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O H O B S N 3 3 U O
I I I O U _ .
Y ~ I U 3 1 1 1 Y
N I . L S 3 . L · O U c l
l H U Y
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Copyright© 1995 by Terry H. Anderson
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Anderson, Terry H., 1946-
The movement and the sixties 1 Terry H. Anderson.
p. cm. lncludes bibliographical references and index.
J. Radicalism-United State,_History.
2. Proles! movements-United State,_History.
3. United State,_Social condition,_l960- 1980.
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e now e gmen s
The Movement and The Sixties took eight years to research and write. Any
author who spends that much time on one project accumulates many
debts, and 1 would like to thank those who supplied their knowledge,
scholarship, and friendship.
Many people submitted to interviews, exchanged ideas, corresponded,
or gave me their notes, papers, manuscripts, permissions, or other infor-
mation: Richard Braungart, Terry DuBose, Allen Ginsberg, Kendall Goh,
Alexis Greene, Maclelyn Hochstein, Timothy Leary, Julian McMurrey,
Jerry Rubín, Gilbert Shelton, Charles Sherrocl, David Singer, Mel Small,
Geoffrey Smith, Amy Swerdlow, Steve Vaughn, the late Abbie Hoffman,
and many others who read chapters.
David Hoffman of Varied Directions in Camelen, Maine, invited me
to serve as senior adviser to the six-hour documentary, Making Sense of
the Sixties, and he opened his vast archives of taped intervjews. Ricki
Creen and the staff of WETA brought meto Washington, D. C . ~ ~ h e r e
1 participated in the "Sixties School" for that program, and where 1 met
many other scholars and participated in additional lnterviews and discus- (
sions. The program was aired nationally in 1991 on PBS.
At Texas A&M University, many of my colleagues shared information
or gave advice-Dale Baum, Roger Beaumont, Jim Bradford, Robert Cal-
vert, David Chapman, Joseph Dawson, John lmpson, Arnold Krammer,
Cozette McGaugh, and Betty Miller Unterberger. One feels fortunate to
have such fine colleagues, and friends, and that includes Mary Johnson (
and her staff, who were helpfu1 and even politely laughed at my jokes.
Hundreds of my students challenged my assumptions, questioned my in-
terpretations, ancl stimulated new ideas. Sorne also introduced me to arti-
cles or books, and many conducted interviews as part of my free-for-all
class on recent American history. While too numerous to mention by
name, 1 am very grateful to them. Three undergraduates were so out-
standing that 1 hired them as my research assistants. Heidi Knippa, Chris-
tine L. Palmer, and Ryan Melton tracked clown sources and surprised
me with their discoveries. A one-semester faculty development leave was
generously funded by the Texas A& M Association of Former Students. (
Many scholars and sorne former activists read chapters or my articles
that have been incorporated into this manuscript. Julia Kirk Blackwelder,
Robert Divine, James Gilbert, Maurice Isserman, John Lenihan, and
Douglas Miller critiqued my views on the cold war era. Albert Broussard
analyzed my writings on the civil rights struggle and its legacies. Kenneth
• Heineman and Steve Maizlish examined the chapter on student activism,
while Michael Rossman commented extensively on campus events and
especially on the Free Speech Movement. Staughton Lynd read parts
concerning antiwar activity at mid-decade, and corrected me on his par-
ticipation. David Farber thoughtfully examined my chapter on 1968 and
challenged my assumptions on hippie capitalism. Elsie Kersten and Ches-
ter Dunning questioned my chapter on the counterculture, and shared
many of their experiences. George Herring read many drafts concerning
America and Vietnam, and he directed me to additional sources. Sara
Alpern and Mary King read m y writings on the changing status of women
from the 1950s to liberation, and they both prompted modifications of
nuance and of substance. Maria-Cristina Garcia also read about women's
liberation, and she proved invaluable concerning the Chicano movement.
Most of these generous people also read my preface and Legacies chapter,
prompting countless revisions. While 1 take responsibility for any mistakes
and for the interpretation, 1 am very grateful to these scholars and friends:
They made this a better book.
