The new docu-series “1969” weaves together rarely told stories from a summer that encapsulated the moon landing, Manson murders, Chappaquiddick scandal and Woodstock with that of Nixon’s first year in office, John Lennon’s Bed-Ins for Peace, FBI shootouts with black activists and the Stonewall Uprising.
The six-part series features gripping first-hand accounts of how these events came together at the same dizzying, chaotic time.
The premiere episode, “Moon Shot,” includes accounts from the unsung women who helped make the moon landing possible. The following week’s episode, “The Girl in The Car,” tells the story of Mary Jo Kopechne, whom the powerful Sen. Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge after a party and left to die. Other episodes features accounts from Black Panthers, Charles Manson family women and organizers of Woodstock, which nearly became the Fyre Festival of 1969. These gripping stories are told by those who lived them, alongside contemporary influencers including Roots’ Black Thought and celebrity LGBTQ activists Jazz Jennings and Laverne Cox.
“1969” premieres Tuesday, April 23 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. New episodes in the six-episode series air every Tuesday.
EPISODE 1: ‘Moon Shot’ — In July 1969, when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins traveled to the moon and planted the American flag on the lunar surface, it brought the nation and the world together. Though the billions spent on the moon shot were controversial, especially among civil rights leaders, it would make America the world leader in technology.
Hugh Brown: In 1969, Hugh Brown was part of the Apollo 11 team that maintained communication between mission control and the Apollo spacecraft. Weeks before the historic launch, Hugh’s team detected Russian interference that put the mission at stake. Watch his story below:
Parrish Hirasaki: Many women worked behind-the-scenes and made pivotal contributions to the historic Apollo 11 mission. Parrish Hirasaki, a heat shield specialist for the Apollo program, was one of them. She shares her experiences overcoming the gender roles of the 1960s to work on the historic flight. Watch her story below:
John Hirasaki: After completing a nine-day mission, Apollo 11 successfully returned to Earth on July 24, 1969. John Hirasaki, a mechanical engineer with NASA, spent more than two weeks in quarantine with Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins. Watch his story below:
EPISODE 2: ‘Manson Girls’
Two young women, while still in their teens, fell in love with Charles Manson and became part of his group of devoted followers. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme and Dianne Lake,describe in revelatory detail the journeys that led each of them to join the so-called “Manson Family.”
The two former Manson Family members give an inside view of what life with Charles was like, how the counter culture of the ’60s that extolled sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll shaped their view of the world and the convictions that moved the group toward a violent drug-fueled murder spree that left seven dead, including actress Sharon Tate who was more than eight months pregnant at the time and living in the home she shared with her husband Roman Polanski.
Dianne Lake: As the youngest member of the Manson Family, Dianne Lake recounts a harrowing moment under Charles Manson’s spell. When two of her friends discover her living at Spahn Ranch, Manson intervenes, interrupting what was meant to be a joyous reunion.
Blaze Bernstein: In January of 2018, Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year old gay teen, was murdered by a member of a neo-nazi group inspired by Charles Manson’s race-war rhetoric. Blaze’s childhood friend Raiah Rofksy recalls her fond memories for him.
EPISODE 3: ‘The Girl in the Car’
While Apollo 11 astronauts orbited the moon preparing for their historic landing, realizing a goal set by the late President John F. Kennedy, his brother Senator Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge into the waters of Martha’s Vineyard.
Ted left a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, who had been a campaign staffer for their late brother Robert F. Kennedy, in the submerged car. Kopechne died and to this day the diver who pulled her from the water and the accident investigator sent to the scene believe she might have been saved had the Senator reported the accident when it happened.
Instead her story has largely been lost to history as the media and the public focused on the man whose career was forever damaged by the accident, rather than the bright and young woman who did not live to tell us what really happened on that mysterious night.
Deputy Sheriff Huck Look: On the night of July 18, 1969 in Chappaquiddick, Deputy Sherriff Huck Look said he was an eyewitness that spotted Ted Kennedy’s car shortly before the vehicle went off a nearby bridge.
Georgetta Potoski: Kopechne contributed to Bobby Kennedy’s campaign in more ways than just secretarial duties. Her cousin, Georgetta Potoski, gives us one example of her campaign work.
Tony Ulasewicz: While most known for his involvement in the Watergate scandals, Tony Ulasewicz, President Nixon’s private investigator, had a surprising role in the immediate aftermath of Chappaquiddick.
Liana Ascolese: Ascolese is the political director of the Young Democrats of Massachusetts and the legislative aide to Cambridge, Massachusetts City Councillor Alanna Mallon. She reflects on Mary Jo Kopechne and the role of women in politics.
EPISODE 4: ‘The FBI and the Panther’
In 1969, a running battle between the Department of Justice, the Nixon White House and the Black Power movement reached its height. Patterns of infiltration, wiretapping and violence marked that year. The special episode features powerful firsthand accounts that chronicle how the Black Panther Party established itself and became so influential in 1969, how their agenda evolved, what the Panthers represented to African Americans and why the White House deemed them a threat.
