Chapter 30: The Turbulent Sixties, 1960-1969 (#3) Johnson Escalates the Vietnam War

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Years of Turmoil

  • Vietnam War – became the focal point for a growing movement of youthful protest

  • 1960s – most turbulent decade of the twentieth century

    • American youth – ready to create a counterculture

      • all who felt disadvantaged:

        • students

        • African Americans

        • Hispanics

        • Native Americans

        • women

        • hippies

          • took to the streets to vent their feelings

  • The Student Revolt

    • University of California at Berkeley – small group of radical students resisted university efforts to deny them a place to solicit volunteers and funds for off-campus causes

      • Free Speech movement – occupying administration buildings and blocking the arrest of a nonstudent protestor

        • protestors won the rights of free speech and association

    • causes of campus unrest

      • student suspicion of an older, Depression-born generation that viewed affluence as the answer to all problems

      • viewed higher education as the faithful servant of a corporate culture

    • growth of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) – wanted to rid American society of poverty, racism, and violence

      • embraced many traditional liberal reforms – expanded public housing and comprehensive health insurance, advocated a new approach called participatory democracy

        • sought salvation through the individual rather than the group

        • emphasis on the individual and its fear of bureaucracy left it leaderless and subject to division and disunity

    • meteoric career of the SDS symbolized the turbulence of the 1960s

    • seemed as though the nation’s youth had gone berserk

      • wave of experimentation:

        • drugs

        • sex

        • rock music

          • not all American youth joined

    • protestors set the tone for an entire era and left a lasting impression on American society

  • Protesting the Vietnam War

    • most dramatic aspect of the youthful rebellion came in opposing the Vietnam War

    • system of student draft deferments – enabled most of those enrolled in college to avoid military service

      • children of the well-to-do – who were more likely to attend college, were able to escape the draft

    • men from disadvantaged families, including a disproportionately large number of African and Hispanic Americans – were twice as likely to be drafted and engage in combat in Vietnam as those from more privileged backgrounds

      • sense of guilt led many college activists to take the lead in denouncing an unjust war

    • SDS and African Americans radicals at Columbia University joined forces in April

      • seized five buildings for eight days before the New York City police regained control

    • students held sit-ins, there were teach-ins, and marches at more than one hundred colleges

      • the students failed to stop the war - did succeed in gaining a voice in their education

        • spawned a cultural uprising that transformed the manners & morals of America

  • The Cultural Revolution

    • young people challenged the prevailing adult values in clothing, hairstyles, sexual conduct, work habits, and music

      • families gave way to communes for the “flower children”

    • music became the touchstone of the new departure

      • folksingers

      • rock groups

      • “acid rock”

    • Woodstock – concert in Bethel in upstate New York – 400,000 young people indulged in a three-day festival of rock music and drug experimentation

    • Timothy Leary – experimented with marijuana and with LSD – a new and dangerous chemical hallucinogen

    • Yippie movement – mocked the consumer culture, they delighted in capitalizing on the mood of social protest to win attention

  • Black Power”

    • civil rights movement – achieved economic equality in the cities of the North – where more than half of the nation’s African Americans lived in poverty

      • raised the expectations of urban African Americans for improvement

    • 1964 – African American teenagers in Harlem and Rochester, New York – rioted

      • massive outburst of rage and destruction swept over the Watts area of Los Angeles

    • civil rights coalition fell apart

      • black militants – took over the leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) – disdained white help and even reversed Martin Luther King’s insistence on nonviolence

        • Stokely Carmichael – new leader who told blacks they should seize power in those parts of the South where they outnumbered whites

          • calls for “black power” became a rallying cry

        • need for African Americans to form “our own institutions, credit unions, co-ops, political parties” and even write “our own history”

    • King – suffered the most from this extremism

      • finally sized on poverty as the proper enemy for attack, but before he could lead his Poor People’s March on Washington – he was assassinated in Memphis in early April

        • both blacks and whites realized the nation had lost its most eloquent voice for racial harmony

          • death elevated King to the status of a martyr

            • also led to one last outbreak of urban violence

    • positive side to black nationalism – leaders urged African Americans to take pride in their ethnic heritage, to embrace their blackness as a positive value

      • began to wear Afro hairstyles and dress in dashikis – stressing their African roots

      • demanded new black studies programs in the colleges

        • word Negro – virtually disappeared from usage overnight, replaced by the favored Afro-American or black

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