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30 Years Ago: A Look Back at 1989

The Atlantic Logo The Atlantic | Slide 1 of 42: A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man, calling for an end to the violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way. The Chinese government crushed a student-led demonstration for democratic reform and against government corruption, killing hundreds, or perhaps thousands of demonstrators in the strongest anti-government protest since the 1949 revolution.

Three decades ago, a number of uprisings took place around the world, with unhappy citizens taking to the streets—and in some cases, taking up arms—to try to change or remove their governments. A student-led pro-democracy demonstration in China’s Tiananmen Square was violently crushed in June, while hundreds of thousands of anti-Communist protesters in Czechoslovakia were able to bring about a nonviolent “Velvet Revolution.” It was also the year of the Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California, the inauguration of President George H. W. Bush, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and much more. Photographers were also busy documenting the lives of Harrison Ford, Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, Menudo, and many others. Take a step into a visual time capsule now, for a brief look at the year 1989.

PICTURED: A Chinese man stands alone to block a line of tanks heading east in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man, calling for an end to the violence and bloodshed against pro-democracy demonstrators, was pulled away by bystanders, and the tanks continued on their way. The Chinese government crushed a student-led demonstration for democratic reform and against government corruption, killing hundreds, or perhaps thousands of demonstrators in the strongest anti-government protest since the 1949 revolution.
© Jeff Widener / AP

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