Many others helped in their own way. At Oxford, Sheldon Meyer lis-
tened to the ideas of a relatively young historian in the mid-1980s, and for
a number of years gave his support and eventually an encouraging con-
tract; Stephanie Sakson performed thoughtful copy-editing; and Karen
Wolny and Andrew Albanese produced a handsome book. Richard S.
Kirkendall read most of the manuscript, offering valuable advice and en-
couragement. He, along with Robert H. Ferrell and David Pletcher at
Indiana University, trained an eager student to become a historian. Merli
Curtí and the late Chuck DeBenedetti discussed ideas, exchanged infor-
mation, and provided inspiration and friendship. David Ogden accom-
plished the incredible feat of being m y pal since 1980. He also was foolish
enough to play tennis with me, where 1 instructed him in the fine art of
racquet tossing; he taught me punmanship, and how to swap líes while
My brothers, Steve and Jeff, shared their views of the era and their
good cheer. JD also recalled many memories and then carefully read the
entire manuscript, as did my mother Emily, who along with my father
Howard, reminded me of the older generation's convictions. My campan-
ion, Nancy Rose Eder, read every sentence, discussed every idea, and
critiqued every chapter. For this misery, she demanded that 1 name all
her relatives, her home town, and the Labradors; 1 agreed, then tricked
her. Last report, she still has a sense of humor.
on en s
INTRODUCTION Spawning Ground: Cold War Culture
The First Wave: The Surge, 1960 to 1968
ONE The Struggle
TWO The Movement and the Sixties Generation
THREE Days of Decision
FOUR 1968: Rip Tides
11 The Second Wave: The Crest, 1968 to the early 19705
FIV E Counterculture
SIX Power and Liberation
SEVEN The Movement Toward a New America
LEGACIES The Sea Change
,; A Note on Sources and Notes
Abbreviations Used in the Notes
lt would be difficult to think of a more depressing piece of news, but
there you have it: The 1960s are back.
)onathan Yardley, Washington Post , 1987
We were young, we were reckless, arrogant, silly, headstrong-and
we were right. 1 regret nothing!
Abbie Hoffman's last speech, 1989
Ever since those turbulent times, Americans have been debating the era
that began in 1960 at Greensboro and that ended in the early when
Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and the U. S. Army carne
home from the Vietnam War. The long decade was an e'n1::lless ··pageant
of political and cultural protests, from sit-ins at lunch counters to gunfire
at Wounded Knee. The irrepressible issues, the shocking events, forced (
citizens to consider disturbing questions-was America racist, imperialist,
sexist? And the relentless demonstrations, the fires in the streets, forced (
neighbors to take a stand and decide publicly about policies concerning a
legion of new topics-from civil rights to women's liberation. America (
was opened to scrutiny. Nothing was sacred, everything was challenged,
and the result was an era we simply call 'The Sixties." (
This book is á'bout the sixties, and for most people who lived then, the
decade did not end in the early 1970s. The scars ran deep. In the 1980s
a Houston citizen blamed the "high crime rate on what happened during
the '60s," and another added that because of that era, "Drugs are ram- (
pant, and venereal disease and teen-age pregnancy rates are among the
highest in history." The decade's defenders ha ve been just as emotional. (
"1 get a little tired of my generation being blamed for all the problems of
the past 20 years," a Dalias man wrote in 1989. "There are lots of us who
held jobs, went to college, joined the Peace Corps, marched for our civil
rights and yes, even died in service to our country." Another agreed, and
remembered the "energy, the community and the joy in a shared mission
with shared val u es . . . and we miss it."
Intellectuals also have feuded over the sixties. During those impas-
sioned days, Seymour Martín Lipset, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell, Irving
Howe, Sidney Hook, and others characterized student protesters as irratio-
• nal, irresponsible, anti-intellectual extremists. William O'Neill wrote a
critica) history of the era, Coming Apart, and historian Richard Hofstadter
labeled the era "The Age of Rubbish." Other academics were more posi-
tive. Historian Howard Zinn spent time with civil rights volunteers in the
South and wrote of their "unquenchable spirit." Sociologist He len Swick
Perry experienced the counterculture in San Francisco and was attracted
to hippie philosophy, while Theodore Roszak added that the "young, mis-
erably educated as they are, bring with them almost nothing but healthy
The battle continued throughout the next generation. In the 1970s for-
mer activists such as Wini Breines, Sara Evans, and George Vickers com-
pleted graduate school and produced important monographs which chal-
lenged negative views, and in the neo-conservative 1980s a potpourri of
books appeared. Sorne authors aimed at attracting aging baby boomers
who once manned the barricades and supposedly desired to relive their
past; that dynamic and unforgettable year, 1968, was the topic of five
books. Others, such as former college administrator William McCill,
condemned the excesses of radicals, while activists such as Tom Hayden,
Todd Citlin, and Mary King published "participant histories" which gen-
erally described the era in terms of positive social change. To add chaos
to confusion, a few former radicals, including Peter Collier and David
Horowitz, recanted their past and claimed that theirs was a "destructive
generation" which led the nation to crime, poverty, even AIDS.
