It would be impossible to write out and cover the entire 1960s decade in one blog post. For one I wasn’t born in the decade and didn’t live in the decade at any point. I was born in 1975 which makes feel a little better because I don’t seem as old. So everything I know about the 1960s is what I’ve read, people who lived though the decade that I’ve talked to and movies and documentaries that I’ve seen about the decade. Another reason would be that it was simply such and important and incredible decade that I simply couldn’t cover it in one post. Unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life on it.
But what I can give you in even one blog post is a summary of the highlights and lowlights of this monumental decade. A decade that saw so much horrible violence with a U.S. President being assassinated and just five years after that in 1968 the greatest leader we’ve ever had when it comes to equal constitutional rights Dr. Martin King being assassinated as well. And of course a U.S. Senator running for president who wanted to end the horrible Vietnam War which I’ll get into later being assassinated as well.
If you think that is too much horror for one decade, take a breath because there is plenty more. The race riots having to do with poverty, racism and how police mistreated African-Americans especially in low-income communities. And of course having to do with the assassinations of Dr. King and counter-violence to the violence that was brought down on African-Americans and others who were simply marching for their freedom and constitutional rights. And of course the Vietnam War where hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed for fighting someone else’s war.
But if I have you now in a depression, this might get you out of it. The 1960s was a great decade of social liberalization. Which is another away of saying social liberation. Notice how liberalization, liberation and liberal all sound similar. And sound nothing like socialist or collectivist or statist or paternalistic or communitarian. The 1960s was a great decade of social liberalization for people of all races, ethnicities, genders and even sexualities. A decade where more Americans than ever at least up to that point now felt the freedom to be individuals and Americans and live their own lives the way they wanted to.
Now of course social liberalization meaning social freedom has its limits when it doesn’t come with responsibility. Which is what the right-wing especially the religious-right who fought back starting in the late 1960s and the 1970s and Tea Party of the late 1960s and 1970s what Richard Nixon called the ‘Silent Majority’ have gone out of their way to point out. But this was a decade where millions of Americans now felt the freedom to be themselves and live their own individual lives. And didn’t feel the need to live the way their parents or grandparents lived.
But the 1960s was a decade thanks to the Baby Boomers and the hippy movement where all sorts of Americans including women, Gays, African-Americans, Latin-Americans and others now felt the freedom to be themselves. And no longer felt the need to have to live in some social box that was created by their parents and grandparents and the right-wing in America about what it means to be a real American. Because now they felt the freedom to make those decisions for themselves.