Site Loader

… for the gradual with drawl of troops from
Vietnam, and in 1975, the last of the troops
returned home. The Vietnam Peace Movement was only
part of the student movements that went on at the
time. The baby boom after World War II more than
doubled the population of U.S. colleges in
1960-1964. This was also the first generation to
grow up with the knowledge that an atomic bomb
could destroy the world.

The students felt power
of their numbers, and they felt also that they
should have more say in the issues that affected
their lives (Benson 50) A prime and initial
example of these feelings are the events taking
place at Berkely University in 1964. University
officials passed a new regulation which forbade
students from using a popular sidewalk in front of
the school to demonstrate political activities.
Claiming that the ban was a restriction on free
speech, more than a thousand people attended a
rally and sit-in the following day in which more
than eight hundred people were arrested (Benson
53). However, the administration eventually backed
down, and after a thirty-two-hour standoff (Sann
137), the victorious protestors were awarded their
rights to the sidewalk. Mario Savio, who
considered himself non-political, was considered
the spokesperson for the movement. In a later
interview in Life magazine, he said of America,
intellectually it is bankrupt and morally its
poverty stricken (Benson 56). The Berkely free
speech movement was one of the first campus
movements of the time, but its success paved the
way for campus revolutions to come.

The incidents
at Kent State in 1970, however, rapidly brought an
end to this form of demonstration. After President
Nixon made a decision to send American troops into
Cambodia in 1970, an ROTC building at Kent State
was set on fire as a form of protest and the Ohio
governor felt it was necessary to call in the
National Guard. Guard members threw tear gas
canisters to disperse a huge gathering in the
campus commons, and when a small group of students
threw the canisters back, the soldiers disobeyed
direct orders and shot into the crowd. Four
students were killed and ten were injured (Benson
78). The events at Kent State outraged the nation.
Most of the students had been shot in the back,
proving that a majority of demonstrators were
peaceful, and had been fleeing, not pursuing, the
soldiers (Emmens 123). Strikes and demonstrations
that involved fifty to sixty percent of students
broke out on more than half of the campuses in the
nation.

At least a million students were
demonstrating for the first time in their lives.
More than five hundred campuses canceled classes
and fifty were forced to close for the entire
semester due to demonstrations. Ironically, the
National Guard was called onto twenty-two campuses
to quell demonstrations protesting exactly that.
As a result of these events, Congress finally
realized the significance of student opinion and
changed the legal voting age from twenty-one to
eighteen (Gitlin 4). After this, campus
demonstrations steadily decreased and, before
long,, fizzled out altogether. Almost all of the
events of the sixties can in some way be traced to
the music of the time. The majority of the bands
and musicians of the time had extreme political
views and sang songs that were directed more
towards American youth and which talked of equal
rights or the immoralities of war. British bands
such as the Beatles, along with Motown Records,
however, made a point of staying neutral,
especially in situations involving integration
(Benson 95).

Consisting of mainly black groups in
a time when black music was just beginning to grow
in popularity, Motown would have been insane to
risk the loss of any fans by making taking a side
on such issues. As black music grew, however, the
popularity of traditional folk music continued to
travel steadily downhill. By the late sixties, all
that remained was Pete Seegers We Shall Overcome,
which was the unofficial anthem for the
Anti-Segregation Movement, along with the music of
Joan Baez. Baez was a strong believer in
non-violence and non-violent methods of protest.
She once stated, nonviolence is-well, totally
misunderstood. Its not avoiding violence. Its the
opposite of running.

It means confronting violence
and having to come up with something more
intelligent in response (Benson 153). Janis Joplin
was also a strong supporter of non-violence,
especially that of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the
ideas behind integration. Unlike Baez, though, her
style of music was entirely new. She is described
as having brought African-American blues to white
Americans (Norton 940). In her song Get it While
You Can, she belted lyrics like, In this world if
you read the papers, Lord, you know that
everybodys fighting on with each other.