The discord over the sixties will last for sorne time. The activists of the
era exposed issues and created demonstrations that provoked deep emo-
tions. This book also is about their behavior, the social activism com-
monly called "The Movement."
Cenerally speaking, academics have investigated the movement from
four perspetYives. Social scientists have developed what could be called
the leadership approach by examining the type of persons who became
movers and shakers, the vanguard of the movement. Historians have ex-
amined the rise and fall of organizations, especially Students for a Demo-
cratic Society, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Southem
Christian Leadership Conference, and Clergy and Laymen Concerned
about Vietnam. Scholars have emphasized the importance of new left
ideology, while others have focused on one important arena of activism
l The Movement and The Sixties
and have produced studies about Mississippi in 1964, Chicago in 1968,
and Berkeley and Madison.
Those approaches are important, but this book is different. First, this is
not a memoir or participant history. While 1 experienced the decade with
fascination, 1 was not a leader or member of any movement organization.
Nevertheless, and like many students then and sorne readers now, 1 felt
part of the "movement" and of the "sixties generation." Second, this book
is a national study. While people in certain areas of the country obviously
demonstrated more often, and more vigorously than in other locales, so-
cial activism became almost a national phenomenon that eventually in-
volved all types and ages of Americans. Those who demonstrated in lowa
City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Reno, Seattle, or Austin felt just as much
part of the movement as those in Berkeley, New York City, or Washing-
ton, D.G. This book, therefore, is not a history of a small circle of
friends, a few outspoken radicals who resided along the East Coast or in
the Bay Area.
Consequently, and unlike previous authors, 1 will not define the move-
ment by organizations, leaders, or ideology, but in broader terms. Defin-
mg, 1racmg, and movement and the sixties is the topic of
this book, but first 1 must make sorne caveats and prefatory remarks.
There are two possible approaches to this topic. An author could trace
one form of social activism from 1960 to the early 1970s, and then start
over on another aspect of the movement. While that would be efficient,
it would be out of context. This book, therefore, develops as
it unfolded, chronologically, each event building upon another, as the
movement became a kaleidoscope of activity and as the sixtle's expanded
in complexity and swelled in emotion. Second, "activist" is a term free o.f
race and gender. People of all races and sexual orientations marched, and
the gender or race of those demonstrators is mentioned only when it is
significant. The focus here is not on one race or gender, but on activism
duting tbe d<::cad..e. "Citizen" is the term used here to denote mainstream
society, the vast majority of the population who generally did not protest
and who eventually were labeled the silent majority. Also, sorne readers
today might feel terms used here connoting race or ethnic background
are inappropriate, but 1 am using terminology that was appropriate in
Finally, movement in this book connotes all activists who demonstrated
for social change. Anyone could participate: There were no membership
cards. Activists usually appeared at the protest because they held similar
positions on an issue. Sara Evans, a civil rights volunteer, later wrote,
"Above all the term 'movement' was self-descriptive. There was no way to
join; you simply announced or felt yourself to be part of the movement-
usually through sorne act like joining a protest march. Almost a mystical
term, 'the movement' implied an experience, a sense of community and
Activists defined and redefined their movement throughout the era. In
the early years demonstrators referred to the "struggle" for civil rights
while others later felt part of "student power" or the "peace movement,"
• and if they rejected the draft, the "resistance." During and especially after
1968 alienation soared, the ranks of protesters swelled, and the count-
ercu1ture bloomed. Po1itical activists then described themselves as the
"conspiracy," the "underground," while 1ong-haired hippies talked about
"the people." The movement lost focus, and by 1971 a participant defined
it as "a grand geodesic dome fitted together from pieces of Marx, Freud,
Zen, Artaud, Kesey, Lenin, Leary, Ginsberg, Che, Gandhi, Marcuse,
Laing, Fidel and Lao Tzu . . . with a 40-watt rock amplifier strapped to
the top-a gaudy, mindblowing spectacle and an impossible intellectual
Movement, then, was an amorphous term that changed throughout
the decade, but nevertheless there were sorne common aspects about it
and its participants. Activists questioned the status quo, usually feeling
that it was unjust, and then they responded. Todd Gitlin of Students for
a Democratic Society stated, "The movement didn't simply demand, it
did." Sorne activists did by action: Put your body on the 1ine! Protest!
