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Events from the year 1979 in the United States.
- January 1 – The United States and the People's Republic of China establish full diplomatic relations.
- January 4 – The State of Ohio agrees to pay $675,000 to families of the dead and injured in the Kent State shootings.
- January 9 – The Music for UNICEF Concert is held at the United Nations General Assembly to raise money for UNICEF and promote the Year of the Child. It is broadcast the following day in the United States and around the world. Hosted by The Bee Gees, other performers include Donna Summer, ABBA, Rod Stewart and Earth, Wind & Fire. A soundtrack album is later released.
- January 19 – Former U.S. Attorney General John N. Mitchell is released on parole after 19 months at a federal prison in Alabama.
- January 21 – Super Bowl XIII: The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 35–31 at the Miami Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.
- January 29 – Brenda Ann Spencer opens fire at a school in San Diego, California, killing 2 faculty members and wounding 8 students. Her response to the action, "I don't like Mondays," inspired the Boomtown Rats to make a song of the same name.
- August 9 – Raymond Washington, co-founder of the Crips, today one of the largest, most notorious gangs in the United States, is shot and killed 5 months after his arrest for quadruple murder (his killers have not yet been identified).
- August 10 – Michael Jackson releases his first breakthrough album Off the Wall. It sells 7 million copies in the United States alone, making it a 7x platinum album.
- August 29 – A national referendum is held in which Somali voters approve a new liberal constitution, promulgated by President Siad Barre to placate the United States.
- September 1 – The U.S. Pioneer 11 becomes the first spacecraft to visit Saturn, when it passes the planet at a distance of 21,000 km.
- September 12 – Hurricane Frederic makes landfall at 10:00 p.m. on Alabama's Gulf Coast.
- September 23 – The largest anti-nuclear demonstration to date was held in New York City, when almost 200,000 people attended.
- November 1 – Iran hostage crisis: Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urges his people to demonstrate on November 4 and to expand attacks on United States and Israeli interests.
- November 2 – Assata Shakur (ne' Joanne Chesimard), a former member of Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, is liberated from a New York prison and soon shuttled off to Cuba where she remains under political asylum.
- November 3 – In Greensboro, North Carolina, 5 members of the Communist Workers Party are shot to death and 7 are wounded by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis, during a "Death to the Klan" rally.
- November 4 – Iran hostage crisis begins: 3,000 Iranian radicals, mostly students, invade the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and take 90 hostages (53 of whom are American). They demand that the United States send the former Shah of Iran back to stand trial.
- November 7 – U.S. Senator Edward Moore Kennedy announces that he will challenge President Jimmy Carter for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination.
- November 9 – Nuclear false alarm: the NORAD computers and the Alternate National Military Command Center in Fort Ritchie, Maryland detected purported massive Soviet nuclear strike. After reviewing the raw data from satellites and checking the early warning radars, the alert was cancelled.
- November 12 – Iran hostage crisis: In response to the hostage situation in Tehran, U.S. President Jimmy Carter orders a halt to all oil imports into the United States from Iran.
- November 14 – Iran hostage crisis: U.S. President Jimmy Carter issues Executive Order 12170, freezing all Iranian assets in the United States and U.S. banks in response to the hostage crisis.
- November 17 – Iran hostage crisis: Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini orders the release of 13 female and African American hostages being held at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
- November 21 – After false radio reports from the Ayatollah Khomeini that the Americans had occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan is attacked by a mob and set afire, killing 4 (see Foreign relations of Pakistan).
- January 10 – Chris Smith, rapper (Kriss Kross)
- January 15 – Drew Brees, football player
- January 16 – Aaliyah, R&B singer/actress (died 2001)
- January 24 – Tatyana Ali, actress
- February 11 – Brandy Norwood, singer and actress
- February 21 – Jennifer Love Hewitt, actress and singer
- March 11 – Benji Madden & Joel Madden, musicians (Good Charlotte)
- March 18 – Adam Levine, singer (Maroon 5)
- March 30 – Norah Jones, musician
- April 9 – Keshia Knight Pulliam, actress
- April 12 – Claire Danes, actress
- May 4 – Lance Bass, singer ('N Sync)
- May 23 – Matt Flynn, drummer (Maroon 5)
- June 26 – Ryan Tedder, singer (OneRepublic)
- July 26 – Tamyra Gray, singer
- September 8 – Pink, singer
- September 14 – Brian Eppes, actor
- October 4 – Rachael Leigh Cook, actress
- October 10 – Mýa, singer and actress
- October 14 – Stacy Keibler, professional wrestler, actress and model
- October 18 – Ne-Yo, singer-songwriter
- November 7 – Jon Peter Lewis, singer-songwriter
- December 7 – Sara Bareilles, singer-songwriter and pianist
- December 16 – Flo Rida, rapper
- December 26 – Chris Daughtry, singer and guitarist
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