Pinback button promoting Hubert Humphrey for president and Edmund Muskie for vice president, 1968. Western Badge, Los Angeles.
Racial tensions ran high across much of America in 1968. The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis on April 4th had sparked riots in nearly every major city, and the assassination of Robert Kennedy barely two months later shattered any hope that the country might transcend hatred and violence through the electoral process. Establishment Democrats united behind Vice President Humphrey and Senator Muskie, both of whom had strong liberal records on racial issues, and a majority of black voters supported the ticket in November. It would not be enough, however, to offset the millions of white voters who bolted the party in favor of the Southern populist and cultural conservative George Wallace, handing the close election to the Republican Richard Nixon.