Others did by the "great refusal," repudiating the values and morals of the
older generation. Sorne shifted back and forth, but generally speaking
those in the movement rejected what they considered was a Aawed estab-
The movement was a loose coalition, and alliances often defined it.
Students, clergy, intellectuals often marched first, and later they were
joined by many others, from ecologists to hippies to women's liberation-
ists. The National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam included
numerous organizations, and when cultural activists in Ann Arbor, Mich-
igan, met to discuss drugs in the city representatives appeared from the
White Panthers, Black Berets, God's Children Motorcycle Club, the Sun-
nygoode Street Commune, and Congolian Maulers, a "commune of art,
music, and general freaks."
Social activism swelled during the sixties, and by the end of the decade
the movement was attacking almost every institution-from the armed
forces to religion, from business to government. It became a "mass move-
ment," the behavior of a sizable portion of citizens, but like all such
movements throughout American history, only a minority ever partici-
pated. Numbers are not precise, but it appears that between 1965 and
1968 only 2 or 3 percent of students considered themselves activists while
1 The Movement and The Sixties
only 20 percent had participated in at least one demonstration. The event
that provoked the largest college protest, the Kent State tragedy of 1970,
resulted in demonstrations from about two million students when four
times that attended universities, and the largest demonstration, Earth
Day, resulted in about 20 million participants at a time when there were
200 million Americans.
The movement always was a minority, and it also had a certain time
and place, a geography of activism. lt began in the South, from Greens-
boro to Selma, and spread up the east and west coasts to elite universities
where students often formed or joined new left organizations. Before 1965
most midwesterners considered the movement "something down south
about civil rights," but as men went off to war, activism spread to the
liberal cities with large universities in the heartland-Ann Arbor,
Bloomington, Chicago, Columbus, East Lansing, Lawrence, Madison,
Milwaukee, Minneapolis. Midwestern activism naturally reAected the
character of the people. lt was not as aggressive as on the coasts, or "less
ideological and more laid back," a Brown University student noticed
when he visited the University of Minnesota. As activists shifted focus
from civil rights to other issues, the movement had the least appeal in
the mountain states and South, areas that prided themselves on so-called
traditional values. While there were exceptions-islands such as Boulder,
Austin, New Orleans, and Atlanta-a Lífe correspondent reported that
southerners regarded antiwar protesters as "disloyal, disruptive, disrespect-
ful, damned near criminal." In 1968 two movies were popular: Tite Grad-
uate was a hit in large liberal cities, while The Creen to
crowds in small-town America. Few southern universities witnessed dem-
onstrations on issues other than civil rights; church-affiliated ones like
Brigham Young or Baylor did not experience much activism at all; and
liberal ones such as Emory and Rice did not see protesters until the late
1960s. When a former civil rights activist and professor from Princeton
arrived to teach at Rice in 1966, he was "struck by the quiet. "
Examining the movement is complicated by another characteristic-
participants continually changed. Although generalizations are difficult,
there are sorne themes. The first wave of activists were children of the
fifties. Most were born in the late 1930s and early 1940s, attended high
school in the fifties and college in the early sixties. They usually were
intellectual, idealistic, and ideological. They wrote platforms, organized,
and discussed ideas with various elder statesmen of the "old left" of the
1930s. Sorne of them assumed that they were part of a vanguard, provid-
ing leadership for a new America. They put their careers, even their lives,
on the line, and they provoked America out of the 1950s. The legacy of
the older activists was that they exposed the issues, formed the organiza-
tions, began mobilizing, confronted the status quo-and cracked the cold
war consensus. They began the movement.
