By Phil Stanziola, NYWT&S staff photographer / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

Martin Luther King Jr.

(Civil Rights Activist)

15 January 1929 – 4 April 1968 (Aged 59)

King was a famous American baptist minister and civil rights activist.

He became a leading voice for the Civil Rights Movement in America during the 1950s and ’60s.

Among King’s most famous moments were the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, the March on Washington in 1963, where he gave his ‘I have a dream’ speech and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches.

While attempting to plan another March on Washington, King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

The assassin, James Earl Ray, was eventually caught after a two-month manhunt, and sentenced to 99 years in jail. He died in 1998.

King is remembered as an inspirational leader who played a key role in achieving the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Though he was not without his flaws, he remains one of the most influential people of the 20th century.

You can read more about King’s assassination here.

Robert F. Kennedy

(U.S. Politician)

Photo by Warren K. Leffler / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

20 November 1925 – 6 June 1968 (Aged 42)

Bobby Kennedy was the Attorney General of the United States during his brother, John F.’s, term as president.

He was renowned for his work fighting against organized crime, and his support of civil rights.

In 1964, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and was among the favorites for the 1968 presidential election.

Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles, shortly after winning the South Dakota & California Democratic presidential primaries.

You can read more about his assassination here.

Yuri Gagarin


SAS Scandinavian Airlines / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968 (Aged 34)

Gagarin was a Soviet cosmonaut who became the first-ever person to journey into outer space.

His exploits saw him awarded the title ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, the nation’s highest honor.

Gagarin wrote his name into the history books on 12 April 1961, when his Vostok spacecraft successfully completed an orbit of the Earth.

After his exploits, Gagarin became a director training the next generation of cosmonauts.

Tragically, Gagarin lost his life when the MiG-15 training jet he was piloting, crashed during a routine flight, killing him at only 34 years of age.

The exact circumstances of the crash remain unclear.

Following his death, Gagarin was cremated, with his ashes buried within the walls of the Kremlin.

Helen Keller


Los Angeles Times / Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

27 June 1880 – 1 June 1968 (Aged 87)

Keller was a renowned educator and political activist, in spite of being left blind and deaf following an illness in her infancy.

In 1920, she founded the American Civil Liberties Union, while also devoting her life to fighting for many causes, such as women’s suffrage, labor rights, and socialism.

Keller was also the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree.

Throughout her life, Keller’s actions showed the world the capabilities of deaf people to communicate and succeed, earning her admiration around the world.

In 1964, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Johnson.

In her final years, Keller suffered a series of strokes before dying in her sleep at the age of 87.

John Steinbeck


Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis / FlickrCC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL

27 February 1902 – 20 December 1968 (Aged 66)

Steinbeck was an American literary giant, considered one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century.

The Grapes of Wrath, which won him a Pulitzer Prize, is considered his masterpiece, while his other famous works include ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘East of Eden’.

During World War II, Steinbeck served a term as a war correspondent in Europe for the New York Herald Tribune.

He died from heart failure at the age of 66.