12 May 1965

The Soviet spacecraft Luna 5 crashes on the Moon.

In May 1965, Luna 5 became the first Soviet probe in two years to head for the Moon. Following a May 10 midcourse correction, a problem developed in a flotation gyroscope in the I-100 guidance control unit. Control was lost so the spacecraft began spinning around its main axis.

Ground controllers regained control of the spacecraft, but at the time of the next maneuver the main retrorocket system failed due to a ground control error in calculating the setpoints. As a result, the spacecraft, though still headed for the Moon, was far off its intended landing site. Problems again cropped up with the I-100 unit so a retrorocket burn could not take place and Luna 5 impacted the lunar surface some 430 miles from the target point at about 19:10 UT on May 12, 1965, becoming the second Soviet probe to hit the Moon.

A Soviet announcement gave the impact point as the Sea of Clouds at roughly 31 degrees S, 8 degrees W. Although a later analysis gave a very different estimate of 8 degrees N, 23 degrees W..

Despite failing at its ultimate objective of a soft landing on the Moon’s surface, the spacecraft was a partial success because, unlike its predecessor Luna 4, it successfully performed a midcourse correction.

25 March 1965

Civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King complete their 4-day 50-mile march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

he Selma to Montgomery marches were three protest marches, held in 1965, along the 54-mile highway from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery. The marches were organized by nonviolent activists to demonstrate the desire of African-American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression, and were part of a broader voting rights movement underway in Selma and throughout the American South. By highlighting racial injustice, they contributed to passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the Civil Rights Movement.

Southern state legislatures had passed and maintained a series of discriminatory requirements and practices that had disenfranchised most of the millions of African Americans across the South throughout the 20th century. The African-American group known as the Dallas County Voters League launched a voter registration campaign in Selma in 1963. Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters.

Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable, even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended legal segregation, the DCVL invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to join them. SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, with 3,000 people arrested by the end of February. According to Joseph A. Califano Jr., who served as head of domestic affairs for U.S. President Lyndon Johnson between the years 1965 and 1969, the President viewed King as an essential partner in getting the Voting Rights Act enacted. Califano, whom the President also assigned to monitor the final march to Montgomery, said that Johnson and King talked by telephone on January 15 to plan a strategy for drawing attention to the injustice of using literacy tests and other barriers to stop black Southerners from voting, and that King later informed the President on February 9 of his decision to use Selma to achieve this objective.

On February 26, 1965, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper, James Bonard Fowler, during a peaceful march in nearby Marion, Alabama. To defuse and refocus the community’s outrage, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma voting rights movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963.

The first march took place on March 7, 1965, organized locally by Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others. State troopers and county possemen attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas after they passed over the county line, and the event became known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement beat Boynton unconscious, and the media publicized worldwide a picture of her lying wounded on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The second march took place March 9. Troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other at the county end of the bridge, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to the church. He was obeying a federal injunction while seeking protection from federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march with the second group. Many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country also gathered for the second march.

The violence of “Bloody Sunday” and Reeb’s murder resulted in a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a historic, nationally televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill’s introduction and passage.

With Governor Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so. The third march started March 21. Protected by 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”. The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.

The route is memorialized as the “Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail,” and is designated as a U.S. National Historic Trail.

7 March 1965

Over 600 civil rights marchers are brutally attacked by state and local police in Selma, Alabama.

On March 7, 1965, state troopers and a sheriff’s posse in Selma, Ala., attacked 600 civil rights demonstrators taking part in a march between Selma and Montgomery, the state capital. The march was organized to promote black voter registration and to protest the killing of a young black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a state trooper during a Feb. 18 voter registration march in a nearby city.

The New York Times on March 8 described the day’s events. As the demonstrators crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were ordered by the police to disperse. When they stood in place, the troopers charged at them.

“The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and legs flying and packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider strip and on to the pavement on both sides,” The Times wrote. “Those still on their feet retreated. The troopers continued pushing, using both the force of their bodies and the prodding of their nightsticks.”

The police also fired tear gas at the crowd and charged on horseback. More than 50 demonstrators were injured. The Times described a makeshift hospital near the local church: “Negroes lay on the floors and chairs, many weeping and moaning. A girl in red slacks was carried from the house screaming.” Amelia Boynton lay semiconscious on a table. “From the hospital came a report that the victims had suffered fractures of ribs, heads, arms and legs, in addition to cuts and bruises.”

The day of violence, which became known as Bloody Sunday, was covered in newspapers across the country and broadcast on national news, outraging many Americans. A photo of Mrs. Boynton lying unconscious on the bridge became the most enduring image of the day.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. soon arrived in Selma to organize a second march as civil rights lawyers filed for a federal injunction to prevent police interference. Dr. King led a ceremonial march over the Pettus Bridge and back on March 9. While the march itself was peaceful, segregationists attacked three white ministers who supported the march that night, killing one, James J. Reeb.

