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Hubert Humphrey once stated, When we say, One
nation under God, with liberty and justice for
all, we are talking about all people. We either
ought to believe it or quit saying it (Hakim 111).
During the 1960s, a great number of people did, in
fact, begin to believe it. These years were a time
of great change for America. The country was
literally redefined as people from all walks of
life fought to uphold their standards on what they
believed a true democracy is made of; equal rights
for all races, freedom of speech, and the right to
stay out of wars in which they felt they didnt
belong. The music of the era did a lot of defining
and upholding as well; in fact, it was a driving
force, or at the very least a strongly supporting
force, in many of the movements that took place.
However, it is to be expected that in attempting
to change a nation one will inevitably face
opposition. The Vietnamese werent the only ones
involved in a civil war those years; in America,
one could easily find brother turning against
brother, or more commonly, parent against child,
as each side fought to defend their views.

The
1960s were a major turning point in the history of
the U.S, and when it was all over, the American
way of life would never be the same. Almost
seventy years before the sixties even began,
segregation was legalized. As long as both races
had equal facilities, it was entirely legal to
divide them (Hakim 64-65). In 1955, however, an
elderly black woman by the name of Rosa Parks
refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white
man. She was arrested. Parks later proved to be
the true catalyst of the anti-segregation
movement.

When news of the arrest reached the
black population, action was taken immediately. A
massive bus boycott was organized, during which
time no one of color could be found on a bus in
the Montgomery area. Finally, in 1956, a law was
passed proclaiming that any form of segregation
was illegal and immoral (Hakim 69-71).
Unfortunately, not everyone was eager to embrace
this change. Many whites felt that if they were
forced to share, they would rather go without.
Across the country, public recreational facilities
were locked up rather than integrated. In
Birmingham, Alabama in 1962, for example,
sixty-eight parks, thirty-eight playgrounds, six
pools, and four gold courses were closed to the
public (Hakim 97). Congress had finally granted
equal rights, but the black population of America
had a long way to go before their rights were
truly equal.

Many groups such as the SCLC
(Southern Christian Leadership Conference), SNCC
(Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), and
CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality) were formed to
organize rallies and marches to support their
cause (Benson 15, 18-19). A few individuals such
as James Farmer and Marin Luther King, Jr.,
however, stand out among all others as the true
leaders of the movement. Farmer was the nations
first black man to earn a Ph.D., and he was also
the founder of CORE. He realized that the black
population would be seen as ignorant and inferior
until they had equal education and job training.
He demanded that the federal government provide
programs to make education and training available,
stating, When a society has crippled some of its
people, it has an obligation to provide the
requisite crutches (Benson 34-35). Martin Luther
King Jr., born in 1929, became famous for his
methods of anti-violent protest, modeled after the
methods of the late Mahatma Ghandi. He said Ghandi
taught him that, there is more power in socially
organized masses on the march than in guns in the
hands of a few desperate men.

In 1964, King became
the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel
Peace Prize (Hakim 76, 121). On April 4, 1968,
however, Kings short life was brought to an
untimely end when he was assassinated by white
supremacist James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee
at the age of thirty-nine. To this day, some
people believe that the FBI was involved in the
killing, due to the fact that FBI director J.
Edgar Hoover strongly and openly disliked King .
These beliefs have never been confirmed (Benson
33). Kings tactics of peaceful demonstration were
the most popular of the time. Sit-ins were very
common, originating in 1960 in Greensboro, North
Carolina when, despite being covered in ketchup
and brutally beaten by violent spectators, four
black students refused to leave a lunch counter at
Woolworths until they were served (Benson 16),.
Protestors simply wrapped their ankles around the
stool legs and grasped the edges of their seats,
defiantly resisting all attempts to remove them
(Hakim 100). More efficient than the sit-ins,
however, were the marches that took place during
the time.

A march from Selma, Alabama to
Montgomery in 1964 resulted in the passage of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965, and a march on
Washington in 1963 consisting of two- hundred and
fifty thousand participants, sixty-thousand of
whom were white (Benson 47), proved how
significant the movement really was. The march on
Washington was also the day of Martin Luther Kings
famous I have a dream speech, in which he
proclaimed, I have a dream that my four little
children will one day live in a nation where they
will not be judged by the color of their skin, but
by the content of their characterthat one day down
in Alabamalittle black boys and black girls will
be able to join hands with little white boys and
white girls as sisters and brothersand when this
happens and when we allow freedom to ring from
every villagefrom every state and every city, we
will be able to speed up that day when all Gods
children, black men and white men, Jews and
gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able
to join hands and sing Free at last. Free at last.
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last (Hakim
103-104). Despite the usually peaceful,
non-violent attitudes of protestors, they were
often met with violence from people who were
strongly opposed to their cause. In Birmingham, a
bomb exploded during a Sunday school class and
four young girls were killed. Bull Conner,
ironically the public commissioner of safety of
the same city, ordered the arrests of hundreds of
non-violent student demonstrators.

He also ordered
high-pressured fire hoses and police dogs to be
turned on the marchers, causing many injuries
(Hakim 99-100). Reporters covering such events
often found themselves among the victims of such
violence. They were commonly beaten, and their
cameras smashed. White supremacists in the south
felt that the media only encouraged the movement
for equal rights, and this thought proved to be
correct. Without themedia the movement might not
have succeeded, for the rest of the nation would
not have seen in action the violent racism
practiced by southern whites (Benson 20). While
the anti-segregation movement carried on in the
American South, war raged in Vietnam.

The roots of
the war dated back to the early 1950s, when the
Viet Minh were in control of North Vietnam and the
French were in control of the South. They shared a
common goal of wanting to unite the country, but
neither wanted to relinquish control. In 1954,
France abandoned the cause, leaving Ngo Dinh Diem
in charge of the southern half of the country.
Diem, however, did not have the resources to fight
against the Viet Minh, so rather than admitting
defeat, he appealed to the United States for help.
President Kennedy agreed to send a small number of
troops in for assistance, and the general public
initially agreed with the choice. However, Diem
was assassinated in 1963, and when no strong
government was formed afterwards, the U.S. was
forced to shoulder more and more of the burden of
the war (Benson 134-136). By 1967, the Vietnam war
was costing America seventy million dollars a day
(Hakim 119), and by the wars end, two-three
million Vietnamese and fifty-eight thousand
Americans were dead (Gitlin 3).

Prior to 1966, all
students were exempt from the draft. After 1966,
however, students with below average grades were
completely eligible to be sent to war (Benson
142). As can be expected, this caused much dissent
among the youth of America, playing a large role
in the birth of the Peace Movement. For the most
part, demonstrators followed the law with their
protests. An initial form of protest was the
teach-in, where speakers from around the country
would debate. A national teach-in was held on May
15, 1965 in Washington D.C., educating many people
on the issues of Vietnam.

Pamphlets were another
common form of protest, due to a general mistrust
of the newspapers. It has been said that the
number of pamphlets during the 1960s probably
equaled the number of pamphlets during the
Revolutionary war era (Benson 142-144). Many
illegal and dishonest methods of protest took
place as well. To avoid being drafted, or as a
response to being drafted, a great number of
people fled to Canada or Europe, burned their
draft cards, or claimed religious beliefs that
prevented them from fighting (Benson 180). Despite
the numerous student protests, American youth were
not the only ones who believed their country did
not belong in Vietnam. On March 16, 1965, an
eighty-two-year-old Quaker woman named Alice Herz
immolated herself to protest the war (Archer 119).
Finally, in 1973, President Nixon ordered ….

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