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1968 Exhibit Backgrounder

1968 Exhibit Backgrounder

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!968 Exhibit Backgrounder
!968 Exhibit Backgrounder

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Categories:Types, Brochures
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society on Jan 12, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The 1968 exhibiT:
An extraordinary year. An unforgettable exhibit.
There has never been anoTher year like iT, beforeor since. iT began wiTh one of The vieTnam war’sbloodiesT baTTles and never leT up. mlk and rfk.urban rioTs and college siT-ins. an olympic yearand an elecTion year. women’s lib and black power.sTir iT all TogeTher, mix in a loT of sex, drugs androck ’n’ roll, and you geT 1968. a relenTless year ofculTure-shifTing, life-changing, memory-sTampingevenTs. all of iT vividly deTailed like neverbefore by Television’s advancing influence.inescapable. incomparable. unforgeTTable.
The 1968 exhibiT: hstorcal background
At the start o the 1960s, the United States was a superpower withmilitary strength and great economic prosperity. President John F.Kennedy opened the decade by saying “It is a time or a new genera-tion o leadership to cope with new problems and new opportunities,or there is a new world to be won.”Indeed, during the 1960s students on campuses across the country took up the cause o creating a “new” and more just society. Highly idealistic, they demanded desegregation, championed ree speech andprotested the U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam. They challengedviews o material culture, supported new roles or women andexplored alternative views o sex and marriage. Searching or a newidentity, many dabbled in illicit drugs, created a new style o dress andlistened to new orms o music.Ater a landslide win in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson took upthe call or social and economic justice, pushing through domes-tic programs including the Civil Rights Acts o 1964, the VotingRights Act o 1965, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, and the Oceo Economic Opportunity. Prosperity meant the money was there tosupport these programs. Unemployment was low and salaries wererising. Idealism was not just or students or counterculture groups, itwas embraced by people o all ages in public and private lie.But not every American took up the call or change. Many deendedthe traditions o segregation and pushed or a limited role o govern-ment. A generation gap developed between parents who came o agein the 1940s and 50s and the more experimental views o youth in the1960s. Some viewed long hair and bell bottoms as signs o anarchy while others saw explorations with drugs and sex as immoral. Criticsoten labeled student protesters as sel-indulgent and inexperienced.Student revolutionaries did not bring an end to capitalism, nor didthey lead the masses to abandon material goods. But they did success-ully call or the withdrawal o U.S. troops in Vietnam, gains weremade in the civil rights movement and women across the nation tookcontrol o their social and economic utures, increasing their presencein the workorce by 50 percent during the 1960s. Fewer Americanslived in poverty, the elderly got better healthcare and America’sworkplace was more diverse and fexible. And towards the end o thedecade or the rst time the United States landed a man on the moon.Still, optimism was ading and in its place was a growing sense o doubt, anger and ear. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated; American military power was challenged at homeand in the eld; a growing tax burden created by expanding govern-ment programs and a mounting war debt pushed the economy to thebrink, while peaceul protests turned into violent displays o publicdisorder and rioting. The new youth slogan became “turn on, tune in,and drop out.” Drug use was blamed or the deaths o Janis Joplin andJimi Hendrix. By the end o the 1960s women may have held nearly hal the jobs in the United States, but they earned 60 percent as muchas their male counterparts. And the manned space program was scaledback in avor o cheaper and more eective unmanned fights.Some argue the events o the 1960s ostered a culture o immoral-ity while creating a welare state at the expense o an immense taxburden. Others say civil and political rights improved, social inequitieswere leveled and a renewed sense o American idealism was ostered.The debate is never more important than it is today. Those who livedthrough the 1960s are now in positions o leadership in Americangovernment and society, and they are raising amilies and passing ontheir belies to a new generation.

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