Hubert Humphrey once stated, When we say, Onenation under God, with liberty and justice forall, we are talking about all people. We eitherought to believe it or quit saying it (Hakim 111).During the 1960s, a great number of people did, infact, begin to believe it. These years were a timeof great change for America.
The country wasliterally redefined as people from all walks oflife fought to uphold their standards on what theybelieved a true democracy is made of; equal rightsfor all races, freedom of speech, and the right tostay out of wars in which they felt they didntbelong. The music of the era did a lot of definingand upholding as well; in fact, it was a drivingforce, or at the very least a strongly supportingforce, in many of the movements that took place.However, it is to be expected that in attemptingto change a nation one will inevitably faceopposition.
The Vietnamese werent the only onesinvolved in a civil war those years; in America,one could easily find brother turning againstbrother, or more commonly, parent against child,as each side fought to defend their views.The1960s were a major turning point in the history ofthe U.S, and when it was all over, the Americanway of life would never be the same. Almostseventy years before the sixties even began,segregation was legalized.
As long as both raceshad equal facilities, it was entirely legal todivide them (Hakim 64-65). In 1955, however, anelderly black woman by the name of Rosa Parksrefused to give up her seat on a bus to a whiteman. She was arrested. Parks later proved to bethe true catalyst of the anti-segregationmovement.When news of the arrest reached theblack population, action was taken immediately. Amassive bus boycott was organized, during whichtime no one of color could be found on a bus inthe Montgomery area. Finally, in 1956, a law waspassed proclaiming that any form of segregationwas illegal and immoral (Hakim 69-71).
Unfortunately, not everyone was eager to embracethis change. Many whites felt that if they wereforced to share, they would rather go without.Across the country, public recreational facilitieswere locked up rather than integrated. InBirmingham, Alabama in 1962, for example,sixty-eight parks, thirty-eight playgrounds, sixpools, and four gold courses were closed to thepublic (Hakim 97). Congress had finally grantedequal rights, but the black population of Americahad a long way to go before their rights weretruly equal.Many groups such as the SCLC(Southern Christian Leadership Conference), SNCC(Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), andCORE (Congress Of Racial Equality) were formed toorganize rallies and marches to support theircause (Benson 15, 18-19). A few individuals suchas James Farmer and Marin Luther King, Jr.,however, stand out among all others as the trueleaders of the movement.
Farmer was the nationsfirst black man to earn a Ph.D., and he was alsothe founder of CORE. He realized that the blackpopulation would be seen as ignorant and inferioruntil they had equal education and job training.He demanded that the federal government provideprograms to make education and training available,stating, When a society has crippled some of itspeople, it has an obligation to provide therequisite crutches (Benson 34-35). Martin LutherKing Jr., born in 1929, became famous for hismethods of anti-violent protest, modeled after themethods of the late Mahatma Ghandi. He said Ghanditaught him that, there is more power in sociallyorganized masses on the march than in guns in thehands of a few desperate men.
In 1964, King becamethe youngest person ever to receive the NobelPeace Prize (Hakim 76, 121). On April 4, 1968,however, Kings short life was brought to anuntimely end when he was assassinated by whitesupremacist James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennesseeat the age of thirty-nine. To this day, somepeople believe that the FBI was involved in thekilling, due to the fact that FBI director J.Edgar Hoover strongly and openly disliked King .These beliefs have never been confirmed (Benson33).
Kings tactics of peaceful demonstration werethe most popular of the time. Sit-ins were verycommon, originating in 1960 in Greensboro, NorthCarolina when, despite being covered in ketchupand brutally beaten by violent spectators, fourblack students refused to leave a lunch counter atWoolworths until they were served (Benson 16),.Protestors simply wrapped their ankles around thestool 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 duringthe time.
A march from Selma, Alabama toMontgomery in 1964 resulted in the passage of theVoting Rights Act of 1965, and a march onWashington in 1963 consisting of two- hundred andfifty thousand participants, sixty-thousand ofwhom were white (Benson 47), proved howsignificant the movement really was. The march onWashington was also the day of Martin Luther Kingsfamous I have a dream speech, in which heproclaimed, I have a dream that my four littlechildren will one day live in a nation where theywill not be judged by the color of their skin, butby the content of their characterthat one day downin Alabamalittle black boys and black girls willbe able to join hands with little white boys andwhite girls as sisters and brothersand when thishappens and when we allow freedom to ring fromevery villagefrom every state and every city, wewill be able to speed up that day when all Godschildren, black men and white men, Jews andgentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be ableto join hands and sing Free at last. Free at last.Thank God Almighty, we are free at last (Hakim103-104). Despite the usually peaceful,non-violent attitudes of protestors, they wereoften met with violence from people who werestrongly opposed to their cause. In Birmingham, abomb exploded during a Sunday school class andfour young girls were killed. Bull Conner,ironically the public commissioner of safety ofthe same city, ordered the arrests of hundreds ofnon-violent student demonstrators.He also orderedhigh-pressured fire hoses and police dogs to beturned on the marchers, causing many injuries(Hakim 99-100).
Reporters covering such eventsoften found themselves among the victims of suchviolence. They were commonly beaten, and theircameras smashed. White supremacists in the southfelt that the media only encouraged the movementfor equal rights, and this thought proved to becorrect. Without themedia the movement might nothave succeeded, for the rest of the nation wouldnot have seen in action the violent racismpracticed by southern whites (Benson 20). Whilethe anti-segregation movement carried on in theAmerican South, war raged in Vietnam.The roots ofthe war dated back to the early 1950s, when theViet Minh were in control of North Vietnam and theFrench were in control of the South. They shared acommon goal of wanting to unite the country, butneither wanted to relinquish control. In 1954,France abandoned the cause, leaving Ngo Dinh Diemin charge of the southern half of the country.
Diem, however, did not have the resources to fightagainst the Viet Minh, so rather than admittingdefeat, he appealed to the United States for help.President Kennedy agreed to send a small number oftroops in for assistance, and the general publicinitially agreed with the choice. However, Diemwas assassinated in 1963, and when no stronggovernment was formed afterwards, the U.S.
wasforced to shoulder more and more of the burden ofthe war (Benson 134-136). By 1967, the Vietnam warwas costing America seventy million dollars a day(Hakim 119), and by the wars end, two-threemillion Vietnamese and fifty-eight thousandAmericans were dead (Gitlin 3).Prior to 1966, allstudents were exempt from the draft. After 1966,however, students with below average grades werecompletely eligible to be sent to war (Benson142). As can be expected, this caused much dissentamong the youth of America, playing a large rolein the birth of the Peace Movement. For the mostpart, demonstrators followed the law with theirprotests. An initial form of protest was theteach-in, where speakers from around the countrywould debate. A national teach-in was held on May15, 1965 in Washington D.
C., educating many peopleon the issues of Vietnam.Pamphlets were anothercommon form of protest, due to a general mistrustof the newspapers. It has been said that thenumber of pamphlets during the 1960s probablyequaled the number of pamphlets during theRevolutionary war era (Benson 142-144). Manyillegal and dishonest methods of protest tookplace as well.
To avoid being drafted, or as aresponse to being drafted, a great number ofpeople fled to Canada or Europe, burned theirdraft cards, or claimed religious beliefs thatprevented them from fighting (Benson 180). Despitethe numerous student protests, American youth werenot the only ones who believed their country didnot belong in Vietnam. On March 16, 1965, aneighty-two-year-old Quaker woman named Alice Herzimmolated herself to protest the war (Archer 119).Finally, in 1973, President Nixon ordered ….