The 60’s was a time of great social upheaval and political protest which has affected the course of history and the culture of today. After electing the youngest man to serve as President, the people of this country experienced his assassination, a war which divided the country, a landmark civil rights movement and developed dissatisfaction with the status quo. These events led to protests and sit-ins as the people protested the war and took a stand for equality among race and gender. In addition the new music of that era lent another voice to uphold their passionate beliefs.
After the assassination of President Kennedy, the country found itself embroiled in the Vietnam War which escalated and lasted into the next decade, ultimately killing 58,156 troops and wounding countless others, many of whom struggle today with PTSD and other debilitating illnesses as a direct result. The toll the war took on the country in the 60’s influences the way Americans view the world today, with questions and debate related to American foreign policy, as well as an attitude of suspicion and rebelliousness against the government.
The 60’s also saw the emergence of the civil rights movement with leaders like Martin Luther King, Stokeley Carmichael and Malcolm X, as Americans protested for racial equality. In 1964 the landmark Civil Rights Act became law although racial inequality still exists today with prejudices that do not disappear with the signing of a law.
During the 60’s the feminist movement also emerged as women rallied for equal opportunity and the National Organization for Women was founded to give a voice to those interests. In 1963 Congress passed the Equal Pay Act which allowed for equal pay without discriminating between the sexes. Today women still fight the glass ceiling as there are many careers in which women do not earn the same salary as men. The situation has improved so the legislation has influenced the career choices for women but more is steel needed.
Another legacy from the 60’s left to the generation of today is the music revolution that occurred during that era. Beginning with Elvis and then the Beatles and the new type of rock music, singers and songwriters expressed their views in protest songs. Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction, The Rascals’ People Got to Be Free and The Beatles’ Give Peace a Chance are just a few examples of the signs of the times. That music changed a generation and is still popular today as is evidenced by its use in many motion pictures.
Goodwin, Susan and Becky Bradley. “1960-1969.” American Cultural History. Lone Star
College-Kingwood Library, 1999. Web. 7 Feb. 2011
The Women’s Rights Movement: Where It’s Been, Where It’s At. Keynote Address by Sonia Pressman Fuentes, 2001. Web. November 25, 2012.