The documentary spotlights the gripping and deeply personal story of the life and death of a charismatic 21 year-old Panther leader named Fred Hampton. Hampton was gunned down as he slept, having been drugged and set up by a police informant. As the bullets flew his pregnant girlfriend tried to shield him with her body. A full 50 years after Fred’s death his then unborn child, Fred Hampton Jr., returns to the scene with his mother who recalls in vivid detail her attempts to save him.
“The FBI and the Panther” also details the story of the violent raid on Panther headquarters in Los Angeles that year, from the perspective of Black Panthers who were involved and an LAPD officer wounded in the shootout. Young Black Lives Matter leaders, along with former police and former Black Panthers, describe a violent battle that unfolded between the FBI and the militant, charismatic and ill-fated young Black Panthers. Black Lives Matter founder Patrisse Cullors and recording artist Tariq Trotter of The Roots talk about how this chapter of American history continues to shape the story of race in America today.
LaNada WarJack Boyer, an organizer of the demonstration Occupation Alcatraz describes Nov. 20, 1969 when a group of Native American students invited people in their race and allying races to join in the effort to reclaim their indigenous land that was taken from them through broken treaties. Eryn Wyse, an activist of the Dakota Access Pipeline movement describes the importance of this demonstration while Tariq Trotter, from The Roots details how the Red Power movement was inspired by much of the Black Power movement.
Akua Njeri from The Black Panther Party describes what the Black Power fist symbolizes while Otis Williams, one of the founding members of The Temptations details the political aspect of music during 1969. Patrisse Cullors, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter speaks to the meaning of Black Power.
Elaine Brown and Akua Njeri, members of The Black Panther Party describe what it was like to grow up in the party. Activists Steve Wasserman, Azure Butler, and Tyson Amir describe the youthfulness of those in The Black Panther Party, their message, and the party’s legacy today.
EPISODE 5: ‘Woodstock Generation’
In upstate New York, amidst social turmoil and war, two determined 20-somethings hatched a far-fetched plan to transform a dairy farm into a politically-inspired rock festival billed as “3 Days of Peace & Music.” Meanwhile, in New York’s Greenwich Village, an underground community of LGBTQ+ youth were becoming fed up with social inequality, ready to rise up to challenge harsh laws aimed at their community and break centuries of taboos. Ultimately, both the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival and the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 changed America and the world forever. By illuminating two of the most pivotal social events of that summer, “Generation Woodstock” spotlights a trailblazing, freethinking generation that was determined to change America by challenging the status quo through their desire to promote peace, love, unity, equality and individual freedom. Powerful firsthand accounts and contemporary voices highlight the cataclysmic youth rebellion that shook the country in the summer of 1969 through music, protest and political activism and how its spirit lives on in the current youth movements of 2019.
In 1969, the New York City Police Department was part of a raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Today, the Gay Officers Action League of NY is a positive force within the LGBTQ+ community with a mission to promote inclusivity in the workplace and the community at large.
Author and activist Liz Plank sheds a spotlight on the sometimes overlooked participants in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion – Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson – and what happened to them afterwards, including how they helped create the group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR).
Bounce music star Big Freedia reflects on the meaning of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising and pays homage to its participants on the 50th anniversary.
EPISODE 6: ‘Fortunate Sons’ — AIRS TUESDAY, MAY 28 AT 10 P.M. ET ON ABC
“Fortunate Sons” traces the roots of the American culture wars to a time 50 years ago when the nation was increasingly prosperous and increasingly divided. The question of what America owed the world and its own people was hotly debated as the gap between the generations grew. In 1969 as President Richard Nixon battled a growing anti-war movement, TV shows like “Hee Haw” and “Lawrence Welk” promoted small town values while other shows like “That Girl” and “The Brady Bunch” challenged ideas about what a family and what being female should look like. In the same period John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged “bed-ins for peace” and young TV stars like Marlo Thomas attended anti-war rallies.
At 22-years-old, David Obst was moved to pursue his graduate degree at UC Berkeley. But it was there, in 1969, that he found himself at the center of a different kind of movement, one not played out in the classroom, but on the streets. Young people across the country were protesting the war in Vietnam, defying their parents’ generation and their government, and questioning the choices they were presented with. Watch his story below:
When the FBI attempted to use his sexual orientation as a weapon against his involvement in the anti-war movement, David Mixner was not deterred. In 1969, Mixner was a gay man in his 20s and one of four activists who organized and inspired one of the largest marches in US history. Watch his story below:
Both John Kerry and Tiney Corbett Jr. fought in Vietnam and came back to a country vastly different than the one they had left. Though their stories differ, each learned to come to terms with his experience in his own way. Listen below, as they discuss what they went through then and how Veterans are treated today. Watch their story below:
TIMELINE OF MAJOR AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN 1969:
The Apollo 11 crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins is announced.
