1960s: the Psychedelic Lifestyles

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Cara Resnick
Professor Clarke
U.S. History II
March 20th, 2011

The Psychedelic Lifestyles, Opinions, and Major Events of the 1960s

The 1960s was an era of peace among war, love among hate, and full of innovation. Some of the biggest events in history happened during this era such as President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech followed by his assassination five years later, the first U.S. astronauts landing on the moon, the first Civil Rights Bill to stop racial discrimination was passed, and so on. The American people of this era faced many controversial issues from the Vietnam War and nuclear arms, to drug use, nonconformity, and sexual freedom. Legacies of the era are a willingness to challenge authority, environmental awareness, the sense that politics is personal, greater social tolerance, and changes in attitudes about marriage, gender roles, and child rearing.

The 1960s was also known as being a decade full of slogans. Hippies chanted “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” students would chant “Stop the War,” Lyndon Johnson gave his word that he would build a “Great Society”, and John Kennedy encouraged Americans to seek a “New Frontier”. During this era, people of all backgrounds and ages were absolutely convinced that America could build a new society-a society in which no one was exploited, no one was poor, everyone had the potential to be educated, and America’s past sins such as racism, would be abolished.

Beginning with one of the biggest topics of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, that changed America forever. Ever since four black students sat down at an only-white lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina and refused to leave, the fight for civil rights has defined the 1960s. These four students had their movement spread, hundreds of black people sat at the same lunch counter every day, and tens of thousands others crowded segregated shops and restaurants throughout the upper South. These protestors got the attention of the nation to the brutality, fickleness, and injustice that exemplified Jim Crow.

“[W]e stand today on the edge of a New Frontier — the frontier of the 1960's, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, the frontier of unfilled hopes and unfilled threats... Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.” (Eidenmuller)Above is a quote from Kennedy’s inauguration speech. Kennedy, after winning the election of 1960, put in place new challenges for the United States and also played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement. In Kennedy’s inauguration speech, he told his fellow Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." He said that the "torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans." A lot of Americans reacted to his question by volunteering in America to obtain social justice or becoming apart of the just-formed Peace Corps. America was positive and forward-looking, it seemed as if there was no frontier that was too far away.The newest frontier after Kennedy’s inauguration speech involved getting a fellow American to space. The Soviet Union in 1957 surprised Americans by launching the first satellite, Sputnik, to be placed in orbit. Under President Eisenhower, the response of the Congress involved launching NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Kennedy set a challenge for the government and American people to place a man on the moon by 1969. Excitedly, Congress responded by donating billions of dollars for this endeavor. During Kennedy's time as president, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth and Alan Shepherd became the first American to enter space. At the end of the decade, in 1969, many Americans reflected on Kennedy's challenge when the first human set foot...
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