A district court judge issued the injunction on March 17, clearing the way for a second Selma-to-Montgomery march on Sunday, March 21. Flanked by federal troops, 3,200 marchers left Selma on the first leg of the 54-mile journey.

They reached Montgomery that Thursday, marching to the state capitol with 25,000 people. The leaders unsuccessfully attempted to present a petition to Gov. George Wallace and Dr. King delivered a speech before the capitol steps. “The march was hailed by several speakers as the greatest demonstration in the history of the civil rights movement,” The Times reported.

Bloody Sunday had a considerable effect on the civil rights movement. On March 15, eight days after watching the violence, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented a bill to Congress that would become the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It outlawed discriminatory voting laws that had kept black people off the voting rolls and provided for federal examiners to oversee voter registration in areas where voting rights were endangered.

16 July 1965

The Mont Blanc Tunnel linking France and Italy is opened.

montblanc

After 19 years of planning and construction, the Mont Blanc Tunnel officially opens. The new tunnel stretches 7 miles, linking the French town of Chamonix and the Italian town of Courmayeur. Buried 1.5 miles under the Alps’ highest peak, it becomes the world’s deepest road tunnel beneath rock and gains infamy after a deadly 1999 fire.

Until the opening of the tunnel, road traffic in the Alps between France and Italy wended its way over hairpin turns and sharp grades, with mountain passes closed the majority of the year because of snow. Italian construction teams began drilling a tunnel into Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco on their side) to build a year-round route in 1946. The next year, France and Italy signed an agreement to build the tunnel together.

Construction, however, did not begin in earnest until May 30, 1959, with the help of an 82-ton tunnel-boring machine. Tunneling began at 4,091 feet on the French side and at 4,530 feet on the Italian side.

It took 783 tons of explosives to complete the drilling. The French and Italian teams met Aug. 4, 1962, with a discrepancy of only 5.12 inches between the two sides.

When it opened in a ceremony featuring Presidents Charles De Gaulle of France and Giuseppe Saragat of Italy, the Mont Blanc Tunnel became the world’s longest highway tunnel, more than three times longer than the previous recordholder, Liverpool’s Mersey Tunnel.

7 March 1965

A group of 600 civil rights marchers are brutally attacked by state and local police in Selma, Alabama.

On March 7, 1965, state troopers and a sheriff’s posse in Selma, Ala., attacked 525 civil rights demonstrators taking part in a march between Selma and Montgomery, the state capital. The march was organized to promote black voter registration and to protest the killing of a young black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a state trooper during a Feb. 18 voter registration march in a nearby city.

The New York Times on March 8 described the day’s events. As the demonstrators crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were ordered by the police to disperse. When they stood in place, the troopers charged at them.“The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and legs flying and packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider strip and on to the pavement on both sides,” The Times wrote. “Those still on their feet retreated. The troopers continued pushing, using both the force of their bodies and the prodding of their nightsticks.”

The police also fired tear gas at the crowd and charged on horseback. More than 50 demonstrators were injured. The Times described a makeshift hospital near the local church: “Negroes lay on the floors and chairs, many weeping and moaning. A girl in red slacks was carried from the house screaming.” Amelia Boynton lay semiconscious on a table. “From the hospital came a report that the victims had suffered fractures of ribs, heads, arms and legs, in addition to cuts and bruises.”The day of violence, which became known as Bloody Sunday, was covered in newspapers across the country and broadcast on national news, outraging many Americans.

8 November 1965

The death penalty is formally abolished in the United Kingdom.

The abolition of capital punishment was a major priority of the incoming Labour government of Harold Wilson when it came to office on the 15th of October 1964 and its first Home Secretary, Sir Frank Soskice. On the 28th of October 1965, a Private Member’s Bill to suspend the death penalty, sponsored by the left wing MP, Mr. Sydney Silverman, received Royal Assent. It was supported by the government and the Home Secretary. Thus on the 9th of November 1965, Abolition of Death Penalty Act suspended the death penalty for murder in the United Kingdom for a period of five years.

The last executions were two carried out simultaneously at 8.00 a.m. on the 13th of August 1964 in Walton and Strangeways prisons when Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans were hanged for the murder of John West, a laundry man, in the course of robbing him.

On the 16th of December 1969, the House of Commons reaffirmed its decision that capital punishment for murder should be permanently abolished. On a free vote, the House voted by 343 to 185, a majority of 158, that the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, should not expire. Thus, the death penalty for murder was formally abolished.