Through the Ages – The 1960’s – America
Hippies, flower power, lava lamps and peace, love and long hair. These are all thoughts that come into our heads when we think of the 1960’s.
But how did it all come about? Why did everyone start to grow their hair and talk about peace man?
In the years following the Second World War there was a huge baby boom as troops came home and families were reunited.
By the late 1950’s and early 1960’s these children that resulted from the baby boom were teenagers or young adults. Because they had lived with tales and first hand knowledge of violence and war from their fathers and uncles, many kids of this generation were devout in their hatred of anything to do with war and fighting.
Conservative ideals were forgotten by the youth as they recognised a need for their own identity. Struggling to overcome the depression and the lack of money left over from their childhoods following the War, teenagers started to rebel somewhat.
They got into different music that made their parents block their ears, and started to experiment with fashion and make-up more.
Things started to happen in society that changed the world including the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. The first pregnant teacher was allowed to teach at school. And the Supreme Court ruled that prayers at public school were now unconstitutional. This meant that many kids felt they were able to experiment with religion and many found some of the more obscure Eastern philosophies were very interesting to them.
Other pivotal breakthroughs included the legalization of the contraceptive pill, abortion and artificial insemination. The Space Race started and man went to the moon. Elvis and The Beatles were listened to by millions of people all around the world and movies were big business.
“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world.”
John Lennon (Imagine)
Hippies became a well-known feature of this decade and they were opposed to violence but saw virtue in free love, peace and mind-altering drugs as well as mystical religions and ways to escape what they saw as an American TV way of life.
TV was fast becoming an important fixture in people’s lives and hippies wanted to escape that kind of life and all that it entailed.
But violence still continued and in the 1960’s, the crime rate was way up on he 1950’s, most of the youth had little or no respect for the older generation and ‘government’ was a dirty word.
The government for their part had become involved in the Cuba crisis when self-proclaimed communist Fidel Castro took over Cuba and the CIA attacked the country in the Bay of Pigs debacle.
President John F Kennedy however was fairly respected and loved by most Americans, young and old as he himself was considered to be a young hip guy. The country, indeed the whole world, was distraught when the enigmatic President was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.
After Kennedy’s assassination, his deputy president Lyndon Johnson became President and so the Vietnam War started.
Starting slowly as a secret war, the Americans became involved to try to stop communist North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam. There is much controversy surrounding this War and there are many cover-ups but it is clear that in 1965 massive amounts of troops were sent in to Vietnam and men were forcibly drafted into the forces and many young men jumped the borders into Canada to escape the draft.
In 1968 Lyndon Johnson did not run for re-election and a popular contender was John F Kennedy’s brother, Robert. He too was assassinated, as were Civil Rights activists, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
The 1960’s were a time of new knowledge and growth, of peace and love but also of violence and unrest.
It seems that many people are still intrigued by the decade and whatever happened, it is true that a lot of good came out of it.
Another Through the Ages article coming soon…