The first wave surged forward, crested, and brought America to the rip
tide of 1968.
During and after that tumultuous year there was a gradual transition to
a second wave of activists that !asted into the early 1970s. Children of the
sixties, they were postwar baby boomers molded as teenagers watching
their older siblings demonstrating on television. They began attending
college in mid-decade and graduated after 1968. They agreed with older
siblings that the nation was racist, sexist, and imperialist. Since they op-
posed those ills, there was little need to debate them. They addressed new
issues, and the movement became so broad that these activists felt part of
it without joining any organization, and without even marching against
the war. Alienation soared during the presidency of Richard Nixon. After
years of what these activists considered blundering national politicians,
they opposed almost all forms of leadership. Confronting authorities be-
carne almost "normal" behavior, as was adopting the demeanor and atti-
tudes of the counterculture. The second wave Aowed along (two cur-
rents--empowerment and liberation. Activists realized that tHey would
have little inAuence on a conservative president, and so many addressed
local issues, empowering themselves in their communities, while others
tossed off mainstream traditions and liberated themselves, plunging into a
sea of counterculture, attempting to bring about a New America.
Naturally, in any mass movement there are exceptions that do not con-
form to the first and second wave model. Sorne activists dropped in and
out of the movement, or they made their one stand and then continued
earlier pursuits. Others were stuck in time and never could leave Ann
Arbor, Boulder, Madison, or many other Berkeleys. As the movement
spread in the late 1960s, activists uncovered new issues, resulting in new
organizations, networks, and manifestos. And certain areas of the nation
experienced various phases at different times or had pressi ng local issues
that did not concern activists nationally.
Nevertheless, the second wave crested in the early 1970s. lt carne
crashing down on the bedrock of the nation's white maJe establishment,
and the result was a sea change, a different America.
Accepting this broader, more fluid definition of the movement means
that this book will challenge the previous interpretations emphasizing
leaders, organizations, and ideology. Social scientists have postulated that
certain personality types were attracted to social activism, and they offered
a number of answers to why one would become involved. Sorne leaders
were driven by deep feelings of elitism and populism which compelled
them to reject authority. Others were committed youth who found soli-
darity and feelings of worth in demonstrating for a cause, and still others
1 The Movement and The Sixties
had been educated by liberal parents who raised their kids to question
All these ideas are interesting, and they probably explain the personality
traits and incentives of a few leaders in a group such as Students for a
Democratic Society. None of these theories, however, explains why
America experienced a mass movement during the late 1960s. Is one to
believe that because intelligent parents raised a few thousand bright stu-
dents the nation witnessed its largest dernonstrations in history? One could
argue that all social movements throughout history have been led by such
people. Fine students always are attending the best universities, but why
did they not revolt in other decades, why did they in the l960s? And why
did a few million others participate?
Not because of a few charismatic leaders. This book will not adopt the
leadership approach, and a basic theme is that the movement was gener-
ally leaderless. True, during the earl y phase of the movement, when the
organizations were small, there were sorne leaders of national stature.
Who knows what would have happened if Martin Luther King, Jr., kept
quiet, and not inspired so many by decl aring "1 Ha ve a Orea m." Leaders
were important in the early l960s when the movement focused on a sin-
gle issue, but they lost influence as social activism expanded. Further-
more, activism continued after the tragic assassinations of national figures
in 19.68. During antiwar protests in Austin, Texas, in 1971, officials de-
manded that activist Terry DuBose disperse the crowd. "1 can't do that, "
DuBose responded, "we don't have leaders .. . . We all agree tm what
we're doing. Every individual is responsible for themselves. lf 1 them
to disperse ... they're going to laugh at me." DuBose and of
others were "coordinators." They organized the demonstrations, set the
dates, formed networks, and if they were provocative, the media put them
on the evening news. "We're not leaders," declared Abbie Hoffman,
"we' re cheerleaders."
