1960\'s




 



Many social changes that were addressed in the 1960s are still the



issues being confronted today. the \'60s was a decade of social and



political upheaval. in spite of all the turmoil, there were some positive



results: the civil rights revolution, john f. Kennedy\'s bold vision of a



new frontier, and the breathtaking advances in space, helped bring about



progress and prosperity. however, much was negative: student and anti-war



protest movements, political assassinations, and ghetto riots excited



american people and resulted in lack of respect for authority and the law.



 



The decade began under the shadow of the cold war with the soviet



union, which was aggravated by the u-2 incident, the berlin wall, and the



cuban missile crisis, along with the space race with the ussr.



 



The decade ended under the shadow of the viet nam war, which deeply



divided americans and their allies and damaged the country\'s



self-confidence and sense of purpose.



 



Even if you weren\'t alive during the \'60s, you know what they meant



when they said, "tune in, turn on, drop out." you know why the nation



celebrates Martin luther king, jr.\'s birthday. all of the social issues



are reflected in today\'s society: the civil rights movement, the student



movement, space exploration, the sexual revolution, the environment,



medicine and health, and fun and fashion.



 



The Civil Rights Movement



 



The momentum of the previous decade\'s civil rights gains led by rev.



Martin luther king, jr. carried over into the 1960s. but for most blacks,



the tangible results were minimal. only a minuscule percentage of black



children actually attended integrated schools, and in the south, "jim crow"



practices barred blacks from jobs and public places. New groups and goals



were formed, new tactics devised, to push forward for full equality. as



often as not, white resistance resulted in violence. this violence spilled



across tv screens nationwide. the average, neutral american, after seeing



his/her tv screen, turned into a civil rights supporter.



 



Black unity and white support continued to grow. in 1962, with the



first large-scale public protest against racial discrimination, rev. Martin



luther king, jr. Gave a dramatic and inspirational speech in washington,



d.c. After a long march of thousands to the capital. the possibility of



riot and bloodshed was always there, but the marchers took that chance so



that they could accept the responsibilities of first class citizens. "the



negro," King said in this speech, "lives on a lonely island of poverty in



the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity and finds himself an exile



in his own land." King continued stolidly: "it would be fatal for the



nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the



determination of the negro. this sweltering summer of the negro\'s



legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn



of freedom and equality." when King came to the end of his prepared text,



he swept right on into an exhibition of impromptu oratory that was



catching, dramatic, and inspirational.



 



"I have a dream," King cried out. the crowd began cheering, but king,



never pausing, brought silence as he continued, "i have a dream that one



day on the red hills of georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of



former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of



brotherhood."



 



"I have a dream," he went on, relentlessly shouting down the



thunderous swell of applause, "that even the state of mississippi, a state



sweltering with people\'s injustices, sweltering with the heat of



oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. i



have dream," cried King for the last time, "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 character."



 



Everyone agreed the march was a success and they wanted action now!



but, now! remained a long way off. president kennedy was never able to



mobilize sufficient support to pass a civil rights bill with teeth over the



opposition of segregationist southern members of congress. but after his



assassination, president johnson, drawing on the kennedy legacy and on the



press coverage of civil rights marches and protests, succeeded where



kennedy had failed.



 



However, by the summer of 1964, the black revolution had created its



own crisis of disappointed expectations. rioting by urban blacks was to be



a feature of every "long, hot, summer" of the mid-1960s.



 



In 1965, King and other black leaders wanted to push beyond social



integration, now guaranteed under the previous year\'s civil rights law, to



political rights, mainly southern blacks\' rights to register and vote.



king picked a tough alabama town to tackle: