Photo Gallery: The Year in Pictures

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Browse these photos of some of the most significant events of 1964.

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In January of 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that smoking might be bad for your health. In 1958, 44% of Americans believed smoking caused cancer. By 1968 that number was up to 78%.

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The Beatles made their first trip to the U.S. in February, officially throwing Beatlemania into high gear. Teenage girls crowded the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four on their way in to the Ed Sullivan Show.

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In a publicity stunt, the Beatles went up against Cassius Clay in the boxing ring on February 18. Clay reportedly asked who "those sissies" were.

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In a stunning upset on February 25, Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston to become boxing's Heavyweight Champion of the World. The following day, Clay publicly announced his conversion to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

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On April 17, the Ford Motor Company released the Mustang. Over the course of the year, Ford sold nearly a half a million Mustangs.

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Peaceful demonstrators gather before a civil rights march in Tallahassee, FL, on March 27. By 1964, civil rights demonstrations were spreading across the American South.

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A group of 200 civil rights protesters marched in downtown Nashville on April 27. A riot broke out after an organizer was beaten and arrested.

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In June, activists began training for Freedom Summer, during which they traveled the South and registered 17,000 black citizens to vote.

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Three civil rights volunteers disappeared in Mississippi on June 21. After a massive manhunt, the FBI unearthed their mutilated bodies six weeks later.

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President Johnson hands Martin Luther King one of several dozen pens he used to sign the Civil Rights Act on July 2.

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On July 16, Republicans nominated Arizona senator Barry Goldwater to be their 1964 presidential candidate.

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Though the U.S. never officially declared war on North Vietnam, by August 1964, there were more than 20,000 troops and advisers in the region.

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By 1964, Marvin Gaye was starting to crank out hits. He also helped produce the single "Dancing in the Street," which would become an anthem for the changing nation.

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In New York on the way to receive his Nobel Peace Prize, Martin Luther King held a press conference after hearing that 21 men had been arrested in connection with the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. He called it the "first steps toward justice."

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At the University of California, Berkeley, thousands of students participated in the Free Speech Movement, staging protests and a sit-in between October and December in support of free speech and civil rights.

|Bancroft Library

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Whether in politics or popular culture, civil liberty or civil rights, 1964 saw a lot of change. What event or set of events do you think had the biggest impact on the year, on American society, or on America as we know it today? Share your story.