Overview of the 60`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