Led Zeppelin releases its first album in the U.S.
The New York Jets upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III 16-7. Joe Namath is named MVP.
Black Panther Party members John Huggins and Bunchy Carter are gunned down during a meeting at UCLA.
Richard Nixon is sworn in as the 37th U.S. president.
Peace talks begin in Paris between the U.S. and North Vietnam.
A blowout on Union Oil’s Platform A spills 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil off the coast of Santa Barbara County. The incident inspires the first Earth Day in 1970.
The Beatles give their final live performance on the roof of Apple Studios in London.
Opening statements begin in Sirhan Sirhan’s trial. He’s accused of killing Sen. Bobby Kennedy on June 6, 1968.
The Beatles begin recording Abbey Road.
New York Yankee Mickey Mantle retires from baseball.
The Concorde – the world’s first supersonic passenger commercial plane – takes its first flight.
James Earl Ray confesses to killing Martin Luther King, Jr.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono marry.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono begin a week-long “bed-in for peace” at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel.
Twenty-one Black Panther Party members are arrested on terrorism-related charges.
The U.S. announces the strategy of Vietnamization to gradually reduce American involvement in the war.
Large anti-Vietnam War protests take place across the U.S.
Norman Mailer wins the Pulitzer Prize for The Armies of the Night, which captures the 1967 anti-war march on the Pentagon.
The Battle of Hamburger Hill, one of the costliest battles for the U.S. in the war, begins.
A teenager known as “Robert R.” dies in St. Louis, Missouri, from an unknown medical condition, which is confirmed in 1984 as the earliest confirmed case of HIV/AIDS in North America.
The Who releases the rock-opera “Tommy.”
“Midnight Cowboy” is released. The X-rated film later won an Oscar for Best Picture.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono hold a second “bed-in for peace” at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.
The construction of Walt Disney World begins in Florida.
President Nixon announces the withdrawal of 25,000 troops from Vietnam.
Violent splinter group The Weathermen seize control of the Students for a Democratic Society’s national office.
200,000 people attend the Newport ’69 music festival, at the time the largest-ever pop concert.
Actress Judy Garland dies at age 47.
Warren Burger is sworn in as chief justice of the Supreme Court, succeeding Earl Warren.
The Stonewall riots in New York City mark the start of the modern gay rights movement in the U.S.
The Atlanta International Pop Festival attracts 100,000 people to watch performers Janis Joplin, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Led Zeppelin.
The U.S. begins its first troop withdrawals from Vietnam.
David Bowie releases the single “Space Oddity.”
The movie “Easy Rider” premieres.
Apollo 11 launches.
Sen. Ted Kennedy drives off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. The accident kills Mary Jo Kopechne, a former aide to Sen. Bobby Kennedy.
John Fairfax becomes the first person to successfully row solo across an ocean.
“Footsteps on the Moon,” ABC’s 30-hour coverage of the moon landing, begins.
The Apollo Lunar Module lands on the moon.
Luna 15, an unmanned Soviet lunar probe, crashes on the moon.
Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to step foot on the moon.
Apollo 11 splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. The three astronauts begin their 21-day quarantine.
Boxing champion Muhammad Ali is convicted of draft evasion after refusing induction into the army.
Sen. Ted Kennedy pleads guilty to leaving the scene of an accident at Chappaquiddick and addresses the incident in a nationally televised address.
Members of the Manson Family murder actress Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger coffee fortune.
Members of the Manson Family murder Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
A ticker-tape parade is held in New York City for the Apollo 11 astronauts.
The Woodstock music festival opens, attracting more than 400,000 concertgoers.
The first automated teller machine is installed in Rockville Center, New York.
“The Brady Bunch” premieres on ABC.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” premieres.
The Chicago Eight trial begins. Defendants are charged with conspiring to riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Charles Manson is arrested. Murder charges come later.
The Weathermen lead small, violent protests of the Chicago Eight trial in what become known as the “Days of Rage.”
The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam hold massive demonstrations across the U.S. believed to be the country’s largest in history.
The New York Mets defeat the Baltimore Orioles in five games to win the World Series in one of the greatest sports upsets of all-time.
Bobby Seale is bound and gagged in the courtroom of the Chicago Eight trial. Protests erupt outside the courthouse and the judge declares a mistrial, ordering Seale to be tried alone. The Chicago Eight becomes the Chicago Seven.
Nixon addresses the nation on the war in Vietnam in what becomes known as his “Silent Majority” speech.
Seymour Hersh exposes the 1968 massacre at My Lai.
Lt. William Calley is charged with multiple counts of premeditated murder in the My Lai massacre.
Police raid the Black Panther Party’s Chicago headquarters killing Fred Hampton, chairman of the BPP Illinois chapter.
Four people die at the Altamont music festival, one of whom is stabbed during a Rolling Stones performance.
Police raid the Black Panther Party’s Los Angeles headquarters in a shootout that lasts five hours.
Manson Family members are indicted in the Tate-LaBianca murders.
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