This post is a lil different. I would like to share with you a creative perspective on the 1960’s. I wrote this paper for my “hippie” class. I absolutely loved this class thanks to my super awesome professor.
My name is Tara Anderson; I am the Chief Archaeologist on this excavation of the Old America. My team and I are particularly interested in unraveling the hidden stories of the 1960’s. The 60’s were a time of change and political stances. We had just come out of WWII and our country leaders were looking for political empowerment, while our people were looking for peace and equality. Although peace was the focus, our country had to reach some milestones first. During this time we lost great leaders but won the battle on desegregation and a new outlook among American people. With this new sense of freedom for all Americans came great expression through art, music, clothing, and food. It is during this era that America became more defined and this is why my team and I are so interested in knowing the stories of way back when.
Before we head back to the 1960’s, we should start with today. We are living in the year 2325. America has changed drastically over the last 300 years and we are forced to live at the mercy of our socialistic government. We are gathering evidence of history that can take us back to a better time, when America was booming. Perhaps the stories can guide us to make a better tomorrow. Our excavation has been set up around the memorials in Washington D.C. During our dig we discovered a space mission spaceship tin metal lunch box buried deep underground near the Lincoln Memorial. Although the metal box was in weathered condition it had preserved a story that would be told through the artifacts it contained. As we opened the latch we discovered a letter that was dated August 28, 1963. It was on this day that Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his “I have a dream speech,” in front of nearly 250,000 citizens that had joined the protest for racial equality right there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The letter was written by Betty Jackson, she was one of the protestors and followed King, Jr to hear his powerful words. She writes, “What an emotional day! There were so many people in the crowd; too many to count and when King spoke there was not a bit of chatter in the crowd. He spoke for all of us today. It was as though God spoke through him and the angels were rejoicing. Finally we would be heard and our future would change. King’s dream is our dream and our future.” The letter goes on and on to describe the momentum in the air during the March on Washington. She concludes her letter addressing her dream to walk hand in hand with her white boyfriend without being shamed or arrested for not following the color law. Martin Luther King, Jr was a powerful speaker. This speech was one of many that he shared with the public as he led the Civil Rights Movement for people of color. He was a peaceful man and believed that the American dream could be reached through nonviolent protests. “He advised the crowds that “we must be sure that our struggle is conducted on the highest level of dignity and discipline” and reminded them not to “drink the poisonous wine of hate,” but to use the “way of nonviolence” when taking “direct action” against oppression.” (Stanford online, 2014) King was shot and died on April 4, 1968 in Tennessee. We remember Martin Luther as a man that stood up against the crowd and lived his life serving people. (Stanford online, 2014) If it weren’t for his peaceful efforts, diversity in America would not be alive today.
After reading the letter we find a peace sign necklace, a ticket for Woodstock 1969, a joint, and a white banner that reads “Peace, Love, Music-Freedom Fest” in psychedelic colors. Woodstock took place on a dairy farm in Bethel, NY and was three days of peace and music. This revolutionary music concert took place during what we call the “hippie era.” Over 400,000 peace loving hippies came to watch 32 bands perform over the three day music fest and it was rain or shine. This era was all about expression and inner beauty. The style was relaxed and yet fashionable. Hippie’s wore peace signs, bright colors, long hair, and bell bottoms. It was also a time in which women fought against restriction and burned their bra’s to allow their bodies to be free. It was a time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The lineup included Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Chicago to name a few. Truly an inspirational time. The only way to survive the experience was to remember that your neighbor was your friend. (Time, 2012) All in all there were two fatalities that weekend and two live births within the crowd.
From the tin box we pulled a picture of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was America’s 35th president. JFK was also the youngest president and of Irish decent. In 1961, during his inaugural speech he promised to get America going again. His words, “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country,” still ring true in an honorable president. (Kennedy, 1961) Kennedy shared Martin Luther’s vision in the cause of equal rights. He brought forth a sense of American idealism to developing nations. Kennedy sought peace in America. In fact his involvement in world affairs was in providing aid, but not boots on the ground. Our involvement in the Vietnam War was slim during his short term. He was assassinated in 1963 a few days after approving a coup that would have overthrown Diem a communistic world leader. (White House online, 2014)
The next piece of history we discovered was a newspaper article during the US involvement in the Vietnam War. There was much controversy revolving our involvement in the war. Lyndon Johnson pushed for more American militia on the ground. It was not our war, we went over to Vietnam to help keep the people from falling in to communism. Unfortunately, we were fighting a war that was not to be won and our men died for nothing. It wasn’t until 1975 that our troops were called home and the war was over as far as America was concerned. This was a very sad and tragic time. When our troops came home the feeling of loss was overwhelming and Americans were very cold to our soldiers. They were viewed as baby killers and not heroes.
Finally, we look closer at the tin box that protected so many pieces of American history for so many years. During the 60’s America was trying to beat the clock and send the first man to the moon. We had already lost the first man in space to the Russians and we surely weren’t going to give up the moon. It was JFK that put his faith into the NASA program and truly believed we could be the first to explore the moon. A few years later, in 1969 this dream became a reality and two American men walked the moon for three hours and placed an American Flag on the moon to show we conquered it first. We dominated the space exploration program and also made a political statement. It was Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin who walked the moon and collected rock and soil samples to be studied further. America watched in awe as the walk was aired on national television when Armstrong said those now famous words, “this is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This came a few years after JFK’s 1961 speech that led the American people to believe that this event was a realistic goal, not a dream.
Looking back now we can see that 1960’s were a time of great change and evolving for the American people. With great leaders came great responsibility and a world of wealth for the people. Dreams became a reality, equality and peace filled the country, and all was good. This was a great time in history that should always be remembered. By studying the ways of the past, specifically the 60’s we can make a better tomorrow. Much like King, Jr and Kennedy two of the greatest leaders we are aspired to know it takes only one voice to move mountains. We will continue to study our findings of this great era and the passion of America.
King Jr, M. (1963, January 1). I have a dream. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://www.archives.gov/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf
Martin Luther King, Jr and the Global Freedom Struggle. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2014, from http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_i_have_a_dream_28_august_1963/
Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_kings_assassination_4_april_1968/
Lisa Law: Organizing Woodstock. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://americanhistory.si.edu/lisalaw/7.htm
Vietnam War Records. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/
John F. Kennedy. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/johnfkennedy
Dunbar, B. (2008, February 1). The First Person on the Moon. Retrieved September 30, 2014, from http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/first-person-on-moon.html