… for the gradual with drawl of troops fromVietnam, and in 1975, the last of the troopsreturned home. The Vietnam Peace Movement was onlypart of the student movements that went on at thetime.
The baby boom after World War II more thandoubled the population of U.S. colleges in1960-1964. This was also the first generation togrow up with the knowledge that an atomic bombcould destroy the world.The students felt powerof their numbers, and they felt also that theyshould have more say in the issues that affectedtheir lives (Benson 50) A prime and initialexample of these feelings are the events takingplace at Berkely University in 1964.
Universityofficials passed a new regulation which forbadestudents from using a popular sidewalk in front ofthe school to demonstrate political activities.Claiming that the ban was a restriction on freespeech, more than a thousand people attended arally and sit-in the following day in which morethan eight hundred people were arrested (Benson53). However, the administration eventually backeddown, and after a thirty-two-hour standoff (Sann137), the victorious protestors were awarded theirrights to the sidewalk. Mario Savio, whoconsidered himself non-political, was consideredthe spokesperson for the movement. In a laterinterview in Life magazine, he said of America,intellectually it is bankrupt and morally itspoverty stricken (Benson 56).
The Berkely freespeech movement was one of the first campusmovements of the time, but its success paved theway for campus revolutions to come.The incidentsat Kent State in 1970, however, rapidly brought anend to this form of demonstration. After PresidentNixon made a decision to send American troops intoCambodia in 1970, an ROTC building at Kent Statewas set on fire as a form of protest and the Ohiogovernor felt it was necessary to call in theNational Guard. Guard members threw tear gascanisters to disperse a huge gathering in thecampus commons, and when a small group of studentsthrew the canisters back, the soldiers disobeyeddirect orders and shot into the crowd. Fourstudents were killed and ten were injured (Benson78). The events at Kent State outraged the nation.Most of the students had been shot in the back,proving that a majority of demonstrators werepeaceful, and had been fleeing, not pursuing, thesoldiers (Emmens 123). Strikes and demonstrationsthat involved fifty to sixty percent of studentsbroke out on more than half of the campuses in thenation.
At least a million students weredemonstrating for the first time in their lives.More than five hundred campuses canceled classesand fifty were forced to close for the entiresemester due to demonstrations. Ironically, theNational Guard was called onto twenty-two campusesto quell demonstrations protesting exactly that.As a result of these events, Congress finallyrealized the significance of student opinion andchanged the legal voting age from twenty-one toeighteen (Gitlin 4). After this, campusdemonstrations steadily decreased and, beforelong,, fizzled out altogether. Almost all of theevents of the sixties can in some way be traced tothe music of the time.
The majority of the bandsand musicians of the time had extreme politicalviews and sang songs that were directed moretowards American youth and which talked of equalrights or the immoralities of war. British bandssuch 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 ina time when black music was just beginning to growin popularity, Motown would have been insane torisk the loss of any fans by making taking a sideon such issues. As black music grew, however, thepopularity of traditional folk music continued totravel steadily downhill.
By the late sixties, allthat remained was Pete Seegers We Shall Overcome,which was the unofficial anthem for theAnti-Segregation Movement, along with the music ofJoan Baez. Baez was a strong believer innon-violence and non-violent methods of protest.She once stated, nonviolence is-well, totallymisunderstood. Its not avoiding violence. Its theopposite of running.It means confronting violenceand having to come up with something moreintelligent in response (Benson 153).
Janis Joplinwas also a strong supporter of non-violence,especially that of Martin Luther King, Jr. and theideas behind integration. Unlike Baez, though, herstyle of music was entirely new. She is describedas having brought African-American blues to whiteAmericans (Norton 940). In her song Get it WhileYou Can, she belted lyrics like, In this world ifyou read the papers, Lord, you know thateverybodys fighting on with each other.You got noone you can count on baby, not even your ownbrother, and in Down On Me, she proclaimed that,Love in this world is so hard to find The famethat usually accompanies being a musician,however, drew her into a never-ending whirlwind ofdrugs, and in 1970 when she was only twenty-sevenyears old, she overdosed on heroin in a LosAngeles motel (Joplin 1-2), a mere sixteen daysafter Jimi Hendrix suffered the same fate (Benson104). Another strong advocate of equal rights andpeace at the time was Bob Dylan.
Recently voted byLife magazine as one of the most importantAmericans of the twentieth century, his songs havebeen covered by literally hundreds of artists. Thebulk of his music protested the war, with his mostfamous song being Blowing in the Wind, in which hepleaded for the answers to such questions as, Howmany times must the cannonballs fly before theyreforever banned? how many ears must one man havebefore he can hear the people cry? how many deathswill it take till he knows that too many peoplehave died? Badly injured in a motorcycle accidentin 1966, Dylan made a brief return to music, butafter 1970, he disappeared from the public eyeentirely and went into seclusion (Dylan 1). Withthe tremendous influence of the music of thesixties, it makes sense that one of the mostmemorable events of the decade was Woodstock, athree day celebration of song, drugs, sex, andpeace. Held in the Catskills in August 1969, MaxYusgar was paid fifty thousand dollars for the useof his farm.Bands included Janis Joplin, JoanBaez, Richie Havens, The Who, Creedence ClearwaterRevival, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix,among many others (Sann 287). The number of peopleattending Woodstock was equivalent to thepopulation of the fourth largest city in the U.
S.at the time, and traffic was backed up forliterally miles (Benson 103). The celebrationreceived a lot of negative feedback from oldergenerations, but other than excessive drug usepremarital sex, Woodstock-goers handled themselvesvery well. Of the five thousand people treated forinjuries, the majority were foot problems as aresult of going barefoot, but not a single injurywas inflicted upon anyone by another human being(Sann 287). Amazingly, a store owner told a NewYork Times reporter, Ill tell you something wecashed I dont know how many checks and not one ofthem bounced (Benson 103).
The 1960s indeed were atime of tremendous change and social upheaval forthe United States.The youth of the generationdiscovered a voice which no generation before themhad ever discovered, and they refused to doanything short of discovering its full potential.Disregarding fears of police and even of physicalviolence, they fought and in some cases even diedfor what they knew they rightfully deserved. Theyearned their freedom of speech and their right tovote. Their fight against war was not won quite asquickly, but they made themselves heard in a timewhen only the strong and dedicated survived.Racial equality to this day is not fullyrecognized, but it has come a very long way, dueexpressly to the movements of the 60s. It isdoubtful, however, that any of these movementswould have gone anywhere without the music, for itwas the music that truly inspired and united thecountry. The people of a decade finally rose as aunit to change the fate of our country for thebetter.
No one could better state the feelings ofthe country as a whole than did Mario Pavio whenhe declared, Im tired of reading history.I wantto make it (Norton 938). Bibliography: Works CitedArcher, Jules.
The Incredible Sixties: The StormyYears That Changed America. New York: HarcourtBrace Jovanovich Publishers, 1986. Benson,Kathleen and James Haskins. The 60s Reader.NewYork, 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. NewYork: Franklin Watts, 1981. Gitlin, Todd. ReadingMcNamara: Vietnam and Kent State.Peace andChange. April 1996: 12.
Hakim, Joy. A History ofUS: All the People: 1945-1999. Book 10. New York:Oxford University Press, 1995.Joplin, Laura.Biography.
[http://www.officialjanis.com/html/bio.html]. 1999Fantality Corporation. Norton, Mary Beth, et. al.
A People and a Nation. New York: Houghton MifflinCompany, 1998. Sann, Paul.The Angry Decade: TheSixties: A Pictorial History. New York: CrownPublishers, 1979..