Nor is this book an organi zational history. While 1 have consulted doc-
uments published by hundreds of groups, the focus here is not to trace
the rise and demise of influential organizations of the decade. Without a
doubt, these groups were important, for they brought people together to
discuss issues, exchange ideas, and make contacts. When the)'s formed
might explain something about a collective response to a national prob-
lem, but how they developed, why they disbanded, does not reveal much
about social activism, especially during the second wave. The movement
was relatively organized in the early 1960s, especially when it concerned
only civil rights, but as issues broadened, as activists Aooded the streets,
the movement became so so widespread, that no one could organize
it. By 1968 the first wave tired of organizational activities, endless meet-
ings, discussions, and reports. "Organizing is just another name for going
slow," said college rebel Mark Rudd, and others opposed the idea of or-
ganizing because it was not free, too bureaucratic, too much like the
establishment. 'The Crazies have a rule," remarked Paul Krassner, "that
in order to become a member one must first destroy his membership
card." Significan! organizations of the first wave, SOS and the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, fell apart, but second-wave activists
formed new groups that concerned new issues, and they assembled thou-
sands of ad hoc committees and local coalitions. By 1969, a mailing list
contained addresses of 1700 local and national movement organizations.
Most of these were grassroots groups, and most had a short lifespan, last-
ing until the resolution of a local problem. The demise of groups is nota
measure of the success or failure of social activism: Organizations did not
define the movement.
Nor did ideology. Scholars often look for intellectual threads that tie
loose ends together, especially in a social phenomenon as vast and nebu-
lous as the movement. Consequently they have written about the rise of
new left thought in the early 1960s. Many view the role of ideas espoused
in the writings of Paul Goodman or Herbert Marcuse or William
Appleman Williams as fundamental in developing a coherent ideology
which inspired and motivated activists. This might be more relevan! dur-
ing the early sixties at sorne elite universities where students actually read
contemporary books and discussed ideas; when they formed organizations
such as SOS they revealed their intellectual heritage in documents such
as the Port Huron Statement. Yet as the movement expanded, new left
ideology was diluted and its inAuence declined. A 1969 survey found that
over 80 percent of college students identified with "my generation," but
just 13 percent did with the new left, and that latter figure dropped to 3
percent for those not attending college. True, activists held similar ideas
about America, most of them agreeing_about racism or imperialism, sorne
about sexism. But only a tiny number had read the ponderous writings of
Marcuse, or the Port Huron Statement, and when a few radicals shouted
"revolution" their rhetoric failed to sway the generation because it had
little support from the average demonstrator. As an underground journal-
ist wrote about a friend, "He hadn' t read Zinn, Lacouture, Fall , Robert
Scheer, Tom Hayden, or Staughton Lynd but he decided that the war in
Vietnam was 'bullshit' and he would ha ve no part of it." In fact, if there
was an ideology of the movement then it probably could be described
more accurately as the traditional American philosophy-pragmatism. It
was a grubby, shouting pragmatism that most activists adopted in the
street to confront the establishment and address the issues of the sixties.
This book, therefore, is not a history of new left ideology, of colorful
leaders, or of various organizations. While these approaches are necessary
and informative, they only examine one part of the movement, and in
1 The Movement and The Sixties
doing so they fail to explain the motive: Why did millions of citizens
become activists, take to the streets, and participate in the movement? As
will be developed throughout this book, activists felt that problems ex-
isting in the nation were inconsistent with the American ideal, with ideas
expressed in the Oeclaration of lndependence and U. S. Constitution. All
men were not created equal, nor were women in America. For reasons
that will be explained, social activi sm developed as a response to numer- P
ous problems that had been festering· in the nation for many years, and
protesters revolted in their own way to reform what they considered was a
corrupt system. Regardless of the rhetoric shouted in the heat of the mo-
ment, activists of the sixties were similar to those who rebelled during the
nation's other major reform eras-the Revolution, Jacksonian democracy,
the populist and progressive eras, and the 1930s. Whil e all those eras
concerned different issues, they all challenged the establishment and tri ed
to change the Republic. And so it was in the sixti es. As activi st Mickey
Kaus stated, "We wanted to remake America, not destro it. "
1 have arrived at t ese and other i eas because 1 have used sorne of the
same but many different sources than most commentators and historians
who have written about the sixties.
