Sixties


     Many social changes that were addresses in the 1960s are still the issues
being confronted today. The ‘60s was a decade of social and political
upheaval. Inspite of all the turmoil, there were some positive results: the
civil rights revolution, John F. Kennedy’s bold vision of a new frontier, and
the breathtaking advances in space, helped bring about progress and prosperity.

However, there was alot of negative effects: student and anti-war protest
movements, political assassinations, and ghetto riots excited American people
and resulted in lack of respect for authority and the law. The decade began
under the shadow of the cold war with the Soviet Union, which was aggravated by
the U-2 incident, the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban missile crisis. along with the
space race with the USSR. The decade ended under the shadow of the Vietnam war,
which deeply divided Americans and their allies and damaged the country’s
self-confidence and sense of purpose. Even if you weren’t alive in the ‘60s,
you know what they meant when they said, "tune in, turn on, drop out." you
know why the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’ birthday. All of the
social issues are reflected in today’s society: the civil rights movement, the
student movement, the sexual revolution, the environment, and more controversial
of all, Hippies. The sixties is also known for its rapid birth rate. Nearly 76
million children were born to this generation, and for that they are called the

"Baby Boomers." Suprisingly, even though so many children were being born,
not many parents knew how to raise them. The parents of the 50s and 60s were so
concerned with the world around them that going to work was the only image
children had of their fathers. Kids didn’t understand why they worked so much
just to gain more material possessions. Children of this generation grew up
learning just about how to be free and happy. Most of the time, when thinking
back to the sixties, people remember hearing about things such as sex, drugs,
and racism. However, what the often tend to overlook is the large emphasis
freedoms had on the era. This does not just refer to the freedoms already
possessed by every American of the time. This focuses on the youth’s fight to
gain freedom or break away from the values and ideas left behind by the older
generation. These fights were used to help push for freedoms from areas such as
society’s rules and values, competition, living for others first, and the
older generation’s beliefs as a whole. Including the freedom to use drugs. The
younger generation just wanted a chance to express their own views rather than
having to constantly succumb to the views of the older generation. In order to
find these unique and different qualities in each other and themselves, the
younger generation turned to drugs. This was another freedom which they were
required to fight for since the older generation did not support drug use as a
source of pleasure and creativity. This could basically be considered an out
right rejection of the older society’s values. Drugs were also seen as a
freedom from reality. Then enable the youths to escape to a different kind of
world. Because of the youths’ great desire to achieve a universal sense of
peace and harmony, drugs were sometimes a very important part of one’s life.

Sometimes, they would plan a day or evening around the use of a major drug so
they could enjoy it to the fullest extent. This could almost be considered
ironic in the sense that while trying to gain one freedom, the ability to use
drugs, the youths appeared to have lost another freedom, the ability to live
their own lives. It seems more as if their lives were controlled by the drugs
and the drugs’ effects than by the people themselves. The combination of the
defiance, revolution, and drugs created a major hippie era. Thousands of hippies
would flock to the party capitals of the world for the high of a life time.

Haight Ashberry, San Francisco, was once considered hippie central for the
world. Here people would just line the streets with drug use, sex, and wild
music. In 1967, came the "Summer of Love." This period was not unlike the
previous acts of hippies, just more intense. And to top off the hippie era, one
of the largest concerts in the world took place in Woodstock, New York. During
several days of music, sex, and drugs were abused heavily, almost to the point
of complete stupor. But even though it may have seemed like Mayhem, it was one
of the greatest moments of the 60s. The monumentum of the previous decade’s
civil rights gains led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. carried over into the

1960s. But for most blacks, the tangible results were minimal. Only a minuscule
percentage of black children actually attended integrated schools, and in the
south, "jim crow" practices barred blacks from jobs and public places. New

Groups and goals were formed, new tactics devised, to push forward for full
equality. As often as not, white resistance resulted in violence. This violence
spilled across TV screens nationwide. The average, neutral American, after
seeing their TV screen, turned into a civil rights supporter. Black unity and
white support continued to grow. In 1962, with the first large-scale public
protest against racial discrimination, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gave a
dramatic and inspirational speech in Washington, D.C. After a long march of
thousands to the capital. The possibility of riot and bloodshed was always
there, but the marchers took that responsibility of first-class citizens. When

King came to the end of his prepared text, he swept right into an exhibition of
impromptu oratory that was catching, dramatic, and inspirational. "I have a
dream," King cried out. The crowd began cheering, but King, never pausing,
brought silence as he continued, "I have a dream that one day on the red hills
of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be
able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood." Everyone agreed the
march was a success and they wanted action now! But "now!" remained a long
way off. President Kennedy was never able to mobilize sufficient support to pass
a civil rights bill with enough power over the opposition of segregationist
southern members of congress. But after his assassination, president Johnson,
drawing on the Kennedy legacy and on the press coverage of civil rights marches
and protests, succeeded where Kennedy had failed. However, by the summer of

1964, the black revolution had created its own crisis of disappointed
expectations. Rioting by urban blacks was to be a feature of every "long, hot,
summer" of the mid-1960s. About this same time, the term, black power was
coming into use. It meant to infer long-submerged racial pride in Negroes.

Martin Luther King, Jr. specifically sought to rebut the evangelists of block
power. "It is absolutely necessary for the Negro to gain power, but the term
black power is unfortunate, because it tends to give the impression of black
nationalism. We must never seek power exclusively for the Negro, but the sharing
of power with white people," he said. Unfortunately, the thing that really
moved the civil rights movement along significantly was the murder of Rev.

Martin Luther King Jr. in late 1965. Rioting mobs in the Negro suburb of Watts

California, pillaged, burned and killed, while 500 policemen and 5000 nation
guardsmen struggled in vain to contain their fury. Hour after hour, the toll
mounted: 27 dead at the week’s end, nearly 600 injured, 1700 arrested, and
property damage well over $100 million. The 1960s could definitely be considered
the most controversial decade of this century. Hippies, racism, drugs, war, and
breaking every rule that had ever been set gave this time a very deserved place
in history