Affairs
Nov. 14 The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 1000 for the first time. (1003.16)
Dec. 11 Apollo launchApollo 17, the last American moon mission, lands on the moon.
Dec. 22 Earthquake strikes Managua, Nicaragua.

» Wikipedia: 1972

(Top to bottom)
President Nixon meets with China's Communist Party Leader, Mao Tse-Tung, 2/29/1972. Source: National Archives.
The Goodyear blimp. Source: National Archives.
Angela Davis. Source: Library of Congress.
Cover of first issue of Ms. Magazine.
Launch of Apollo 17. Source: NASA.

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I got the chance to see and hear Shirley Chisholm when she came to Savannah, Georgia in March 1972 during her campaign. She spoke at First African Baptist Church. I was awed by her presence and inspired by her words.”

— Keith Busting, Viewer

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