In the early 1970s a veteran activist wrote that he was quite disturbed.
George Yickers had just read many popular books and articles on the
movement and he complained that "the vast majority were highly critica]
of the New Left and generally tried to explain it as a tiny minority of
psychologically defective individuals." Vickers was troubled and offended
by these analyses, for they did not ring true. :. , - ..
To redress that situation, Vickers decided to write his own study, which
is similar to why 1 decided to write this book. Attending undergraduate
and graduate school in the late 1960s and most of the 1970s, 1 read a few
popular histories on the sixties, and realized then that the authors had
misunderstood or distorted the movement. These commentators were
older, and perhaps their interpretation was a natural result of the passion
of the decade, but also it was a consequence of the sources they em-
ployed. lnvariably, they relied on the mainstream press, which would be
appropriate for many topics, but not for all forms of social activism in the
sixties. The movement was a revolt against the establishment, and major
newspapers were a pillar of the foundation. Editors often published
slanted reports, and that was especially true of articles about antiwar dem-
onstrators and campus activists at mid-decade and later about the count-
erculture, black power, and women's liberation. Ouring the Berkeley Free
Speech Movement, for example, the San Francisco Examiner and Oak-
land Tribune wrote that the student activists were communist-inspired fa-
natics. Later, when 800 uniformed servicemen and activists protested the
war by marching on streets outside of Fort Hood, Texas, the Austin
American-Statesmen reported that patriotic local residents confronted
demonstrators and prevented them from completing their parade, which
activists noted was not true, another example of "media lies."
activists did not trust the press, they formed their own, establishing over
600 underground newspapers which by 1970 had a circulation of about
• five million; and they established at least three national wire services while
printing up libraries of posters, leaAets, and newsletters. Naturally, one
can not di smiss major national newspapers. Generally, their reporting was
fine on issues they supported, such as the civil rights struggle, and later
in the decade their articles became more critica) toward the government
and more tolerant toward activism. These establishment sources have
been u sed. Y et one cannot neglect the underground sources, as almost all
authors have done so far, for that is tantamount to writing a history of the
American Revolution by examining only British document§-and not
those of the rebels.
Using both sources, along with many valuable memoirs, participant
histories, and monographs, results in a book that examines the rise and
fall of a Aowing movement. Naturally, this single volume does not try to
be comprehensive, and most likely the reader would tire from a longer
book because social activism tends to be repetitious. But this study does
attempt to describe the most significant events and examine why they
happened and how they shaped the movement and the sixties.
1 set the stage by investigating the postwar era, the spawning bed for
future activism, and then examine two responses to cold war culture-the
civil rights struggle and rise of the student new left, both of which merged
during the early l960s. The focus then shifts to mid-decade when a new
"ú generation appeared on campus, activists who continued picketing for
---::? civil rights and began striking for student power and · ~ )
~ the war in Vietnam. Eventually, two compelling issue race and war_¿
-' $ ~ provoked more Americans to beco me involved, and an increasmg num er
~ ~ of youth became alienated from the values of the establishment. The first
_ .) wave surged forward, and in 1968 the decade underwent a rip tide, a
W movement and a nation torn apart, left or right, us versus them. The
result was the emergence of the second wave that Aooded into the eaíÍy
l970s, and the concluding chapters discuss the most important themes-
p ·t-tnaLI!!hellioiL.and liberation_, which often merged with political em-
By investigating social activism, this book will also explore the sixties.
That era challenges the Progressive years, the Great Depression, and
World War 11 as the most important periods of the twentieth century, and
one could argue that the most significant aspect of the sixties was social
activism. After all, when most people contemplate that decade they recall
demonstrations and protests. And when one considers the history of the
l The Movement and The Sixties
Republic it would be difficult to find more significant issues than those
the activists raised and confronted: equality or inequality, war or peace,
national interests versus individual rights, personal behavior versus com-
munity standards. Indeed, the protesters questioned the very nature and
meaning of America.
Like all social activism, the movement was Auid and its participants
diverse. Making generalizations is dangerous-but it also is necessary, for
while various authors have written participant histories and books on cer-
tain aspects of the era, it now is time to put the pieces together and exam-
ine the significant events and issues of The Movement and The Sixties.
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