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This year, we observe the 50th anniversary of many world-changing events and PBS’s “American Experience” will tell the story on January 14.

1964 was the year the Beatles came to America, Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, and three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. It was the year when Berkeley students rose up in protest, African Americans fought back against injustice in Harlem, and Barry Goldwater’s conservative revolution took over the Republican Party. In myriad ways, 1964 was the year when Americans faced choices: between the liberalism of Lyndon Johnson or Barry Goldwater’s grassroots conservatism, between support or opposition to the civil rights movement, between an embrace of the emerging counterculture or a defense of traditional values. Based in part on The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964 by Jon Margolis, 1964 follows some of the most influential figures of the time – Lyndon Johnson, Barry Goldwater, Betty Friedan – but also brings out from the shadows the stories of ordinary Americans whose principled stands would set the country onto a new and different course. “1964 was when, for better or worse, the outlines of the America we live in began to be visible,” says writer/director Stephen Ives.

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