You got no
one you can count on baby, not even your own
brother, and in Down On Me, she proclaimed that,
Love in this world is so hard to find The fame
that usually accompanies being a musician,
however, drew her into a never-ending whirlwind of
drugs, and in 1970 when she was only twenty-seven
years old, she overdosed on heroin in a Los
Angeles motel (Joplin 1-2), a mere sixteen days
after Jimi Hendrix suffered the same fate (Benson
104). Another strong advocate of equal rights and
peace at the time was Bob Dylan. Recently voted by
Life magazine as one of the most important
Americans of the twentieth century, his songs have
been covered by literally hundreds of artists. The
bulk of his music protested the war, with his most
famous song being Blowing in the Wind, in which he
pleaded for the answers to such questions as, How
many times must the cannonballs fly before theyre
forever banned? how many ears must one man have
before he can hear the people cry? how many deaths
will it take till he knows that too many people
have died? Badly injured in a motorcycle accident
in 1966, Dylan made a brief return to music, but
after 1970, he disappeared from the public eye
entirely and went into seclusion (Dylan 1). With
the tremendous influence of the music of the
sixties, it makes sense that one of the most
memorable events of the decade was Woodstock, a
three day celebration of song, drugs, sex, and
peace. Held in the Catskills in August 1969, Max
Yusgar was paid fifty thousand dollars for the use
of his farm.

Bands included Janis Joplin, Joan
Baez, Richie Havens, The Who, Creedence Clearwater
Revival, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix,
among many others (Sann 287). The number of people
attending Woodstock was equivalent to the
population of the fourth largest city in the U.S.
at the time, and traffic was backed up for
literally miles (Benson 103). The celebration
received a lot of negative feedback from older
generations, but other than excessive drug use
premarital sex, Woodstock-goers handled themselves
very well. Of the five thousand people treated for
injuries, the majority were foot problems as a
result of going barefoot, but not a single injury
was inflicted upon anyone by another human being
(Sann 287). Amazingly, a store owner told a New
York Times reporter, Ill tell you something we
cashed I dont know how many checks and not one of
them bounced (Benson 103). The 1960s indeed were a
time of tremendous change and social upheaval for
the United States.

The youth of the generation
discovered a voice which no generation before them
had ever discovered, and they refused to do
anything short of discovering its full potential.
Disregarding fears of police and even of physical
violence, they fought and in some cases even died
for what they knew they rightfully deserved. They
earned their freedom of speech and their right to
vote. Their fight against war was not won quite as
quickly, but they made themselves heard in a time
when only the strong and dedicated survived.
Racial equality to this day is not fully
recognized, but it has come a very long way, due
expressly to the movements of the 60s. It is
doubtful, however, that any of these movements
would have gone anywhere without the music, for it
was the music that truly inspired and united the
country. The people of a decade finally rose as a
unit to change the fate of our country for the
better. No one could better state the feelings of
the country as a whole than did Mario Pavio when
he declared, Im tired of reading history.

I want
to make it (Norton 938). Bibliography: Works Cited
Archer, Jules. The Incredible Sixties: The Stormy
Years That Changed America. New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich Publishers, 1986. Benson,
Kathleen and James Haskins. The 60s Reader.

New
York, New York: Viking Kestral, 1988. Bob Dylan.
[http://www.rollingstone.com/sections/artists/text
/bio.asp?afl=strBioType =BIO&lookupstring=317.]
Emmens, Carol A. An Album of the Sixties. New
York: Franklin Watts, 1981. Gitlin, Todd. Reading
McNamara: Vietnam and Kent State.

Peace and
Change. April 1996: 12. Hakim, Joy. A History of
US: All the People: 1945-1999. Book 10. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1995.

Joplin, Laura.
Biography.
[http://www.officialjanis.com/html/bio.html]. 1999
Fantality Corporation. Norton, Mary Beth, et. al.
A People and a Nation. New York: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1998. Sann, Paul.

The Angry Decade: The
Sixties: A Pictorial History. New York: Crown
Publishers, 1979..

Post Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *