- Konrad Lorenz's Das Songenannte Bose ("The So-Called Evil," or On Aggression in English translations) is published in German.
- Franz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth is published.
- Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle is published.
- CIA Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation manual is issued.
- Giovanni Battista Montini becomes Pope Paul VI. Paul Marcinkus becomes his personal secretary and later the head of the Vatican Bank.
- Shah of Iran launches the White Revolution.
- China's population is 691.72 million.
- The Great Escape is released.
- The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is organized.
- January: Associated Press, United Press International and Time editors in New York rewrite the news reports from their Saigon reports about the the battle of Ap Bac, turning a government rout into a government victory.
- January 11: In inaugural speech as Governor of Alabama, racist George Wallace proclaims "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever."
- January 16: Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev asserts that the Soviet Union is in possession of a 100 megaton nuclear bomb that is deployed in East Germany. The weapon is designated as the RDS-220, known to its designers as 'Big Ivan', and in the west as 'Tsar Bomba'.
- February 8: Military coup d'etat in Iraq, the 830 member secular pan-Arab nationalist Baath Party is the major organizing group in the new government.
- February 12: Darwin Day
- February 27: Juan Bosch takes office as President of the Dominican Republic.
- March 8: Baath Party seizes power in Syria in a subsequent military coup d'etat against leftists in the government.
- April 9: Joe Scarborough is born.
- April 10: Oswald fires his mail order rifle into the Dallas home of outspoken anti-communist Edwin Walker but missed Walker. Oswald escapes, undetected.
- April: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. writes Letter from Birmingham City Jail.
- April: Laotian Foreign Minister Quinim Pholsena assassinated by CIA.
- May: Harvard professor Richard Alpert is dismissed after he admits violating an agreement by giving LSD to undergraduate students.
- May: Failed CIA assassination attempt on Chinese president Liu Shao-chi in Cambodia.
- June: JFK declares Ich bin ein Berliner as gesture of solidarity in West Berlin. West Berlin later becomes hotbed of German anti-Americanism.
- June 11: Accompanied by National Guardsmen called up by President John F. Kennedy, Vivian Malone and James Hood walk past Alabama Governor George Wallace to register for classes at the University of Alabama. John F. Kennedy speaks on national television later in the day and expresses his support for the Civil Rights Movement.
- June 12: Mississipi civil rights leader Medgar Evers is assassinated by Byron de la Beckwith.
- June 16: Research at the International Federation for Internal Freedom at Zihuatanejo, Mexico ends abruptly because of sensational accoutns in the U.S. and Mexican press.
- June 20: U.S. and Soviet Union sign 'hot line' agreement.
- June 26: John F. Kennedy speaks to an enormous crowd at Schoneberger Rathaus in the Rudolph Wilde Platz in Berlin. Kennedy's offers stirring words: "All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words" "Ich bin ein Berliner."
- June 30: Frightened and humiliated by Professor Howard Zinn's example of moral courage in the civil rights movement, conservative Spelman College President Albert E. Manley fires him, with a letter.
- July: CIA's KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation, an interrogation manual, is distributed.
- July 1: British government admits that Kim Philby was the Third Man.
- August 5: Limited Test Ban Treaty signed bu the U.S., Britain and the Soviet Union.
- August 16: 71-year-old Buddhist monk burns himself to death in protest in Hue, in Vietnam.
- August 19: ANC activist Eleanor Kasril is arrested by the South African Security Branch Lt. Grobler at Griggs Book Store in Durban.
- August 27: W.E.B. du Bois dies in Accra, Ghana.
- August 28: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads a March on Washington, D.C. and delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech.
- September 3: Federal Hourly Minimum Wage is raised from $1.15 (1961) to $1.25 an hour.
- September 6: Republican Senator Barry Goldwater urges postponement of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He fails to persuade his colleagues in the Senate.
- September 10: MEP Monica Frassoni is born in Veracruz, Mexico.
- September 15: Racist bombing of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church killed 4 young girls.
- September 23: During interview by Walter Cronkite, President John F. Kennedy comments that the government of South Vietnam's cannot win its counterinsurgency unless it recovers popular support. (That it ever had popular support is a heroic asumption.)
- October 7: Signs Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in Washington, D.C.: "with our courage and understanding enlarged by this achievement, let us press onward in quest of man's essential desire for peace."
- October 9: British P.M. Harold MacMillan resigns.
- November 1: American/Vietnamese forces stage a coup in Vietnam.
- November 2: Pres. Ngo Dinh Diem and brother/secret police chief Nhu Dinh Diem dragged from APC and shot.
- November 21: CIA assassin Rolando Cubela travels from Brazil to Paris where he is given a literal "poison pen" with which to kill Fidel Castro.
- November 22: President John F. Kennedy assassinated. Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency.
- November 22: Aldous Huxley dies.
- November 23: "Doctor Who" debuts in Britain.
- November 24: Jack Ruby shoots and mortally wounded Lee Harvey Oswald on television. Answers to questions about the assassination of JFK can now never be answered. Ruby uses a .38 Colt Cobra purchased at Ray’s Hardware and Sporting Goods in Dallas.
- December: SDS establishes Education Research Action Project.
- December 7: Tokyo District Court describes the use of nuclear weapons as "an illegal act" under international law.